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Has anyone seen an interface that allows users to select two different sets of dates to compare data? And then the corresponding data in tables and/or graph form?

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1 Answer 1

Even with just sets of integers (like [1 2 3] and [2 3 4 5]) asking what it means to "compare" the data is vague. Do you want to know which set has more numbers, what elements they have in common, which contains the largest or smallest number? Etc.

But if you just want a simple interface to compare two lists (kind of diff-like), you could sort them and show them such that if a date appeared in both sets it would be on the same row.

SET-1: [21-Jan-2001 08-May-1975 04-Aug-2000]

SET-2: [13-Mar-1987 04-Aug-2000 12-Apr-2001 08-May-1975]

   SET-1     |    SET-2
-------------+-------------
08-May-1975  |  08-May-1975
    ...      |  13-Mar-1987
04-Aug-2000  |  04-Aug-2000
21-Jan-2001  |      ...
    ...      |  12-Apr-2001

In terms of information overload, there's always a timeline...sometimes an overkill in terms of use of screen real-estate. The Simile Timeline is open source and can put dots of different colors on events, and you could use one color for each set:

http://www.simile-widgets.org/timeline/

But the best idea is to go to your users/use-cases and find out what it is people are trying to find out from your data from this "comparison", and design according to that.

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Thanks Hostile Fork for leaving your answer. The data that will be compared is going to be 1:1. What the users are doing is selecting an object and wanting to see how it performed in two separate windows of time. So think of the data being presented in columns of values, such as clicks, impressions, etc., For a single object it will be defaulted to a particular set of dates, but users may want to add an additional set of dates to compare with the default. They may also want to change the default dates. –  Rollin4eyes Jan 11 '11 at 17:01
    
@Rollin4eyes: in that case wouldn't a "simple" graph/chart be your best bet as the dates are "just" a selection criteria to compare two (or more) value ranges? –  Marjan Venema Jan 13 '11 at 7:29
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