Getting Started

Glossary of Terms

Flow - a data story presentation that has been constructed using the Flow Editor.

Data Value (or "Dot") - Data values within Flows are represented by "Dots" that appear at the appropriate locations within the 3-D space.  The size of the Dot may provide a visual indication of the magnitude of the data value represented by the Dot.  The color of the Dot may also provide useful information about the data value.

CSV File - A comma-delimited data file that is used to populate data into a Swarm. The rules regarding the content of Flow CSV files are described here.

Swarm - A collection of data values and associated data fields.   A swarm can be used in any number of Steps.  Each Dot in the Swarm represents one value of the data field of interest.  A Swarm is populated with the content of an associated CSV file.

Chart - An arrangement of data values, such as a line chart, a bar chart, placement of data values on a map, etc.  Many example charts can be seen in the Featured Flows.

Step - A Flow presentation is comprised of 1 or more Steps.  A Step is equivalent to a slide within a PowerPoint presentation.  A Flow can contain any number of Steps.

Timeline - The Timeline is a section within the Flow Editor 2.0 screen that provides a visual summary of the data objects (Swarms, Connections, Area Charts, Labels, Texts, Images, Buttons) that are visible on each Step within a Flow. 


The example above shows the Timeline for a Flow consisting of 11 Steps, 1 Swarm, 2 Connections, 3 sets of Labels, 1 Area Chart, 1 Map and 1 Text object.  Colored cells indicate on which Steps the various objects are visible.

Connections - Connections are used to specify how data values are interconnected by straight lines.  Certain types of connection specifications are provided by default within the Flow Editor, and some connection information may optionally be provided within the CSV file.  A Connection can be used in one or more Swarms and may appear in one or more Steps.

When a Connection is used in multiple Steps, an edit of the Connection in one Step may produce unexpected results when viewed in another Step.

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The above examples show simple and complex swarms in which data values are connected by straight lines.

Labels - Labels are text values that are automatically inserted into a chart.  Labels may be used to display the values at the end of a line graph, at the beginning of a line graph, at the maximum value of a line graph, etc. 

Filters - A Filter consists of logic for selecting a subset of rows from a Swarm.  Filter elements can be grouped to form a composite filter that consists of multiple "and" or "or" conditions for selecting rows from the Swarm.

Perspectives - A group of settings that specify the format in which a Swarm is displayed within the 3-D space. Naming and managing of Perspectives is performed automatically. Perspectives provide an infinite number of ways that data can be visualized and communicated.

Any number of Perspectives can be used for displaying data that resides within a Swarm.  For a given Step, only one Perspective can be present for each Swarm that is referenced within the particular Step. To manage the Perspectives manually, select the Advanced checkbox on, and a drop-down will appear in the Swarm settings panel.

Other Items - Information regarding Axis Settings, Story Creator, Methods of Presenting Flows, Interactions, Text and Images, etc. is (or will be) available in other articles in our Help Center.