— Forest and the Trees


I’m speaking at Boston Flex User Group on Tuesday September 13 at 7pm at Adobe in Waltham. It’ll basically be the same talk I gave at Harvard. But, probably a bit more technical and I’ll add some mobile stuff (HTML5). You should come! It’ll be fun!

Flex Group Announcement

EventBrite link

Description below…

Doug Marttila, Lead Visualization Engineer at PatientsLikeMe will talk about the importance of patient reported data in healthcare; the user experience and architectural challenges that PLM faced in creating a platform for all diseases; and the design and code used in creating the patient charts.

For more details go to patientslikeme.com, search for patients with specific conditions, or, click below to see two examples of public patient charts:



PatientsLikeMe is the leading user-reported medical site in the world. With over 110,000 members, they have enormous amounts of patient reported data. In April of 2011, they released an updated version of their site which can support all of the approximately 3,500 diseases in the world.

Doug Marttila is Lead Visualization Engineer at PatientsLikeMe where he makes many of the user facing charts. He’s been building charts for the web (mostly in Flash) for the past 12 years. His rarely updated blog is forestandthetrees.com.
Please join us after 6:30pm for discussion and refreshments. Talk begins promptly at 7pm.

To get future event announcements, sign up at http://groups.google.com/group/bostonfug
Please RSVP at http://bfug20110913.eventbrite.com.

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I’ll be giving a talk on Flex Charting next week at NEIA. Please attend.

Here’s the description…

Intro to Flex Charting

Flex Charting is a pain in the ass to use. It’s very easy to create a simple chart but gets more and more difficult the more you want to customize. During this talk, we will start with a simple chart and add more and more features and functionality. By the end you should have a basic understanding of the Flex charting classes. Time permitting, we will discuss some other Flex data visualization libraries and some tips and tricks for making complex charts. Our sample data set will be Michael Jackson’s Number 1 hits, so if nothing else, you will learn something about the King of Pop.

Wednesday, October 28
7:15 – 9:00
Room 1001-1002 on Center Campus The New England Institute of Art 10 Brookline Place West Brookline, MA 02445 Brookline Village Stop on the MBTA D Greenline

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Adobe released a new sdk for Flex which fixes a cross-scripting security threat. So, you download the sdk, unzip it, create a new directory for 3.4.0 in your flex sdks directory. Also extract the data viz zip and put its files in the appropriate directories in the 3.4.0 directory that you just added. (You could do this different ways as well.)

Then in Flex Builder, right click on a project, choose Properties, Flex Compiler, Configure Flex SDKs. And add your new SDK.

So, pretty sure there are plenty of posts on how to do the above. But, now you need to extract the DataViz source. This post explains that. And here’s what you can copy and paste into Terminal to get it to work if you’re on a mac.

java -jar “/Applications/Adobe Flex Builder 3 Plug-in/sdks/3.4.0/lib/DMV-source.jar” “/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Flex” “/Applications/Adobe Flex Builder 3 Plug-in/sdks/3.4.0″

The blog changes the straight quotes to curly quotes, so, you’ll probably have to change that.

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Just saw this post from Matt Chotin. Looks like no big changes to the Flex Charts, which is a bummer. However, I also came across this post (easy axis inversion in 4), which leads me to believe some changes have been made. I’d love to see a complete list of improvements, but, can’t seem to find anything. I will buy you a beer at the next beerfug, if you know of such a list. (I also promise to finally get the beerfug blog up and running before the next meeting. Blink tags are only funny for maybe 2 months.)

Here are some more links w/ info on charts.
Render Direction property on Pie Charts
More on the reversing axis direction.
Info on new filter functions for chart items.

Thanks to Sangavi for the links.

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I needed this for creating an axis label for a chart. The Flex Charting label was flashing. Basically it creates a bitmap of the text and then rotates that. Obviously, you can’t select text, but, might be useful for someone. Here it is. Click the “add a text field” button. Then change text in the text input component. Rotate using the slider. Right click, view source.

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Bill Scott’s presentation on designing web interfaces is great. I’ll be buying his book. (via DashboardSpy)

I just ran across datavisualization.ch. Add it to your must reads (along w/ infosthetics and flowing data. And so many more.)

Spent some time going through this flickr set.

And watched this video of Manuel Lima from Visual Complexity.

Also, there’s a Flex Data Visualization contest.

Holy shit. It appears people actually (finally, thank god) care about data visualization. For the first time, I don’t think you can keep track of all the examples (and still have time for work). I remember when Public APIs hit that point maybe 3 or 4 years ago. Exciting.

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This just came up. I’ll be giving my mashup talk again (twice in one week – really getting some good value), this time to BFPUG.

Info here…

Wednesday, March 25
The New England Institute of Art
Center Campus (Brookline Village) http://www.artinstitutes.edu/boston/AboutUs/MapsDirections.aspx
Room 1001-1002

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Here’s a link to a pdf of the mashup talk I just gave to the Harvard Flash User Group.

A special thank you to Oscar Cortes. I shamelessly stole content from the mashup talk he gave to both the Design Patterns group and the excellent Flex Camp Boston.

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I’ll be speaking at the Harvard Flash Group this Thursday. It’s open to the public (kind of), you need to be let in by Nick. So, if you have any interest in going, send me an email. You’d just have to meet at Lamont Library before the talk. I’ll talk about using Flex for creating mashups and the wonder that is Web 2.0. I’ll also walk through some code I will have written by the time of the talk.Harvard University Flash User Group March 19, 2009, 12:15 – 1:45 Lamont Library
Web 2.0 and Mashups w/ Flex

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Really need to start blogging again. Here’s an example using HierarchicalCollectionViewCursor to set the row color of an Advanced DataGrid by depth. Right-click to view source.

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