While FreeSight is an excellent tool for doing one-off projects such as joining, cleaning, or summarizing and charting data, the power really begins when you start using FreeSight for tasks that you perform on a repeating or regular basis.
The idea behind FreeSight is to have you perform your task, doing the detail work, only one time, in a way that can be used over and over whenever you need to perform the task again. This is a FreeSight model. In the world of a FreeSight model, when you need to do the task again, all you need to do is drop in (or have FreeSight go out and retrieve) updated data, and the task is completed automatically for you.
It works like this:
- As you work, FreeSight creates a workflow of all of the actions or operations you perform to complete the task.
Each set of operations you perform takes place in individual nodes in the workflow.
- Examples of operations might be: joining sets of data, correcting data errors, creating or linking reference tables, filtering, summarizing or sorting, charting, creating new fields of derived data from formulas, and so on.
- You would perform each of these functions in individual FreeSight Data Tables, Analysis Tables or Reference Tables.
All of the nodes, the various Tables, are linked together by arrows depicting how the data flows. You see exactly where the data enters, and where the flow ends. Using naming conventions or comments you describe what occurs in every Table, and you can always open up the Table to see (or edit) the content.
- Data flows downward, through the model, so that any changes made “upstream” automatically are reflected “downstream” through the model.
- Because you can trace the path and see all changes to the data in the course of a model, there is always a running audit trail of every operation performed with your data.
As you work in each Table, the actions you perform automatically create a set of dynamic and persistent rules behind the scenes that apply to the data flowing through it. These rules apply to the current data set and to any new data that you wish to flow through the model in the future.
- Examples of these rules might be to: correct spelling mistakes, create and then apply a reference table, add a new column of data populated with the result of a formula, create a chart, filter the data to specific values, and so on…
The contents of each Data Table, Analysis Table and Reference Table can be treated exactly like individual spreadsheets or pivot tables.
- They can be edited, summarized, filtered, charted or graphed, copied, linked to or delinked from the workflow, filtered for summary and analysis – and then rejoined to each other, and so on.
- Each Table can also be exported into an output file or linked to a presentation document.
- So, instead of a single function in a single spreadsheet or pivot table, you create one workflow that generates all of your tables, charts, and reports at once.