From data to dashboards

Case study of rapid custom development at the Energy Saving Trust

From data to dashboards

October 27, 2015

JUXT have collaborated with Mastodon C a few times to help produce solutions for clients.

Energy Saving Trust approached Mastodon C with a small problem but one that required custom development. They were collecting reviews from a number of sustainability experts, who each put their responses into an Excel spreadsheet template.

The problem was to take these spreadsheets, and quickly derive a series of custom reports which could be accessed online by authorized parties.

This is the kind of problem that a data integration and business intelligence (BI) tools excel at. Rather than build a system from scratch, it may be better to address problems with existing tools. But then how do you go about choosing from the large number available? And once you've chosen one, how can you be sure it can do everything you might need it to?

This build-versus-buy dilemma is a common one for IT decision makers. Building software from scratch, using a low-level 'general purpose' language, can be risky and expensive. On the other hand buying a solution is also risky because it might not do everything you need it to.

Building a system using Clojure is often a good compromise. As a general purpose programming language, there aren't many problem domains that Clojure can't adapt to. But Clojure's dynamic language capabilities, with its built-in data manipulation functions, make it a powerful data integration and presentation tool in itself.

JUXT were able to demonstrate this by delivering a complete usable system in 10 days of effort. Without the time to code in the data structure, the system automatically extracted the meaningful results from the reviews by statistical analysis, presenting the data in custom-specified charts in a dashboard format, accessible via a secured web application. This allowed the Energy Saving Trust to quickly produce a report full of insights into the energy savings possible with modifications to existing homes.

If you are looking to develop a custom system, but want the rapid development associated with an 'off the shelf' data integration tool, you should consider building on the Clojure language using developers who know how to wield it.