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What’s New in the TIBCO Spotfire 3.1 Platform

TIBCO Spotfire 3.1 extends the platform capabilities for visual data analysis and statistical services. It provides a broad set of features for administrators and developers as well as analysts.

Analytic and Programmatic Control

TIBCO Spotfire 3.1 comes with a wealth of features. The new platform capabilities are typically available by way of example in the SDK, and are in the process of being detailed in this web site. Some 3.1 additions may provide a solution to stumbling blocks or even unsolvable problems for analysts as well as developers:

  • The scripting API operates in TIBCO Spotfire from the new text areaMashup Control: The TIBCO Spotfire Web Player 3.1 JavaScript API provides methods to list bookmarks as links, save filter settings to an external storage, and even to get and set document properties. The scripting API operates in TIBCO Spotfire from the new text area
  • IronPythonExternal link Scripting: Custom scripts can configure any part of an analysis and add behaviors to it without creating and deploying extensions. The IronPython script language can access any part of TIBCO Spotfire available in the public API. By adding controls to the new text area, IronPython scripts can be executed. This is a convenient and powerful means to solve simple as well as complex tasks. To create analyses containing IronPython scripts, you need the Author Scripts license function.
  • Simplified deployment: Refer to the server side UI in the TIBCO Spotfire – Deployment and Administration Manual.

Joining Features, Joining Forces

Some features invite people with different skill sets to apply them in creative ways and in concert. The IronPython scripting is combined with the controls in the new text area, but that is not the only new feature designed to work with another. Consider the following analysis outline, a quick yet powerful configuration combining two new features:

  • Text Area 3.1: Text areas hold interface controls like drop-down lists and simple text boxes that may be tied to sophisticated analytic actions, such as executing action links, scripts or data functions. Controls may be used to alter values of document, table and column properties.
    See also How to Use the Text Area and the API HtmlTextArea.
  • Data Functions: This concept covers a wide set of calculation options, from application of calculations as C# extensions, to remote S-PLUS or R server calls. The key moment is the out-of-process character performing the calculation in a background thread. Data functions may be considered a higly versatile framework, even capable of operations such as consuming a web service to retrieve result data much like a custom data source.

Create a multi-select list box property control in a 3.1 text area. It enables selection of columns used as input to the K-means clustering data function available in the SDK 3.1:

List box property control


Resulting visualization:

Property control usage result


A slider property control is an intuitive control to define the number of clusters:

Property control usage result


In the following graphic the maximum number of clusters, as defined by the slider property control, has been set:

Property control usage result


During execution, data functions automatically display progress in the status bar in same way as the progress service does via the ExecuteWithProgress method on a background thread:

Progress and notification in the status bar
  • Notification: Note the Details... link provided by the notification service:
    Notification symbol and link
    As a global service, notification is available virtually everywhere. It comes in three flavors: AddInformationNotification, AddWarningNotification and AddErrorNotification. Information notification is engaged in the K-means tool simply adding two lines of code:
    NotificationService ns = invocation.ImportContext.GetService<NotificationService>();
    ns.AddInformationNotification("Title", "Summary", "Details");
    Clicking the notification link yields the following result: Notification dialog


Visual Analytics

TIBCO Spotfire 3.1 brings a multitude of new visualization options. This section names the most important and configurable.

Conditional Coloring

Color schemes overview

As indicated by the legends above, the TIBCO Spotfire 3.1 employs coloring control and sharing using new but few, simple and powerful concepts. The coloring scheme defines the coloring for a visualization and may be shared to the library. The color modes – fixed, segments, gradient, unique values and categorical – assign colors to values. The coloring rules impose specific configuring as opposed to the general coloring defined by the scheme. Note that the rules not only override the scheme but also each other in the order of application, enabling virtually any desired or required complexity.

Combination Chart

Combination chart: bar and line chart in one

The combination chart superimposes data as a line or a bar.

Heat Map with Dendrogram

Heat map with dendrogram

A heat map represents values as colors in a table-like fashion. The optional dendrogram represents a hierarchical clustering of the columns or rows.

See also What is a Heat Map and the HeatMapclass.