If you do complex data analysis, then from time to time you probably need to group, summarize, and parse data into variables and/or fields. There are various ways to accomplish this, including the Fast Summary technique, which regular readers of this blog may be familiar with, as it has made a number of appearances here over the years.
Well today we’re going to look at a couple alternatives to Fast Summaries, with the help of some demo files, which you can use to do your own benchmarking.
Or, if you’d rather not do your own benchmarking, scroll down to see results from my tests. Bottom line: each of these three techniques can be fastest, depending on circumstances.
(Also, if you’ve been putting off exploring Perform Script On Server, a.k.a. PSOS, host the demo files on FileMaker Server 13 or later. The reporting routine optionally uses PSOS, so you can dive in painlessly and see what you’ve been missing.) Continue reading →
Picking up where we left off in part 1, today we’re going to take a look at examples 2 through 6 in the Virtual List Charts demo file (the demo has been updated since part 1, so I recommend downloading a fresh copy).
We covered example 1 and most of the general concepts last time, so today we’re mainly going to touch on specific points of interest, but to briefly recap… Continue reading →
Today we’re going to look at applying the virtual list technique to FileMaker charting with the goal of producing a reusable chart “object”, or rather, a series of chart objects. We’ll need more than one because while certain attributes (e.g., chart title) can be set programmatically, others, including type (e.g., column or line), must be hard-coded into the chart object.
We’ve already explored Bruce Robertson’s virtual list on this site a number of times, but briefly, you create a utility table in your solution to facilitate non-standard viewing, reporting, etc., and pre-populate it with “more records than you’ll ever need”. The records in this table will derive their data “virtually”, by parsing it from an array — typically one or more $$variables.
Well it turns out the technique can be applied to charting as well, and today we have a demo file, Virtual List Charts, that contains six examples: three for Web Visits…
Last time we looked at several summary reporting tricks, including a conditional subsummary (when an item’s Status is “Scheduled” it will have a value in the Substatus field — otherwise Substatus will be blank). The challenge was to generate a summary report showing Substatus only where appropriate, without seeing any annoying empty gray rows beneath Pending, Cancelled or Completed. And last week’s report worked fine… in preview mode.
Last October I began a series on Outer Joins, which explored a number of different ways to display summarized information in a grid, and at the time I concluded that the “fastest” method was to leverage the FileMaker relational model. And it was plenty fast, locally… and not too bad on a LAN… and technically, it was the fastest method on a WAN but only because the other methods we looked at were even dog-slower than it was.
I like to test solutions on a WAN, even if they’re only going to be deployed on a LAN, because it’s a great way to uncover performance bottlenecks. But recently I needed to deploy a summarized grid on a WAN, and was incentivised to come up with something faster… and after a bit (well, okay, a lot) of trial and error settled on the approach we’re going to look at today. To cut to the chase, with a million records in the test file, the previous best grid rendering time of 11 seconds on a WAN has been reduced by a factor of 10, to just over one second.
While these three techniques may not appear to have much in common, all of them are used as building blocks in today’s demo, line-chart-from-field-array. Our data set is a table of web site visits, by week and by state, beginning in March 2006 and running through June 2011.
Wouldn’t it be nice to to use FileMaker 11’s built-in charting capabilities to produce a line chart showing weekly visits per year? Continue reading →