Getting Started 3: Working with Dashboards

Published on March 15, 2018

Arcadia Instant and Arcadia Enterprise are our company’s tools for visual analytics. Arcadia Instant is a free downloadable visual analytics tool while Arcadia Enterprise is an enterprise-grade platform capable of supporting teams of users and a variety of data sources.  

Arcadia Instant comes in Windows and Mac downloads directly from Arcadia Data and helps you quickly gain insight into your data. So, you can explore and visualize your datasets with interactive visuals, enterprise dashboards, and apps.

Arcadia Enterprise can be installed yourself with Cloudera Manager or Ambari Stacks.  You can find detailed directions on our documentation portal.    

In this article, we will first customize a dashboard by rearranging and adding different visuals. Next, we will walk through some of the dashboard-level parameters that can be set to link the visuals together. By the end, you should be comfortable in building and modifying dashboards.


Dashboard Controls
Rearranging Visuals in the Dashboard
Adding a Visual
Dashboard Filters, Settings, Style, and Custom Style
Explicit Filters

Dashboard Controls

Dashboards and visuals are used together. A visual is an individual chart/graphic visualization constructed from data stored in a dataset. A dashboard is a collection of several related visuals placed on the same screen. We will start by going over the features you can use to put together a story using the visuals.

For convenience, there are buttons for creating a new dashboard on several different pages

1. The HOME page. There is a NEW DASHBOARD button in the upper right corner.

2. The VISUALS page. There is a NEW DASHBOARD button under the Arcadia Data logo

3. The DATA page. There is an icon to create a new dashboard next to each dataset.

4. The Visual Designer screen. While working on a visual, you can create a new dashboard via the drop-down menu item.


We will continue working with the Life Expectancy Dashboard which we used in Getting Started 1 – Exploring Arcadia Instant. Let’s first get oriented on the different controls in a dashboard. Open up the Life Expectancy Dashboard by clicking on the VISUALS tab and then clicking on that dashboard’s tile. Once it opens up, on the top left corner you can click on the EDIT button to make changes to the dashboard. On the “…” menu we see more available options.

  • Clone will create another dashboard with the current set of visuals. It’s useful when you want to experiment with different layouts or add other visuals.
  • Email (in Arcadia Enterprise only) lets you easily share the dashboard with someone.
  • Add to Favorites will add this dashboard to your list of My Favorites in your VISUALS homepage.
  • Set as Homepage lets you set the current dashboard as the default page to show when you first log in.
  • New Dashboard and Delete Dashboard are self-explanatory.

On the top right corner of the dashboard are icons for filter display, Back, Forward, Reset, and Get URL.

The filter display shows what filtering parameters are being used for the dashboard (more on this later). The Back link lets you go back to the previous state of your dashboard, and the Forward link lets you go to a state from which you went back. You can also think of these as undo and redo buttons. The Reset link restores the dashboard back to the original state. The Get URL link (which appears as a menu item when you click the “…” icon) provides a URL that can be shared. Note that the security model still applies so if the dashboard is not public, the user will be required to login first.
To see a large version of a visual, double-click on it and you will get a full-screen version.


Rearranging Visuals in the Dashboard

The dashboard has a grid system used for visual placement and alignment. We can resize and move each visual as we like and the system will automatically snap the visuals into the corresponding grid space. We can see this in action by doing couple quick rearrangement of the visuals in the Life Expectancy Dashboard.

1. First, click on the EDIT button so we can enter the dashboard’s edit mode.

2. Once in edit mode, we want to move the World Life Expectancy visual to the upper left so users will read it first. Drag the World Life Expectancy visual to the upper left corner. Notice that the Trend of Life Expectancy visual automatically moves downward to make room.

3. Now the position of the Trend of Life Expectancy visual looks skewed because the World Life Expectancy visual is shorter than the visuals to the right. You can correct that by resizing the visual. Hover over the World Life Expectancy visual and in the lower right corner, a “corner bracket” icon appears. Drag that icon to resize the height of the World Life Expectancy visual to match the height of the visuals to the right. Now the Trend of Life Expectancy visual looks properly aligned.

4. Now let’s do some final cleanup. Move the Population at end of each decade and GDP at end of each decade visuals, currently under the Trend of Life Expectancy visual, to the blank space to the right of the Trend of Life Expectancy visual. After you’ve moved them to the right, you can resize them with the “corner bracket” icon in the lower right corners to make the dashboard more balanced. This is what we end up with:

5. Now that we see this version looks pretty good, let’s click on the SAVE button to keep the changes. Notice that whenever there is a modification that is not saved, the SAVE button will be green. After saving, it turns back to white again. And if you try leaving a screen with unsaved changes, you will get a warning prompt so you don’t accidentally lose changes.

Adding a Visual

When adding a new visual to a dashboard, we have the choice of adding a new visual or an existing visual, as well as a visual from the same dataset or a different dataset.

1. We start by selecting Shared Visuals option on the right side menu to see all of the available options.

2. From the expanded menu, we can select the connection and dataset for existing visuals from which to choose. The visual listing will refresh based on the two selections. We can also create a new visual by clicking the NEW VISUAL button. For this example, we’ll stick with the samples connection and the World Life Expectancy dataset.

3. Find the packed bubble visual called World Population Distribution in 2010 (you’ll have to scroll down the list to see it) and add it to your dashboard by clicking on it. Notice that the added visual is on the dashboard and you can move and resize it.

Dashboard Filters, Settings, Style, and Custom Style

We will briefly cover the four other dashboard settings in the right margin, Filters, Settings, Style, and Custom Style, in this section.

Filters give you one or more specific parameters on which to filter the data. In the Life Expectancy Dashboard, you might want to filter data by country and year. To do that, click on Filters on the menu in the right margin.

Be sure your dashboard is scrolled to the top so you can see the dotted box which will show your filter selections. Click on country and then year in the Dimensions list in the expanded Filters menu. These two parameters will appear in the dotted box and are represented as labeled boxes with menus. Clicking on the menus will give you options to specify your filtering. For example, clicking on the year menu shows all the years you can specify to filter the data. You can select any of the values, which will be used as the default filter values for your visuals in the dashboard after you click on SAVE.


Settings provide a variety of display settings that are customizable for different environments. For example, the Dashboard Width parameter allows you to set the width of your dashboard in pixels to best fit your screen. The other display options have descriptive labels, so feel free to experiment as the changes are easy to revert.

Style let you customize the look and feel of the dashboard. The detailed setting let you configure font type, font size, font color, background color, and alignment of the different components’ title and text.


Custom Style is for web developers who want to write CSS code instead. Since this is a beginner tutorial, we will a discuss this capability in a later article.


Explicit Filters

Explicit filters are filter parameters that are passed from one visual to the other visuals in the same dashboard. Let’s take a closer look how this feature is used.

1. Each of the visuals can send out parameters to other visuals in the same dashboard. The parameters are taken in as filters into the receiving visuals. To see this, in the Trend of Life Expectancy visual, hover over a data point to see the details of that data point, and then click on that data point.

2. In the screenshot above, we see that the data point is for Europe in the year 1973. Clicking on that data point filtered all other visuals in the dashboard to use 1973 as the year and “Europe” as the region. If you hover over the filters display icon in the upper right corner of the dashboard (mentioned earlier in this article), you will see the Current Parameters that are filtering the visuals in the dashboard.


3. If we want to remove the last filter, simply click on the Back link () icon to go back. If we want to go back to the original state, click on the Reset () icon.

In the next article, Getting Started 4: Building Visuals, we will go into more detail on building visuals.

Other Getting Started Guides include:
Getting Started 1 – Getting Started with Arcadia Instant
Getting Started 2 – Connections, Data Import, and Data Sets
Getting Started 5 – App Navigation