BigPicture Example Series: Data Map of Power Generation in the Midwest

In the BigPicture Example Series, we’ll show you different ways you can make BigPicture work for you.  You can check out all these example files with your copy of the BigPicture software, which you can download here. Get BigPicture today and start playing with these fun and informative example models. The possibilities are limitless.

BigPicture is an excellent tool for generating a Data Map from a set of example data. For example: check out this  data set of major electric power plants in four states in the US Midwest:


A Data Map is created by grouping values in selected columns in a data set. In this example, grouping is made by State and Primary Energy Source. The map includes a topic for each state, with subsequent child topics following each state representing the possible Primary Energy Source values in that state. In BigPicture, these parent and child topics are called “Grouped Topics”.


A set of end topics will follow the grouped topics for each State and Primary Energy Source. These end topics represent those electric power plants that have the same State and Primary Energy Source values. You can select the data you want to include for each end topic. In this example we’ll display Plant name, Operating Company name and the value for Capacity (MW).

In a Data Map, end topics are usually displayed in End Tables, instead of in actual map topics. By using tables, the number of topics required for a map is minimized, while still allowing the graphical display of the data. However, if desired, you can create an individual topic in the map for each end topic, resulting in a larger map with more connectors and topics.


The capacity value for each plant can be subtotalled up through the grouped topics that precede it. For example, the grouped topic for the state Illinois will show the total Capacity for all plants in Illinois. These values are “live”, so if you change a capacity value in the data set , the map values will recalculate.


Markers and pictures can be added to enhance the map. For this map, BigPicture adde a company logo to each plant’s entry by matching a picture file from the Photos folder to the listed company name. A hyperlink was also added to the table to provide a link to a web location that has additional information on each plant. BigPicture reads this hyperlink from the Detailed Description column of the data set and displays the Hyperlink in each plant’s entry in the End Table. Illustrative pictures are also added to grouped topics to highlight each State and Primary Energy Source.


Check out the full example model in BigPicture’s ‘Example Spreadsheets’ section under the Help menu:



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