Skip to content
Switch branches/tags
Go to file
Cannot retrieve contributors at this time
332 lines (246 sloc) 11.8 KB


Get running in 5 minutes

In this tutorial, we'll walk through all the steps necessary to start exploring and visualizing some data using Jia. Kronos comes with a convenient script to import some presidential campaign donation data from Oregon to play around with, so that is the dataset we will dig into.

Load up your data

Start by getting Kronos and Metis instances up and running. You can follow their respective getting started guides for further instruction. You don't need to complete the full exercies, just get the server instances running.

Don't forget to import the campaign data into Kronos.

cd chronology/kronos
python scripts/

Configure and run Jia

Once you have Kronos and Metis running, configure Jia.

cd chronology/jia
sudo pip install -r requirements.txt

Edit to your liking. Most settings should be fairly straightforward. Be sure to set KRONOS_URL and METIS_URL to reflect the ports you chose when setting those up.

You most likely want to set PRECOMPUTE to false for the time being. If you do, you don't need to worry about any of the CACHE_ or SCHEDULER_ settings. For more information on precompute, see the scheduler docs.

For the purposes of this demonstration, you can leave ENABLE_GOOGLE_AUTH disabled. When deploying Jia for everyday use, you need to visit the Google Developers Console and create a project in order to get API keys for authentication. Put the client ID and secret keys in the settings, and whitelist any allowed users' email addresses in the ALLOWED_EMAILS setting. You can add individual email addresses here, or whitelist an entire regex, which can be useful if your company uses Google Apps.

When you are done configuring, simply run

./ --config db upgrade

to initialize the database, then

./ --config runserver

to start the Jia server. Visit http://localhost:8152 (or whatever port you configured Jia to run on) in a browser and you should see this:

Step 1

Create a new board

Welcome to Jia! Start by pressing the "New Board" button on the sidebar.

Step 2

When you create a board, the first thing you see is an editor for your first panel. A board can have multiple panels. Each panel contains one query and displays one visualization.

Run your first query!

The first query we will visualize is a breakdown of donations by candidate over time. Give your panel a name. Then select a data stream you want to work with. With the elections dataset, we only have one choice: donations. Change the timeframe to the most recent 6 years so that we retrieve all the data from the 2012 election.

We will start by taking a look at what the data looks like. Add a limit of 10 to avoid flooding your browser with data for 100,000 events.

Your panel should now look like this:

Step 3

Go ahead and press "Run". A table should display 10 donation events.

Step 4

The table view is useful for seeing what properties you have available on a given stream. By reviewing these 10 sample events, we can see that contb_receipt_amt, cand_nm, and @time are of particular interest for the query we are building.

Make a time series plot

We are aiming to display a time series, which expects fields named @time (x-axis), @value (y-axis), and, optionally, @series (to create separate lines). These field names can be modified on the "Visualizations" tab, but let's stick with the defaults for now.

Clear the limit of 10 you previously set and add an aggregate. We want to sum the property contb_receipt_amt and store the result in @value so it shows up on the y-axis.

We want to group by two fields on this aggregation. Summing donations per week seems to be an appropriate resolution, so make the first group a date truncate function on @time by week. Store the result back in @time.

We also want to group by the candidate name (cand_nm). Otherwise we would just see total donations per week over time. Store this result in @series so the line graph knows how to draw the separate lines.

Switch the visualization type of this panel by selecting the "Time Series" option on the "Visualization" tab.

Step 5

Here is our completed query and the resulting graph:

Step 6

Press the "Done" button to close the panel editor and return to the board view. Give the board a title like "Presidential Campaign Donations" and hit the "Save" icon in the toolbar.

Step 7

Now you'll be able to get back to this board at any time via the "All Boards" button on the sidebar.

Dig deeper with a bar chart

Our 5 minutes are up, but if you're having as much fun as we are, we can do one more. This data set tells as much about the donors as it does about the candidates. Let's find out which occupations make the extravagant and the most modest donations. We can plot this using a bar graph. Bar graphs expect a @value and a @label. They also accept an optional @group for stacked bars.

Add another panel to your board. Set the stream name and timeframe like we did last time.

Again, we must start with an aggregation. We want to find the average contb_receipt_amt and store that in @value. Group by contbr_occupation and store that in @label.

Note: this 5-minute guide isn't an introduction to statistical significance testing, but be careful when you look at aggregate statistics like this. If there is one Chief Widget Officer on file, that individual's spending alone shouldn't define the average spending for a Chief Widget Officer. Add a "Count" aggregate on the contb_receipt_amt field and store the result in a field called count. Then filter to make sure count is greater than the constant value 10.

Order by @value in descending order and limit the results to something in the 5-15 range. This will show us the top-spending occupations.

Here is our completed query:

Step 8

Switch the visualization type to "Bar Chart" and hit "Run." Depending on your screen width, the labels along the x-axis might be crunched. You can either reduce the limit or just hover over the bars to see their labels. Now you know who to approach for donations if you ever decide to run for president!

To see the most modest spenders, just flip the "Order by" from descending to ascending. Pretty cool!

When you are finished editing the query, you can press "Done." What a neat board you've put together!

Step 9

Complete some extra exercises

For additional practice, try answering some of these questions using Jia:

  • Which candidate had the highest average donation amount?
  • What do donations look like over the course of a week? Is there more activity on weekdays or weekends? (Hint: use the "Date part" function)
  • Which day of the campaign brought in the most total donations?


Why don't I see any stream names?

Check to make sure the Kronos URL and default namespace in your Jia configuration match those in your Kronos configuration.

Why is x not working?

File an issue!

Task Scheduler

The Jia task scheduler can be used to enable the precomputation of long-running queries so the results are always ready when you visit the dashboard.


The scheduler settings can be edited in Jia's settings file. You can create a copy from

# Precompute settings
CACHE_KRONOS_URL = 'http://localhost:8150' # The cache is written here
                                           # Can be the same as KRONOS_URL
CACHE_KRONOS_NAMESPACE = 'locu_computed' # The namespace for cache streams
SCHEDULER_HOST = '' # It is not recommended to expose the scheduler outside the LAN
SCHEDULER_DATABASE_URI = 'sqlite:///%s/scheduler.db' % APPROOT

Before running the scheduler for the first time, the database must be initialized. This only needs to be done once.

$ ./ --config db upgrade

Always use the following command to start the scheduler. Never serve the scheduler app from another WSGI server (see the top of commands/ for details).

$ ./ --config runserver

Scheduler options

  • --config Specify a config file to override default settings. Must immediately follow ./
  • --port Specify a port to run the scheduler on. Must follow the runserver command.


$ ./ --config runserver --port 8999

Try ./ --help for more info.


In addition to precompute tasks, you can send the scheduler any Python code you want executed on a regular basis. The scheduler client API provides access to schedule and cancel methods.

from scheduler.client import schedule, cancel

# Prints jia every 5 seconds
result = schedule("print 'jia'", 5)

if result['status'] != 'success':
  print result['reason']

# Unschedule the task we just made
result = cancel(result['id'])

if result['status'] != 'success':
  print result['reason']

Creating/Installing Visualizations

Visualizations are stored in /static/app/board/visualizations. Each Jia visualization is made up of an Angular module and a template. The name of the module must be prefixed with jia (for example: jia.example). In order to install a visualization, add it as a dependency to the boardApp in board.js. Also add any necessary JavaScript or CSS dependencies to board.html.

The visualization module must define a factory that matches its title (sans the jia prefix). This factory should return a function that can be instantiated to represent each instance of the visualization in the UI, as well as a meta object that contains some parameters about the type of visualization. The factory should return both.

return {
  meta: { title: 'example', ... },
  visualization: function () { ... }

A full example of the simplest possible visualization:


<div>{[ ]}</div>


var module = angular.module('jia.example', []);

module.factory('example', function () {

  var meta = {
    title: 'example',
    readableTitle: 'Example',
    template: 'example.html',

  var visualization = function () {
    this.meta = meta; = [];
    this.setData = function (data, msg) { = data;

  return {
    meta: meta,
    visualization: visualization

Meta Parameters


The title of the visualization. Should match the filename and the angular name after the jia prefix.


A title for the visualization that will be shown to the user in the UI.


The relative path to the visualization template. This template may contain angular directives. It has access to a module variable, which is an instantiation of the visualization returned by this factory.

Future Meta Parameters

css and js

Eventually, css and js dependencies could be specified in lists lazy loaded, so editing board.html will not be necessary to install a visualization.

requiredFields and optionalFields

When the UI query builder becomes more advanced, it might be helpful for it to have information on what visualizations can display what kinds of data.