What is a Linked Map and how do I create a Linked Map?
A linked map is essentially an organizational chart in a different context. It is defined in terms of parent-child relationships stored in two columns of a data set.
You can Ctrl+click the following link to watch a video about linked maps: http://www.palisade.com/BigPicture/Intro/EN/LinkedMaps/
Create a data set with parent-child relationships
Like the data set for an organizational chart, where two columns specify the employee to supervisor relationships, the data set for a linked map should specify parent-child relationships. Two typical examples are shown below.
Example with linked columns only
The topics for this example are the aircraft characteristics in column A. These are the children, and their parents are in column B. These are the only two columns in the data set. (This is from one of the example spreadsheets under BigPicture Help.) The Aircraft topic in cell A3 is the root topic; it has no parent. Like with an org chart, there is only one root topic. In the linked map, the Method of Lift, Propulsion, and Use topics will emanate from the Aircraft topic, Aerodynes and Aerostat will emanate from Method of Lift, and so on.
Example with other columns
The topics for this example are the cereal categories or individual cereal products in column A. (This is also from one of the example spreadsheets under BigPicture Help.) These are the children, and the parents are in column B. This is an ideal setup for a linked map, where there is a hierarchy from categories down to individual products. Other data are listed in columns C to F, but these make sense only for individual cereal products, not for categories. Because this data set will be used to illustrate rollup calculations in linked maps, such as average calories per serving for all Kellogg's cereals, BigPicture requires asterisks, not blanks, in the category rows.
Create pictures of topics
If you want the linked map to show pictures of the topics, you can create picture files of the topics and store them in a folder of your choice. The names of these picture files should match the text in some column of the data set. In this case, the cereal data will be used for illustration. Then it makes sense to have a picture for each cereal brand and for each individual cereal product, and to match the picture names with the topics in column A of the data set. For example, names of typical picture files are Kelloggs.jpg and Corn Flakes.jpg (or some other graphics file extension).
Fill in the Linked Map dialog box
Click the Linked Map item on the BigPicture ribbon to bring up the tabbed Linked Map dialog box. Fill in the dialog box as discussed in the following steps. The Linked Map - Cereal.xlsx example file is used in the following steps.
Markers and Tags tab
Markers and Tags are optional. They allow you to show extra information about each topic at a glance. In the example map below, we have added a Descriptions column in our data and linked it to a Note Marker.
To have the descriptions appear in a Note Marker:
- Check the box for Add Markers or Tags to Each Topic (See #1)
- Click on the blank box in row 1 of the Linked Map dialog box
- Choose the name of the column that you would like BigPicture to refer to. For this example, the column name is Descriptions. (See #2)
- Select Note from the dropdown menu in the Marker or Tag Type column. (See #3)
For each cereal brand and product, the description that appears in the spreadsheet column under the Description heading will be included in a Note marker to the bottom right of the Topic. (See #3)
There are a variety of marker types available in BigPicture. In the Marker or Tag Type drop down, the first two Markers are Note markers and Hyperlink Markers, both of which can refer to a column that has customized text. When working with the other options such as All Countries, Number, Smiley, etc. the column of data that it is referring to MUST have matching names to the names that are included in those particular lists. For example, for the Smiley Marker list the only options are 'Happy', 'Sad', 'Angry' and 'Frustrated'. Which means that there would have to be a column in your data set that has the words 'Happy', 'Sad', 'Angry' and 'Frustrated'. (See #4)
To know what names are associated with what marker, when you are on a page that has a map on it, click on the Markers icon in the ribbon then choose Manage Markers.(See #5) Choose the list that you would like to use and the Manager Markers dialog will show you the Marker Names associated with that particular list (See #4). This shows you the options under the 'Smiley' list. If you would like to add your own markers, view the article Add your own Marker List.
Tags can be found by scrolling down the dropdown menu. (See #6) Tags behave in the same way as Markers (See #7), however instead of placing an icon to the bottom right of the Topic, you can set your markers to have specific colors and formatting associated with them that will automatically format the Topic accordingly. In addition, it can also add a small text box that is placed on top of the Topic. To learn more about Tags view the article What are Tags and how do I Use them?
Calculations are also optional. They let you show rollup (summary) information about topics. The results of the calculations appear either in the topics themselves (if you choose Topic Label in the Display In column) or below the topics in Notes with summation signs (if you choose Topic Note). In this example, the topic label will include the averages indicated for all of the grouped options and the individual cereal product will have just its own data.
NOTE: The Maximum number of Calculation Topic LABELS is 4, after you have reached 4 Topic Labels, the remainder of calculations will be displayed in Topic Notes.
The Display tab's default settings usually suffice, but you can change them to suit your taste. In this example, each level of the map will be colored differently, the linked map will be placed on a new worksheet in the same workbook as the data, the chart orientation will be from left to right (as opposed to top-down), and individual cereals will be stacked vertically (the only option when orientation is left to right) - when dealing with a Top Down map
Check Data button
BigPicture checks your data sets to find and correct capitalization differences, spacing issues, some inadvertent misspellings, etc. that would keep your Linked Maps from being generated properly. BigPicture matches entries in columns used for grouped topics, markers, supervisor names etc. when creating Linked Maps. Small differences can cause entries from not being matched properly.
When creating a Linked Map for the first time, it is recommended to click on the Check Data button to make sure that your data is set up properly. For any subsequent linked maps that you make with that same data, it will not be necessary to click Check Data unless the underlying data has changed.
Create the linked map
When you click the Create Map button, BigPicture creates the linked map and performs any requested calculations. By default, the map shows the root and the next level of topics.
Expand (or collapse) any section of the map
You can click any of the green expand buttons to follow the map structure to the right of a topic. You can then click any of the red collapse buttons to collapse any branches of your map. If the red collapse icon is not visible, place your cursor over the topic that has the branch emanating out from it and bring the cursor towards the edge of the topic where the branch comes out. The red collapse marker will appear. (See #1)
View calculations in topic notes
If you chose to display any calculations in topic notes, as opposed to topic labels, you can click the summation sign notes to see the results.
Modifying the map
If you want a different map based on the same data set, you can go back into the Linked Map dialog and change the settings. For example, you may want to add a different Marker or display a different summary statistic. When you click on the Create Map button (See #1), you will be asked whether you want to overwrite the current map or create a new map (on a new worksheet). (See #2) You can choose either option.
If you know this ahead of time that you would like to replace the map, you can click on the Update Map button (See #3) instead of the Create Map option. This will eliminate the step where the warning dialog appears. It will automatically choose to overwrite the existing map.