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Parse dates

When visualizing time-series data on a serial chart, you must choose the field that contains the time stamps for your Category Field. These time stamps can be stored in fields with the type of date, string, or numeric. For best performance, it is recommended that you store your time stamps in a date field type. You can convert string or numeric fields containing time stamps to date fields using the Convert Time Field tool.

If you don't want to convert your string or numeric fields into date fields, you can indicate that these fields actually contain date values and allow Operations Dashboard to parse the time stamps into dates by enabling Parse Dates. This setting is located in the Data configuration tab, under Category Field.

Parse dates setting

Which date settings appear under the Parse Dates setting when it is enabled depends on which type of field you chose for the Category Field.

If the data type of the field is date, no formatting information is required, and you will just see the Minimum Period setting. If you choose a numeric or string field, you will see this setting, as well as the Parsing Pattern setting. The pattern you choose for this setting determines how Operations Dashboard will format your time stamps after parsing them into dates. Also, the time stamps in your data must be stored in the same format you choose for the Parsing Pattern setting. The patterns that you can choose from depend on whether the field type is numeric or string. You can see whether you chose a date, string, or numeric field for the Category Field in that setting's drop-down. Each field's type is displayed to the right of the field in the drop-down.

Field type for date data

If the field type is numeric (e.g. Short, Long, Float, or Double), the following standard numeric time formats are provided in the Parsing Pattern drop-down:

  • yyyy
  • yyyyMM
  • yyyyMMdd
  • yyyyMMddHHmmss

If the field type is string, the following standard string time formats are provided in the Parsing Pattern drop-down:

  • yyyy
  • yyyyMM
  • yyyy/MM
  • yyyy-MM
  • yyyyMMdd
  • yyyy/MM/dd
  • yyyy-MM-dd
  • yyyyMMddHHmmss
  • yyyy/MM/dd HH:mm:ss
  • yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss
  • yyyyMMddHHmmss.S
  • yyyy/MM/dd HH:mm:ss.S
  • yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.S
  • yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss.S

For temporal data with sub-second granularity, you can choose to store your time stamps in one of the last four formats listed above. Using one of these formats, you can store time values that represent 1/1,000th of a second (i.e. 1 millisecond), 1/100th of a second, or 1/10th of a second. For example, if you want to visualize data every millisecond, you can store the time value as 200911231030.560. In this case, the data will draw at the 560th millisecond for the time 200911231030 when visualizing it with the time slider.

The Minimum Period setting determines how time-specific the chart categories can be. The options for Minimum Period are:

  • Second
  • Minute
  • Hour
  • Day
  • Month
  • Year

For instance, in the below chart, the minimum period is set to Month. This means that the smallest time period that a category in this chart can be based on is a month, rather than day, hour, minute, or second.

Chart with minimum period set to month
When the minimum period is set to Month, it also means that a chart category can be based on time periods that are longer than a month, such as a year. Operations Dashboard will base categories on time periods that are longer than the minimum period if there is a high density of data categories based on the minimum period. This avoids displaying labels for each category and creating visual clutter. This means that the Minimum Period setting also impacts which period labels you can specify patterns for in the Category Axis configuration tab. You can't specify patterns for smaller time periods than the one you choose for Minimum Period, but you can specify patterns for longer time periods than the one you choose. For example, if the Minimum Period is set to Month, you can't specify a pattern for day labels, but you can specify a pattern for year labels.
Period labels
For more information on how to specify patterns for period labels, see Format dates.