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Rill 0.24 – Introducing time period comparisons

· 3 min read

⚡ Rill Developer is a tool that makes it effortless to transform your datasets with SQL and create powerful, opinionated dashboards.

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In this release, we’re introducing time comparisons into our dashboard. This is easily our number one requested dashboard feature. Why? Because almost all analyses of time series data start with two questions: (1) what’s going on right now?, and (2) is this better or worse than before? A single number on its own doesn’t give you any information about performance; a trend line on its own does not conjure insights about the variation between “now” and “the past” with enough fidelity.

It comes with two pieces:

The big numbers, leaderboards, and dimension tables will now show the change and the percentage change when you have a relevant comparison period set. Table stakes! You can quickly see if the marginal and broken out measure values have gone up or down. it’s a fantastic way to see what’s happening at a glance. If your selected time range can be compared to a period in the past, you’ll get the comparison functionality by default.

The line charts now superimpose the previous period’s trend & enables a useful mouseover. We aren't thrilled about superimposing two lines, but we really like how the mouseover design works. You get the mouseover value, the previous value, and the change percentage. Overlaying a one line on top of another provides an enormous amount of information to the user – it underscores cyclical effects (”well, this is actually normal”) and accentuates anomalies (”that doesn’t look like last week! What’s happening there?”).

The time based comparison features are on by default if you’re looking at a time period that has enough of a lookback window. We think the benefit of showing this context outweighs the extra visual weight.

This is our first iteration of time-based comparisons. In future releases, here are some of the bigger things we’ll focus on:

  • Ability to sort leaderboards and dimension tables by movers and shakers. This is something we’ll probably tackle sooner rather than later, since it’s incredibly useful.
  • Additional comparison windows. Comparing the selected period with a previous period is powerful; being able to answer the question “is this Friday like other Fridays?” takes things to a new level.
  • Refinements to the interactions themselves We’re shipping this so we can start collecting feedback from you & our design partners.