Configuring Chart Viewer Layouts

 

Updated: October 26, 2016

The built-in Chart viewer Layouts that are provided with Message Analyzer by default represent various ways to organize the display of data using any of the four data visualizer components that are available for Layouts. When configuring a custom Layout of your own design, the following constraints apply:

  • You can use only one of the four types of graphic visualizer components in any one Layout.

  • You can configure one or more data formulas for each Layout.

  • You can only display data in your Layout based on message fields that are available from the Field ChooserTool Window, in addition to global Annotations and Properties.

  • Any new Layout that you create must be modified from an existing Layout and saved with new metadata that you define, such as the Layout name, description, and category.

This section begins with a list of the built-in Chart viewer Layouts that are included with every Message Analyzer installation. You can edit any one of these Layouts and save it as a new custom Layout of your own that will appear in the My Items category of the Chart/Layout drop-down list that is accessible from the global Message Analyzer Session menu. You might navigate to the topics in the lists and review some of the built-in Layout features to get an idea of the types of data displays that you can create and how you can use them in analysis. This section also provides a brief description of the graphic visualizer components that you can use in any custom Layout that you create, some background on how to choose a visualizer component for a custom Chart viewer Layout of your own, and a brief overview of configuring a custom Layout.

Message Analyzer provides numerous Layouts for the Chart viewer that are accessible from the locations that follow. Note that each Layout in the drop-down lists that are described immediately below has an icon to the left of the Layout name that identifies the type of graphic visualizer component that it uses to display data.

  • The New Viewer drop-down list on the global Message Analyzer toolbar. You can display an uncategorized list of Layouts by clicking the Chart item in this drop-down list.

  • The Session Explorer context menu, which is accessible by right-clicking anywhere in the Session ExplorerTool Window. You can then select the New Viewer item in the context menu, and in turn select Charts to display an uncategorized list of Layouts.

  • In the Layout drop-down list that is accessible from the global Message Analyzer Session menu. You can display the fully categorized list of Layouts by clicking the Chart item in the global Message Analyzer Session menu and then selecting Layout.

System_CAPS_ICON_note.jpg Note

The Start With drop-down list in the New Session dialog enables you to select a default Chart item for session startup that utilizes a Bar element visualizer component. See Selecting a Session Data Viewer for further details.

Subcategories for the Built-In Chart Viewer Layouts
The Layout list that you can access from the Session menu, as previously described, is organized into a top-level Message Analyzer category with various subcategories in which the Chart viewer Layouts appear. The subcategories in the following list contain the Layout names, which are each linked to the corresponding topic so that you review their functionality and analysis capabilities:

Each of the built-in Layouts in the previous list use only one of the four different types of graphic data visualizer components that are available. You can also make use of any one of these components when you are configuring a new Layout that organizes and presents data in a unique format, which can include rendering top-level data summaries in Bar element, Pie slice, event Timeline graph, and Table format, as described in Data Viewer Concepts. Note that you can see all four of the available visualizer components in use if you display the Protocol Dashboard viewer from the Charts (Deprecated) drop-down list, which is accessible from the New Viewer drop-down list on the global Message Analyzer toolbar.

Many of the Chart viewer Layouts are intended to work together with other data viewers to create an integrated and interactive analysis environment, as described in Working With Message Analyzer Profiles. The interactive features of a Layout are initiated when you double-click the elements of a visualizer component that represents some message quantity or other value, for example, message volume, payload length, or some other field value. This action results in interactively driving the display of the element messages into another viewer such as the Analysis Grid to create an analysis context that focuses on the element messages only. Note that all of the built-in Chart viewer Layouts are capable of interactively driving the display of messages in other viewers, whether or not they are configured in a Message Analyzer Profile which can be enabled or disabled.

The list that follows provides a brief description of the four types of visualizer components and the elements they contain that can interact with the Analysis Grid viewer and other viewers by double-clicking them, or in some instances by using a single-click.

  • Bar element — contains bar elements that each represent a group of captured messages that have a common field, property, message type, or other entity to which a data manipulation formula has been applied. Double-click any single bar element to view the associated messages in a new instance of the Analysis Grid viewer.

  • Pie slice — divided into slices or section elements that each represent a group of captured messages that have a common field, property, message type, or other entity to which a data manipulation formula has been applied. Double-click any single slice to view the associated messages in a new instance of the Analysis Grid viewer.

  • Timeline graph — displays an interconnected timeline element across trace boundaries for common properties, fields, values, or other entities that are contained in captured messages, to expose the points in time on the X-axis where those entities were sent and/or received, versus other values on the Y-axis that might represent the application of a particular formula, such as the Count of identical values for a particular field. Double-click a single timeline element or node to view the associated messages in a new instance of the Analysis Grid viewer.

    System_CAPS_ICON_note.jpg Note

    The Timeline visualizer is enabled for zooming into chosen windows of time.

  • Table grid — contains data row and column elements that you can organize to correlate values with entities such as message fields and properties, or formulas based on field and properties, for example the Average of a set of field values. Double-click a data row to view the associated messages in a new instance of the Analysis Grid viewer.

When you are creating a custom Chart viewer Layout of your own design, you should consider several factors before you select the visualizer component that you want to work with, as follows:

  • Troubleshooting context — this refers to the environment or circumstances in which you typically expect to experience issues, for example, connectivity, performance, security, diagnostics, Internet, and so on.

    For example, if you are having performance issues, a high-level view of summary data with a Bar element or Pie slice visualizer component might be the best choice to obtain a quick assessment of specific types of performance data. Alternatively, a Table grid visualizer component can also work when you want to display a combination of parsed field data and computed statistical values in tabular format.

  • Message type — this is the type of message data that you are working with. Generally, the messages that are issued by the particular protocol or module with which you are working point to the types of information that you can expose for analysis.

    For example, this could be the message packets that are issued by HTTP, TCP, or LDAP, and even ETW layer events.

  • Information to expose — consists of the aspects of message data that you want to expose to optimize the analysis perspective that you can obtain from the displayed results in your Layout.

    For example, if you are interested in working with IPv4 messages, you might want to expose network conversations with the IPv4.Datagram.Network field in your Layout along with their associated message volumes across a set of trace results. If you are interested in working with SMB2 messages, you might want to expose the average response time for all messages associated with the SMB2 queries that occurred in a set of trace results. The average response time would be calculated by a Layout formula that is based on the ResponseTime Global Annotation; see SMB/SMB2 Service Performance for further information.

    System_CAPS_ICON_tip.jpg Tip

    You have the option to employ Unions in any Layout that you modify, which includes Union sets.

  • Data presentation format — the format in which you present data should align with the level of detail that you want to see, for example, a high-level summary or low-level details that include message field data and other computed values, or events occurring in the context of time, as follows:

    • High-level summary data — enables you to see top-level information that you can assess at-a-glance. A Bar element or Pie slice visualizer component would be a good choice for this type of data presentation because they provide a graphic format that displays the relative distribution of specified values that you can set in ascending or descending order, where each Bar element length or Pie slice size represents a particular volume of such values, for example message count or cumulative byte volume.

    • Low-level details data — enables you to review significant message details and computed values that provide a set of statistics that can expose the cause of various issues and failures. A Table grid visualizer component would be a good choice for this type of data presentation to expose many different field values and calculated values that result in a statistical view of your data.

    • Event data — enables you to assess events that occur in time. A Timeline visualizer component would be a good choice for this type of data presentation, given that you can visually identify the points in time where any particular message occurred in a set of trace results. The Timeline component also enables you to use presets or configured windows of time to drill down into any chosen time slot for detailed analysis.

    Note that you can link to some of the built-in Chart viewer Layout descriptions in the above section "Subcategories for the Built-In Chart Viewer Layouts" to understand chosen Layouts, and then display them in an Analysis Session to see the various types of graphic visualizer components in action. To locate the Chart viewer Layouts in Message Analyzer, see the previous Built-In Chart Viewer Layouts topic.

Message Analyzer enables you to create your own custom Layouts containing one of the four types of data visualizer components. The protocol/module types, fields, properties, and the formulas that you can apply to these entities can provide a quick overview of trace activity at-a-glance or a detailed analysis of statistical data, to enhance your data analysis perspectives. You can use formulas to manipulate the values of fields, properties, and other entities in the messages that you capture to create unique data representations. An example of this is the Bar element visualizer component that is used in the SMB Top CommandsLayout. This data visualizer depicts the relative distribution of traffic volume, from the highest to the lowest volume, for SMB commands in a set of trace results. This in turn can help you to quickly evaluate the SMB commands that are consuming the most bandwidth, which may point to other issues.

Editing a Built-In Chart Viewer Layout
If you want to create a custom Layout, you will need to edit an existing Layout first and then save your changes under a specified Layout name. To do so, you must first display the Layout you want to edit by selecting it in any of the locations specified in the Built-In Chart Viewer Layouts section. Thereafter, to begin editing, you will need to select the Chart item in the global Message Analyzer Session menu and then select the Edit item in the Chart drop-down list to display the Edit Chart Layout dialog. You can then make use of the controls in the Edit Chart Layout and Formula Editor dialogs to modify the current Layout.

System_CAPS_ICON_important.jpg Important

Editing an existing Layout and saving it under a different name is the only way you can now create your own Layouts, as the former New Chart command and others are no longer available. This change is advantageous given that it streamlines the UI and results in fewer clicks and selections to create a custom Layout.

In the topic that follows, a link to which is given immediately below, you will learn how to use the controls of the Edit Chart Layout dialog to edit an existing Layout. After you complete your modifications, you will then learn how to save your changes as a custom Layout of your own design.

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Using the Edit Chart Layout Dialog
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