Netscan is a site I have a look at every few months, and since I’ve just noticed it’s had an upgrade (although this could have happened a while ago) I thought it would be worth a blog entry:
As you can see, it’s a very good example of a web-based dashboard providing information/stats on newsgroup postings. The one new feature I was particularly impressed by was the graphical representation of the life of a newsgroup thread – expand one of the nodes in the ‘Thread Tracker’ section to see this; in my opinion this is exactly the kind of creative use of graphics which helps people understand data much more efficiently than a dry text-based approach. I wonder what technology they’ve used for it all? I would guess the UI is custom-coded, but I’m sure you can do something very similar with RS2005 and the rest of the SQL BI suite.
It’s also interesting from another point of view in that for a change the data is something that has relevance to me, as opposed to being some customer’s sales figures or accounts data. I’m there listed at #5 on the ‘Author Tracker’ rankings (using my onlyforpostingtonewsgroups hotmail account) for the whole of 2005, although if you were to rank on number of replies instead of days active I wouldn’t do quite as well; Deepak comes in at #1 on any measure though and you can understand why he’s the MVP given the amount of work he must put in. Also compare the data for Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 2005: in the ‘Report Card’ section for Q3 you can see that most measures were down lots compared to the same period 2004, whereas in Q4 the measures were way up. I guess that’s because AS2K is a mature product so the people working with it have less need to ask questions, or perhaps all Microsoft BI projects were put on hold for SQL2005; certainly I’d say that the increase in the Q4 figures must be due to the release of SQL2005 and people having to come to grips with the new functionality.