Business Intelligence
and DeltaMaster

Sparklines


The different heights of the coast
can also be seen as data.
Küste als Sparklines

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Data taken out of context is boring, if not misleading, and nearly always worthless. Nonetheless, most data is presented as a single, isolated value: a big company's turnover, the current unemployment rate or the last reading of a stock quote. With sparklines (word-sized graphics, data words), it is easy to provide the necessary context.

Thus, an elusive figure like the Euro's exchange rate movements against the US-Dollar becomes a vivid, data-intense measure when given in its historical context from its introduction on January, 1st 1999 as bank money until today Wortgrafik: Wechselkurs Euro/Dollar 1,30.

For the equivalent of a single word, the embedded graphic gives us the worth of six years of monthly Euro exchange rate readings. Defying its tiny size, the graphic depicts the year long development in a clear and concise manner, including the 25 % loss after the introduction of the euro banknotes and coins on January 1st, 2002.

Write with sparklines

Due to their word-like quality, sparklines allow for "writing with data". There­fore you can also say word-sized graphic or data word.

One example is the dry Munich weather in the last 36 days with only a few mm of rain.

Sparklines are data-intense and have a simple design with a high resolution. They reveal a data pattern as a whole, such as being able to capture one word at a glance. They show differences in detail, similar to the typographic features of a character. The numerical value for the last data point provides a sufficient criterion for the comparison with the remaining values.

Information density

For analytical purposes, you put sparklines below or next to each other. In this format, sparklines compress astonishing amounts of data in small spaces. Without turning pages the eye can concentrate on comparisons and detecting patterns, gaining insight in doing so. In the weather table below, the eye easily overlooks a matrix of 216 data points.

Tmax°C18.7
Tmin°C8.3
Rainmm0
PmaxhPa966.1
PminhPa963.3
Vmaxm/s8.7

Sportive Sparklines

The principle of sparklines can also be used in sports coverage to visualize victories and defeats. Here you can see, how one of the German teams of the premier soccer league (Bundesliga), the VfB Stuttgart, became champion after an exciting season 2006/2007 with six defeats .

The following table shows the final standings of the German premier soccer league (Bundesliga). An upward whisker depicts a won match, a downward whisker a lost one. The table remains concise and meaningful, even at a small font size. Since the sparklines use up so little space, the entire season's course can be shown for each of the teams, making for 612 results in one chart. Fascinating possibilities of comparison.

Season 2006/2007, matchday 34

P Team GP. W D L Goals GD TP Course
1 VfB Stuttgart 34 21 7 6 61:37 24 70 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für VfB Stuttgart
2 Schalke 04 34 21 5 8 53:32 21 68 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Schalke 04
3 Werder Bremen 34 20 6 8 76:40 36 66 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Werder Bremen
4 Bayern München 34 18 6 10 55:40 15 60 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Bayern München
5 Bayer Leverkusen 34 15 6 13 54:49 5 51 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Bayer Leverkusen
6 1. FC Nürnberg 34 11 15 8 43:32 11 48 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für 1. FC Nürnberg
7 Hamburger SV 34 10 15 9 43:37 6 45 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Hamburger SV
8 VfL Bochum 34 13 6 15 49:50 -1 45 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für VfL Bochum
9 Borussia Dortmund 34 12 8 14 41:43 -2 44 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Borussia Dortmund
10 Hertha BSC Berlin 34 12 8 14 50:55 -5 44 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Hertha BSC Berlin
11 Hannover 96 34 12 8 14 41:50 -9 44 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Hannover 96
12 Arminia Bielefeld 34 11 9 14 47:49 -2 42 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Arminia Bielefeld
13 Energie Cottbus 34 11 8 15 38:49 -11 41 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Energie Cottbus
14 Eintracht Frankfurt 34 9 13 12 46:58 -12 40 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Eintracht Frankfurt
15 VfL Wolfsburg 34 8 13 13 37:45 -8 37 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für VfL Wolfsburg
16 1. FSV Mainz 05 34 8 10 16 34:57 -23 34 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für 1. FSV Mainz 05
17 Alemannia Aachen 34 9 7 18 46:70 -24 34 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Alemannia Aachen
18 Bor. M'gladbach 34 6 8 20 23:44 -21 26 Sparkline: Saison 2006/2007 für Bor. M'gladbach

P = Place, GP = Games Played, W = Win, D = Draw, L = Loss, GD = Goal Difference, TP = Total Points.
The lines mean: Champions League, Champions League qualification, UEFA cup and relegation.

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