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Recently, a customer mentioned to us that there was some difficulty that executives were going through in interpreting some charts. That got us thinking and helped us realise the true power of Trellis charts that was the answer to the problem.

In this customer’s case, the dashboard was designed using SAP DesignStudio 1.2 & we were restricted(due to the tool’s limitations) to using traditional charts to represent complex multi-dimensional data. But, that changed with the advent of SAP DesignStudio 1.3 which brought along with it, the Trellis charts that made the data interpretation a lot easier.

Here is the sequence of steps on how to use Trellis charts. A business use-case follows too.

Drag a chart on to the canvas. Under the properties of the chart, navigate to ‘Chart Type’ and choose ‘Additional Chart Types…’. We have used a Trellis Bar Chart here. If a data source has been linked to the chart, the dialog box that pops up will list the dimensions and measures available in the data source.

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In ‘Chart Population’, use the appropriate measures and dimensions, to design the trellis chart. The properties under ‘Chart Population’ are:

  • Primary Values – These can only take measures. These are the values in the chart.
  • Axis Labels – These are the axis labels in the chart.
  • Chart Multiplier – This represents the dimension according to which information is grouped and indexed.

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Consider a case where an executive would like to track his company’s profit / loss in different regions, across 4 years.

  • Key Figure to be displayed is profit / loss
  • 4 Years – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • 4 Regions – Midwest, Northeast, South, West

This is the initial view of the data source (here, a BEx query).

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Configuration must be done as shown. The conditional variable in this case, region (ZR_REGKY ), is to be set as the multiplier. This means grouping will be done by region, and each region will appear in one column since we are multiplying by columns.

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This is the output we get:

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The power of trellis charts becomes apparent when we need to compare key figure values on more than two dimensions. Let’s step up the scenario one notch and compare profit / loss for each product group across different regions for multiple years. We have a data source that looks like this:

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This is where setting up the trellis chart gets a tad bit tricky.

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Going by the traditional setup for the same data, we didn’t see much of a difference – the additional dimension was merely concatenated to the existing one. This is quite a nag for the user, who has to scroll to be able to view all of the data.

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While trying to best what we had on hand, we came across a small option hiding under ‘Additional Properties’ of the chart.

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By restricting the number of values shown per column under multi-layout, we were able to bring the chart into a very neat format where data would be shown organized in a way that users will quickly be able to comprehend. The result of using the option was this.

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Combined with the use of alerts and drilldowns, these charts have proved capable of providing quick clear insights, when comparative analysis of multidimensional data is needed.

source: http://visualbi.com/blogs/design-studio/trellis-charts-sap-designstudio-1-3/

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3 Comments

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  1. Mike Howles

    Honestly, I think trellis charts are not that effective vs multi-series line charts, as one example, to overlay repeating axes of information.  For instance, in your last example, there is no way of discerning whether Profit for Bedroom Product Category is higher or lower between 2011 or 2012 unless you have an eagle eye or resort to tooltips.

    I think that there are better charts to use in this scenario given the 3 dimensions at play here, and at a better use of screen real-estate.  Just my opinion.

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    1. Eshwar Prasanna Post author

      Thanks Michael,

      You have a very valid point. On a level of detail, Trellis charts can easily be replaced with something else. However, for a bird’s eye view of the biggest trend, especially in cases of extreme variation, I felt the Trellis chart could be quite presentable – that was the angle I was going for.

      Regards,

      Eshwar

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