Visualize your insights with Presto

Issue 2, 2015

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Visualize your insights with Presto

By Dr. Christoph Heinz, Software Engineer Specialist, and Helmut Barro, MashZone Expert, Software AG
 

Introduction

In modern IT landscapes, a variety of applications are in charge of extracting valuable insights from today’s onslaught of data. A crucial building block in that processing stack is proper visualization of those insights for business users. With Presto from Software AG, you can mash up and analyze heterogeneous information sources and visualize resulting insights in intuitive, interactive dashboards. With real-time intelligence delivered through those dashboards, you have a solid, well-defined and up-to-date foundation for decision-making.
 

Rapid dashboard building

Let’s take a look at how Presto makes data from different information sources available in ready-to-use, interactive dashboards to help you make accurate, timely decisions.

Connect Presto to data sources

The first step to rapidly build a dashboard is to connect to Presto the different information sources of data you want to refine and visualize. Using Presto’s rich connectivity capabilities, you can connect to a multitude of internal and external data sources, such as data warehouses, social media, databases, Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheets and streaming data sources.

Refine incoming data

The second step is to refine the incoming data so it is ready to be analyzed, combined and enriched with other relevant internal/external data sources. Presto provides an analytical engine with capabilities that range from simple analytical tasks, such as data filtering and substitution, to complex analytical tasks, such as data clustering or correlation.

You can specify the analytical tasks you wish to perform with either the easy-to-use user interface called Wires (as shown in Figure 1) or by directly using Presto’s powerful Enterprise Mashup Markup Language (EMML). EMML offers commands for fetching, mashing and enriching data declaratively using IO commands, Web service calls and control statements, for example. Advanced users can use their favorite programming language (i.e., Java®, JavaScript®, Groovy, SQL) to perform additional transformations.

The end result of the refinement step is a Mashup that represents a condensed data set of the information you were seeking.

Figure 1: Connect and refine your data sources to prepare for meaningful Mashups with Wires.

From Mashups to Mashboards

Now you are ready to visualize the results provided by the Mashups. For each Mashup, you can select and customize different views, such as grid, line chart or funnel, to display the data. Next, from within a so-called “Mashboard” you can combine all the views that interest you into a single dashboard. The different views in a Mashboard can also be configured to interact with each other. For example, you can use a selected value from a drop-down box to filter the rows of a table.

Finally, you are ready to deploy your dashboard to Presto’s app portals so that it is available for desktop and mobile users. With Presto, you build your dashboard once and run it everywhere.
 

Behind the scenes

The architecture of Presto is summarized in Figure 2. Starting with different data sources connected to the system, acquired data can be refined/analyzed within data mashups, and finally the results can be summarized in dashboards using cutting-edge HTML5 technology.

Figure 2: Presto is seamlessly integrated into the Software AG platform.

The connectivity layer in the architecture illustrates the seamless integration of Presto into the Software AG landscape. By leveraging the connection to the Event Bus, Presto becomes a native citizen of Software AG’s Event-Driven Architecture (EDA). Thus, Presto can consume event streams from all EDA-enabled Software AG components, including webMethods Optimize for operational intelligence and ARIS for business process analysis.

Presto offers also native support for the Apama Streaming Analytics Platform, featuring an extremely fast Complex Event Processing engine. Likewise, Presto can natively interact with in-memory data stores of Terracotta. In summary, Presto’s rich connectivity capabilities allow you to incorporate data-in-motion and data-at-rest, which are prerequisites for comparing live data with historic data in one dashboard.

Presto is more than a pure dashboard builder; it offers you an extensible, embeddable platform for dashboard building. Thanks to a coherent pluggable design, you can plug in your own visualization and layout frameworks, embed Presto into your own solutions, and use API services to remotely register new dashboards. This enables you to go beyond standard dashboard development and tailor Presto to your specific needs.
 

On the road to Freeform dashboarding

Starting with the current release of Presto, Freeform dashboarding offers business users an intuitive, easy-to-use user interface to build dashboards as shown in Figure 3. In this WYSIWYG graphical editor, visualization widgets can be precisely positioned and sized. Within the context of each widget, data sources can be configured, results can be transformed and filter relations between widgets can be assigned—all without any prior knowledge of programming or transformation languages or data formats. Of course, existing Presto Apps and Views can also be added to Freeform dashboards.

Figure 3: Freeform dashboards enhance data visualization.

By design, Freeform dashboards are data-driven and offer real-time support: the analytical engine pushes new data directly to the client without need for periodic polling or manual refreshes. The set of available out-of-the-box visualization widgets and data sources will continue to expand over time.
 

Conclusion

A meaningful dashboard is very often the missing link between large application stacks executing complex analytical tasks and a satisfied business user who works with the final results. Presto offers a holistic solution to rapidly build interactive dashboards over heterogeneous information sources and provide the right information at the right time in the right fashion.

Presto is your platform of choice if you are looking for:

  • Extensive live data connectivity
  • Real-time mashing and analysis
  • Extensible, embeddable Web services platform
  • Fully unified end-to-end solution

Share your insights and learn more from others who use Presto by participating in the Apama-Presto community on the Software AG Tech Community