## Dec 30, 2005

### Sparklines: satisfaction and disappointment

Could go into a whole diatribe about the paradoxical human condition of conflicting feelings but will keep it simple. Have achieved what I set out to do: and -- sparkline the bank's account opening activity during a given period. Well, have achieved it roughly, anyway. But generating sparklines is a big hassle: code for Office 2000 or XP and above? (2000 doesn't have a feature which makes the user's life a hell of a lot easier.) When generating multiple sparklines at the same time, scale them all to the same scale or different (as they are above)? Currently I'm coding for MSO2000, though there's no guarantee the code will actually work; and scaling to different scales even when generating in the same batch. Will have to change both these settings because the alternatives are so much more helpful.

On the plus side, wrote a clever little toolbar that manages generated sparklines -- i.e. selecting and deleting them -- almost well enough to be called a sparkline manager.

Here are the macros that pull in and parse the plain-text reports generated daily by the bank's software:

Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set fin = fso.OpenTextFile(fname, 1)
branchNamesStore = ""
openingCountsStore = ""
printingCounts = False
weHaveTabs = False

Do While fin.AtEndOfStream <> True

Dim branchNamePoses(5)
branchNamePoses(0) = InStr(1, aLine, " BRANCH ")
branchNamePoses(1) = InStr(1, aLine, " BRANCH" + vbTab)
branchNamePoses(2) = InStr(1, aLine, " BRAN ")
branchNamePoses(3) = InStr(1, aLine, " BRAN" + vbTab)
branchNamePoses(4) = InStr(1, aLine, " BRANC ")
branchNamePoses(5) = InStr(1, aLine, " BRANC" + vbTab)

numAcctsPos = InStr(1, aLine, "OPENED :")
lineHasComma = InStr(1, aLine, ",")
branchName = ""
branchNameTemp = ""
numAcctsStr = ""

For posCounter = 0 To UBound(branchNamePoses)
If branchNamePoses(posCounter) <> 0 And lineHasComma = 0 Then
If posCounter Mod 2 = 0 Then ' No tabs in this file
i = branchNamePoses(posCounter) - 1
Do While Mid(aLine, i, 1) <> " "
branchName = branchName & Mid(aLine, i, 1)
i = i - 1
Loop
branchNameTemp = branchName
branchName = StrReverse(branchNameTemp)
branchNamesStore = branchNamesStore & " " & branchName
Else ' Tabs in the file
weHaveTabs = True
i = branchNamePoses(posCounter) - 1
Do While Mid(aLine, i, 1) <> vbTab
branchName = branchName & Mid(aLine, i, 1)
i = i - 1
Loop
branchNameTemp = branchName
branchName = StrReverse(branchNameTemp)
branchNamesStore = branchNamesStore & " " & branchName
End If
ElseIf InStr(1, aLine, "HEAD OFFICE") And lineHasComma = 0 And Not InStr(1, branchNamesStore, "HEADOFFICE") Then
branchNamesStore = branchNamesStore & " HEADOFFICE"
Exit For
End If
Next posCounter

If numAcctsPos <> 0 Then
i = numAcctsPos + 9
Do While i < Len(aLine) + 1
curChar = Mid(aLine, i, 1)
If weHaveTabs Then
If curChar <> vbTab Then numAcctsStr = numAcctsStr & curChar
Else
If curChar <> " " Then
numAcctsStr = numAcctsStr & curChar
Else
If Len(numAcctsStr) >= 2 Then Exit Do
End If
End If
i = i + 1
Loop
openingCountsStore = openingCountsStore & " " & numAcctsStr
End If
Loop
fin.Close

branchNames = Strings.Split(Trim(branchNamesStore))
openingCounts = Strings.Split(Trim(openingCountsStore))
Debug.Assert UBound(branchNames) = UBound(openingCounts)

docLine = Mid(par.Range.Text, 1, Len(par.Range.Text) - 1)
If docLine = "\begin{acc_opening_counts}" Then
printingCounts = True
GoTo nextItem
ElseIf docLine = "\end{acc_opening_counts}" Then
printingCounts = False
GoTo nextItem
End If

typedNumber = False
If printingCounts Then
curBranch = Trim(par.Range.Words.First)
par.Range.Select
Selection.EndKey Unit:=wdLine
For i = 0 To UBound(branchNames)
If branchNames(i) = curBranch Then
typedNumber = True
Selection.TypeText Text:=" " & openingCounts(i)
GoTo nextItem
End If
Next i
If typedNumber = False Then Selection.TypeText Text:=" 0"
End If
nextItem:
Next
End Sub

Sub importStats()
Dim theDoc As Document
Set theDoc = ActiveDocument

Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
monthFolder = "\\accounts\MB_REPORT 2004\YEAR2004\DECEMBER2004\"

For i = 1 To 31
If i < 10 Then
fname = monthFolder + "Dhanmondi Branch 2004-12-0" & Str(i) & "\AC_OPEN_ALL"
fname = Strings.Replace(fname, "0 ", "0")
If fso.FileExists(fname) Then
inputData fname, theDoc
Else
Debug.Print fname, "does not exist"
End If
Else
fname = monthFolder + "Dhanmondi Branch 2004-12-" & i & "\AC_OPEN_ALL"
If fso.FileExists(fname) Then
inputData fname, theDoc
Else
Debug.Print fname, "does not exist"
End If
End If
Next i
End Sub

May not look like much but was a bitch to write thanks to the lack of regular expressions in vanilla Office VBA. This was the first half. The second half was even harder because even more ill-defined -- almost no one's ever done it before.

The sparkline generator:
Microsoft Word Object ThisDocument

Private Sub Document_Close()
myDocumentClose
End Sub

Private Sub Document_Open()
myDocumentOpen
End Sub

Module NewMacros

Function sizeof(arr)
sizeof = UBound(arr) - LBound(arr)
End Function

Function sort(arr As Variant, Optional SortAscending As Boolean = True)
' Chris Rae's VBA Code Archive - http://chrisrae.com/vba
' By Chris Rae, 19/5/99. My thanks to
' Will Rickards and Roemer Lievaart
' for some fixes.
ToSort = arr
Dim AnyChanges As Boolean
Dim BubbleSort As Long
Dim SwapFH As Variant
Do
AnyChanges = False
For BubbleSort = LBound(ToSort) To UBound(ToSort) - 1
If (ToSort(BubbleSort) > ToSort(BubbleSort + 1) And SortAscending) _
Or (ToSort(BubbleSort) < ToSort(BubbleSort + 1) And Not SortAscending) Then
' These two need to be swapped
SwapFH = ToSort(BubbleSort)
ToSort(BubbleSort) = ToSort(BubbleSort + 1)
ToSort(BubbleSort + 1) = SwapFH
AnyChanges = True
End If
Next BubbleSort
Loop Until Not AnyChanges
sort = ToSort
End Function

Function arrayMin(theArr)
Dim arr()
ReDim arr(UBound(theArr))

For i = LBound(theArr) To UBound(theArr)
arr(i) = Val(theArr(i))
Next i

If sizeof(arr) = 1 Then
arrayMin = arr(LBound(arr))
ElseIf sizeof(arr) = 2 Then
If arr(LBound(arr)) < arr(UBound(arr)) Then
smaller = arr(LBound(arr))
ElseIf arr(UBound(arr)) < arr(LBound(arr)) Then
smaller = arr(UBound(arr))
End If
arrayMin = smaller
Else
sortedArr = sort(arr)
arrayMin = sortedArr(LBound(sortedArr))
End If
End Function

Function arrayMax(theArr)
Dim arr()
ReDim arr(UBound(theArr))

For i = LBound(theArr) To UBound(theArr)
arr(i) = Val(theArr(i))
Next i

If sizeof(arr) = 1 Then
arrayMax = arr(LBound(arr))
ElseIf sizeof(arr) = 2 Then
If arr(LBound(arr)) < arr(UBound(arr)) Then
bigger = arr(UBound(arr))
ElseIf arr(UBound(arr)) < arr(LBound(arr)) Then
bigger = arr(LBound(arr))
End If
arrayMax = bigger
Else
sortedArr = sort(arr)
arrayMax = sortedArr(UBound(sortedArr))
End If
End Function

Function scaleHeight(num, max, theHeight) As Double
If max = 0 Then
scaleHeight = 0
Else
scaleHeight = theHeight - (num / max) * theHeight
End If
End Function

Function lineChart(aLine, theHeight, widthMul, showAvg, vertPos As Single, ByRef header, Optional ByVal scaleSame As Boolean, Optional scaleMax, Optional scaleMin)
If Right(aLine, 1) = vbCr Then
theLine = Left(aLine, Len(aLine) - 1)
Else
theLine = aLine
End If
theSeries = Split(theLine) ' Contains the header label
Dim numSeries() ' Does not hold the label

numNils = 0
For counter = 1 To UBound(theSeries)
If theSeries(counter) = "nil" Then numNils = numNils + 1
Next counter

ReDim numSeries(UBound(theSeries) - numNils - 1)
For i = numNils + 1 To UBound(theSeries)
numSeries(i - numNils - 1) = Val(theSeries(i))
Next i

If scaleSame Then
min = scaleMin
tempMax = scaleMax
Else
min = arrayMin(numSeries)
tempMax = arrayMax(numSeries)
End If
max = tempMax - min

For i = 0 To UBound(numSeries)
tempNum = numSeries(i) - min
numSeries(i) = tempNum
Next

If showAvg Then
sum = 0
For Each elem In numSeries
sum = sum + elem
Next
avg = sum / UBound(numSeries)
avgHeight = scaleHeight(avg, max, theHeight)
End If

With ActiveDocument.shapes.BuildFreeform(msoEditingAuto, (numNils * widthMul) + 100, scaleHeight(numSeries(0), max, theHeight) + vertPos)
For i = 1 To UBound(numSeries)
.AddNodes msoSegmentLine, msoEditingAuto, ((numNils + i) * widthMul) + 100, scaleHeight(numSeries(i), max, theHeight) + vertPos
Next i
freeformName = .ConvertToShape.Name
End With

With ActiveDocument.shapes.AddShape(msoShapeOval, (numNils + i - 1) * widthMul - 2 + 100, scaleHeight(numSeries(i - 1), max, theHeight) + vertPos - 2, 4, 4)
.Fill.Visible = msoTrue
.Fill.Solid
.Fill.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(51, 102, 255)
.Line.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(51, 102, 255)
dotName = .Name
End With

With ActiveDocument.shapes.AddTextbox(msoTextOrientationHorizontal, (numNils + i - 1) * widthMul + 5 + 100, scaleHeight(numSeries(i - 1), max, theHeight) + vertPos - 7.5, 50, 15)
.TextFrame.TextRange.Text = strings.Trim(Str(numSeries(i - 1) + min))
.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Size = 8
.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Color = RGB(51, 102, 255)
.Fill.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(255, 255, 255)
.Line.Visible = False
.Fill.Transparency = 1#
textBoxName = .Name
End With

If showAvg Then
With ActiveDocument.shapes.AddLine(numNils * widthMul + 100, avgHeight + vertPos, (numNils + i - 1) * widthMul + 100, avgHeight + vertPos)
.Line.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(153, 51, 0)
.Line.DashStyle = msoLineRoundDot
avgLineName = .Name
End With
End If

If showAvg Then
retval = Array(freeformName, dotName, textBoxName, avgLineName)
Else
retval = Array(freeformName, dotName, textBoxName)
End If

For Each elem In retval
Debug.Print elem
Next
lineChart = retval
End Function

Sub selectChart()
Dim ctl As CommandBarComboBox
Set ctl = CommandBars("Sparklines").Controls(2)
If ctl.ListCount < 1 Then Exit Sub

lineArr = Split(ctl.List(ctl.ListIndex), ":")

theNames = Split(Trim(lineArr(1)), ",")
Dim shapeNames() As Variant
ReDim shapeNames(UBound(theNames))
For i = 0 To UBound(shapeNames)
shapeNames(i) = theNames(i)
Next i

ActiveDocument.shapes.Range(shapeNames).Select
End Sub

Sub deleteChart()
Dim ctl As CommandBarComboBox
Set ctl = CommandBars("Sparklines").Controls(2)
If ctl.ListCount < 1 Then Exit Sub

selectChart
Selection.Delete
ctl.RemoveItem ctl.ListIndex
End Sub

Sub moveChartRight()
Dim ctl As CommandBarComboBox
Set ctl = CommandBars("Sparklines").Controls(2)
If ctl.ListCount < 1 Then Exit Sub

selectChart
Selection.MoveRight
End Sub

Sub moveChartLeft()
Dim ctl As CommandBarComboBox
Set ctl = CommandBars("Sparklines").Controls(2)
If ctl.ListCount < 1 Then Exit Sub

selectChart
Selection.MoveLeft
End Sub

Sub refresh()
myDocumentClose
myDocumentOpen
End Sub

Sub myDocumentOpen()

With CommandBars("Sparklines")
.Caption = "Line Chart..."
.Style = msoButtonCaption
.OnAction = "lineChartGui"
End With
.Caption = "Select"
.Style = msoButtonCaption
.OnAction = "selectChart"
.Enabled = True
End With
.Caption = "Delete"
.Style = msoButtonCaption
.OnAction = "deleteChart"
.Enabled = True
End With
.Caption = "Refresh"
.Style = msoButtonCaption
.OnAction = "refresh"
.TooltipText = "Clears names of all charts from the list, whether charts are still in document or not"
.Enabled = True
End With
End With
End Sub

Sub myDocumentClose()
Dim sl As CommandBar

On Error Resume Next
Set sl = CommandBars("Sparklines")
If sl Then sl.Delete
End Sub

Sub lineCharts(theHeight, widthMul, showAvg)
noTb = False
Dim sl As CommandBar
On Error GoTo makeToolbar
Set sl = CommandBars("Sparklines")

continueWithTb:
howMany = Selection.Range.Paragraphs.Count
If howMany < 1 Then End

lines = Split(Selection.Range.Text, vbCr)
For i = 0 To howMany - 1
theShapes = lineChart(lines(i), theHeight, widthMul, showAvg, 100 + i * (theHeight + 15), theHeader)
shapesStrTemp = ""
For Each elem In theShapes
shapesStrTemp = shapesStrTemp & "," & elem
Next
shapesStr = Right(shapesStrTemp, Len(shapesStrTemp) - 1)
Next i

Exit Sub
makeToolbar:
myDocumentOpen
GoTo continueWithTb
End Sub

Sub lineChartGui()
frmLineChart.Show
End Sub

Yup, very complicated. Hopefully will become simpler and simpler in future iterations. Sometimes wonder why I don't just switch to automating Excel charts.

## Dec 26, 2005

### Sparklines: can't resist

When I started looking at ways to automate the graphing of the bank's accounts opening data, I originally started out with a 3-D line chart powered by a PivotTable. But have since realised that this is a perfect area of application for sparklines, Edward Tufte's intense, simple, word-sized graphics'. For example, see above.

They're usually supposed to be surrounded by more context, but basically that is their size and general appearance.

Sparklines have so much potential in charting huge amounts of data; couldn't resist spending a lot of thought and time trying to figure out what would be the best way to implement them. First decided on plain HTML and CSS generated by Python, and spent a lot of time on it before decided it was too tedious because I had to get Python to generate each and every dot making up the lines. Python is very good, but after a while I realised I should use an environment which already provided vector-based drawing tools which could be automated.

The obvious choice turned out to be Microsoft Word, because of how common it is, especially here in Bangladesh. After some hacking, came up with the following code:

Const theHeight = 50
Const widthMul = 1

Function scaleHeight(num, max) As Double
num = Val(num)

scaleHeight = theHeight - (num / max) * theHeight
End Function

Sub genSl()
Dim c As Shape ' Holds the canvases one by one
min = 0
max = 0

Dim theArray()
howMany = Selection.Range.Paragraphs.Count
ReDim theArray(howMany - 1)
Dim canvasNames()
ReDim canvasNames(howMany - 1)

For i = 0 To howMany - 1
theArray(i) = Strings.Split(Selection.Range.Paragraphs(i + 1).Range.Text)
For j = 1 To UBound(theArray(i))
If Val(theArray(i)(j)) < min =" theArray(i)(j)"> max Then max = theArray(i)(j)
Next j
Next i
max = max - min

For i = 0 To howMany - 1
' For each paragraph in the selection a sparkline is drawn
Set c = ActiveDocument.Shapes.AddCanvas(100, i * (theHeight + 20) + 200, widthMul * (UBound(theArray(i)) + 1) + 55, theHeight + 15)
canvasNames(i) = c.Name

With c.CanvasItems.BuildFreeform(msoEditingAuto, 0, scaleHeight(theArray(i)(1), max) + 7.5)
For j = 2 To UBound(theArray(i))
' j starts from 1 because the first point was plotted in the BuildFreeform function
.AddNodes msoSegmentLine, msoEditingAuto, j * widthMul, scaleHeight(theArray(i)(j), max) + 7.5
Next j
.ConvertToShape
End With

j = j - 1
With c.CanvasItems.AddShape(msoShapeOval, j * widthMul - 2, scaleHeight(theArray(i)(j), max) + 7.5 - 2, 4, 4)
.Fill.Visible = msoTrue
.Fill.Solid
.Fill.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(51, 102, 255)
.Line.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(51, 102, 255)
End With

With c.CanvasItems.AddTextbox(msoTextOrientationHorizontal, j * widthMul + 5, scaleHeight(theArray(i)(j), max) + 7.5 - 7.5, 50, 15)
.TextFrame.TextRange.Text = Strings.Trim(Str(theArray(i)(j)))
.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Size = 8
.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Color = RGB(51, 102, 255)
.Fill.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(255, 255, 255)
.Line.Visible = False
End With
Next i

ActiveDocument.Shapes.Range(canvasNames).Select
End Sub

Sub showMarkers(n As Integer)
pWidth = ActiveDocument.PageSetup.PageWidth
pHeight = ActiveDocument.PageSetup.PageHeight

Dim l As Shape
For i = 1 To Int(pWidth / n)
Set l = ActiveDocument.Shapes.AddLine(i * n, 0, i * n, 10)
Set l = ActiveDocument.Shapes.AddLine(i * n, pHeight, i * n, pHeight - 10)
Next i
For i = 1 To Int(pHeight / n)
Set l = ActiveDocument.Shapes.AddLine(0, i * n, 10, i * n)
Set l = ActiveDocument.Shapes.AddLine(pWidth, i * n, pWidth - 10, i * n)
Next i
End Sub

Sub doShowMarkers()
Call showMarkers(10)
End Sub

If you're interested in using them, put them in some module in one of your documents templates (if in the Normal template, it will be available to all documents). Then put some data and numbers in the document itself, arranged in a certain way. The above sparklines were generated from the following data:

DSE 2 3 4 7 3 7 4 119 3
DSEGeneralIndex 749.11 768.03 795.05 763.7 752.91 792.56 874.57 870.46 874.22 842.36 845.07 848.41 807.6 806.92 750.84 787.94 791.7
DSE20Index 942.46 958.2 1004.56 963.88 920.73 973.88 1134.34 1094.45 1085.97 1052.47 1051.48 1054.89 1004.61 1021.5 948.27 964.13 964.32
RandomIndex 642.2 221.5 2

That is, each series is on its own paragraph (paragraphs not separated by blank lines), each item in the series separated from the other by a single space. To chart the data, select it all. If the selection contains a single data series, then a single sparkline will be drawn, and so on.

Need to work more on the code and especially on the GUI front-end. But for now it works OK.
Will upload it to a public server after working on it some more.

## Dec 22, 2005

### New ideas

As usual, haven't posted in a long time. Never found much to talk about, but nowadays I find myself looking at problems and inconveniences in my life, and others', and thinking of ways to solve them.

Example. With the abolishing of rickshaws from the main road near leading up to New Market and Nilkhet, the road in front of New Market has become more jammed than ever with parked cars and stationary rickshaws. Right now it is a two-way street, with two lanes on each side and a lane for parking cars on. A simple way to solve the jam would be to allow only cars on the side further away from NM, and only rickshaws on the side closer to it. Sure, cars would have to exit through the other, further side on their way out, but then, that's what they're there for.

Work

Started at One Bank in the beginning of December. Worked, or observed, my way through a lot of stuff but I've finally seen what to me is the most interesting part of it all: the raw data generated by the computer system of the bank's daily activities. These data are in the form of plain text files arranged into folders, essentially by date. They are just crying to be pulled in and processed programmatically by Excel or some such program. For example, there are daily data files about fixed deposits which mature on the day; and new accounts (including loans) which were opened on the previous day.

In the new accounts example, the information in each file (each day's report) includes a grouping of accounts by branch, count of new accounts in each branch, and detailed information on each account (one account per line). The way it is arranged makes it possible to parse it and pull out the most useful data -- for example, the count of new accounts opened in each branch. If one does this every day to keep current, one can graph the daily account opening activity for each branch, and what's more, put these graphs together into a combined 3-D' graph for ease of comparison. This gives, over time, a nice high-level view of account activity throughout the bank.

This is exactly what am now trying to do with Excel and a well-crafted macro at the bank. Have made some progress, and think the parsing bit is taken care of thanks to Excel's, well, excellent plain text file importing/parsing capabilities. But a lot of it is still left, including programmatically generating pivot tables and charts for new months. Should be quite a challenge. If they let me do this, even intermittently, it should make it very interesting at work. Don't know who it will really help, though, to be realistic. At this point it's just a shiny toy, a very high-level view which branch employees may not find ultimately useful and thus may lose interest in rapidly.

But still look forward to exploring more of the daily reports and perhaps even getting something useful out of them.