Flow Editor FAQ

  • When you are using the Flow Editor, by default the Flow Editor automatically saves the current version of your Flow approximately every 30-60 seconds.  You can disable this functionality in the list of Settings if you wish to manually control when Save operations occur.

  • A "Flow Best Practice" is to include a version number in the name of every Flow.  For example, "Elegant Charts 1.0".  Then when it comes time to do some significant activity on the Flow, do a SaveAs and name the new Flow with a new version number (Elegant Charts 1.1).  The SaveAs will automatically place you into the newly created Flow, so are ready to continue your work, knowing that your prior version is safely positioned to be a backup if needed.

    There are two important reasons why you should always progress to a new version of your Flow prior to performing some significant activity in the Flow Editor.

    • The Flow Editor contains a very large number of options for accomplishing a near-infinite number of data story presentation ideas.   Consequently, you may find yourself going down a development path and wanting to revert back to a prior path.  If you have a prior version of your Flow, reverting to the prior version is likely to provide you the best way to proceed.
    • The Flow Editor does not currently have an undo button. It is automatically saving your work as you proceed.  Therefore, doing significant development work on a new version is the best way to make sure that you can easily get back to a specific prior version of your Flow.

    To create a new version, click ". . ." in the main ribbon, select "Save As", and specify the name for the new version of your Flow.

    Note: If a Flow already exists with the name you specify, Flow will save the Flow with the duplicate Flow name, so at that point, you will have two Flows with the same name.  In most cases you will then want to delete the older copy by clicking on the old Flow thumbnail from the "Home screen" and then clicking the "Delete" option.

  • Sizes, dimensions and distances are all measured in meters, designed to make good sense in a virtual reality and augmented reality 3-D space. Within the Flow Editor User Interface, these items are expressed in meters.  Users who are developing Flow presentations that will not be used in virtual reality 3-D space can just consider these as relative scaling factors.  Note: You can adjust the height of all objects in an AR scene within Settings.

  • An important Flow concept is that Flow data objects, such as Swarms, Maps, Connections, Labels and Text exist on all Steps.  However, each of these data objects is either Visible or Not Visible on each Step.  The Objects Timeline provides a visual picture of which data objects are available on each Step of the Flow.
  • When you click the ". . ." button in the main ribbon, several useful options are exposed.

    Note: As Flow evolves, new items may be added to the ". . ." menu, so please check this menu from time-to-time.

    The ". . . / Advanced (beta)" option

    This option enables you to use some product features that are not yet fully released in the Flow Editor.

    The ". . . / Thumbnail" option

    This option enables you to generate the thumbnail image that appears in the list of Flows.  You can capture an image from a Step within a Flow, or you can upload your own image.

    The ". . . / Settings" option

    The "Settings" option enables you to enable or disable various settings for your Flow.

    Some settings that are immediately useful to all Flow developers:

    1 "Show scrollable timeline when on laptop" - This setting enables the display of the "railroad track Step timeline" at the bottom of the screen.

    2 "Allow remix" - This setting enables a colleague with whom you have shared the Flow to make a copy of your Flow, and then be able to edit that copy.

  • A full Swarm name consists of the Swarm number, followed by a "sub-name" (For example "Swarm 12: Countries of origin").  You should always provide a "sub-name" for a Swarm, even if the sub-name is only a few characters.  Especially for Flows that contain many Swarms, seeing the sub-names in a list of Swarms will help you quickly identify the Swarm of interest.  It is also a good idea to provide sub-names for Connections, Labels and other Flow data objects, especially in large Flows having many data objects.
  • If the years along a time axis are being displayed with embedded commas, the cause is probably that you have not indicated that the axis is the timeline for the chart.  Just indicate that the axis is a timeline, and the commas will disappear.
  • If multiple dots occur at exactly the same point in a chart, you can use Swarm Clustering settings to make sure that each dot is displayed individually.  Each dot will be offset slightly from the other dots.

    The options for clustering include directional, bubble, and column.

    To use directional clustering you will need to specify the axes used (x, y, z, xy, xz, and yz are all valid options) which tells Flow the axes of whatever data points you desire to cluster. You can choose the offset value and the direction, which control the spacing between and the direction of the clustered dots, respectively. 

    To use bubble clustering you will need to specify the axes used, but because the direction is randomly generated the only other setting required here is a cluster density (spacing of dots).

  • The axis settings for a Flow Swarm can be controlled with a high degree of precision.  Settings are available for controlling the visibility of axis labels, applying grids that make the display easier to understand, controlling various aspects of axis labels, axis tick marks, axis tick labels, whether or not axis labels always face the camera, etc.
  • The "Console" option appears within the ". . ." menu.  The console contains useful information, such as errors that are occurring within the Flow, and items that may be sources of future errors, such as items that are never made visible in the current Flow.
  • It is rare, but possible, for you to do something within the Flow Editor that causes a failure when loading your Flow into the Editor.  The symptom is that the loading indicator spinning wheel does not stop spinning.  When this happens, you can gain some partial control by double-clicking the spinning wheel.  If you do not have a suitable backup, and you need assistance from Flow Support to rescue your Flow, please contact Flow Support, and they will ask you to share your Flow with an appropriate support engineer who is available to assist.  Flow Support and Flow Engineering will take appropriate steps to rescue your Flow.
  • The migration of dots during the transition from a preceding step to a succeeding step depends on the visibility of the swarms on each step, and the perspectives for the swarms on each step.  Animation occurs between different perspectives of the same swarm on adjacent steps.

    The rules governing animations when moving from Step1 to Step2 are:
    A.  If the perspectives for the swarm on Steps 1 and 2 are identical, no animation occurs
    B.  If the swarm is invisible on Step 2, no animation occurs
    C.  Otherwise, the dots migrate from the perspective on Step 1 to the perspective on Step 2, even if the swarm on Step 1 is invisible.

    You can specify the duration (in seconds) for the transition between adjacent Steps by clicking the Steps button in the upper left-hand panel and entering the desired number of transition seconds into the "Animation duration to next step" field for the appropriate Step that is listed in the right-hand panel.

  • Animations/transitions are handled by the Flow animation engine.  You cannot control how the animation engine behaves, but you can control the swarms, perspectives, and camera positions for the preceding and succeeding Steps.  The animation engine will move the dots from the preceding Step into the succeeding Step via an algorithm that is designed to be interesting and attractive.  If you experiment with your perspectives, camera settings, and transition intervals, you will be able to observe various types of changes in how the dots transition between Steps.
  • To ensure all users of your Flow presentation have great views, you can use the Set Camera button after completing the development of your Flow. Think of this as “finishing touches.” The best practice for this is to put the editor into Run Mode, adjust the camera angle so your data objects are centered and viewed in the desired orientation, and click Set Camera for each step within your Flow.
  • If you want to have different perspective on different steps for the same map, in the Map definition screen, you need to click the box labeled "Animate between steps".  This will enable the usage of the map on each step to be positioned and scaled independently.  If this not done, then adjusting the position or the scale on one step will probably have unintended consequences for the position and scale of the same map on other steps.
  • This setting can be used to lock a Flow so that no additional changes can be made to that Flow.  A Flow Best Practice is to enable this setting when a Flow is made available for production usage by users.  Future modifications can then be made on successor versions of the Flow.
  • Flow supports the use of GLB files.  The maximum file size allowed is 6 MB.
  • Enabling custom maps is on our shortlist for implementation… perhaps a month out from this writing. Internally we use GeoJSON format, and have done some prototypes with OpenMaps to get street maps. But we don’t have this built into the Flow Editor, and that might still be awhile.
  • Yes, clicking in the timeline track will select the object. The entire object row is selectable: click anywhere on the track including the name of the object. In Connections, Area Charts, and Labels you can navigate back to the Swarm by clicking the button ‘go to Swarm’ since it is the parent object. For Text, Images, and Maps, you can also click on the object in the 3D scene to select the object. 
  • Double-clicking on a square (which represents a specific object on a specific step) toggles on and off the visibility. You can also click and drag a visible object onto other steps if you need to turn on the visibility for many steps at once.
  • Here is a link to our demo media and assets folder: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1siUaKPPjVZNMI8FeTMuQjI-HjCucpc75?usp=sharing You can find dot and line textures, new data sources to use, music, point cloud data and custom map files!
  • When you're on the a.flow.gl homepage, click your username in the top right corner. Under subscription, you'll find details about your current subscription status and can update your information there.