Saturday, August 29, 2020

Christmas in August?!?

Anyone reading this who works in a school district is probably running around like crazy preparing for the start to a very different school year. You may not have seen all the AMAZING updates to Data Studio which have appeared over the last two weeks, but have no fear, I'm here to fill you in! (Note that there are other new features but they aren't necessarily relevant to the use of Data Studio in K-12 education so I haven't mentioned them here.)

New Filter Controls
Previously, if you added a filter control to a Data Studio report, the default was a drop-down list, which could then be configured to (among other things) a fixed-size list. Now, fixed-size lists are one of six filter control types, with new options including a text input box (which you can configure to use EQUALS, CONTAINS, STARTS WITH, etc.), slider, and checkbox. These various options can be used to make your reports even simpler and easier to use! more info here

I had a hard time wrapping my head around this one at first. Basically, it's a way to introduce a variable into your report that the user can change...which allowed me to create this cool algebraic Slope-Intercept explorer (which had been in my head a while but I had not figured out how to make it work with Data Studio.) The way this report works is that the data source is a range of x values, slope (m) and intercept (b) are parameters that the user can change, and then y is the result of a calculated field.

The report is just a scatter plot of x and y, which changes when the parameters are updated by the user. This is an example of a metric/numeric parameter - I am learning about some interesting ways to use dimensions/text as a parameter as well! more info here

Conditional Formatting in Pivot Tables
Previously, conditional formatting wasn't possible in Data Studio pivot tables, only regular tables. Now, pivot table conditional formatting options are single-color, so still limited, but it's certainly a huge improvement! more info here

Simplified CASE Statements for Calculated Fields
CASE statements are like IF/THEN statements in Data Studio that allow you to transform a field's values within a calculated field. In the past, you would write a CASE statement like this:

  WHEN field=value1 THEN result1
  WHEN field=value2 THEN result2
  WHEN field=value3 THEN result3

Now, you would write this:

CASE field
  WHEN value1 THEN result1
  WHEN value2 THEN result2
  WHEN value3 THEN result3

Honestly, isn't that big of a difference, and most of the time when I write a CASE statement I have to look up the syntax anyway, but it's definitely simpler to write statements this way. more info here

Filled Maps
There is a new option for "Filled Areas" within the Google Maps visualization. I updated the Massachusetts Cities and Towns report to show how this might work. Tip: if you want to sound super smart, use the word "chloropleth" instead of "filled area map." more info here

Embedded Data Sources
As you may know, until now, Data Studio reports and data sources were shown as separate items when on your Data Studio home page. If you wanted to share both a report and a data source with someone - you needed to share both items with the other person. Now, you have two options:

a) Create your data source first, then create a report and attach it to your data source. In this case, the data source is reusable, which means it's a separate item from the report. It can be used elsewhere but would need to be shared explicitly with someone who needs access. You'll still see the data source listed on your Data Studio home page.
b) Create your report first, then create the data source from within the report. In this case, the data source is embedded, which means you can share the report and the data source all together. You won't see the data source listed separately on your Data Studio home page.

Just a note here that in either case, a person with view-only access to a report still does NOT have access to the data source, regardless of whether it's reusable or embedded! These really only come into play when you are sharing a report and data source for someone else to edit or copy. more info here


I look forward to seeing how YOU use these new features! (Particularly parameters which have TONS of potential!) As always, if you have new reports to share, please submit them for inclusion in the K-12 Data Studio Report Collection (recently added to Google's Data Studio Gallery) so we can all learn from each other. Best wishes for a smooth and healthy start to the school year!

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