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#1 ddrohan  Icon User is offline

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Best way to make a graphical representation from a database?

Posted 25 October 2013 - 04:16 PM

Hello Everyone,

I'm an absolute novice to coding, so I'm not sure if I'm asking this in the right place. However, I've heard that Ruby is a good place for beginners to start, so I figured I'd ask here and see where I get.

I'm a part time student employee, working for a larger company with a lot of latitude to do fun little projects. Currently, I'm looking to create an employee score card that can be generated from a database of things like shifts missed, sick days, years worked, extra shifts covered, what days are most often missed at what time of year, employee accolades, projects being worked on, and so forth. Extra categories could be added at a later date. Employee metrics could be compared with one another, or metrics could be compared across employees. I don't think I would need any statistical analysis other than to find means/averages. I'd like to be able to hand this off to upper management, and have them be able to just plug in the data, and then have the program spit out a "report card" with graphs and pie charts that give a picture of the employee year-over-year and in comparison to relevant metrics across the company. I know it could be done with the metrics they already have, but it would take lots of time plugging it all into excel, generating graphs, and arranging everything in a report. I have no bias towards a particular OS for running this, as we use both macs and pcs. A web based solution could work too, as they have a server they might be able to host it on. I've attached a very rough visual mock up of what this might look like (drawn in pain, of course). How much work would something like this be? Also, where would I even begin in making this?



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Replies To: Best way to make a graphical representation from a database?

#2 cfoley  Icon User is online

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Re: Best way to make a graphical representation from a database?

Posted 27 October 2013 - 04:27 AM

Well, Ruby has Rails for doing server side processing. This might naturally lend itself to a web-based interface like you say.

If you go down this route, a lot of the layout and style would be controlled through HTML and CSS. The charts would be images that are generated on the fly. I'm not experienced enough with Ruby to confidently recommend a good charting library but this Stack Overflow question seems pretty close to your situation:

Alternatively, you could do it as a desktop app. You would need to learn about making a graphical interface instead of the HTML/CSS combo. You would still want to use a charting library for the graphical stuff.

You describe yourself as an "absolute novice" so either of these approaches would involve a lot of learning and work. The best thing to do is to set an initial milestone. Ask yourself "What's the minimum set of features this needs to be useful". I suggest something like this:

* Choose a small subset of the data to store (maybe number of lates and number of sick days)
* A database to store this along with employee IDs and names
* A ruby program to read data form the database
* Calculate the averages you want
* Output a textual score card to the console

This looks very basic but it represents a significant amount of learning. If you accomplish this for your first project then you will have achieved quite a lot. At the same time, the limited features make sure the target is something you can reasonably achieve.
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