Monday, January 1, 2007

Sparklines - a good example

Sparklines - beauty in information communication as only Edward Tufte could describe There is no way I can add to what he has presented and I'm not dumb enough to try. Buy his book - Beautiful Evidence - visit his site

What I would like to discuss is how Sparklines provides a good example of Web 2.o - beyond the buzz. As you can see, Sparklines provides a new/unique approach to data presentation. When I first read this, I started to search on the web to see if anyone has implemented this yet and to my amazement (not really) there was a LOT of information AND OPEN SOURCE code for Sparklines - (notice the missing s). Of course there's an entry in WikiPedia -
and many other links to free and for-fee sites.

One man's idea, an entire internets approach to providing more information and code to implement that idea - a community around an idea - isn't that Web 2.0? I think so. It shows the strength and depth of what is happening out there. What does this mean to Project Managers? To Software Developers? First thoughts that come to my mind are:
  • Cool! Now I can add Sparklines to my web sites and projects
  • Guess no one will be making $ off of Ed Tufte's idea
  • Now this is WEB 2.0!
  • The day of making generic functions for profit is over, once a good idea hits the Internet - and if it's good - lots of other people will provide via open source
  • What a great way to Determine if an idea is good - let's see if it is being done in Open Source........
A PM and Software Developer now have a source to determine if a project and/or components of a project are seen as valuable. You can determine the value by the distribution, you can get the best implementation by searching for feedback, you can see various forms of application. You can reduce cost/effort by utilizing open source. YOU CAN REDUCE RISK!

Some things to think about.
  • If your project is not using an 'open source' friendly technology (.Net) then are you adding effort and cost to a project based just on the technology selected? What would be the difference if you selected PHP?
  • Part of the project should include tasks for identifying components/functionality and determining if you can utilize any in the open source world.
  • Make sure your project is not competing against an open source implementation - I think $ will be more in integration (Publishmash ups) and implementation rather then in pure development (how can you compete against free?).
  • Make sure you address the various open source license agreements out there.
  • If you haven't moved from the 'built here' to 'off the shelf' thinking - you're way behind. As a PM, part of your job is to ensure feasibility to check risks, etc. If you can't see the wave, that means you're looking in the wrong direction.
Go - Read - Think


  1. You should try MicroCharts! A cool sparkline tool for Excel .

  2. Since the example above for sparklines is from our website, you should surely try the tool for free which creates these sparklines: SparkMaker - from the inventor of font-based sparklines .
    Cheers, Roland
    Bissantz & Company

  3. Thanks for the example and yes - I will be using it - YOU DID A GREAT JOB! Impressive.