Updating Charts is a Bit of a Mess

Globally the whole business of updating charts is in a bit of a mess at the moment and probably will be for a while. Most national hydrographic offices are fairly well set up for maintaining their paper portfolios. This is no great surprise as some of them have been in this business for a century or more. However with the advent of electronic charts a lot of things have to change. The whole production process needs to be reorganised (not cheap) and some of the basic ways of thinking about charts have to change.

Raster charts are commonly produced as facsimiles of the paper charts. In a simplistic system they are literally scanned from the paper originals. This can give rise to inaccuracies for a range of reasons not least of which are distortions in the paper and non-linearity in the scanner. Scanning at a resolution appropriate to the electronic chart can cause a rather jagged appearance which is most noticeable in diagonal lines and known as aliasing. The raster chart has far fewer dots (pixels) than the corresponding paper chart and this can compromise appearance. A better production method is to create the raster image from the same electronic chart images used to drive the paper printing process. There are still some issues here with re-projection which need to be handled correctly but in general this is a cleaner and more accurate process. It also allows image processing such as anti-aliasing which gives a better visual impression when the electronic chart is displayed.

In either production technique the updating of the raster charts follows on more or less naturally from the time served paper chart update process. It is then common for the vector charts to be produced from the raster data, more or less indirectly from the paper chart production mechanism. At the end of the update chain are the third party chart producers who copy the official data sets and repackage them in a variety of ways. Quite naturally these are the last types of charts to get updated.

But this is all changing because this is not a good way to handle vector data and vector data is the future. It is a separate issue as to why vector charts are the future or whether it is the right future but for now it definitely is the future. The IHO and other august bodies are committed to this and substantial funds are being invested. This matters because creating vector data from paper charts is just not a good way of doing things.

In the vector world everything is an ‘object’ like a light or a depth contour or a traffic lane. Each object has ‘attributes’ like the color red or a certain depth. Each object also has a position (the ‘vector’) so it is represented as a point, a line or an area. These objects can be quite readily managed in a simple database but the natural way of organising them is to tie them more directly to the raw survey data. So when a report is received that a new wreck has been found it is just entered into the database – no intervening chart required.

Vector charts are now a cinch to produce. A cell is just a collection of all the objects in a given geographical area. The problem of actually displaying the chart data is palmed off to the ECDIS or ECS. Paper charts and raster charts are a bit more problematical because the traditional role of the cartographer has been taken out of the loop. Have you ever wondered why a modern chart display simply just does not look as good as a paper chart? Well this is why, there is no longer a cartographer involved to lay out the chart and make it look ‘just so’. Instead we have a dumb computer, and they are all dumb, attempting to reproduce the sort of work that takes a human many years of training and experience. It just doesn’t work so well.

Now to be fair the automated vector to raster production processes are getting better but none the less there is still a complete role reversal. The raster chart becomes a second class citizen to the vector chart and the paper chart ends up at the bottom of the pile. Instead of being the primary focus for updates it becomes the last. There are undoubtedly many advantages with vector charts and with paper charts generated from vector databases. However, for the foreseeable future, they are never going to match the visual quality of the charts that have become standard fare for the mariner for many years.

Last in the chain will always be the third party chart producers. Fortunately as their update feeds become predominantly more electronic (just another output from the database) then these updates should become more timely. Ultimately they should be able to match the official charts for accuracy.

Just now we are in a great transition phase. Some hydrographic offices are pushing ahead with vector only systems while others just deal with traditional paper charts. Most are somewhere in between and possibly a bit unsure of which way to go or how it is all going to shake out. Meanwhile the mariners can look forward to improved electronic charts coverage and more rapid updating. They can also anticipate charts which do not look so good and which, in some cases, are going to cost more. Maybe this is just a classic engineering compromise.

Making Dynamic Excel Dashboard Charts With Tables

Everyone understands that it’s tricky to maintain charts when it comes to Excel. When time progresses and there are new data points it can be difficult to add these to the graph. Everybody as well knows that an Excel dashboard requires dynamic charts. So that when newer data is incorporated, the particular chart updates itself.

The primary problem that most beginning Excel Dashboard users have when creating Charts using Excel is that the moment after they have made the chart it is very difficult to maintain. Perhaps you only want to put an additional data point but you have to change every series in order to add the latest data. This could be a difficult process, especially when there are plenty of chart series inside the Excel Dashboard.

Since most beginner Excel dashboard designers have no idea how to do dynamic graphs, they usually utilize placeholders for upcoming data within their Business Dashboard. This means that there’s no need to modify the chart right up until the end of the placeholders have been achieved, nevertheless, it is not a helpful Dashboard Layout for many reasons. The major reason is that it creates a lot of empty unused space inside the dashboard chart as a placeholder intended for upcoming data. Excel dashboard real estate (dashboard space) is essential as well as must be maximized as much as possible. The option of developing data placeholders is a waste of space in virtually any Excel business dashboard.

The perfect answer for just about any Excel dashboard template would be to create it Dynamically! Imagine a chart that updates by itself when information is added…that would be outstanding! And it is even easy for beginners.

You may ask yourself…can a dynamic chart in Excel be created having just a few steps?

Certainly! There are many ways to come up with a dynamic Excel chart. Here is the fastest way, but there are more complex ways to manage these types of activities where tables are not the best answer.

One of the easiest ways for a beginning user to create a dynamic chart was first available in Excel 2007 as well as in Excel 2010 (Excel for Microsoft Windows). When utilizing these kinds of versions, the user should place the information within an Excel table before you make the chart and after that the chart will dynamically update when newer data series are added in.

If the data series is updated within a table after which a chart was created through the table, the Excel Dashboard chart automatically will become dynamic without the need for Excel VBA coding or sophisticated formulas.

Isn’t that simple? Using tables for dynamic charts is quite simple to accomplish and should be applied whenever possible.

There are some limitations as the data has to be easily put into a table and can cause it to be challenging to customize the chart far beyond the standard style. This may not be a problem as many Excel Dashboards or perhaps for a standard executive or business demonstration, you may just need to create a basic graph that should be kept up to date quickly without having plenty of detail and thinking.

A simple dynamic table centered chart for your company or executive dash panel might be the perfect fit.

Liberate Your Time by Developing Your Company Organization Chart

Your company’s organizational strategy is centred around the development and communication of your Organization Chart. The Organization Chart takes the form of a graphical representation of the positions in your company. The top Position in the company (i.e. CEO or General Manager) is placed at the top of the Organization Chart. The various layers of management and supporting Positions are then arranged under the relevant management Positions right down to the lowest levels of the Organization.

Your Organization Chart not only defines the Positions in your business but the Employees assigned to those Positions. The Organization Chart clearly communicates the management and reporting structure of your business, specifically who an Employee assigned to a Position reports to directly.

It is extremely useful when developing your Organization Chart to take the time to design how you want your company to be structured when it is finished the Business Development Process. This approach will have the effect of setting a path for the development of your company. Once defined you and your Employees take the actions required to make it a reality.

Develop the Positions in your Organization Chart to be representative of specific work roles in your company. You should not develop your Organization Chart based on the employees you currently have in the company, rather you should develop the Positions based on logical groupings of work. One of the benefits of developing an Organization Chart is that it enables your company to become less dependent on specific employees and more dependent on the structure that you have developed.

An Effective Organization Chart: – Communicates to your staff where you plan to take the business. – Makes it easy to show new employees where they fit into the business. – Gives you the opportunity to evaluate your current employees and how they fit into the future of your business. – Shows existing employees what options they have for career advancement. – Leaves no question as to who an Employee assigned to a Position should be reporting to.

Depending on where you are in the development of your company you will probably be filling many of the positions yourself. By choosing a position and actually defining and documenting the systems the position is responsible for, you can readily employ someone to fill the position. This allows you to begin the development of other positions in the company.
You will get to a point where all of the positions in the Organization Chart are developed and you will have employees assigned to these positions. This allows you to begin taking a more strategic role in the development of your business or to take a step back and enjoy the freedom that a well defined business allows you. This is a great place to reach and is a huge step in your business’s development and your own personal development.

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