Build-your-own dashboard

Corda Technologies Inc. CenterView

Executive dashboards are a highly touted way of visualizing lots of data in one place. But custom building them for every project, or department or manager that requires them can take a lot of time. At least that's what officials at Corda Technologies Inc. of Lindon, Utah, say customers tell them. The company has a pretty good track record of developing tools for the visualization part'the Defense Department, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Mint are among government users of the company's PopChart and OptiMap products, which take data and convert it into charts and maps, respectively.

This month the company released a new, unified platform called CenterView that draws on Corda's technology strengths to provide an integrated platform for more easily building and deploying executive dashboards.

Mark Christensen, Corda's product manager, showed GCN what a CenterView dashboard could look like and said it could be created in as little as a week. All the underlying data stays where it is and the application pulls it into the dashboard. One GCN editor especially liked the program's export capabilities.

Say you're looking at a chart in your dashboard that shows underlying info when you hover the cursor over different parts. You can export that pop-up functionality to Macromedia Flash, drop it into a PowerPoint, then hover over the same chart during a presentation and have the underlying data pop up on screen. CenterView also includes Corda's Highwire technology, which elegantly converts HTML pages to Portable Document Format.

Because CenterView is Java-based, it runs on almost everything. And because the dashboards themselves are Web pages, people can access them on wireless devices. Managers use CenterView Builder to create the dashboard themselves rather than involving developers, Christensen said. That said, integrating data sources requires a little legwork. Pulling from Excel spreadsheets looks easy enough, but in the first version of CenterView, folks will have to write Structured Query Language statements to tap into databases.

In addition, an incremental upgrade of the CenterView server product, which pulls together the data and pushes it to the end-user's dashboard and goes for $24,995 for 10 concurrent users, will come out this fall and support clustering and failover functions.

But doesn't every agency's business intelligence tool already have dashboard functionality? Christensen says Corda's is better and more flexible. Time will tell.

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