Xcelsius 2008 Dashboard – Gas Price Data

Flash-based dashboards provide great interaction between the user and the data. Technologies such as Xcelsius easily allow us dashboard designers to mix view (read only) modes with what-if analysis modes. In today’s dashboard example by Ryan Goodman of the Interactive Data Visualization Blog, we see this to great effect.

I’ve always liked Xcelsius for dashboarding and the new version, Xcelsius 2008, makes it even more compelling with it’s new Adobe Flex IDE. Take a look at the top 10 new features of Xcelsius 2008.

Ryan’s Xcelsius 2008 Dashboard examines a subject of great concern today: the price of gasoline. As Ryan explains:

With gas prices being a hot topic, I decided to put together a dashboard that illustrates the power of simple data visualization with Xcelsius + runtime calculations to provide additional utility not possible with static reports or dashboard technologies. The data is fed from AAA.com.

http://ryangoodman.net/blog/index.php/2008/06/26/gas-prices-at-the-pump-dashboard

Here is a screenshot of the gas dashboard. Click on the “more” link to view the rest of the post. You’ll find a video summary that you can view if you don’t have time to visit Ryan’s Xcelsius 2008 dashboard right now.

Xcelsius 2008 Dashboard

Ryan explains the dashboard:

The daily gas price dashboard was assembled using Xcelsius 2008, to provide
a rich interface to visualize and navigate gas prices across the united
states. A point and click tool like Xcelsius, provides visual components and
connectivity to XML and an web services without writing a line of code. The
result was an interactive snapshot of daily gas prices that enables a viewer
to consume a large amount of information quickly to answer the burning
question: “How much am I spending at the pump given the current price and
possible increase for gas?”

The data originates from the AAA.com daily gas price reports available to the public as tabular reports. The data is scraped from the AAA.com web site and temporarily stored as XML for the
Xcelsius dashboard to consume. The daily AAA.com data was combined with an Xcelsius runtime calculator to indicate what you pay at the pump per month and per year.

This dashboard exemplifies the power of interactive data visualization. The
ability to visualize and navigate large volumes of data to drive action
attracts businesses to dashboards technologies like Xcelsius. Though we are
guilty of breaking some design rules along the way, the dashboard designer
is ultimately responsible to ensure that end users get what they need (not
always what they want).

About the designer: Ryan Goodman is the founder of Centigon Solutions
(centigonsolutions.com) and continues to evangelize Xcelsius on his personal
blog: ryangoodman.net/blog.

Here is a Dashboard Spy video of the Gas Price Dashboard:

 

Be sure to visit Ryan’s blog and check out this Xcelsius 2008 dashboard for yourself!

Tags: Gas Price Dashboard, Xcelsius 2008 Dashboards

9 thoughts on “Xcelsius 2008 Dashboard – Gas Price Data

  1. Those four huge dials on the right take up a lot of space to provide four single values. A column chart would show the four values in 1/4 the space. Better yet, a line chart could give weekly or daily prices, and you could see more than four points, you could see an entire trend.

    The dashboard would be more effective if you could also adjust factors like fuel efficiency and miles driven. This would help for example when deciding whether to switch cars with a family member who drives a substantially different number of miles, or when planning a schedule of four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.

  2. You are spot on about using a chart to compare all 4 points against the average. In fact, the
    original version of this dashboard had a combination chart with all 4 data points, and a line identifying the current national average. I had added the gauges to get people excited during demos, but as you have pointed out, gauges 9/10 times is not the most effective means for presenting data… So others can see what we are talking about, I added this graph to the dashboard here: http://ryangoodman.net/blog/media/gasprice/gasprices2.html.

    Historical trends would be awesome to provide a more holistic view of just how bad the gas price situation is, but unfortunately it was not made available to me.

    For the calculator, I wanted to avoid over-complicating the calculation for this particular dashboard. The question I wanted to answer was “roughly how much am I spending given the current price for gas in my state?” I did not address the next question: “What can I do to save money or boost efficiency?” We could certainly build a much more complex application that would consider fuel efficiency, miles driven, driving conditions, and region gas averages. I have already spoken to someone who has built something similar and hope to merge the two applications sometime soon. The ultimate would be an application where users can enter what they pay over time, then calculate and track how much they save by modifying driving behavior.

    Best Regards,
    Ryan Goodman

  3. I wrote a long reply to this but have discarded it.

    I really like this dashboard and whilst I agree with Jon’s comments entirely, I also think that this is both very accessible (bear in mind the target audience) and does not mislead, which is really the biggest sin a dashboard could commit.

    So overall, a thumbs up – a great dashboard for its purpose, but able to be improved still further.

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  7. With the continued fascination in watching gas prices fluctuate, I decided to do a few “variations on the theme” (as they call it in music) with some of this same data…

    In the following link, you can scroll through 3 outputs: Tree Map, US Map, and sorted table. None of these in-and-of-themselves are “best”, but I like to look at the same data in several different ways to help get a more complete understanding:

    http://robslink.com/SAS/democd9/gasoline.htm

    Note that in the tree map and US map, you can click on the each state to “drilldown” to the AAA page for more detailed info on that state’s gas prices.

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