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Reworked Empty Chart State to replace "Unable to display chart" in Dashboards

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Kyle Chipman
Kyle Chipman Overachievers

I would like to see a rework of the "Unable to display chart" prompt in the Charts widget.

I am building a series of dashboards using Grouped and Summarized reports as the source data for charts, pulling basic counts across multiple sheets. These reports are counting open and overdue tasks, the goal being that they'll be empty more often than populated as team members close out task statuses.

Unfortunately, when reports that power graphs are empty, the graph widget defaults to a visually intense warning more akin to an error than an expected empty state (red-ish hue, warning ! symbol, "ask an Admin..." prompt). See screenshot below for reference.

I understand that a workaround is to create a dummy row to populate the report with some kind of data, so it's showing 0 rather than a null value. I've gone that route in this circumstance, but the "Unable to chart data" experience has cropped up a number of other times building out dashboards, and I can't always anticipate or build out dummy rows to accommodate.

For anyone curious, going the dummy-row-for-a-0-count route looks like the example below:

I'm not looking for a significant functionality shift (reworking the ways counts are handled). I'm requesting a less intense visual prompt when there's no data to display. Or, even better, a custom user-defined prompt, so that org-appropriate language can be used to describe what's happening.

I looked elsewhere in the community but could only find asked and answered questions, not a wishlist submission, though someone in those posts flagged this "Results are empty" visual in an existing template. This visual is in the spirit of the request - a neutral visual statement as opposed to misplaced Error-centric visual dominance. Not sure if I'm overlooking some simple method of implementing this visual in place of "Unable to display chart data".

Thanks!

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Quick update - one more frustrating wrinkle to this dummy-row-for-a-0-count strategy I forgot about; the Blank counts will still appear alongside your other defined groups, leaving an ugly empty lane in the chart. This further emphasizes a need to rework this empty source data challenge with charts.


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  • Kyle Chipman
    Kyle Chipman Overachievers
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    It might be lame to reply to one's own post, but a brief update:

    The "Results are empty" screenshot above appears specifically for reports with no matching returns. Found it in another dashboard I'm building out, forgot it was specific to reports.


  • Cathy Fraser
    Cathy Fraser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 09/03/23
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    Hi Kyle,

    Did you come across a solution for the above besides the 0 data entry?

    Thanks

    Cathy

  • Kyle Chipman
    Kyle Chipman Overachievers
    edited 09/04/23
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    @Cathy Fraser unfortunately, you're going to need to prepare your reports (which is to say, a sheet that drives the report summary counts) to anticipate blank values.

    In the screenshot below, you'll see the sheet, report and resulting widget. I have all the columns and conditions prepped so that there will always be a "0" count for Blank values. You'll need to work out your own structure's requirements on your own.

    Out of curiosity, will you be at Engage? I'm pretty tapped right now, but if you're coming to the conference we could connect and review there.


  • K.Candela.KCS
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    When a chart is based on a report where there is no data to display, two reasons exist.

    1) the report could be showing exceptions such as "Errors by type" in a process. If there are no errors then the message that displays is misleading - I don't want a different range, I want a "There is no data to display for this chart" message, with the chart title "Errors by Type" retained so viewers know what the chart is intending to show. Or if I could customize the message that would be great.

    2) The source data could have an error - something changed in the sheet or filters, for example. If I look at a dashboard that I built for someone a month ago and there is this type of error, all I see is the below data and have lost the link to what the data source was, which causes a lot of searching and guesswork. The ideal state would be that the chart title remains, and that when I edit it, I see where it was initially pointed so I can troubleshoot quickly



  • VinceA
    VinceA ✭✭✭
    edited 04/10/24
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    Hello Community,

    Can we have the option to display a "call-out" on our charts that may not have info currently available to display due to metrics not meeting a criteria, be displayed as something to our choosing. If not feasible, then maybe be given a host of choices for us to use. The current default leaves a lot to be desired by some of us.



  • Kyle Chipman
    Kyle Chipman Overachievers
    edited 04/10/24
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    Damn, had this response in drafts since last Fall. Apologies for the delayed send but cool that draft responses hang around for so long:

    ---

    Thanks so much for the response, @K.Candela.KCS, and for the video, @alexa.arboleda. In total agreement with your points, Kristine, and with the solution in the video, Alexa.

    Just to be clear, it's not a workaround I'm looking to implement - I've got the workaround solved. I'm just pointing out a foundational deficiency in the way that chart widgets are configured. Would love to see a rework on the back-end to address it.

    ---

    Additionally, agreed, @VinceA. This is at the core of my initial post. Bummer that only 7 other folks are in alignment at time of writing - alas! All you can do is put the energy out there :).

  • VinceA
    VinceA ✭✭✭
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    Yes Kyle .... agreed.

    Frustrating especially when others in management view dashboards and think perhaps something is wrong with some of the charts needing to be displayed. This should be a no-brainer to get situated because it tends to make a pretty dashboard not so pretty anymore.

  • Swampcat14
    Swampcat14 ✭✭✭
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    Adding a link to another thread I started on this issue, just to try to aggregate user feedback into one lane for the product team. -> https://community.smartsheet.com/discussion/109467/how-do-i-get-a-dashboard-chart-widget-to-display-no-data-when-the-source-report-returns-no-data#latest

    I've closed my thread in favor of this one.

    Steve Garrett

    Global Mobilisation Program Manager

    Yondr Group