Visual-Baseball Project Site Updates Continue

Updates to the Portfolio section of the VBP site continue, in an effort to reverse some lost functionality in the wake of one or more WordPress updates. The plus side of this setback is that the updates allow us to introduce a more easily maintained infrastructure with improved usability. Users can now search and scroll through content links while also accessing pages through an enhanced menu system.

Here’s an example of the new Portfolio menu:

Selecting one of the menu items will take you directly to a relevant page, now composed of a brief intro as well as an example of the visualization type, as seen here:

The lower half of each page will now have a searchable list format, with both a link and a description of the associated content. Users can also adjust the pagination settings to show the desired number of links to view at one time:

These enhancements should make it far easier to navigate the site and view the desired content. Once these are complete, I can begin to deliver new content; the 2018 game and season files will soon be upon us, and much of the content is itching for an update. In the meantime, enjoy what’s already here!

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Visual-Baseball Site Refresh

This one wasn’t in the plan, at least not so quickly, but I decided to go ahead and do a site update with a new theme. The new layout has a little more visual style, particularly on the landing page, and provides greater flexibility in some key areas. While the site has been updated, all content remains available, and seems to be easier to get to using the menu tab, archives, and recent posts.

The next step is to produce more content, which I’m eager to do…after I get caught up on my chapter submissions for the Gephi book. Some upcoming posts may deliver some insight into using Gephi, or into network graph analysis in general, but that’s not a certainty at this point. In the meantime, take a look at the site, and let me know your thoughts.

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New Year – New Site

The holidays and New Year always bring thoughts of what we can do better for the future. Traditionally, this has been in the form of resolutions – to lose weight, to exercise more frequently, drink less coffee (tea, beer, etc.). For me, the holidays are when I take the time to assess what I have planned (or would like to achieve) for the upcoming year, and how I can create more time to do some things that will grow me personally and professionally. The challenge is to achieve this without detracting from family time or the day job, or even sleep time. In short, how do I get more time out of the existing hours in the day? Read More

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Reworking the Analysis Lab

Less than two weeks after upgrading the SpagoBI software that powers the Visual-Baseball Analysis Lab, I’ve decided to move in a different direction. After spending many hours over the holiday weekend examining all the options, I’m electing to move forward using d3 and nvd3 as the primary tools for the future version of the lab.

Here is some rationale behind my decision:

  • SpagoBI, being a java-based platform, has a huge footprint, which means that I need to maintain a Tomcat web server with plenty of memory and storage space. Given the limited usage of the lab over the last two years, this no longer seems like a good tradeoff.
  • It takes too long for the app to launch after logging in. I could spend more time addressing this, but again this is not time well spent. I would rather have an application (or applications) that are fast and easy for site visitors.
  • Java-based platforms, including SpagoBI, Jasperserver, and Pentaho, all lean toward production-oriented reporting. This makes sense, given their corporate audiences, but is no longer the best option for what I hope to accomplish with the VBP site. I need a less rigid model with greater growth potential.
  • d3 and other javascript alternatives provide far more flexibility to create impactful visualizations using an endless variety of chart types. The java apps simply cannot compete on this front.
  • Most of my recent efforts have been created using d3 and nvd3, so it makes sense to leverage these tools even more, and to spend a higher percentage of my limited time using the most effective tools.

I will miss certain elements within Spago, and in the general BI model, such as OLAP cubes and parameterized reports. Perhaps these will reappear in some form in the future. On the flip side, I certainly won’t miss stack errors, re-booting Tomcat when the app crashes, and a few other annoyances that seem to be standard fare with Java. There are still some worthy Java apps, including Spago, but the time has come to move forward. More to come.

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