Issue 67518 - Improve the user interface for series, chart selection, giving more control
Summary: Improve the user interface for series, chart selection, giving more control
Alias: None
Product: General
Classification: Code
Component: chart (show other issues)
Version: 3.3.0 or older (OOo)
Hardware: All All
: P3 Trivial with 1 vote (vote)
Target Milestone: ---
Assignee: IngridvdM
QA Contact: issues@graphics
Depends on:
Reported: 2006-07-18 20:38 UTC by mestech
Modified: 2013-02-24 21:22 UTC (History)
3 users (show)

See Also:
Latest Confirmation in: ---
Developer Difficulty: ---

Intro to graphing with Quattro Pro 8 (380.68 KB, application/pdf)
2006-07-19 14:04 UTC, mestech
no flags Details
Representative scientific spread sheet. (993.44 KB, application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.spreadsheet)
2006-07-19 20:36 UTC, mestech
no flags Details

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Description mestech 2006-07-18 20:38:22 UTC
I do allot of charting and I find the UI is a real pain in comparison to Quattro
Pro.  For that matter Excell is just as awful.

See attached pdf for indication of what I mean.

In QP, you have a dialog that allows you to select the series, change order,
assign cells/sheets without having to go through and edit a long string that
represents the series.

A seperate tab allows the selection of graph type.  If you want to change a
chart, it is simple this way.

Another tab for all the titles.

This issue would cover other enhancment requests possibly including 3997, 64613,
31670, 60358 and 55352.
Comment 1 bjoern.milcke 2006-07-19 08:18:16 UTC
->mestech: Is it possible that you forgot to attach the pdf? ;-)
Comment 2 mestech 2006-07-19 14:04:33 UTC
Created attachment 37890 [details]
Intro to graphing with Quattro Pro 8
Comment 3 mestech 2006-07-19 14:08:22 UTC
I was going to just as the servers went down as scheduled.  They were not back
up before I left work and I just arrived back.  I just missed the shutoff by
about 1 minute.  Just attached it.  Sorry if that caused any problems.  Have a
good one.

Comment 4 bjoern.milcke 2006-07-19 15:55:26 UTC
->mestech: No problem. I just thought you might have forgotten.

For the issue about selecting the ranges in the spreadsheet for each data series
separately, see Issue 3997. This issue is already addressed in the
re-implementation of the chart. If you are interested in the new chart, you can
evaluate a Developer's snapshot. For download visit the page . Note, that currently in the
dialog for selecting ranges there are buttons which suppose to allow you to
select a cell range in Calc. These actually don't work yet, due to technical
problems. But you might get an idea.

Changing the chart type is also nicer in the new chart, but it is still via a
dialog "ChartType". I don't see an advantage of one dialog for everything,
especially as many of our dialogs themselves have already tabs.
Comment 5 bjoern.milcke 2006-07-19 16:11:23 UTC
And another thing: It is easier for everyone if Issues are as specific as
possible. There is not much use in an issue that is just a summary of other
issues. And an issue that says "Do it more like the competitor" does also not
help very much (we already have some of those). 

The attached document is interesting, but I don't see a big difference in how a
chart is created in the UI. If you have an idea how OOo could be improved by a
particular feature or enhancement, then please suggest this as clear as
possible. We will not copy the UI of QP, but we might adapt some ideas if they
make sense in OOo.
Comment 6 mestech 2006-07-19 17:45:52 UTC
Thanks for the link to issue 3997.  This points to my biggest problem with OOo
as all my work is scientific in nature and charting the data is a major headache.

I have downloaded and did a quick glance at the documentation for the New Chart.
 I am downloading the tar.gz file and I will see if I can figure it out.

Now looking at the specifications in FlexibleSourceRangeSelection.sxw, I see
that they still don't want to show the X series (except for scatter charts). 
This is a problem as there are many times that I want to reverse the X<>Y series
for X/Y line charts.  I do like the ability to change the order of the series
with simple up/down arrows.  The nice feature of the QP dialog with all the
series displayed is you can quickly compare between the different series when
there are problems.

Now I don't see how to edit the Titles in the selection dialog.  Many charts
that I do are split or only sections of the whole table.  The titles are in
individual cells or can be manually entered.  I don't see any place to change
the titles when I edit a chart.

Looking at the specifications for the chart wizard, what can I say.  It isn't
that much better than what we have now.  I don't see the individual series
listed.  I don't see legend selection.  I don't see X2 or Y2 Axis lables.

Now it has been awhile since I have used QP but the "Wizard" and the "Chart
properties" dialogs are the same.  Once I selected the series I wanted, the
chart properties dialog opened.  This was the same interface and saved learning
two different tools.  Also allowed fine tuning for customized charts so you
didn't have to go back and change properties.  Isn't the Wizard supposed to make
life easier and quicker?  With a limited Wizard, then there is the need to go
back and change properties that the user is not allowed ot change in the Wizard.

Editting properties is a major time consuming task for me.

Now if details are required.

I submitted the QP document as a tool for those that seem so Excell focussed.  I
hated Excell and I really don't like OOos charting either.  It showed a
different approach to charting.

The document is a quick tuturial to using QP.  It uses a simple chart which is
no different to what most charting programs do.  The biggest point is the UI
when you go to create the chart.

As I said before the Wizard allows much more control over the chart.  It doesn't
leave me wanting.

Page 3 of the pdf shows this in detail.  Select the ranges as in both Calc and
QP and go to create the chart.  In QP I get a dialog that allow me to confirm
the series or make custom changes.  I can quickly see my X and Y series.  In
OOo, I have to look through a single line of series to confirm my data.  Now as
I have experienced, this can be really difficult when there are large data sets,
especially when the data is not in adjoining columns (simple example).  I can
now simplily delete the unwanted series.  

To expand, lets say I have a chart that uses data in Columns C, F, G, J, L.  In
OOo, I could select the individual columns to use the Wizard but if the data is
over thousands of rows, this can be a real pain.  In QP, I can select columns C
through L and then when the Wizard opens up, I can delete D, E, H, I and K.  Now
this has just saved me minutes of selecting.  And yes, I have many spreadsheets
that I am working with that have thousands of rows of data.

Now this also expands into editting charts.  In many cases, I will create a
massive chart for general over view of data.  Then I want just parts of the
whole chart.  I want to do this on the fly with the current chart configuration,
not a new chart where I have to edit all the different parts again.  I will then
copy the chart and edit the series.  At present I have a real nightmare going
through the single series dialog.  It will be better in Chart 2 with the series
on different displays does not make it easy to edit each one individually.  I
have to remember offsets and or copy and past and edit the series.  This is easy
if all the rows series line up per rows but if they don't, then I have to do
allot of post playing going between the spreadsheet and the properties dialog.

I hope this explains the benefit of all the series, including the X-series being
displayed at the same time.  It makes it easy to customize and select parts of a
pre-created chart on the fly.  If I see something in an  overall chart, I can
then quickly edit a chart to create a "zoom" of something that may be important.

If the developers can create one very useful dialog that will work as both the
Wizard and the edit properties, then some work can be saved.  It also makes it
easier for the user.  I have lost many settings when I go to change the data
range with the present chart as I have to "create" a new chart, not edit the
range of the present chart and undo would not recover so I had to exit and start
again.  One example of this is secondary "Y" axis which doesn't have a label

Also, selecting a line in the graph, the properties should bring me the data
series as one of the properties.

I hope I have answered the questions but if there are more, please post and I
will try to expand.  I believe in simple tools, not complicated menus or dialogs
that require 10 clicks to get something done.

I guess the easiest is for someone to actually use QP with some scientific data
sets and see the difference.  I will see if I can clean up some of my data sets
to upload as examples.
Comment 7 mestech 2006-07-19 18:43:10 UTC
Well I ran the prototype chart and the first thing I noticed is I cannot edit
the X series.  This is similiar to what I normally work with.

X series should be A14:A19
Y1 series C10:C16
Y2 series E17:E22

I must select all the rows and columns to get the series loaded.

I can then delete columns B and D.  But I cannot change the X series to fit my
data range of only 6 cells.

In our work, we may have data on multiple pages that we want to chart in a
single chart.

I tried to just select the first series of data for X and then add the other
series.  No luck.

Putting it simply, this is not good.

I talked to my supervisor and another co-worker about this issue.  My supervisor
doesn't even try to use Excel or OOo for charting.  My co-worker fights with
Excel but cannot even touch OOo for charting as the X-axis needs to be editable.

I am working on an actual data series to upload of the type of data that I work
with on a daily basis.  It may take two or three days to remove sensitive data.
Comment 8 mestech 2006-07-19 20:36:40 UTC
Created attachment 37898 [details]
Representative scientific spread sheet.
Comment 9 mestech 2006-07-19 20:53:23 UTC
Due to the 1M limit for uploads, I found it easier to just create a small
spreadsheet to represent some of the data that I work with.  It is raw data in
the exact format that I receive it.  No processing has occured.

There are three sets of raw data.  

Columns A, E and I are time counts.  They have no bearing on T=0 and each one
has a different T=0

Columns B, F, J is the data that needs to be charted.  The series beginnings and
ends are all dependent on T=0 and will start at three cells before the T=0 mark
in each respective column.

Columns C, G, K are for other information which isn't important in this example.

This is the procedure that I would follow.  

Set X, Y1, Y2 and Y3 series and chart the data to find the T=0 point for each

I would then adjust each series to represent T=0-three time counts.  
I would then find which series now gives me the longest time base for signal.  
I then would adjust that series to its length plus 50 time counts.
I would count the number of rows for that series and adjust the other series (X
and Y) to represent the require number of steps.

After this chart is created, I would then copy the chart and edit the series (X
and Y) to focus (zoom) in on different pieces of data that look interesting.

The point is from a single set of data, multiple charts are created that require
different data sets.  But they are all based on the original chart once the X
and T=0 is adjusted for each series.

This is why I would find a UI that allows all series sets to be viewed at one
time instead of seperate selections as per Chart 2 download that I tried.  Also
the ability to select non-adjacent data sets as well as define the X-axis set is


I am going to reference this issue on issue 3997 as well as they are associated
but not duplicates.
Comment 10 bjoern.milcke 2006-07-20 05:56:19 UTC
We have x-values only for scatter charts. But scatter charts can also have
lines. Maybe we should change the UI here. The line-chart always has categories
and no numerical x-values.

BTW., Excel has the same distinction, but they have an automatism that changes a
line-chart to scatter-chart when the categories are numbers. I don't generally
like automatisms like this as they are not obvious to the user, but in this case
it helps a lot of users getting the right thing. Of course it would have been
better to improve the UI instead of having an automatism that knows better than
the user. This way, OOo looks always worse just because the automatism misses.
Comment 11 bjoern.milcke 2006-07-20 05:58:58 UTC
The spec for Issue 3997 is
. I removed the .sxw version as it is outdated.
Comment 12 bjoern.milcke 2006-07-20 06:07:38 UTC
To take titles from spreadsheet cells is covered by Issue 8099 .

Usually in specs we have a section "Future Tasks". Maybe we should mention this
Comment 13 bjoern.milcke 2006-07-20 06:10:00 UTC
The new chart wizard has one page in its roadmap to select the ranges for series
(the same as in the data-source-dialog). If you would like to show the series
differently, please explain what you want to have.
Comment 14 bjoern.milcke 2006-07-20 06:32:35 UTC
I like the idea of selecting data first, and then the chart-type. A good
charting program would sugest a fitting chart type fitting your data. This would
also avoid the problems with line- and scatter-charts.

However, I think the Series-tab of the QP wizard is not very nice. First, it
seems to be limited to 6 series (maybe there comes a scrollbar with additional
series if you entered data for the first 6 series?). In general, I think you
don't need more than 5 series, but I think 10 might also still be realistic. So,
why limit where it is not necessary.

Second, you have x-axis. These are the category strings if you have e.g. a
bar-chart. If you have numbers these are x-values? So, you cannot have numbers
as categories? Maybe the concept of categories vs. non-equidistant x-values
should not bother the user, but in this dialog I think you don't see what kind
of x-axis you have. E.g., on page 8 of the attached pdf, if the years would not
all be 10 years apart, but instead of 1990 you would have 2000. Would there be a
larger gap on the x-axis?

Third, "Legend" seems to mean the names of the series. It looks like you need
one contiguous range containing all series names, the series below are
unassociated to the legend, whereas in reality they are. Each row/column of
measured data has a label, which might be very important. So, I like it better
to have the label directly assoziated to the series.

At last, but not least, you only have one sequence per data series. This is a
limitation we want to get rid of especially with Issue 3997. If two data series
have different x-values, the QP dialog cannot handle this. We also have
candle-stick charts with "open", "low", "high" and "close" values instead of
four series that just have "y-values" and their role has to be guessed by a
user. So, a series can have 4 sequences as well.
Comment 15 bjoern.milcke 2006-07-20 06:47:22 UTC
added on CC.
Comment 16 mestech 2006-07-20 15:09:10 UTC
How to reply to comments in a linear fashion?  Hum.

Again, the QP reference is only for reference.  It isn't the best but it is
better than what either Excel and OOo have at this time.  At least in the
opinion of 4 different people I work with.  BTW, I won't use Excel as a
reference for anything good and productive in my experience.  If you have not
used QP, then it is hard to explain.  The menus and UI's are much more intuitive
than what either OOo or Excel have to offer.  Isn't the idea of using software
to make things easy.

In regards to automatic creation.  This is one of the biggest complaints about
MS Office that I hear almost weekly.  It won't let the users do what they want
as it feels it knows better.  I have converted some to OOo just because of this.
 In research, we need to display information in what some may term "not the
normal way of doing things."  We need control.  This is why many scientists
around here will use LaTeX instead of any word processor.  Same with external
graphing programs because Excel won't allow them to graph the data as needed.

Most of my stuff work is line charts.  Now to me, if there are links, then it
isn't a scatter chart.  If there are X-Y values, then to me it requires the
editting of the X and Y series.  Now the X-values can be numbers or names of
what ever, but it is still a series of data.  Names are data.  The data being
plotted are all series and in science, they are not always nice and neat.  Even
in Bar charts, I may want to change the Base series or the X-axis series to meet
the need of the presentation or how I want to represent the data.  I may want to
have two or three charts based on teh same data set without having to copy or
reformat the spread sheet.  I may use Column A on one chart with data in B, D,
and F but the next chart may use Column  C for the X axis and use data from B
and F.  Same data sets, just minor changes.

Most of my supervisors work is line charts.  Most of my co-workers work is line
charts.  As in the example, the X-axis can be almost anything depending on the
process and what we are trying to display.

As Line Charts are X-Y in most cases, then the ability to edit the X series and
select it from wherever it needs to come from is a needed benefit.

I spent a year working on some data that required nine graphs of the data for
each data set.  For three of the charts, it was a simple X-Y line chart.  All
the data was in nice neat columns X first then Y1 and/or Y2 as needed.  The next
series of graphs were modified versions of graph 2 and graph 3.  I needed to
reverse the series in some cases and change the full series.  I didn't want to
go through all the hassles of having to re-lable everything, put in the
formulas, etc.  It was just easier to change the order of the series.  This
wasn't that hard in OOo as the charts were simple.  If they were more
complicated, then I would have been in trouble.

The idea isn't to clone MS but to provide a better product.  If you look at
3997, there are allot of people that want an easy ability to edit the series.  I
want the same thing but with a better UI.

The UI in Chart 2.5 is not bad, but I think it could be better.

The new chart wizard has one page in its roadmap to select the ranges for series
(the same as in the data-source-dialog). If you would like to show the series
differently, please explain what you want to have.

There is allot of reading in the proposed changes.  I have not had time to play
with the build that much.  I do have other work to do. :) But this is important
enough in my books to require the time.  I would love to see OOo as a much
better product than Office.

In my opinion, the chart wizard should be a smart to allow a new user to create
a chart of their liking by selecting the series being used and then create a
chart to as powerful that the experience user can edit all the various titles
(Main Title, Sub Title, X-Axis, X2-axis, Y-Axis, Y2-Axis), legends (for each
series), All series, background image, etc.  These could be through "Advanced"
buttons on the Wizard but need to be accessable.  Experienced users can then use
the Wizard instead of creating a chart and then having to go and edit it.  

Give the users control of the whole process if they wish.  I don't see why there
needs to be two steps or even two different UI's for edtitting the chart
properties and the wizard.  Both achieve the same result, the users charts.  You
may not like Tabs, but I find them quite useful in my day to day work.  They
help keep things organized in a busy day.  I like the idea of being able to make
one click on a chart and be able to change most if not all of the properties,
involved with the chart.  I spent some time looking through the issues and found
many that have to do with selecting and editting charts.  I will have to read
more before I can comment on them.  All that I have read so far could be
resolved with an intelligent UI.

I guess you have to have a Supervisor that is on your case for some data for a
presentation that needs to be formatted just right and exported and on his
computer before he leaves work and the country today.  And it is 10 minutes
before quitting time.  Try to change the formatting of all the lines because the
presentation is going to be on a big screen instead of being printed.  Or change
the text of all the Axis because the audience cannot know what the actual names
are but only respective names for security reasons.  This seems to happen weekly

Again, the QP reference is only that, an idea.  It is better than what is
presently available in either OOo or Excel.  Lets be better than all three are
at this point in time.

In regards to the specifics of Legends and series names.  I do agree with you on
the associations.  The issue is, those names are not always with the particular
data.  I do like the idea of associating an individual cell with the legend or
just typing in the legend I want.  If I have a chart that has a legend "Secret
Chemical X" but I need to have it say "Some chemical" for a particular reason,
then I should be able to do this in the chart UI, not have to edit the spread
sheet.  Control to the user.

I do agree with the changes to sequences and data series.  Again, the UI should
allow you to change this when you need to.  I have a chart that uses one data
set and I add another.  The UI should allow me to do that without having to
create a new chart from scratch.  I see this as a great tool for on-going
research.  Todays data is on Sheet 4, I create a chart.  The next day I get more
data and I put it on Sheet 5 and I can then open the UI for the chart and add
that data to the chart.  Extend the X-series or add columns to a bar chart or
just add more Y-series to work with the present X-series.  User control and not
being limited by the program thinking it is smarter than me.


This is an interesting discussion.  I feel that it can be productive.  I really
doubt that I will get all I want and need but I would like to see OOo charting
to be the best of any spreadsheet program out in the public.  The UI for the
Wizard and properties is the first step.
Comment 17 mestech 2006-07-21 20:02:38 UTC
I have gone through many of the issues and I see that these issues are either
simliar or related.  I feel they could all benefit from an greatly improved UI.

 Issue 62013 - show data series in Chart Line Object properties dialogue box
 Issue 20344 - Simplify creation of charts - new Chart Wizard ( Autoformat Chart
 Issue 31670 - Ability to delete data series 
 Issue 35925 - A way to customize / format a data series without selecting it
(from the menus, view area, etc.)
 Issue 64825 - Link series names, data labels and titles from cells with formulas
  Issue 8099 - Chart title from a cell
 Issue 4770 - Possibility to change x and y-axis.

Issue 4770 did remind me of a problem that has occured in any graphing package
that I have worked with.  If I want to change the X axis values with another, it
is possible but hard.  What I would do is copy the X value, paste it into a new
series, then copy the Y series that I wanted for an X series and then delete teh
old Y series and re-arrange the order if necessary.

As time permits, I will play more with the 2.6 build as I do feel it is a good
Comment 18 kla 2006-07-25 13:57:35 UTC
@iha: pls take over.
Comment 19 IngridvdM 2006-07-25 15:36:13 UTC
This is a mega issue collection that cannot be worked with. So I close it.
Please read the basic rules for issue handling  befor submitting new
Especially please follow the rule: One problem - one issue!
There are many valuable points in the long comments, but you found out yourself
already that many points are already addressed in separat issues. If you feel
that there is something missing still please make sure that no issue does exist
for that problem and write single separat issues for each problem or feature
Thanks a lot. Your input is welcome but it needs to be in a form that can be
Comment 20 IngridvdM 2006-07-25 15:36:44 UTC
Comment 21 mestech 2006-07-25 17:16:17 UTC
I feel that this is a UI issue that covers other issues and to me it is one
issue, the UI.  I referenced other issues feeling that they can be fixed by
providing a more inclusive UI but if the policy is to put each idea into a
seperate issue and leave the developers to pull it all together, then so be it.

I will submit all my comments into each of the associated issues as suggested. 
This is going to take some time.  :)

Comment 22 IngridvdM 2006-07-25 17:40:40 UTC
Sorry mestech, but if you post all this lengthy comment into each issue than you
are effectively blocking development. Please refrain from doing so and instead
shorten your  comment each to what is relevant for the single issues.
Thanks - one of the developers - more needing help than thousand words to read
and browse through.
Comment 23 mestech 2006-07-25 18:38:04 UTC
Sorry if I confused you.  I meant I would post only relevent info to each issue.
 I have done some stupd stuff in the past but I wouldn't just copy and paste to
each issue.  I will be making the comments in each issue and will have to refer
to other issues as they are related, at least as the way I see it.  In some
cases, there won't be any need to reference.
Comment 24 IngridvdM 2006-07-25 18:53:38 UTC
Ah, thanks a lot. That sounds good! :-)