New – Timeline Chart in Looker Studio

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Looker Studio has unveiled a dynamic new chart type: the Timeline Chart. This adaptable visualisation tool simplifies the presentation of time-based data, helping to reveal patterns and clarify the duration of events within a specific context.

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Looker Studio has introduced an exciting new chart type: the Timeline Chart. This versatile visualisation offers a dynamic way to present time-based data, making it easier to identify patterns and understand the duration of events within a given context. Let’s dive into what this chart is, what it can show, when to use it, and how to set it up correctly.

Understanding the Timeline Chart

The Timeline Chart in Looker Studio allows users to visualise the relationships and durations of sequential or overlapping events. This chart is particularly useful for comparing timelines across different categories or groups visually. It requires specific fields such as a row label, a start time, and an end time—or alternatively, a duration—to map out events on a timeline.

What Can the Timeline Chart Show?

This chart type is ideal for displaying events that have clear start and end points, such as project timelines, historical events, or stages in a business process. It can also handle durations without explicit end times by using a duration field, which can specify lengths in various units like seconds, minutes, hours, or even years.

Ideal Use Cases for the Timeline Chart

  1. Project Management: Visualise the phases of a project, from initiation to completion, to track progress and ensure that timelines are adhered to.
  2. Historical Analysis: For educators and historians, showing the overlap and duration of historical events can provide insights into how events relate to one another over time.
  3. Business Processes: Businesses can track processes and workflows, seeing at a glance how different stages of production or development overlap and interact.

Setting Up Data Correctly

To leverage the Timeline Chart effectively, the data needs to be set up with precision:

  • Row Label: This is a string-type dimension that serves as the main category or identifier for each timeline row.
  • Start Time and End Time: Both fields should be date-type dimensions. The start time marks the beginning of an event, and the end time its conclusion.
  • Duration: In cases where an end time isn’t available, a duration field (a number-type dimension) can specify how long an event lasts. It’s crucial not to use an end time and a duration simultaneously unless transitioning from one to the other, as the latter will override.

Configuring and Styling the Chart

To maximise the effectiveness of the Timeline Chart, configuring and styling it to fit the context of your data is crucial. You can add various fields such as tooltips to provide more information on hover, and customise the appearance with options for colours, fonts, and even row grouping to differentiate between categories or stages effectively.

Conclusion

The Timeline Chart is a significant addition to Looker Studio’s suite of visualisation tools, providing users with the ability to display complex temporal relationships in an intuitive format. Whether you’re managing a series of projects, teaching historical timelines, or analysing business processes, this chart can be a powerful tool to convey detailed time-based data in an accessible and informative way. Make sure your data is appropriately configured to take full advantage of this new visualisation capability in Looker Studio.

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