What is a Linked Map and how do I create a Linked Map?
A linked map is essentially an org 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 org 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 natural setting 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 Kelloggs 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. Then fill it in as discussed in the following steps. They again use the cereal data set for illustration.
Markers are optional. They allow you to show extra information about each topic below the topic. In this example, no markers are used, but it would make sense, for example, to include a description of each cereal brand and product. This description would be shown in a note, that is, a small text box. There are actually many marker types available, which you can choose from a dropdown list under Marker Type.
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 text boxes with summation signs (if you choose Topic Note). In this example, the averages indicated will appear in each higher level (category) topic. A text box will also be included for each individual cereal product, but it will just show the data for that product.
A filter is also optional. It lets you include only a subset of all topics in the map. For example, you could add a Yes/No column to the data set that records Yes for all topics containing the word Kelloggs and No otherwise, and you could then filter on the Yes values in this column. Then the map would should only the categories and individual cereals in the Kelloggs brand. To remove a filter, you simply uncheck the Pre-Filter box.
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).
Check Data button
BigPicture checks your data sets to find and correct inadvertent misspellings, capitalization differences, spacing issues 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 part of this.
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 buttons to see the results.
View information from markers
If there were any markers, such as textboxes with extra information on the cereals, you could click any of them to see the extra information.
Modify or update the map
If you want a different map based on the same data set, you can go back into the Linked Map Definition dialog box and change the settings. For example, you might to add or change the filter. In this case you should click the Create Map button, and you will be asked whether you want to overwrite this map or create a new map (on a new worksheet). The choice is up to you. On the other hand, if the map will simply be updated with new data such as a different price for some cereal product, you can save time by clicking the Update Chart button.