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Viewing Multiple Data Sets with DPS

Chief Technical Officer, Freedman HealthCare, LLC

Adam has over 30 years of experience in software development and database management. His principal focus at Freedman HealthCare is migrating our analytical infrastructure to the cloud to take advantage of big data technologies.

The last two posts on DPS showed you the pretty user interface, but there’s more. DPS is a super simple, yet powerful way of browsing any number of files of any size. Let’s take a walk through DPS and see how you can view multiple sets of data within Excel without juggling lots of huge CSV files.

Freedman HealthCare has already harnessed the power of DPS on this blog with posts on Data Quality by Eric Olmsted. When Eric describes a data cleaning technique in any of his posts, he includes a download link to a copy of the DPS app set up for his example data. This makes it so easy for readers to click and view his examples. One of these links are shown here with an arrow.

When you click a link for a DPS workbook, it downloads and opens Excel with the first page of data.

By moving up to the DPS menu and clicking the Next button, you can advance to the next page of data. This navigation menu lets you jump to any part of a data set, no matter the number of rows. Excel only has to get one page of data at a time through DPS.

Using DPS Across Multiple Data Sets

But DPS is more than a spreadsheet for a single set of data. The real power shows up when you want to open additional data sets. By clicking the Open New Data icon in the DPS menu you can see a menu of all data made available by any of our blog authors through DPS. You don’t have to return to the blog website and download another file. You don’t even have to leave Excel. New data comes to you with DPS.

Data sets are displayed in reverse chronological order to mimic the order of posts in the blog. You just have to click on the data you want to view, and then click OK. For example, if you choose the data for the post from 9/19, you’ll immediately view the matching data in Excel. You don’t have to wait for another download of the app, or find a CSV file to open. All this happens seamlessly within Excel.

Easy Access to New Data

This process of opening new data in DPS gets even more interesting as time passes. If a publisher decides to make additional data available, it immediately shows up within the Open New Data menu. For this demonstration there were 3 data sets available on 9/20. Let’s say another blog post is published on 9/22, and the matching data is added to DPS. Here’s the blog post.

Since the new data was made available on 9/22, selecting the Open New Data menu option at that point shows the new data’s name listed at the top. Again, the data is shown in reverse chronological order, so new information is always at the top of the list, just like a blog. The most important feature is that the new data is shown without having to leave and restart the app in Excel. The New Data list is always refreshed when it is opened.

In content management terms, the data publisher is able to “push” content to users with DPS. Just by selecting data for use with the DPS system the publisher automatically makes it available in the Excel app.

DPS Review

Let’s review what we’ve seen. We started by clicking a link in a blog post to download the DPS app. Excel started when the app was opened. We were then able to easily load a series of data sets within Excel, even if this data became available after our original download of the app. Compare this process to downloading and juggling multiple CSV files on your desktop. DPS makes Excel much more powerful and easier to use for multiple data sets.

From a publisher’s point of view, DPS creates a direct connection to data consumers. Publishers can provide new data at any time, and not just wait for users to come back to their website.

With this demo in mind, the next post in this series will discuss the major benefits DPS offers to both Excel users and data publishers.

Adam Green is Freedman HealthCare’s Chief Technical Officer. He can be reached at agreen@freedmanhealthcare.com

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