Every now and then, the Analytics Canvas team will go over the features that our users – you guys! – frequently use. And, what we find is that it is often the case the majority of you will use just a small number of the features available to you. Now, this hurts our developers’ feelings! They think it’s rather a shame you’re not taking full advantage of all the excellent features Analytics Canvas has to offer.
It is always useful to take a fresh look at a familiar tool and find out if there’s anything you’ve been missing. So pull up Analytics Canvas on a big screen, and we’ll go over some hidden gems together. Some of these will already be familiar, but some are new; and some are small but powerful in that they can boost your productivity and save you a lot of time.
Here are the 3 hidden gems that we’ll cover in this post: Block groups, Query library and Sub-canvases. Sounds good, right? Let’s explore how to leverage them best in your analysis.
1. Block groups. Organize and reuse useful analysis!
Have you ever felt like you wanted to have two separate Analytics Canvas files open at the same time? Maybe you wanted to see the formulas you included on both, or jump from one to the other, to see how you arranged the workflow.
No, unfortunately you can’t have two files open on the same machine. Not yet. But we hear you. And here is a little workaround that you might find useful. Find a Canvas file that you want to use and open it. Select all the blocks that you frequently use. Right click and select “Create a block group with a note”. Then export the whole group as a file. You can also export an individual block into a file. Now, when you start a new Canvas, you can import the saved block (or a group of blocks) on your Canvas, to reuse it. Just click on the white space on Canvas and select ‘Import blocks from file’. Want to know all the details? Watch the Using Block Groups tutorial.
Now that’s a handy little trick. And you can also send this file to colleagues of yours who also use Canvas, so they can save time too.
2. Query library. Building that old query again?
Here at Analytics Canvas we are first in line when it comes to being a bit obsessed about reducing the number of repetitive tasks that analysts have to struggle with daily. One thing that you can do to reduce the number of clicks you need to make to get your data, is to utilize your Query Library.
Open the Canvas file (or create one) that is built upon a query that you frequently make. When you click on the Query Library button located in the corner of the Navigation section, you will see this query under ‘Queries in current file’. Select it, and click the Add to Library button. From now on it will appear in your Query Library every time you open a new Canvas. Watch our Query Library tutorial to learn more.
You can imagine how this simple feature will influence your work; use this hidden gem for your data and create dashboards faster.
3. Sub-canvases. Running out of space on the Main Canvas?
There are many complex ways to do data transformation using Analytics Canvas. A typical strategy is to create a flow on the main Canvas, to apply different filters to it, and to be clever about manipulating data on it, etc. The temptation, however, is then to carry on and create 15 other processes on the same Canvas… meaning you end up with a very crowded workspace. Not good. There is a wonderful feature that Analytics Canvas released a while back called Sub-canvas. You’ll find it at the bottom of Main Canvas. It looks a lot like Excel tabs for sheets, and it performs a similar function.
We adore it.
Let’s show you an example so you can see why.
Here I have a Canvas that was built for analysis of a website that takes data out of Google Analytics and pulls it into tables in a single Excel file. There is a table for sessions by browser, a table for sessions by medium, a table for goal conversions, and so on. It’s insightful – it lets you see at a glance what you have. But it can also get very confusing as you start to zoom in and out of each group of blocks. So, what you can do is select a group of blocks that you think belong together, right-click on them and select ‘Push blocks to new sub-canvas’. Then simply name this Sub-canvas.
Now you have a nice breakdown of your dashboard. Our advice to you is to resist the temptation to put all your blocks on the Main Canvas. As you do that, leverage the hidden gem called sub-canvas to organize your beloved data flow. Learn more by watching the Using Sun-Canvases tutorial.
These three hidden gems from Analytics Canvas will help you double your speed. No bad, eh? But of course, they are not the end of the story – there are other gems out there. Please share your ideas and feedback on the recommendations given above. What other feature have you found that you think might be a hidden gem?