MashZone NextGen Visual Analytics

MashZone NextGen Visual Analytics is the latest addition to Software AG’s product suite aimed at data scientist and operational analysts to explore their data mountains, experiment new theories, analyze problems and better understand relationships between derived and calculated channels of data, find new insights and to keep exploring!


The North Face® company boldly proclaims to never stop exploring! It’s a calling for explorers of the physical world, tempts thrill-seeking daredevils to constantly search new spots for base jumping, veteran climbers to seek out new paths to navigate treacherous Hillary steps to summit Mt. Everest and keep exploring. Digital world needs an equally compelling catch phrase. Digital transformation is redefining enterprises and inundating businesses with more data than they can ever conquer. Businesses need to start exploring their data to find new insights, spot trends before it's too late, and predict new trends to stay relevant but more importantly they need to start now. MashZone NextGen Visual Analytics is the latest addition to Software AG’s product suite aimed at data scientist and operational analysts to explore their data mountains, experiment new theories, analyze problems and better understand relationships between derived and calculated channels of data, find new insights and keep exploring new data terrains!

Exploratory data visualizations

Traditional dashboards are great tools for monitoring business Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and almost an essential tool for ensuring success and accountability. Businesses already know the key metrics to track, ones they have been tracking for decades and built numerous dashboards for monitoring them. Declarative data visualizations are about capturing these known KPIs as dashboards to enable stakeholders to monitor the current state of affairs and track their execution and goals they want to achieve. Exploratory data visualizations, on the other hand, are aimed at discovering answers to new questions, finding new answers to age-old questions, finding new ways to explain the answers and coming up with new KPIs to track. But these kinds of explorations don't work in isolation. Typically different segments of the organization work on data visualizations but usually end up feeding into each other. Declarative dashboards often raise questions that cannot be answered without further exploration and serendipitous exploratory visualizations become critical KPIs for ensuring long-term success.

MashZone NextGen Business Analytics fits nicely into the declarative data visualizations category by allowing business users and skilled developers to build rich, interactive dashboards.

MashZone NextGen Visual Analytics, a recent new capability of the Software AG Digital Business Platform, allows for data-driven exploratory data visualization, enabling data scientists and domain experts to further explore their data, understand business behavior and assist them in finding new answers, all with an easy-to-use, intuitive drag-and-drop web interface. See Fig. 1 for highlights of some of the key features in the April 10.0 Innovation Release.

Figure 1: Visual Analytics 10.0 New Features - Apache Spark™ Execution Engine, Dimension Filtering, Visual Schema Reclassification, Range Sliders, Streaming Play/ Pause, Data Export, Trend Lines and More

MashZone NextGen Visual Analytics overview

In the Digital Business Platform, events flow in and out of the platform from various internal and external applications and IoT devices and a key goal is to understand that data and leverage it for business insights. Visual Analytics allows users to explore both streaming and historic data. So it's easy to consume streaming IoT data flowing through Apama, explore historic data stored in Terracotta, static structured data stored in CSV, XML, JSON™ and even big data stored in HDFS.

Once a data source is deployed or registered, a Visual Analytics schema definition is automatically discovered and appropriate insights are generated for initial exploration. These interactive insights allow for a quick overview of data channels, providing statistical profiles of measures, data distribution of dimensions, etc. Insights can be extremely helpful in eliminating noise from the dataset and focus on the most important and relevant data channels. Beyond insights, users can perform ad-hoc explorations by visualizing different measures, look for correlation across raw and aggregated values, group and partition by different dimensions, filter down to the exact segment of the data to really understand what's driving the data.

Data filtering and drill downs are essential aspects of meaningful explorations. With Visual Analytics, measure filtering makes it easy to find and filter outliers beyond the standard deviation, focus just on the ones close to the average mark or pick a custom range of choice. Dimension filters show top entries, allow users to select one or more interesting dimensions and even allow them to negate selections with a single click.
Explorations created in Visual Analytics can be saved as a named analysis for sharing and collaboration. Analyses allow users to capture the exact state of an exploration with insights, visualization and all the filters. Multiple analyses can be grouped into projects, making it easy to organize related work. Every analysis includes a thumbnail image of the last visualization, making it easy to identify the work.

Figure 2: Sample exploration showing hourly energy usage contour chart filtered by month. Contour charts are a great way to find usage patterns and clusters.

What’s on the horizon?

The product team is hard at work building some exciting new additions to MashZone NextGen Visual Analytics for October 2017 release. In addition to numerous improvements in UI and UX, we are really excited about the new “Advance Time Manipulation” capabilities for streaming data and a tight integration with Business Analytics for publishing exploratory analysis as native dashboards.

Streaming data will be a lot easier to handle in the brand new architecture built on top of open standards for scalability and performance. New architecture combined with an intuitive set of playback UI controls, enables users can play/pause live data streams, jump back in time to replay certain observations, fast forward and even slow down live streams. This makes it a lot easier to analyze and explore IoT streams flowing through the Digital Business Platform.

Figure 3: Sneak peek of the upcoming “Advanced Time Manipulation” feature in 10.1, adds the ability to play/pause, jump back, fast forward and slow down live data streams.

Starting with the October release, explorations created in Visual Analytics can be published as MashZone NextGen dashboards with a single click. Published dashboards will be fully interactive, contain native visualization and filtering components, making it easy to extend, integrate and customize. This makes it extremely easy to assemble new dashboards from data explorations and brings in a brand-new way workflow to building interactive dashboards. This coupled with Single Sign-On (SSO) integration between MashZone NextGen Visual Analytics and Business Analytics, Desie’s of the world (data scientist persona) will be able to create and publish insights to Andy’s of the world (business analyst persona) for sharing new insights with a wider business audience with a simple, easy workflow.


MashZone NextGen Visual Analytics is an exciting new addition to the visualization layer of the Digital Business Platform. Built from the ground-up on a modern, scalable, microservices architecture, Visual Analytics is tailored for exploring and analyzing IoT data flowing through the speed layer and historic data persisted through our batch layer. Ability to process large volumes of historic data with Spark execution engine, manipulate streaming data with DVR-like playback capability, native support for digital events, tight integration with business analytics for dashboard creation are some of the cornerstone features, intended to bring significant benefits to the visualization layer of the Digital Business Platform and more importantly making it easy for customers to find new ways to gain insights into their business data.

For more information, including code samples please visit the MashZone NextGen section of Software AG’s Tech Community.