March 24, 2011


In May, 2010 I've started a project which seemed like an adventure -- I decided to build web-service for creating charts with comments linked to data regions. I did it because I think that BI and data visualization industry have missed one important point -- they do not deal with human interpretation of visual data. In another words, existing BI and data viz tools just get data, draw picture and stop there. All findings from that data, as well as thoughts, questions, conclusions and forecasts about it remain outside of a system. While people generally used to it, nevertheless it produces some inconveniences. Here are some of them:
  1. It's not an easy task to find reasons for a KPI change in a certain period -- neither popular data visualization tools nor search engines are note capable to do this simple thing which is obviously needed in the business world.
  2. Knowledge of influencing factors behind KPI trends is spread across emails, documents, IM messages (this makes p.1 even less easy).
  3. As majority of influencing factors are rather qualitative than quantitative, so they remain out of decision-support systems (hmm... why are they called decision-support systems in this case?).
Thus, I've decided to make a tool that will deal with this problem. It's called Explainum. It is not in production yet -- we're just about to launch closed beta-testing. If you want to take part in it -- feel free to register.

Some of its features:
  • Trend charts, which can automatically update data set with new data every day from various data sources -- CSV files, stock market data, currency exchange rates or web-services like Google Analytics
  • Users can create/read comments for selected data regions. In order to find comments related to a certain time period users should simply select a rectangular area on a chart
  • Charts can be embedded into 3rd party web-pages as interactive widgets
Read "What is Explainum?" for more detailed descriptions of the idea behind Explainum or see sample widgets. Here is screenshot of chart made using Explainum -- just to give you an idea how it looks like (clickable). As you can see -- commented areas are highlighted and chart has list of comments attached.