Step by Step Guide

This guide introduces you to Visplore. It provides a step-by-step tutorial based on a demo dataset, to get familiar with the most important concepts and features.

There are several "lessons" you can follow, ideally in ascending order. In the end of every lesson, you find a button to proceed to the next one. Or use the menu to continue where you left off.

Lesson 1: Start exploring time series data

After installing Visplore, you can start it via Desktop icon or via start menu shortcut.

Upon startup you are greeted by a welcome dialog. The first action is loading some data from one of many sources (CSV, database, Python etc.). All sources are described in the Data Import section. Alternatively, you can load one of several demo datasets shipped with Visplore - this is what we do for this step by step guide.

Click "Solar Power" to load a timeseries dataset shipped with Visplore. In Visplore Professional, you need to click "Demo Data", and then "Solar Power"

The dataset is a csv file containing about 200 time series from solar power plants and weather measurements from several locations. It is a real, anonymized dataset (credits see bottom of page). If you are interested in the file, you find it in the Data subfolder of your Visplore installation.

A first look at the data with the "Trends and Distributions" cockpit

Visplore offers several starting points, called cockpits to address different analyses directly without setup effort. For this demo data, the first cockpit "Trends and Distributions" is automatically started.

Once you load data from your own source, like Python, you may need to start a cockpit manually by double-clicking one of the cockpit icons in the "Choose Cockpit" bar on the left. In case you get a dialog for "Role assignment" before the cockpit starts, just press OK for now.

After a few seconds, the cockpit presents itself as shown in the following image. It is divided into several areas, some of which are not yet visible in the beginning (these will be described below). The visible areas have the following functions:

  1. The Overview of variables area provides the big picture of all time series. Initially, time series are summarized by statistics. Here, you select which time series are shown in the other views, as described below.
  2. The time series view shows the selected time series as line graph.
  3. The lower right view shows the value distribution of the selected time series, in the form of a value histogram, and others.

Selecting the displayed time series

You can display a time series in the other views by clicking its name in the overview area.

Please click on the second time series, "A_Phase_Voltage_Cloudington_PV".

Now, this time series is shown in the "Time Series" graph, as well as its "Histogram".

Sorting the list of time series

By clicking on a column header in the "Statistics" overview, you sort the time series according to that criterion. For example, it might be interesting to identify time series with particularly many missing values.

Click the column header "Missing [%]". Then, select the time series with most missing values by a click on its name ("Peak_Solar_Radiation...").

Then Visplore should look like the following image. The "Time Series" view time series shows that this variable really has no values most of the time:

As the example dataset contains much more time series than can be displayed at a time, you can scroll them in the Statistics overview. Either by using the mouse wheel, or using a scrollbar on the left side.

Click the gray scrollbar near the left border of the Statistics overview. A bigger scrollbar appears, where you can drag the dark gray area with the left mouse button to scroll.

Filtering the list of time series by name

For many analyses, it is helpful to filter the time series displayed in the Overview section. Suppose you want to limit the overview to temperature time series.

To do this, please enter "Temp" in the input field next to "Filter variables by name":

This limits the Statistics overview to those time series that contain "Temp" in their name. You can also type "BrightCounty" to restrict the list to all of that location, or "Temp Bright" to those that have both parts in the name. The statistics table reveals that the time series "Temperature_Outdoor_BrightCounty_Weather" obviously has a minimum of exactly zero (see image above).

Please select this time series "Temperature_Outdoor_BrightCounty_Weather" (see image above).

Zooming and Adjusting Scales

The time series view shows that this time series drops to zero quite often. To view such periods in detail, you can zoom into the timeline.

Draw a blue rectangle around the area of interest using the right (!) mouse button.

If you accidentally used the left mouse button, and received an orange rectangle instead of zooming, you can undo this action by using the UNDO button in the toolbar on top of Visplore (or CTRL+Z on the keyboard).
Zooming is with the right mouse button. The left mouse button selects data, which is explained in the next lesson.

Once the view has zoomed, you have several options for navigating in it:

Move the mouse wheel to move the display horizontally (i.e. along the time axis).

Hold down the control key ("CTRL") and move the mouse wheel to zoom in or out - at the position of the mouse cursor.

Press the button in the lower left corner to zoom out again:

Additionally, you can adjust each scale in Visplore with a control element.

Move the mouse cursor to the bottom of the "Time Series" view, and click the thin gray bar.

The appearing slider control element allows you to set the displayed area interactively:

Drag the left white arrow to the right, then drag the right white arrow to the left, and then move the area by dragging the gray area in between.

Open a dialog by clicking the gearwheel on the far right and set the displayed time range manually, e.g., to 1.7.2014 to 1.8.2014. Press OK to confirm.

These control element to modify scales, especially the slider, are used in many places. It therefore pays off to practice its use a few times.

Move the mouse to the left edge of the "Time Series" view, where the same control appears vertically, to adjust the scaling of the Y-axis.

You can zoom in other views as well.

In the "Histogram", drag a blue interval around zero with the right (!) mouse button. Then, experiment a bit with the control elements for scaling that appear along the left and lower border.

The histogram automatically adjusts the discretization of the value range and also adapts the y-axis accordingly. To fix scales, use the lock symbol on the control element. This prevents the diagram from automatically adapting the scale when you select another time series.

Additional view: Calendar

The analysis cockpit offers many additional visualizations.

Click the gray vertical bar labeled "Drill-Down" at the upper right border of Visplore.

Then, Visplore should look like this:

The newly opened "Drill-Down" block aggregates the (one) selected time series by categories. The initially shown view is a calendar, where rows are months/years, and columns are days of the month. The color (and number label, if space permits) initially shows the Mean (=average) value of that day. According to the color scheme, days with a high average temperature are dark red, and cooler days are white-ish. You can adjust the color scheme as follows.

Click "Configure legend" on the right, above the color legend, and select the option "Change colors".

In the dialog you can select one of many pre-defined color schemes, for example, Blue-White-Red:

Now, in the Statistics overview, select the time series "Power_Generation_BrightCounty_PV". The text filter may help you.

Note how all visualizations, including the calendar, adapt immediately when another time series is selected. For power generation, daily sums may be more interesting than daily means.

Click the label of the color legend "Mean of Power_Generation_BrightCounty_PV", and select Sum as aggregation:

The calendar then shows daily sums. By the way, clicking "Configure Legend" and choosing "Adjust range.." lets you adjust the value range of the color scheme using the same control element you used for adjusting the scaling of (time) axes.

Well done! You have mastered taking your first look at time series data in Visplore! :) All these visualizations come ready to use in 1 minute to explore your own data, without coding or setting them up first.

>> Continue with Lesson 2: Select and view data subsets

License Statement for the Photovoltaic and Weather dataset used for Screenshots:
"Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0."
Source of Dataset (in its original form):
License: UK Open Government Licence OGL 3:
Dataset was modified (e.g. columns renamed) for easier communication of Visplore USPs.