[thelist] Sparklines implementation

Luther, Ron ron.luther at hp.com
Thu Oct 28 08:24:44 CDT 2004

Joshua Olson noted:

>>This sounds like an excellent idea.  Do you mean like a font where each
>>character is one "pixel" wide and has one "pixel" on the line
>>highlighted?... Then to generate a graph you'd do something like this:
>><span style="font-family: spark;">abcdedefghgfefghijhihgfedefgh</span>

Hi Joshua!

Yeah. That's what I was thinking.  Here's kinda where that comes from ...

Redefining character sets, (creating special fonts), for presentation 
purposes is an idea (or a 'trick' if you prefer) that goes back quite 
aways ...

IIRC, those logs that used to scroll across the screen in the old Frogger 
game were actually the word "LOG", (or "LOOOOOOOOG"), where the "L" was 
remapped to look like one end of a log, the "G" to the other end, and the 
"O" to a midportion that could be repeated to extend the length of the 

Anyway, I sat in on a talk Jaimy Clark from AboutBI gave last April where 
he demonstrated his mapping font plug-ins at the Hyperion conference. Here 
is a page where he shows off some screen shots:

Very slick. Very professional looking.

Now Jaimy's product is a plug-in to Brio. Brio is a reporting package that 
plugs-in to a browser (typically IE). So an end user would be accessing 
these reports/graphs/maps using IE over the company intranet. You can use 
an Oracle, MS-SS7, Redbrick, OLAP cube or just about anything else as a 
backend. Soooo, in a controlled internal company environment, you could be 
delivering this kind of cool mapping stuff over the web today.

I talked to Jaimy for a bit after the talk about the amount of work it 
took to create fonts from maps and get them integrated as a plug-in to 
a plug-in.  Sounded pretty tedious to me.

But these 'sparklines' look quite a bit simpler. The graphic demands aren't 
quite as intense. So I'm thinking you might be able to get away with 
either defining a smaller set of characters ... or maybe remapping or 
just plain using some of the 'above 128' characters in a normal font.

<sigh> Someday I'll get time to play with fun stuff like this!


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