How to Create a Variation Map

Table of Contents

What is a Variation Map

Variation Maps are somehow similar to Heat Maps. Heat Maps replicate with colors the “intensity” of some grid’s values: larger the value, darker the color. More specific, one lower “half” gradually gets the lighter colors, while the upper “half” gradually gets the darker colors. Variation Maps use arrow icons to show in which “half” a value is.

The term “half” is determined either by the zero value (for Zero-Based Variation Maps), or the median value (for Median-Based Variation Maps).

Simple Variation Maps will show just two small arrows: a green up arrow and a red down arrow. First “half” – with lower values – gets the down color, while second “half” – with larger values – gets the up color.

Complex Variation Maps use four large arrows: a bigger green up arrow and a bigger red down arrow, but also one half-up and one half-down yellow arrows. We can also tell if a value is in the second or third quarter.

Steps to Create a Variation Map

Start Visual Xtractor or Data Xtractor. Connect to a database. Create or design a SQL query. Run the query and check the results.

  1. Display and enable the Inline Chart query builder.
  2. Set any numeric columns to Heat MapsVariation Map.
  3. From the Heat Map toolbar button, select either Zero-Based or Median-Based map.
  4. From the same Heat Map toolbar button, select either Simple or Complex map.
  5. All selected column values will be considered together to internally determine the “half”.
  6. Minimum and maximum values appear in bold.

Variation Map Demo Queries

Look for the ready-to-use Zero Complex Variation Map and Median Simple Variation Map generated queries under the Queries > Demo Queries > Inline Charts > Heat Maps folder. Click on the “add demo queries” command link, if not there.

All Variation Map demos use random values, so you will likely get a different image every time. Here is a custom Median-Based Complex Variation Map, built with fixed values:

Median-Base Complex Variations

Customize your Variation Map

  1. Switch between a Zero-Based and Median-Based map.
  2. Switch between a Simple and Complex map.
  3. Hide the text in any inline chart cell, so icons will now appear alone, in the middle.

Custom Zero-Based Complex Variations


  • Creating Variation Maps in Data Xtractor or Visual Xtractor is fast and trivial: just set one or more numeric columns as Variation Map.
  • Choose either a Zero-Based or Median-Based map, which will determine the “half”.
  • Choose either a Simple or Complex map, for either two or four arrow icons.
  • Hide the text, to get just icons, in the middle,