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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

MS Access and data visualization.

So ... my personal opinion is Access isn't the very best way to perform data visualization.  Lots of reasons for this -- primary among them, it's not intended to create shared apps.  Which is generally why you visualize data -- to help someone else understand your brilliant, if slightly obfuscated, string of numbers.

But!  It's pretty quick to learn; there are lots knowledgeable and generous folk out there learning alongside; and, hey, it's the most ubiquitous database-like app most consultants have pre-installed from IT!  And, for those using Excel, really ... the trick is to bang the rocks together, guys!

That's a screen for checking out project site stuff -- like well depth and location info, well completion (screen, casing) zones, lithology data (including for each zone), and ... stuff.  Later I'll walk through table designs under these tools (something I'm a little more excited about).

If you click a construction interval (left, lower table) you get this gem:

If you filter out a well that has associated entries in the water level table, here's your view:

And, naturally, the #1 request -- "give me a way to map this point" interface:

The user selects any number of wells using the upper "filter" window, adding them to the output box; after hitting "map 'em" the points are displayed with A - Z tags (Google Maps style) in order of the output listbox.  If more than 25 points are sent to the map, the user is warned that mapped points get a little hard to see after each 25 have been added.

There's an option to output this cursor to either Excel or Google Earth KML (DAO).

The real joy of these?  Once the user has well-organized data in normalized tables, it's a snap to reuse the forms and report interfaces across any project.

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