GMaps Plugin Best Practices

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Centigon Solutions GMaps Plugin for Xcelsius 2008 couples basic geographic analysis with BI dashboards without a server-side installation or GIS system. Maps have become a critical element of dashboarding by providing multi-dimensional analysis aligned to business KPIs. Using GMaps Plugin, you can drag and drop a Google Map onto your Xcelsius canvas, and have a sophisticated palette of options to align the map to your needs; all without writing a single line of code.

Below is a movie explaining GMaps Plugin for Xcelsius 2008, to provide a high level explanation.

For those looming questions about the technology, licensing, and everything in-between, you can view the GMaps Plugin FAQ

Finally, to see live explanation and demonstration of GMaps Plugin, you can view the following webinar: Introduction to GMaps Plugin for Xcelsius 2008

With a general understanding of the technology, I wanted to provide some best practices, as you start using GMaps Plugin with Xcelsius. If you obtain a GMaps Plugin trial version, the first thing that you will need to do is obtain a API key. This API key will only work for testing purposes with the trial (covered in the FAQ).

1. Sign up for a Google Maps API key
To obtain a Google Maps API key, you will need to enter a URL for the server where you intend to publish your SWF. If you do not intend to upload your Xcelsius generated SWF to a server for testing, any URL will do for testing inside of Xcelsius or on your local file system. If your using a proxy or do not know your URL, open a web page where you intend to access your SWF and enter the following Javascript into your browser window:


javascript:alert(window.location.host)

The resulting popup window will show the URL that you should provide when you obtain your free Google Maps API key.

2. Format labels using HTML text. GMaps Plugin provides basic controls over text formatting via the Appearance tab. GMaps Plugin labels property supports HTML formatting, allowing you to implement any combination of text formatting, images, or URLs. This HTML formatting is displayed when clicking on any icon on the Google Map. The trick to HTML formatting is to concatenate multiple cells together.

**To implement HTML formatting, all text must be nested within the <HTML> </HTML tags.

Excel Formula
="<HTML>"&F19&"<FONT SIZE='11' face='Verdana'><b>"&H19&"</b><br>
"&I13&TEXT(I19,"$#,###")&"<br>
"&J13&TEXT(J19,"$#,###")&"<br>
"&G19&"<br><br><br></FONT><HTML>"

Actual HTML generated from Concatenate
<HTML>
<img src="http://www.centigonsolutions.com/components/images/
icon_background.jpg" />
<FONT SIZE='11' face='Verdana'><b>UK</b><br>
Last Year: $294,829<br>
This Year: $204,101<br>
<a href="http://ryamgoodman.net?Spain">blog link</a><br><br><br>
</FONT>
<HTML>

Result

Download Source File

3. Dynamic Icon Colors
By default, GMaps Plugin provides control over all icons within a series. If you decide to implement alert icons or need to control each icon’s color independently, you can utilize the dynamic color property, located on the General Tab. Color is controlled using basic hexadecimal color coding, with a 0X prefix. The following are example hexadecimal codes that can be utilized to dynamically change icon color:

Red= 0XDD0000
Yellow 0XEEEE44
Green 0X00BB55

Sample alert logic if A1 is the value
=IF(A1>20.01,”0X00BB55”,IF(AND(
A1<20,A1>15),”0XEEEE446”,”0X00BB55”))

Download Source File

4. Bind a Destination cell The map component functions as a selector, but only supports the Position insertion method. That means you will need to couple this plugin with Excel logic or a Source Data component to drive functionality. A nice trick that I use was outlined in a previous article, where I use a hidden selector combined with a map to drive dashboard interactivity. Click here to view article.

I will continue to refine this posting with screen shots and practices to assist you in development. The included documentation actually does a pretty good job of outlining some of theses concepts. If you have any specific challenges, let me know and I will document workarounds and best practices and log enhancement requests for you.

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3 Comments

  1. Hi, this blog is fantastic! From your source file, i’ve learnt how can i link a image to the info window. However, i am confused about why i can’t view the image above when i preview your source file? Do i need to do any settings? Pls help, thanks a lot! 🙂

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