Thursday, May 20, 2010

XComponents 1.9 Released

A version 1.9 of the XComponents is now generally available with two new components (XHarveyBalls and XReflector), and a number of enhancements and bugfixes to existing components, particulsly XScorecard (click here for details).
I am really pleased to announce that the kind folks at Antivia have agreed to sponsor the hosting of the XComponents on their site, this will save me considerable time and effort (XComponents are running at almost over 6,500 downloads to date). So in order to download XComponents 1.9 go to Having said that the XComponents will remain free to use, neither I nor Antivia will be charging anything for them.

(As always: full disclosure I am an advisor to Antivia on their XWIS product chief product and marketing officer at Antivia)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The remarkable power of the Xcelsius 2008 SDK

Xcelsius ( is a remarkable, innovative tool which allows anyone who can use Excel to create stunning, interactive Adobe Flex/AIR based visualizations, dashboards and mini-applications through a point-and-click interface without having to write a single line of code.

The latest version, Xcelsius 2008, has many great new features, like the embedded worksheet (dramatically improving the overall design workflow) and the tabbed container component (creating multi-pane dashboards is now a piece of cake). However, one of the biggest changes that, because the product has been re-architected on the Adobe Flex platform, it is now possible for Flex developers to write add-on components for Xcelsius to extend its remarkable capabilities even further.

What is even better is that because this extensibility is build on the Flex / Flash platform, with only a little extra work the many, many existing Flex / Flash components available today can be transformed into Xcelsius components opening them up to an whole new class of user.

To give a hint of just what is possible with the Xcelsius 2008 SDK below I have created a few sample "XComponents", each of which features in one or more of the Xcelsius models below.

If you want to install the XComponents in your version of Xcelsius 2008 you will find the xlx (XceLsius eXtension) file here :-

download XComponents.xlx here

And remember, although the components are written in Flex, once they are installed in Xcelsius the end-user can use them without writing any code, just like all the other standard Xcelsius components.

XGlobe and XScorecard

These components were added in verison 1.5 of the XComponents. XGlobe uses the Papervision3D library to produce a remarkable 3D animated globe and the XScorecard extends the functionality of the XTreeGrid to add a number of new features including traffic light indicators on each KPI.

Click here for a video of how to use the XGlobe.


The XYahoomap component is a simple extension to the Yahoo Maps Flash control (available here), which provides full map drag, zoom and differing views (map, satelite, etc) of a normal Yahoo Map but now it can be part of an Xcelsius model (clicking on the map markers changes the mini-dashboard and the Xcelsius radio button moves the map from the UK to the US).

You can see here just how easy it is to add one of these maps to an existing Xcelsius 2008 model.


XProgress image takes two images and uses one to overlay the other to provide a progress indicator. In the Xcelsius designer the user can choose which images they want to overlay and whether progress is shown left to right (as in the pencil) or bottom to top (as in the bottle).


A common request for Xcelsius is a tree component to allow selection of hierarchical data. Although Xcelsius 2008 does not ship with a tree component out of the box, the SDK allows the standard Flex tree component to be easily added. Again the new component is a full citizen of the Xcelsius world and so it can update other parts of the model as the user clicks on it. The flags in the model are read into the standard Xcelsius slide-show component from


Sometimes a straightforward tree is not enough and a tree integrated with a data grid is required. Again the Xcelsius 2008 SDK and the flexibility of Flex provide an answer. This example is a staff directory and an associated mini "dashboard", however it could be just as easily be a performance management KPI scorecard. The Flex code for the XTreeGrid is built on concepts and code from the article in James Ward's blog here.

XBulletChart and XSparkline

These two chart types are becoming an increasingly common requirement for dashboards. This time the components are based on the Flex charting library which comes with some versions of Flex.