What’s on the table

Ok the title is probably misleading. In this post I liked to talk a bit about tableau. Tableau, and is this case public Tableau, is a free data-visualization tool, that allows you to share visualized data on-line, for free. Have a look at the tableau gallery with the vizz of the day.

Tableau desktop (free for MacOS, Window…) allows you to link data in the form of static files (Excel, csv, pdf,json…) or online data (e.g. Google Doc – sheet, databases…), and visualize your data.
You can visualize data in worksheets, like a chart, a table, a map. You can than combine these worksheets in a dashboard, and add text, links, images… to explain the dashboards. These dashboard can be seen as slides, which you will use in a storyboard, to tell your story.

It’s completely up to you how to tell the story. You could start with a global birds-eye view of the data, and drill down to some detail, and maybe come to a conclusion. This is a great way to visualize data for a presentation, but the most powerful thing about it, is that this is not a static slide. As a user of this visualization, you can filter and view the data the way you want, and interactively get a better understanding of the data. Of course, as with all visualizations of data, it can become painfully obvious, that some of your data is incorrect or incomplete, so be prepared to clean up your data…

So why am I looking at tableau? In the context of my general interest in genealogy, I’m always looking for ways to visualize data, and in this case how to easily compare data, and look for data in my family tree.
In a first step I am converting GEDCOM files to useable files for tableau. Publishing my family tree in a tableau vizz makes looking for relatives interactive and fun, compared to the static html pages exported by most family tree apps.
In a later fase I want to compare 2 (or more) GEDCOM files, and look for places, people, events that might overlap… trying to determine if there might be a connection… This could be an interesting tool for the genealogy detective.

If you are interested in the test tools we are writing, and like to participate, you can contact me at geert@verticalhorizon-software.com

Have a nice weekend.


The life of a developer

Looking back on last year, I can say it was a very interesting year. There were complex projects and a lot of new tech to learn.

I think the most used tech term in 2017 was AI (Artificial Intelligence) or more specifically ML (Machine Learning) and it’s siblings like neural networks… I’m not going to explain AI or ML here, there are a lot of sites that can explain it better than I can, but I do want to talk about the perception of AI and developers to the general public.

Developers are often seen as these nerds that type stuff in the computer to make it do what they want it to do. Developers are also these people that cause all the bugs, or don’t understand what the user wants. They are the reason why your app doesn’t work, or does work the way you want.
AI is presented as the magical solution to fix all this, and developers will not be needed anymore… In some presentations AI is this thing you talk to that will figure out what you want, and will take care of everything. Well, good luck with that.

From experience I can tell you that most users have a hard time explaining what they exactly want. The way people explain what they want is full of pre-conditions, assumptions and limits that are so obvious to the person in question, that it is never explained or even listed. An App needs to know these assumptions, limits and pre-conditions, otherwise it will not work or work badly. What I’m saying is that when you can not provide a framework, a structure to an AI, it will result in a disaster. Maybe developers will become more like business analysts, I don’t know, but I do know you need to understand the process, the flow, the logic of an App for it to work.
Unfortunately, we see the opposite trend with users. More and more users only know their little part of the process, and not the whole picture. For an AI to write an App, someone will need to tell it what to do… For a super easy app this may be an end-user, but for more complex apps… I’m almost sure it will need to be someone else.

2018 will be great for developers. It will be interesting on all fronts. Developers will be needed more than ever. AI, AR (Augmented Reality) and ML will be more and more integrated. IoT (Internet of Things) will take of. BlockChain implementations will become mainstream… and so much more. Business analysts and developers will be in demand.

Have a happy and wonderful year.

Calendar Converter 7.0 for iOS, and App Analytics

CalConverter_Logo 2Calendar Converter for iOS is new up to version 7.0. As posted earlier, we updated the interface, added a few calendars, and included Today View.
Obviously, the Mac counterpart will follow.

We also started using Apple’s new App Analytics tool for iOS, which was introduced last week. This is a tool for Developers, to show the behaviour of potential buyers in the App Store. All user info is of course anonymous, but it tells us for example how many users browse an App, and in how many sales this is converted.
The data Apple provides only starts in April 2015, so we are interested to see what we can learn from this.
One thing that is completely new, is how many devices use your app. This is not a completely accurate number, because only devices from people that agreed to share this diagnostics info are included.
Anyway, we are excited with our new toy 😉