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11 Key Principles For Working Confidently and Productively In FreeSight:
- Think of FreeSight as your personal data laboratory! It is the place where you map out and illustrate your data tasks and project flow –AND– the place where you do your actual data editing and crunching –AND– the place where you can experiment with your data to see what it yields (without breaking it) –AND– the place where you actually create your final reports to export into presentation software. It is all of these things in one.
- FreeSight starts with a blank canvas where you import your data and perform all of your data tasks in what will become your operational data workflow. Every operation you undertake with your data – data integration, data preparation, data cleansing, analysis and reporting – is all done within nodes in your workflow — with your real data and in real time.
- But, FreeSight will NEVER change your actual source data. It works with a representational copy of it, so you can always see or revert back to your original data if ever desired.
- FreeSight clearly identifies when you have made an edit to your data. You can always see where changes were made, for audit trial, spreadsheet governance, or other control purposes. FreeSight also maintains a history of the data you’ve imported into your models.
- Every operation you perform within a Table is completely reversible. You can add, delete, or change your data in any way you can imagine, and still return to where you started or any other place in your process. You can delete rows or columns, save your work, and come back at any time thereafter and retrieve them. You can work without constraint or restraint, secure in the knowledge that all of your work is reversible.
- There is no limit to the number of Data and Analysis Tables you can create in a single FreeSight model. One model might yield dozens of charts and tables that you can view, print or export as reports, or as inputs to other processes.
- Use Linked Copies of your Data Tables for different data manipulation operations, and label them accordingly for workflow visibility. Linked Tables are one way that FreeSight provides you with flexibility to perform multiple operations on your data in a manageable and easily understandable way. Among many examples, they enable you to experiment with your copies of your data without limitation, and without impacting work that you wish to save ‘as is’ in a previous Table.
- Data flows downstream. The arrows and connections between Tables illustrate how the data flows. Any change to data that you make will dynamically and automatically be applied to all of the connected Tables downstream from the change, and will not affect the Tables upstream from the change. Branches of your workflow that separate before a change are also not affected.
- FreeSight is a linear / sequential tool. Your task may have a clear start, clear processing, and a clear end. In such a case, just follow the workflow and data stream from start to completion. Every operation you perform is clearly represented in each of the sequential steps or nodes in the workflow. We recommend that you get in the habit of naming each Table in such a way that the name reflects the operation(s) you perform in each Table. This practice makes for great transparency and audit trail.
- FreeSight is also a non-linear / non-sequential tool. This is a critically important concept. Not every task is linear and sequential. Applying all of the rules above to your mindset, you can use FreeSight for unlimited free-flow experimentation with your data – and not worry about breaking anything! You can create virtually unlimited numbers of charts and Tables and “what if” scenarios or queries of your data simply and easily in order to see what makes sense, before you decide which ones to export or publish. (Again, YOU select which charts and Tables to export, and label them accordingly.)
- FreeSight models are dynamic and persistent for Reporting Automation. When your model is complete then you can use the same FreeSight model over and over. Just click “refresh” to replace the previous source data with newly updated source data, and you are done. If the data format of the source data has been modified, FreeSight has a feature that expressly and easily addresses this specific issue. If you need to add another chart this month, simple. If your process is consistent, then Scripting and other advanced features can make your reporting an automated and even an unattended process.