User Interface Features of the Data Publishing System
My previous post on DPS explained Freedman Healthcare’s goal of enhancing Excel to simplify the task of publishing data. Excel is the most popular tool for viewing and analyzing data, and DPS layers additional functionality on to Excel. This blog post will explore the DPS user interface enhancements. The next post will provide a demo of managing data with DPS.
The image below points out some of the enhancements we embed in Excel when people download and run the DPS app.
When a spreadsheet using DPS is opened in Excel, a custom ribbon menu appears at the top of the top of the Excel window. This ribbon lets you manage the current sheet, and navigate through the data. The menu only appears within the DPS app. DPS doesn’t make any permanent changes to Excel.
The central feature of the DPS menu is a set of page navigation buttons that let you move through the data without being restricted by Excel’s typical row limits.
Here’s how it works. DPS uses a page by page display, a standard interface for many database programs. Underlying these pages of data is an online database that DPS accesses over the Internet
The most important feature of this approach is that DPS allows you to view a data set that could be much larger than would fit in Excel’s memory. For example, a table with several million rows of data residing in a database can easily be viewed a page at a time in Excel through DPS.
You start with the first page of data. You can then use the navigation buttons to view the next page, previous page, or jump to the first or last pages. Each page displays 50 rows of data by default, but that number can be changed within the custom ribbon menu.
Link to documentation:
One of the more frustrating aspects of dealing with data you’ve obtained from an online source is trying to find that source sometime later. I’ve often had the experience of downloading sample data sets from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website, only to have no idea where the data came from months later.
We’ve addressed this issue in DPS by making it easy for a data publisher to display a URL within the DPS app. This URL can point to a web page with information for each data set, or any other website the publisher wants. This means that users can always return to the publisher’s online content to learn more. Therefore, when you use DPS to share data, your audience can easily learn more about the data by simply clicking the URL.
The next blog post in this series will take you on a walk-through of DPS, showing how easy it is to publish and view data sets.