This week, Centigon Solutions Inc. released a collection of plug-in components for Xcelsius 2008. Though I am biased because of my involvement with Centigon Solutions, as an Xcelsius power user, I can’t imagine building dashboards without these components. Here is my analysis based on extensive use of these components. I will write a few articles illustrating how to get maximum utility from these components and how I have utilized them. For more information about the Centigon Solutions components, visit:
Dynamic Sort: My Excel sort workaround was one of the most downloaded templates and still was an ugly workaround to ranking data. The Dynamic Sort component provides the sorting/ranking capabilities we have longed for and does it extremely well. Every dashboard I build has required some level of ranking and sorting and now we can do it on the fly inside of the SWF.
Background Builder: Most of you do not have the luxury of working with a graphic designer for each dashboard project you produce, leaving you with the standard out of the box backgrounds that come with Xcelsius. While these are clean, we always want more. Background builder is a single component packaged with over 20 designs and textures that can be configured with detailed appearance properties. Bevel and drop-shadow properties are two of the many properties that allow for complete control over your design with little work. Now for most dashboards, I don’t need my graphic designer to produce great looking results.
Reverse Selector: This component is a simple solution to a long lasting problem that never had a workaround: We needed a way to re-use single value components, and input text components to control multiple cells. In the countless calculator applications that I have constructed, I always end up stacking many sliders on top of each other to get the same results, which takes for ever to setup, and limits the possibilities for complex calculators. Reverse selector fills this gap by introducing a new concept that literally works like a reverse selector. This new component evaluates 1 single cell, and inserts into multiple cells within a range based on an index/position number.
GMaps Plugin Beta: This is a great start to what will be an amazing addition to the Xcelsius product. This component is in the infancy stages as a completed component. Even as a beta, this component offers capabilities not possible with other mapping solutions for Xcelsius.