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Quick coding for quick wins in a data-driven world


Johannesburg, 02 Dec 2021
Read time 2min 40sec
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Coding a real-time dashboard need not be a lengthy and costly exercise, and can deliver quick wins for organisations that want instant access to data about their operations.

This is according to Kris Jenkins, a Developer Advocate for Confluent, who was speaking during a webinar hosted by Confluent

He said: “In the big picture, over the past couple of years we’ve all gone through a huge overhaul of IT systems and the way we work, and the market has changed. Companies that reacted fastest have done the best during the pandemic uncertainty. The faster you get the data and see what’s going on in your business, the more agile you are and the better you can respond to change.”

He said real-time dashboards not only helped organisations adapt to change better; they were also a motivator. “With my startup business, we initially had overnight reports showing our sales. But one rainy afternoon I decided to scratch together a basic dashboard to show us how sales were doing in real time. On a quiet day, it wouldn’t change and on a busy day it would leap up. It was an exciting thing for our little company. It felt like we were really connected to the business.”

He said real-time dashboards could be used to track any figures that were important for the business, such as sales, stock or engagements on a website.

I’d like to put the fun back into programming. The plumbing in between puts a lot of people off, but it’s not as hard as it seems.

Kris Jenkins, Confluent.

Jenkins gave a live demonstration of how to dash off a real-time dashboard in 30 minutes, using Apache Kafka KSQL, Python and JavaScript. These basic dashboards were not only useful for business, they could also be fun for programmers, he said.

“A lot of programmers got into this because we enjoyed it, but then we got bogged down with big projects. I’d like to put the fun back into programming. The plumbing in between puts a lot of people off, but it’s not as hard as it seems,” Jenkins said.

“If you’re a backend programmer, if you’ve been put off WebSockets, I hope you’ll see they can be tricky, but they’re not that hard and a better choice for real-time data than HTTP. If you want to put a more usable visualisation, it’s not that hard to put a bit of a front end on your data. If you’re a front-end programmer, it's not that hard to set up a working web server and show people the data they want to see."

Kafka is an interesting and viable choice, and absolutely excels at real time data manipulations, he said.

For information about the fundamentals of Kafka, where to get started, business use cases and the surrounding ecosystem, go to developer.confluent.io.

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