Create Dashboards Using
Business magazines regularly extol the virtues of dashboards, which
enable managers to monitor their organizations performance. Dashboards display
measures such as customer satisfaction, sales volume, and marketing campaign
performance, using familiar displays such as temperature gauges, charts, and
You can create charts in Excel, but even in Excel 2003 your charting
capabilities aren't any better than they were in Excel 97. Sure, it's possible
multi-part charts that emulate temperature gauges, but they dont look as good
as the images created using a dedicated product.
If you want to create professional-looking dashboards, charts, and maps, I
recommend Xcelsius. The Standard edition
will set you back $195, but that's small change for a corporation and a
reasonable price for an individual who wants to create attractive graphics. The
Professional edition, which includes advanced features including one-click
export to PDF, interactive charts, and the ability to create add-ons, runs $495
a good value for advanced practitioners and programmers. You can download a free
trial from the Xcelsius site.
In this first article, Ill show you how to create a simple dial gauge. In
the future, I'll show you how to customize the dial gauge and to create other
types of controls.
To create a dial gauge using Xcelsius, follow these steps:
1. Run Xcelsius and, if necessary, choose View |
Components to display the Components window.
2. In the Components window, click the Category
tab, double-click Single Value, double-click Gauge,
click Gauge-0, and then click anywhere on the dashboard canvas. Your
3. Choose Data | Import Model.
Then, in the Import Model dialog box, click the ellipses button at
the right of the Excel File field. The Open dialog box
4. Click the file with the data you
want to import, click Open to confirm the file you selected, and then
click OK to accept the file displayed in the Import Model
5. Right-click the gauge and choose
Properties to display the Properties dialog box.
6. If necessary, click the
General tab, and then click the Collapse Dialog control next to
the Link to Cell field. Your Excel workbook appears as a temporary
file; click the cell that contains the value to be represented by the gauge
and then click OK to accept the selection. The gauge changes to
reflect the value.
Next up: customizing your gauge!