Here at The Dashboard Spy, we’ve been keenly tracking the increasing adoption by business intelligence applications, dashboards, and database reporting tools of RIA (Rich Internet Application) technologies. The promise of RIA to provide enriched user interaction and the concurrent trend towards usability and user-centric design bodes well for intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces for business applications in general and BI dashboards in particular.
We’ve featured business dashboards using exciting RIA-style technologies such as Flash, AJAX, Flex, Air, Silverlight, etc. and have seen that the technology by itself certainly does not guarantee a good user experience. It is the underlying information architecture, design and visualization approaches that make for a sensible, user-centric dashboard experience.
Today we look at a flash-based database and dashboarding technology that uniquely combines several elements of our Web 2.0 world. Think of a web-based database that is easy to use because it allows drag and drop, and other rich internet application features. On top of that, you find that the interface to the database is very dashboarder friendly with built-in status indicator lights, flags and conditionally formatted graphics. Now add to that the ability to share your database with the world. The flip side of that sharing of course is the ability to browse and consume interesting data sets shared by others. Roll all this together and you get a social database that may be a dashboarder’s dream.
The web-based, sharing aspect may remind you of the Google Apps spreadsheet application. It’s along similar lines in that it is a compelling, no-cost option for sharing data across the internet. But you may find the user experience and graphic design of blist more cutting-edge, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Blist bills itself as “the World’s Easiest Database” with the intent of “creating a new category of online social databases that combine an instantly intuitive and comprehensible user interface with a vibrant community of data, data templates, and people.”
Here’s a video about blist from the company that explains what blist is.
The world’s easiest database? Well, that’s certainly a lofty goal, so let’s look at some screenshots and try it out for ourselves.
Here is a screen capture of the out-of-the-box sample database. You can see some icons that come in handy for BI dashboarding such as conditional formatted bars, status flags, etc.
Here is a sample of the types of charting available. This is a screengrab of a bar chart:
Here is a look at the Blist Activity Dashboard which serves as an interesting jump-off point when it comes to browsing available data shared by others. Think of the possibilities if you can keep tabs on the work of other BI dashboarders. Interesting idea in business intelligence collaboration.