If you’ve recently started using Analytics Canvas or are just beginning to explore its potential, then these tips and tricks might be helpful to you. In this blog post I’m going to show you how to get around Analytics Canvas, with just 5 tips and tricks for beginners – which hopefully will help you get better results.
Tip 1. Get to know your data
When you are starting to work with a dataset that is new to you, it’s a good idea to get to know it a little better first, before actually starting to analyze it, in order to save yourself some time, and to make sure that your analysis will make sense. It’s great if you are able to connect to data in Analytics Canvas and work with it, but if your outcome doesn’t make sense in the end, then your efforts will lose their value. You can use the Data Profiler to quickly assess your data and start making sense of it. One of the things that you can do right away is to assess the quality of your data:
- How complete is your dataset?
- How many rows have null values for each column?
- For date type columns, what are the earliest and latest dates for which you have data?
- What is the average value for all the rows in a column?
Trick 2. From Google Analytics Interface to API
If you are used to the Google Analytics Web Interface, you will already know the names of most metrics and dimensions. However, Google Analytics has a robust API that can be hard to navigate if you are accustomed to working with only a handful of GA reports in the Web Interface.
Instead of navigating the tree view in Analytics Canvas, you can simply search for the dimensions and metrics you are looking for. Click on the down arrow next to “Standard Grouping” and select “Flat with Search”. Now you can just start typing the name of the item you are looking for, and Analytics Canvas will fetch up suitable fields.
You can also make this your default setting by going to ‘API Management’ in the top menu, then ‘Google Analytics options’ and selecting ‘Flat with Search’ as your default setting.
Sometimes the API and Web Interface names can be different. If the dimension or metric you’re looking for can’t be found, use the Dimensions & Metrics Explorer found here. Simply enter the name you’re used to seeing in the UI and find the name used in the API.
Tip 3. Quick access to any data with internal dataset
Analytics Canvas offers an internal dataset feature. You can simply copy data anywhere you want, right-click on the white space of the Main Canvas, and paste it. Internal dataset also allows you to modify cells. You can add, edit and remove rows directly, at source. This is a handy tool for when you just want to use a sample of your data to prove a concept, or to use one of Analytics Canvas’s powerful data transformation features on your data.
Tip 4. Update your data snapshots in Canvas
When you connect to a dataset, Analytics Canvas creates a snapshot of the data – a copy of the data set frozen in time. Want to quickly update your data connections? Click on the little camera button on the toolbar. This will open a window where you can manage your data snapshots. You will be able to see all the connections that you have in your Canvas file. Select those that you wish to update and click ‘Ok’. Analytics Canvas will update your data snapshots.
Trick 5. Quickly find data type
A lot of issues can be caused by getting the data type wrong. For example, numbers can be interpreted as strings, and dates as numbers. This may cause issues with data export, calculations, and data visualization. To quickly find the data type, right click on your dataset in Data Viewer and select the ‘Show data type by color’ option. Numbers are highlighted in brown, text in white, dates in light blue, and Boolean in green.
I hope that the tips and tricks for beginners we’ve gone over today will be helpful in your data exploration with Analytics Canvas, and make you more confident in getting out there to connect to some data, and gain some new insights.