Recently, we’ve been setting out to set up a new way to set the option settings in NodeXL. Now we have added a new feature to NodeXL (v.166): savable, selectable configuration option settings files.
This may seem dull but this feature may have a big impact on the ease of use of NodeXL. This may let the most experienced users of NodeXL share their best practices with the rest of the user community.
Throughout NodeXL you can set a wide range of values, options, and settings. Change the default size of a font in the Graph Options and we record that setting. Map the size of a vertex to a value associated with it in Autofill columns and we record the setting.
Until now, we recorded the settings in several places: some settings went with each workbook, some settings were associated with each machine and stayed on each desktop. The result was that I could create a great network visualization, save and send someone the workbook and they often would not see what I saw when they opened and visualized the network graph. Why? People set their settings in lots of different ways, on different machines, creating potentially vastly different results.
Now, NodeXL will record everything about how a network workbook should be rendered in that workbook.
This now also means that expert users can save their settings for NodeXL and exchange them with other users.
NodeXL now has three places to put settings that should make it more reliable to share a workbook and get the same results on different systems. There will now be a default NodeXL settings file, a per NodeXL workbook settings file (stored in a hidden worksheet in the workbook) and any number of saved settings files. Users can save their settings in each workbook or decide to save the workbook’s custom set of settings to overwrite the default settings file that will be applied to all subsequent NodeXL workbooks. Users can also save their settings to one or more named files, which can be shared with others. Users can import any of these settings files and apply them to an open workbook by selecting NodeXL>Options>Import.
- Each NodeXL workbook now has its own set of options. The options are stored right in the workbook, so if you send a workbook to someone else, she’ll be using the same set of options that you did. (“Options” are the selections you make in NodeXL’s dialog boxes, in the NodeXL tab in the Excel Ribbon, and in the toolbar at the top of the graph pane.)
- If you like the options you’ve selected in a workbook and you want those options to be used for all new NodeXL workbooks, use NodeXL, Options, Use Current for New in the Ribbon.
- You can export a workbook’s options to a separate “options file” that you can send to another NodeXL user or use yourself for other NodeXL workbooks. Use NodeXL, Options, Export.
- Import an options file into a workbook using NodeXL, Options, Import. (Known bug, will be fixed in next release: The setting for the Scale slider at the top of the graph pane does not get imported.)
- The old “Options” button at the top of the graph pane is now called “Graph Options.”
- There is no longer a Background button in NodeXL, Visual Attributes. The graph’s background color and image are now both set via Graph Options.
For those who are running automated collections that then run automated processing of a workbook (see: How to schedule the creation of a network with NodeXL and Windows Task Scheduler) you should note that:
- The NodeXL Network Server console program now lets you specify a NodeXL options file to use when a network is saved to a NodeXL workbook. See the NodeXLOptionsFile topic in the SampleNetworkConfiguration.xml file for details. This means that the same machine can be used for scheduled network collection and processing without console users interfering with the settings for automated graphs.