Zoomdata Version

How Zoomdata Handles Time


If your data source contains one or more time-based attribute, Zoomdata can visualize and explore your data using time as an attribute. Whether you are connecting a live streaming source (like Twitter and Kinesis) or historical datasets (like SQL-based tables), you can stream or play through your data using Zoomdata's time controls.

While creating a connection to your data source you can configure the time fields settings as well as define the time settings in global default settings . These include selecting time attribute based on which your charts will be built; enabling or disabling playback, live mode, and delay mode for live data sources.

Live mode presupposes playing data from current moment on, while playback provides you a possibility to play data for the selected period.

Live mode is enabled by default for live streaming sources.

For other sources, Zoomdata checks if a playable time field is available. A time field is defined as playable in case a partition, index, or sort key is present (depending on the data source).

A playable time field must have granularity (day, hour, minute, or second) for the playback to be supported. Keep in mind that you can enable the live mode only if playback is enabled.

You can also manage the time settings on the chart and dashboard levels.

Zoomdata works with time data in UTC. Therefore, Zoomdata recommends you to set the timezone for your data source server in UTC to avoid time conversion issues.

Managing the time settings on the chart level

If your data source contains one or more time-based attribute, Zoomdata can visualize and explore your data using time as an attribute. Whether you are connecting a live streaming source (like Twitter and Kinesis) or historical datasets (like SQL-based tables), you can stream or play through your data using Zoomdata's time controls.

The ability to stream or play through historical data as if they were coming in real-time is a unique feature in Zoomdata. When you have created a chart with time attributes, the chart canvas displays two time-based tools (as shown in Figure 1):

  1. The Time Bar menu item (along the left rail menu) lets you select the time attribute to be used in the chart (as well as enable the time player).
  2. The time bar along the bottom of the chart canvas lets you set and manipulate the time range for the visualized data.

Figure 1

The following live streaming sources will have the time player enabled by default:

For historical sources, the time player is not enabled by default, but the Zoomdata Administrator can set the default parameters for the time player , that is, enabling or disabling it. Also, the user can activate them from the chart canvas, using the Time Bar menu item.


The time player, working in conjunction with the Time Bar, lets you explore time in a variety of ways - from zooming into a specific timeframe to zooming out to a wider time range. Similar to a DVR in function, the time player lets you rewind the data view to a previous point in time and then fast forward to the most current time period available in the dataset.

The Time Bar Tool

The Time Bar tool lists all the time-based attributes available in your data source. Selecting a time attribute from this pane sets the group-by for your chart (which will be displayed on the time player).

Figure 2

In addition, if playback capability is possible, the Enable Playback option will be displayed (as shown in Figure 3).

Figure 3

The Enable Playback option is a toggle feature that either enables or disables the Play button on the time player.

The playback mode is available if the Time field in your data set has the playable parameter which is set to True and  the granularity of the field is not greater than day.

When is the 'playable' property in the data source set to true?

1. If the field in the data source is indexed or partitioned.
NOTE: For Impala data sources, also possible if the selected field has connection to the partitioned field.
2. If the data source is SparkIt-dependent (such as S3, HDFS and API connectors)
3. In RedShift, if it is the first sort key .

You can select the time-based attribute that will be displayed on the time player and used in your chart. This tool serves the same purpose as the Global Default Settings that is available from the Data Sources page, within the Charts tab of a selected source (as shown in Figure 4).

Figure 4

Your selected time attribute is displayed just above the time player (which also applies for dashboards, as shown in Figure 5).

Figure 5

Time Player Components

The visualized data on your charts depend on the time settings that you can configure using time filters and the time bar. Figure 6 describes time controls that you can use as well as time periods for which the data are visualized.

Figure 6

  1. Time attribute - displays a list of available time-based attributes in your data source (same list as presented in the Time Bar tool).
  2. Start Range (that is, From value) -  the default value is Min value in your dataset; but you can change this value to customize the chart.
  3. End Range (that is, To value) - the default value is Max value in your dataset; but you can change this values to customize the chart.
  4. Wings: Start and End Selection options - This selection is what is displayed on the chart; so within the From and To values, you can set a custom time range for data exploration.
  5. Time window with From and To handles - like the ‘Wings’, these controls is another way to set a time window.

For live sources, the following time controls are also available:

Figure 7

  1. Play/pause - this toggle displays whenever playback is enabled for the data source.
  2. Time player speed - like a DVR, you can set the speed that the time player moves through your dataset, including:
    • 1 second of data per second of time
    • 1 minute's worth of data per second of time
    • 1 hour's worth of data per second of time
    • 1 day's worth of data per second of time
      When the time bar is running, an animated indicator is used to show data being played on the chart. It is possible to disable the animated indicator (via a user with admin rights in Zoomdata). Refer to the article Configuring Key and Value Settings for more information.
  1. Pin Start Time - locks the start time; when enabled along with playback, the time window aggregates from your pinned starting point (accessed from the ‘Start Selection’ wing; as shown in Figures 7 and 8).

Figure 8

The time player lets you manipulate the time attribute in a variety of ways:

  • By using the From and To handles at the edges of the time window, you can quickly expand or reduce the time range that is shown in the chart. The handles will expand until it reaches either the Min or Max value that is in your dataset (as shown in Figure 9).

Figure 9

  • By dragging the time window left or right, you can change the time range that is shown in the chart. The time window highlights when you hover over it to indicate a selectable area. (as shown in Figure 10).

Figure 10

  • For more granular control when changing the time window, including the ability to expand or reduce the time window, you can edit the ‘Start Time’ and ‘End Time’ wings; the Start Time pane offers the Pin Start Time option (as shown in Figure 11).

Figure 11

  • By editing the Start Range (Min value) and/or End Range (Max value), you are filtering the time range that will be available for the chart; in essence, this filter lets you customize the time range (that is, the Min and Max values) for the chart (as shown in Figure 12).

Figure 12

Keep in mind that the Start Time and End Time panes differ from the Start Range and End Range filter panes (as shown in Figure 13).

Figure 13

The Time pane controls the time window and what is displayed in the chart. The Range filter pane sets the From and To values for the chart.

The Filters Start and End Range Panes

The Filter Range panes let you customize the date and time parameters in the following ways:

  • Selecting a specific start and/or end timeframe
  • Choosing a predefined time preset
  • Setting a dynamic time

Specific Start / End Timeframe

Follow the steps below to set a specific timeframe:

  1. Select either the start or end range on the time player (as shown in Figure 14).

Figure 14

The Filters > Start/End Range pane opens (depending on your selection).

Figure 15

  1. Edit the date and/or time parameters:
    • For the date field, there are three tabs to help you select the ‘Year’, ‘Month’ and ‘Day’.
    • For the time field, you can specify the hour, minutes and seconds as well as time of day (AM or PM; as shown in Figure 16)

Figure 16

  1. After all necessary edits are made, click Apply in the main Filters pane to execute your changes.

Figure 17

The time filters that you set in the Filters control and the Time Bar are mutually exclusive. This means that the intersection of the two time filters will provide the result that is displayed on the chart. For example, as shown in Figure 18, if you select the 'Current Quarter' in the 'Filters' control and the 'Current Year' on the Time Bar, the chart will show data from the 'Current Quarter'.

Figure 18

Predefined Time Preset

Instructions for choosing a predefined time preset are in the Filters article.

Dynamic Time

Your other filter option - Dynamic Time - provides flexibility in setting your start and end times. The notion of Dynamic Time is to set and save a relative timeframe. For example, the sales team accessing a chart showing the current week’s sales results.

Essentially, setting a Dynamic Time lets you or other users explore and interact with datasets within a targeted timeframe. The Dynamic Time option is accessed from the date icon for both the start and end ranges.  This filter needs to be saved (access the Filters article for guidance on saving a filter). This will refresh the chart every time it is opened by a user. Zoomdata offers different options for Dynamic Time setup (as shown in Figure 19).

Figure 19

Dynamic time options include:

  • Start/End of Data Set
  • Start/End of (a selectable timeframe, from 'year' down to the 'minute')

Figure 20

  • Now

Dynamic Time offers an offset option for greater control over the relative timeframe you are setting. For example, the sales team wants to view the weekly sales results, but from Tuesday through Friday only. The purpose of the offset is to provide more flexibility for the starting and/or ending range of the chart. Figure 21 highlights the offset controls.

Figure 21

The offset time options available include the following (as shown in Figure 22):

Figure 22

The result of your offset setting is displayed under the Selected Range (Dynamic) label (as highlighted in Figure 23). This result shows what the Dynamic Time would be at the present time (that is, right now).

Figure 23

The filter, you have configured, is displayed on the Filters pane:

Figure 24

Besides the filters you have configured, the time attribute, that is used for the time bar is displayed in the Active Filters section.