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roambi.jpg
I am one of those two people still not owning an iPhone (sniff), but RoamBi [roambi.com] might ultimately change my mind. RoamBi (short for 'roaming business intelligence') aims to transform existing datasets from a variety of sources into interactive visualizations for the iPhone. Its design beautifully merges the typical shiny and slick iPhone interface graphics with a more serious and dark business application visual style. Try "spinning" the pie charts, or tap the line graphs, either from your own iPhone or the online simulator.

Online publishers can submit reports and data from a wide range of applications, including Excel, salesforce.com, WebIntelligence and Crystal Reports, to publish dynamic visualizations and share them with friends, co-workers and employees. The service also includes a Web publisher where individual operators or corporate employees can import reports in 4 different visual templates: the pie chart, graph, card file, or list. The data can then be emailed to the phone or pushed through the RoamBi account.

The RoamBi viewer itself, and its individual usage, is currently free, so I suppose the business model focuses on large corporate clients who will need to pay for uploading data, creating the visualizations, or sharing them with others.

Are you a Roambi user? Please add your review in the comments section below.

Any other beautiful or intriguing datavis iPhone apps out there? Suggest one here.

2 COMMENTS

I installed RoamBi yesterday and tried uploading some data to it. I think it's really interesting.


Pros:


The graphics and interface are mostly very pretty and rather clear.
I succeeded with fairly minimal effort in getting my data onto the phone from existing spreadsheets.
While I'm not a huge fan of pie charts, the RoamBi ones are exceptionally good. The innovation of allowing to spin the pie chart is not just a gimmick, because the segment at the bottom gets its data annotated, which is fantastic.
The card index/baseball card view is also rather wonderful.
The main grid view is pretty well thought through.
While the (Adobe) flash interface is mind-blowingly weird, it does have the enormous virtue that it gives you a pretty convincing preview of what the data you're uploading will be like on the phone.

Cons:


While I did make uploading work fairly easily,
I haven't yet managed to get an email from RoamBi with my data.
(That said, syncing it over WiFi within the RoamBi app seems like a better idea.)
The range of visualizations isn't spectacular so far and the
amount of customization appears very limited.
But again, not bad for V1.
The Flash data upload interface is so non-standard and weird and
counterintuitive that I thought it was just non-functional at first,
and the lack of explanatory links in it is positively perverse.
That said, once you "get it", it does work quite well and, as noted above,
does have the large virtue of providing a good simulation of what the
data will be like on the phone.
While the data upload (publisher) interface makes a decent job
of extracting data, preserving some formatting etc (e.g. commas),
it's far from perfect. In particular, it seems to have an arbitrary
50-column limit (I needed about 60...), an annoying habit of replacing
empty header cells with things like 'Field48',
and to discard simple formatting like colour and emphasis that could
really help with data on a small screen..
I haven't really understood data sharing yet, probably not helped
by not having managed to get a RoamBi field mailed to me.


All in all, I think this is a very interesting application, with much
to commend it.
And you have to think it's likely to get better.


Fri 05 Jun 2009 at 8:03 PM

Great and detailed review, njr!

Thnkx for the effort!

Mon 15 Jun 2009 at 11:54 AM
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