Top 5 Bookmarks Every Data Analyst Should Have

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As a Senior Data Analyst, my job typically consists of one or two large underlying data research projects with a scattering of smaller “time-sensitive” projects for different teams. In a typical week, I might create 5-7 graphs, write a few queries, tweak a few others, and help a colleague debug his. I’ll probably post 1 or 2 internal JIRA issues and do some StackOverflow research.

The main underlying problem is that with these secondary distractions, I’m just a random ad hoc question away from being derailed from the more important task at hand. That’s why the best analysts are nimble and quick. They roll with the punches and quickly eliminate menial work.

The truth is, being a good analyst is all about balancing quality against speed. This manifests in finding the right tools that help make you more efficient. In that given week, I could use half a dozen different tools and software. And if there’s one thing analysts all agree on, it’s that no tool does everything perfectly. That’s why one of my biggest pieces of advice to young analysts is to start an online bookmark collection. Make a habit of exporting these bookmarks so you can take them with you when you change jobs or upgrade your computer.

Here are the top 5 bookmarks every analyst should have. Some are useful on a day-to-day basis, others are situational and rarely used. However, you will probably need it one day, and when you do, it will save you a lot of headaches and time.

A table formatter allows you to convert a block of copied/pasted data into a much more efficient and aesthetically pleasing format. This is convenient in different ways. Sometimes I send a quick board to my colleagues via Slack or email; other times I paste data into a JIRA issue. Additionally, a table formatter is great for posting or answering questions in forums, like Stack Overflow, or posting data to your blog. The trick is to choose a monospaced font like Courier New so that it lines up properly.

Top 5 Bookmarks Every Data Analyst Should Have


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There’s a ton to choose from, but the one I like the most is It is fast, simple and has many different choices for the output format. Moreover, Ascii Table Formatter will automatically convert the text without having to click on anything; it’s instantaneous!

Here are some different examples:

There are two types of SQL writers: those who take pride in their queries and format them to be easier to read, and those who like to watch the world burn. Whether you want to format someone else’s mess or your own, an SQL beautifier is essential.

The next time you try to decipher a query that looks like this:

Use a SQL beautifier to make it instantly look like this:

There are many options in the form of downloadable programs, plugins and online versions. I prefer the online version, here:

I try to avoid working with JSON data as much as possible, but unfortunately sometimes I have no choice. That’s why I keep a variety of JSON-related viewers and converters in my favorites.

Want to quickly browse a JSON structure to see what elements are available? Need to debug why your analysis script is failing? Then I recommend checking and for conversion between tabular and JSON structures , and to parse and display it.

Creating visualizations and dashboards is an important part of an analyst’s job. Unfortunately, I estimate that around 80% of the charts I create aren’t really for a dashboard, but to answer quick, ad-hoc questions. Launching a specialized application like Tableau or fiddling with Excel is simply overkill for many of these tasks. Instead, I need something that can build a graph quickly.

There are many online resources for making quick graphs, but is my favorite. I like it because it has a wide range of lesser-known chart types (like Calendar heatmap and Circle Packing) that otherwise take too long to understand in Excel.

Top 5 Bookmarks Every Data Analyst Should Have

Most analysts haven’t actually memorized the syntax for every type of transformation under the sun. Instead, most will remember a previous query that did something similar, and they’ll dig into their folder for Untitled1.sql, Untitled2.sqland Copy of RevenueQuery_final_final_final(3).sql until they find it. Alternatively, Google can come to the rescue, but it takes a lot of time trying to find the right question on the forums or a tutorial with the right syntax.

Instead, score yourself a good SQL generator. A SQL generator is basically a template for an SQL query, which lets you customize column names and table structure, choose the operation you want to perform, and then it builds the syntax for you in a variety of ” different flavors of SQL.

Never worry about the subtle differences between DATEDIFF() versus DATE_DIFF()Again! I recommend this one:

The truth is, being an analyst is about balancing quality against speed. Having a toolkit that helps you take shortcuts without sacrificing quality is one way to improve your efficiency. If you don’t currently have a “Tools” bookmark folder, we hope this article gives you a good start!

What about the others? Do you have any favorites that I missed?

Suggestions from the community

Josh Berry (@Twitter) leads Customer Facing Data Science at Rasgo and has worked in the data and analytics profession since 2008. Josh spent 10 years at Comcast where he built the data science team and was a key owner of the in-house developed Comcast Feature Store – one of the first feature stores to hit the market. After Comcast, Josh was a critical leader in the development of customer-centric data science at DataRobot. In his spare time, Josh does intricate analysis on interesting topics such as baseball, F1 racing, property market forecasts and more.

Original. Republished with permission.

Sean N. Ayres