Oregon State University|blogs.oregonstate.edu
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Morgan Kandula

Blog Post #2 – Project Technologies

  April 19th, 2023

So a quick update before we get in too deep: I’ve been assigned a partner, and we were assigned to the project “Update Tableau Data-Sorting and Data-Viewing Dashboard for climate change experiment” for TERA. A quick recap on what this project is: TERA is not-for-profit research foundation that was both formed by and is still managed by Dr. Jillian Gregg. The foundation was initially formed to conduct research on warming of grassland climates for the EPA. They collected data on symmetric and asymmetric warming for 10 years in 12 different terracosms. Now they are seeking support with visualizing their findings for publication purposes.

A few groups of students have come before us and started the support that TERA needs. The very firsts group chose Tableau as the software for visualizing the data, so that is where we will be continuing the improvements. Basically, the technologies that we will use were decided before the project started: data is stored in Microsoft SQL Server database, and is currently being visualized in Tableau.

We will continue to use these technologies for those purposes: database and data visualization. But we are considering optimizations on how they are used. For example, there are ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) options for connecting directly from SQL Server to Tableau. Previous students instead wrote custom SQL queries to export data into CSV files, then manually combined them into one giant table of data, and finally loaded that into Tableau. The dashboard is now struggling to show significant amounts of data on most computers, which is not helpful.

There are alternatives for databasing and data visualization, but as a team we did not even discuss these because the negative effect of change technologies would be too great a cost for TERA to learn and understand. Instead, we will be working with the current environment and doing everything we can to improve it.

Happy Coding y’all!

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