Profitability Spotlight – is your budget recovered?

For week 22 of #WOW2020, Ivett Kovacs set her first challenge as a guest poster.

At first glance it looked like it would be tricky, and it was! There were many head-scratching moments as I made my way through this, and I couldn’t complete it all without having to look at Ivett’s solution – more on that later.

Understanding the data

First up, a word on the data provided, as the requirements weren’t as clear as I’d have liked.

Ivett provided a small custom data set to build this challenge on

It contains 2 rows for each Sub-Category. The value to be plotted for Review is evident on the challenge – it’s an average. But the aggregation for Revenue & Budget isn’t that obvious, as there is no direct indication on a label or in the tooltip. Should the values be summed or averaged, or a combination of both?

The Profit value in the tooltip is the only clue you have. The Profit value for Tables is -$60, the value for Chairs is $50. From examining the values in the data, the assumption is Profit = AVG(Revenue) – AVG(Budget), so the values to plot for Budget and Revenue need to be averaged.

The assumption is this data set is a combination of a two datasets; one containing the Revenue & Budget per Sub-Category

the other containing the customer reviews

So when it comes to the viz, we’re looking to plot based on the following data

Understanding what numbers I need to be aiming for when doing these challenges is crucial to me to ensure I’m heading down the right path 🙂

Duplicating the Data

The key thing to realise about this chart is that the right hand line is a fake axis; ie not an axis at all, just a vertical line located so that it looks like it is an axis.

What we actually need to do is build a triangle for each Sub-Category, where each point of the triangle is a different (x,y) coordinate. This means we need 3 rows of data per Sub-Category, 1 row to represent each point being plotted.

So for this we need to Union the data twice, so there are 3 instances of the data – drag another instance of the table into the data pane and drop when the Union option appears. Do this twice.

The union duplicates the rows of data, and each set is identifiable by an automatically generated Table Name field containing values WW, WW1,WW2

Defining the points of the triangle

As I said above, we need to build a triangle for each Sub-Category, where each point of the triangle is a different (x,y) coordinate.

At point 1, we’re going to plot our Review value. At point 2, we’re going to plot our Revenue value, and Budget will be at point 3.

From the diagram above, you can see our x coordinates are one of two numbers, either 0 or x1 (ie the x coordinate for the Revenue & Budget points is the same).

The y coordinates vary per measure, and need to be ‘normalised’ to a common scale, as otherwise, the Revenue & Budget figures would be plotted significantly higher than the Review values (you might find this blog by Zen master Jonathan Drummey useful at this point).

When normalising, you’re typically looking to convert your values to a scale from 0-1; this means the values aren’t plotted at their absolute values, but are still plotted in the same relative order to each other ie lowest value at the bottom, highest at the top.

When normalising a set of values from 0 to 1, your lowest value would typically be at the 0 position , with your highest value at the 1 position. To calculate where your value would sit on this scale, you need to know 3 numbers; the value to convert, the maximum value in the range of values to plot and the minimum value in in the range of values to plot. The normalised value is then :

(Current value – min value) / (max value – min value)

ie the difference between your value and the lowest as a proportion of the difference between the whole range.

However, in this instance, I chose to simplify the normalisation, and my method only works due to the values in the example data provided.

Side Note I consider Revenue & Budget to be values that are directly related to each other ie if Budget = Revenue I’d expect them to be plotted at the same point. I therefore chose to normalise these values across the combined range. This gave me different results from the solution, where Budget and Revenue were normalised independently of each other.

The maximum average review value is 5, the maximum value for budget and revenue combined is 100. As 100 is exactly 20 times bigger than 5, I simply chose to normalise the revenue/budget values to be on a scale of 0-5 instead, rather than normalising all values (Review, Budget & Revenue) to be on a 0-1 scale.

First up, we want to identify a position for each point


IF [Table Name] = ‘WW’ THEN 1
ELSEIF [Table Name] = ‘WW1’ THEN 2

Then we’ll create the x coordinate for each point


IF [Path] = 1 THEN 0

I’ve just chosen an arbitrary value to plot the 2nd & 3rd points at – could easily have been 1.

Then we’ll create the y coordinate for each point, which is where the normalisation comes in


IF MIN([Path]) = 1 THEN AVG([Review])
ELSEIF MIN([Path]) = 2 THEN AVG([Revenue])/20
ELSEIF MIN([Path]) = 3 THEN AVG([Budget])/20

Dividing by 20, normalises the values to a scale of 0-5 as discussed above.

Let’s put these values all out in a table, so we can see what’s going on

Building the Polygon Viz

You can see we have 3 points per Sub-Category, so we can plot the x & y measures on a sheet as follows :

  • Add Min(x) to Rows
  • Add y to Columns
  • Add Sub-Category to Detail
  • Add Table Name (or Path) to Detail
  • Change Mark Type to Polygon
  • Change Colour to #666666 with 30% opacity


We need 2 new calculated fields for the Tooltip


AVG([Revenue]) – AVG([Budget])

formatted to $ with 0 dp



formatted to % with 1 dp.

Note this will differ from the solution, where I think Ivett inadvertently used SUM(Budget) rather than AVG.

Add these to Tooltip field and adjust text accordinly.

Colouring the Line

To make the line, I created a second instance of y


IF MIN([Path]) = 1 THEN AVG([Review])
ELSEIF MIN([Path]) = 2 THEN AVG([Revenue])/20

which just plots 2 points rather than 3.

Add this to Columns next to y, make dual axis and synchronise axis. Things might have disappeared – you need to remove Measure Names from both marks cards. Change the mark type of the y2 card to Line.

You won’t see much difference at this point (or you shouldn’t). We need a field to define the colour

Colour : Line

IF [Profit] < 0 THEN ‘Non-Profitable’ ELSE ‘Profitable’ END

Add this to the Colour shelf of the y2 marks card and adjust to suit.

Labelling the line

On the y2 marks card, add Review (set to AVG) to Label shelf, and move Sub-Category to Label shelf. Set Label to only label Start of Line. Adjust format/layout of Label to suit.

Set the format of Review to Number Standard – this is a format little used, but will display a whole number or a decimal. I discovered this through an Andy Kriebel WoW from a long time ago and is a real gem!

Finalising the viz

To tidy up and get the viz looking like the solution

  • Format to remove all gridlines
  • Hide the y2 axis
  • Hide the ‘4 nulls’ indicator if you have it
  • Edit the y axis
    • Fix the axis from 0.5 to 5.25
    • Add a title
    • Set axis ticks to none
  • On the y2 marks card, edit the Colour shelf and change the markers to show to All (this gives the circles on each end of the line)
  • Change the Min(x) pill to be FLOAT(Min(x)) using the ‘type in pill’ function
  • Edit the x axis to be Fixed from -0.3 to 19.9
    • cutting off the end of the axis makes the end circle disappear. This is very sneaky, and I had to see the solution for this!
  • Hide the x axis
  • Remove the row divider lines

So we’ve now got the core viz – hooray! But we’re not quite done – boo!

Expand /Collapse

Ivett set the viz to expand to show a column by Sub-Category on click.

This is another requirement I couldn’t get however hard I tried. I duplicated my viz and created a version with Sub-Category on Columns and tried to use Parameter Actions to set a parameter that would control which viz would display using a sheet swap techinque. However when I added the necessary field to the Detail shelf, all the polygons disappeared and I don’t understand why…. I therefore published my first instance of this challenge with a parameter the user controlled to decide which view to show. This is here.

So I had to look at Ivett’s solution to see how she had achieved this, and it involved sets.

Right click on Sub-Category and Create – > Set

Selected Sub-Cats

Don’t select any values at this point.

Create a field


IF [Selected Sub-Cats] THEN [Sub-Category]
ELSE ‘Click to Expand’

If there are values in the set, then the set values will be returned, otherwise the text ‘Click to Expand’ will display.

Add this to the Columns shelf, and ‘Hide field labels for columns‘ so the text ‘Expand’ doesn’t show.

A dashboard action will ultimately drive the behaviour, but we can test the display by editing the set and selecting all values.

The view should expand as expected, showing a column per Sub-Category

But the name of the Sub-Category is still displayed on the label, and in the example this isn’t the case. To fix this I created another calculated field

Label: SubCat

IF [Selected Sub-Cats] THEN ” ELSE [Sub-Category] END

which I added to the Label shelf, and adjusted the display to suit.

‘Reset’ the view to show the collapsed version by re-editing the set and removing all values.

How to Read this chart legend

I simply duplicated the main viz, and filtered by Sub-Category = Chairs.

I removed the label, and then used the Annotate Point functionality to add the relevant labels against the points.

Profitable Legend

The Profitable / Non-Profitable legend makes use of our trusted friend MIN(0), with pills arranged as below.

Applying the Set Action

Create a dashboard to the size specified, and just use floating objects to position the text and various sheets.

To drive the expand / collapse function, create a Set Action on the main viz as below, that targets the Selected Sub-Cats set.

Revenue / Budget Label

This is just managed using Text objects on the dashboard, carefully positioned in the right locations. You might need to add additional objects to get the layout required.

The background of the whole dashboard is set to light grey and the sheets and objects need to be set to the same grey or white to get the same presentation.

So fingers crossed, you should have a complete solution now.

My final version (after I peeked at Ivett’s) is here.

Happy Vizzin’! Stay safe!


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