Practical Guide to Responsive Reactive Design Using SAS

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A Practical Guide to Responsive Reactive Design HTML write CSS and use frameworks like Bootstrap to develop web based applications HTML5 enables development of highly responsive web content With HTML5 text pictures and other content automatically resize and rescale for whatever interface is being used from desktop monitor to smart phone tablet and so on Data scientists often have


services We should note that the authors of this paper have created all the reports in this. paper including both the typical before and improved after reports. After a description of the data we show how to modernize a set of traditional reports. including guidelines for focus flow standardization and simplification of disjoint content. into a single flowing responsive report We describe how users can go beyond the basics. and experiment with more unusual ways of creating reactive reporting We then discuss. some of the challenges of working with HTML5,THE DATA U S FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION DATA. In this paper the data is public data from the,United States Administration on Children and. Families ACF a division of the United States,Department of Health and Human Services. Links to all the raw data are provided in the,References section of this paper. The data includes state level data for all 50,states Puerto Rico and the District of.
Columbia for children served by state social services programs The data collection program. is called the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System AFCARS AFCARS. data includes state level data on children entering and exiting child services adopted and. waiting children and other metrics The AFCARS data is available in Excel format here As. of the publication of this paper the national data set included state level data from fiscal. years 2008 to 2017 For technical definitions of the variables used in these reports readers. can review the technical notes from ACF in their data summary. In addition to the historical data set made available ACF makes available data on subsidies. provided to prospective adoptive parents to assist in managing the needs of potential. adoptees This is an important source of support for high needs children for whom adoption. might carry a significant financial challenge for parents This subsidy data was extracted. from PDF reports and merged by state and year with the AFCARS data Subsidy data from. 2008 to 2016 is available but no data is available for 2017 When merged with the. historical data set from AFCARS the final data structure excluded all data from 2017 Thus. the final data set included all AFCARS national data set and subsidy data for the years 2008. Two additional variables were calculated the Adopted Waiting ratio and the. Exiting Entering ratio Each metric is the simple ratio of two counts calculated to provide a. comparable measure across states that vary significantly in population The. Adopted Waiting ratio is the ratio of adopted children to children still waiting for adoption in. that fiscal year for that state The ratio can exceed 1 0 suggesting that there were more. children adopted than waiting but the ratio is the number of children adopted that year. relative to the number of children still waiting for adoption at the end of that year More. children could have entered the system than exited. The Exiting Entering ratio was calculated the same way This ratio is a broader measure of. all children served by that state s child services division including those children temporarily. removed from a home reunited with family or other relatives and otherwise served by. various programs for children in the state s care Again this ratio can exceed 1 0 for the. same reason previously described, For SAS Visual Analytics reporting the wide data structure with years and variables. repeated in columns was transformed into a tall data structure with years and variables in. rows In the following examples we show data for several specific states These states. were not chosen for any particular reason,MODERNIZING TRADITIONAL REPORTING. Figure 1 is a typical example of tab based reporting There are five tabs of reports three. tabs are shown,Figure 1 Traditional Reporting, There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this structure It works Users know to skip. from tab to tab to view individual reports each of which has a descriptive unique name. There is some notable redundancy over the reports including repeated state drop down. selections and duplicate tables but the reports could be linked to allow for a single state. selector that filters all reports and a single data view tab for the data That could be done. to improve the usefulness of these reports However if you compare this reporting to many. modern websites you will see two obvious differences. The first difference is how modern websites capture focus with the shape and positioning of. the content Most desktop monitors are no longer square in shape they are rectangular. But many modern websites don t actually fill that rectangular space from left to right. Substantial empty white space margins draw the content into the center This is in fact. exactly where most users are looking Users do not read a rectangular monitor as they. once read a printed book or newspaper starting top left and working down For many data. scientists thinking about the shape of reporting might seem strange but after you. compare your reporting to popular modern websites you realize how much web based. reporting has changed, The second difference is the flow of the content In the early days of software development. when the computer mouse was first being used in conjunction with a keyboard software. developers were cautioned to minimize the number of physical leaps required to jump from. two hands typing to one hand on a mouse Only the most poorly designed interface would. require a user to constantly switch back and forth In the modern age the equivalent. advice might be to minimize the number of times a user has to click versus scroll using a. mouse Modern websites flow downward with additional content becoming available via a. scrolling mouse or in the case of a smart phone a swipe of the finger or thumb. Figure 2 shows a set of tab based reports on the left and the single scrolling report on the. right Each of the tab based reports requires a state selection at the top There is. duplication of one type of graph for two different purposes A waterfall plot is used for. Children Adopted and on another tab for Children Served Following tab order the reports. seem to bounce from a more detailed metric Percent Subsidized to a more general one. Children Served And some information is redundant for example the first tab includes. Children Adopted and Children Waiting in the stacked bar chart but the first waterfall plot. shows Children Adopted,Figure 2 Before and After Reporting.
Figure 3 shows some of the major changes made in restructuring the reporting into a more. responsive reactive design,Figure 3 Major Design Changes. The following guidelines describe the steps to create the report in SAS Visual Analytics. OPTIMIZE FOCUS AND FLOW, Guideline Implementation in SAS Visual Analytics 8 3 and. Enable Scrolling Create a new blank tab In Report Options Layout. uncheck the Avoid Scroll Bars check box This one step. will enable you to stack one report on top of another into. a scrolling structure, Create Graphic Organizers In the scrolling report users no longer have the benefit of. tab titles For each tab in the old report create a heading. in the new report For ours we have used text boxes with. a gray background and a relatively large 22pt font Use. the same consistent size and style for each page break. in your scrolling report Note how State Summary, Case Flow Subsidy and Placements and so on provide. a dynamic type of section break, Build Margins Create margins by adding empty text boxes For the text.
box under Options Layout Width we used 15 for,the specified width Select the Extend width if. available and Shrink width if necessary options to. allow HTML5 to dynamically adjust the sizing The new. report now draws the user s focus to the center of the. screen with white space margins on the side, Increase Whitespace Add empty text boxes to separate content For these. reports under Options Layout we used 10 height, The width of the text box was set to 70 which is the. width minus the margins When scrolling through the. report users need some type of visual cue of a transition. The gray headers and white space between visualizations. help distinguish the topic for each visualization, Order the Reporting On the left side of the SAS Visual Analytics report. development window there are three icons Data, Objects and Outline The Outline View enables you to.
insert the previously developed tab based objects in the. new desired order by dragging and dropping them into the. Maximize the View Although the tab reporting structure is gone you want. users to be able to view each visualization in the greatest. possible detail all at once filling the monitor screen even. as they scroll Most of the visualizations here have a. height set at 70 leaving some room for the header and. white space separating reports The height specification. ensures that the rendering of the report will make enough. room for the visualization regardless of the screen. Table 1 Guidelines for Focus and Flow, The previous steps will transform a set of tab based reports into a single flowing scrollable. report However simply combining the individual reports can create some expected. problems repeated selections content that appears out of place and report design. inconsistencies that might not have been noticed before The following guidelines should. help to reduce these issues,STANDARDIZE AND SIMPLIFY. Guideline Implementation, De duplicate Remove duplicate visualizations that convey the same. information The Total Adoptions tab is not needed as. adoptions are on the previous graph Remove duplicate. prompts if possible One state selector at the top filters. all reports, Delete Unnecessary Content Remove any titles and legends that are not necessary. Look at the bottom of the Children Served report The. original tab based report included the graph title Children. Served by the Year but that title is omitted in the new. design The content of the visualization should be obvious. from the X axis and Y axis labels and without that title. there is more room for the data When rendering the. report browsers will no longer have to make room for. that title, Validate Interactions Ensure that tab specific interactions still work and are.
reasonable for that visualization A single scrolling report. can create a set of complex interactions For this report. the graphs still provide interactive content but there is. only one main selection at the top of the report for state. That one selector filters all visualizations in the scrolling. Leave a Trail One of the benefits of an initial selection is that the user s. choice is immediately active in working memory The. user just made a choice and expects a filtered report. However users returning to the same report might not. realize that the state selection affects all reporting For. that purpose we have added lattice columns where,possible The State Summary and Subsidy and. Placements sections use the lattice There will never be. more than one state on the lattice but it is helpful to. remind users that the state filter is on,Guideline Implementation. Minimize Hidden Information Suppose a user never interacts with any aspect of the. report after making an initial selection Is all of the. information required to understand the visualizations. actually available There is a tendency of some report. developers to rely too heavily on hover overs and other. interactive features to present critical information Hover. over functionality should be used only to answer two. questions What is this entity and what is the value If. additional information is critical for the user it should be. available elsewhere on the report, Standardize Color Tab based reports might have reused colors to represent. certain variables or conditions This should be avoided in. any reporting process but it is easily overlooked, especially with a large number of tab based reports In a. scrolling report this problem exacerbates potential. confusion The Children Served section was changed to. a more unique color to avoid confusion with other greens. in the report, Scaffold General to Specific Visualizations that summarize trends should appear at the.
top of the scrolling report Detailed information like text. explanations and data tables should appear at the bottom. Table 2 Guidelines to Standardize and Simplify, By using the method described data scientists with little or no formal training in web. development or HTML5 coding can create reports that look much more like modern. responsive reactive websites However the shift from a traditional to modern flow and. focus is just the start Data scientists interested in going further can experiment with. additional ways of implementing even more unusual reporting. EXPERIMENTING WITH REACTIVE DESIGNS, Any user would agree that simply tabulating all of the subsidy data for every state every. year in a single PDF would result in a very hard to digest report The facts would be. accurate and reporting requirements could be fulfilled but it would be a report not easily. understood Figure 4 shows how some of this data is currently reported. Figure 4 Data Table as PDF, Figure 5 shows a very traditional report for the same data The purpose of this report is to. enable users to compare subsidy rates for different states over time This data includes. states so the report designer has used a map Over to the right the same Percent. Subsidized data on the map is split into years Below those visualizations is a data table. with all of the specific data All three objects interact Selecting a state on the map filters. the data by year bar chart and the data in the table There is nothing particularly wrong. about this report but neither is it particularly meaningful or appealing. Figure 5 Traditional Report Map Bar Chart Data Table. The first weakness is the map The geographic location of states in the United States. prominently features Alaska minimizes Hawaii and in the case of this data does not show. the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico at all The map does nothing to improve our. understanding of this data Different states have different policies that do affect outcomes. for at risk youth but there is nothing about longitude and latitude or geographic proximity. that has any meaning here In fact the reason we are using rates of subsided adoption is. because counts of subsidized children would show California Texas and Florida different. from other states based only on population size Counts would be misleading in the same. way that the sheer square area of land is not meaningful The map is convenient and. perhaps even expected but it is not very useful and might actually distort the meaning of. the metric, The second weakness is the fact that the additional data is presented at both too high and. too low a level to be easily understood The bar chart provides the data for all states. combined or one state at a time but the chart provides no opportunity to compare states. over time Conversely the data table provides so much detailed information that it would. be difficult to glean any insight from it Years are in rows but states are in columns which. makes comparisons impossible, Beyond those problems the subdued green coloring does little to interest any user You.
could argue that color choice reflects the seriousness of the topic but the subdued color. does not catch the attention of a viewer Again the report is not wrong just not very. helpful and definitely not very interesting, Figure 6 is a radically different version of the same report This report uses a time slider at. the top to allow users to select any period of time between 2008 and 2016 Despite the fact. that the bars below the time slider are purple and not a black and white ASCIImatic they. are indeed a box plot And below that is a word cloud with the data in row order In the. same amount of space and using the same data as the traditional report we have a. completely different design,Figure 6 Reactive Report. The map is gone as are the state name tick marks on the box plot In the word cloud size. and color were both mapped to the Percent Subsidized variable such that a larger state. name in green indicates a higher percent of subsidized adoptions No formal training is. needed to understand this report as it is completely interactive. As Figure 7 shows selecting a bar selects the state and provides the box plot data. associated with it,Figure 7 Top Down Selecting a Bar. Figure 8 shows how selecting a state from the word cloud below selects the state in the box. Figure 8 Bottom Up Selecting a State, While this report occupies a single screen a few additional aesthetic changes can make the. report even better For example by adding a background color to the time slider and a. color border around the box plot and word cloud it becomes absolutely clear that the three. objects are related In the case of the time slider the background color is a significant. improvement and keeps that single straight line from becoming lost at the top of the. Figure 9 A Color Coordinated Report, While creating a report like this cannot be summarized in a set of next do this steps there.
are a few guiding principles that can assist in inspiring your experimentation. Suggestion Implementation, Eschew the Mundane Do not repeat visualizations out of mere convenience or. habit The data in these reports is state level data easily. mapped but there is virtually nothing about the, geospatial location of the data that has an effect on the. outcomes for foster care children Why map the data. Delete Delete Delete Experiment with a stripped down version of visualizations. that do not include titles or axis labels The states are not. listed on the X axis in this visualization but when you. select a bar you see the state in the hover over and in. the word cloud below, Misuse the Software In SAS Visual Analytics we distinguish Graphs from. Controls but interactivity means that most graphs can. be used as a control Instead of being used to, demonstrate a finding a word cloud can be used as a. Table 3 Suggestions for Experimentation,WARNINGS AND GOTCHAS.
SAS Visual Analytics reporting using HTML5 provides a modern platform for data. visualization But the responsive nature of HTML5 and the deployment of reporting on. many different shapes and sizes of screens can create some problems. HTML5 IS RESPONSIVE IN REAL TIME ALL THE TIME, HTML5 will automatically adjust any SAS Visual Analytics reporting based on screen size. user input and certain aspects of the report as it tries to fit content onto a screen. The rise in popularity of rectangular screens for desktop computers prompted the. development of web reporting with wide white space margins to draw users attention back. to the center of the screen Report developers should for now assume a rectangular. horizontal screen as the default desktop view But there are large number of significantly. different sized screens jumbo wide view screens in conference rooms tiny smart phone. screens held vertically and a large array of differently proportioned tablet screens Suffice. to say HTML5 will attempt to adjust reporting to fit those screens and some aberrations. will occur The best advice is to design on the most common screen you expect users to. have and follow the previous guidelines to avoid some pitfalls. Using the Chrome browser if you select Developer Tools you will have the option to view. whatever web page is loaded in the browser dimensions you choose as well as on many. common devices like smart phones and tablets This should give you a chance to see how. reports under development will respond when rendered with HTML5. Figure 10 Chrome Emulation of Various Screen Dimensions. In adjusting for screen size SAS Visual Analytics attempts to preserve as much meaningful. content as possible but certain content is often lost Legends for graphs are often. abandoned Pie charts in particular which have issues of interpretability due to misreading. of slice sizes require significant additional context titles callouts legends and a lot of. additional space around the chart Figure 11 illustrates the same pie chart rendered in. increasingly smaller size and the problems that result Following the previous guidelines to. reduce unnecessary titling and text will help to keep the visualization front and center on. any screen Nevertheless some visualizations like pie charts should be used sparingly. Figure 11 The Incredible Shrinking Pie,NOT ALL BROWSERS ARE ALIKE. One of the first major advances in desktop publishing was the advent of WYSIWIG word. processing software in the late 1970s commercialized in the 1980s WYSIWIG what you. see is what you get meant that documents would print exactly as they looked on the. screen HTML5 is definitely not WYSIWIG, With the rise of the internet HTML hypertext markup language provided a common. standard for web based page layout but dynamic content often rendered inconsistently. The Java Runtime Engine offered the promise of write once run anywhere and provided a. common engine for internet multimedia Later Adobe Flash Flex provided an even more. adventurous yet safe space for dynamic visualizations video and sound The current rise. of HTML5 offers much of the same promise of these past technologies HTML5 tags will be. processed the same by different browsers and the rendered content will be presented as. intended to users Of course this is not always true What you expect to see is not always. what appears on the screen, If your organization has standardized to a particular browser for example all desktops. have Chrome and you know users will use that browser develop and test using Chrome. The same for Firefox Edge Safari and others The problem is more complex if you are. serving content such as public reporting where end users can use whatever they prefer and. this does not begin to account for tablets and mobile devices The best way to assess. browser usage is to audit weblogs of access to your reports but that often requires more. advanced web analytics and IT skills Report developers who want a quick estimate of the. most HTML5 compliant browsers should check HTML5TEST SAS regularly publishes the. results of our own browser testing at support sas com. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS, The majority of this paper has focused on modernizing reporting with very little attention to.
two issues of importance usefulness and appropriateness Those are important questions. worth considering First do all of the changes suggested here actually make the reporting. more useful Second are there some situations in which this type of modern reporting is. simply not appropriate,USEFULNESS, Current federal law requires these data to be collected Gathering the data does involve. costs to states to collect validate and submit these metrics Whether that effort is worth. the cost is often under reconsideration as noted in this 2018 notice to the Federal Register. regarding the AFCARS data, As data scientists we believe in the importance of gathering analyzing and communicating. findings from data Analyzing AFCARS data advances our understanding of how best to. meet the needs of at risk children receiving state social services But to fulfill the goals of. data science we must report the data in a manner that the general public and researchers. can use it That means the data will be available on the internet That means that. reporting must allow users to interact with the data not just read a PDF or download a file. Users must be able to ask questions and interrogate the data A useful reporting design. allows users to do so, Why then do we need to implement a modern responsive reactive design Because users. expect it Users expect that the data will be supported by reporting that makes the data. seem relevant and important to people today, A modern reporting design reinforces the current present usefulness of the data As new. technologies are developed we regularly transition old content to new formats Printed. books are scanned paintings are photographed with digital cameras and vinyl records are. transformed into digital sound But not all content is carried forward Not all books or. paintings or music are transformed to be a part of our modern digital world In truth we. import into the future only what we value from the past. The AFCARS data has always been an important source of information about state efforts to. serve at risk children and find permanent homes for children without them Modernizing. such reporting makes clear that this data and the issue itself are still important to us. Simply stated making these reports more modern will make the data more likely to be used. and thus more modern reporting is more useful,APPROPRIATENESS.
The reporting here is based on anonymized aggregated data at the state level but the data. represent the lives of millions of American children including those who have been adopted. those waiting for adoption and the hundreds of thousands of children served every year by. state child services agencies The data represents an objective straightforward accounting. of the positive outcomes and continuing risks for millions of young people. This is a serious story to tell Is it possible that more traditional reporting like the map. based report with its subdued greens technical layout and stuffed with facts data table is. more appropriate than the interactive report in shades of purple and green That is a. challenging question, In practice we have seen data scientists and report developers who pursue an aesthetic. designed to evoke the seriousness of the subject black screens filled with rows of gray.

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