Table Readers - why are they so useful?

The handy code making PowerPoint automation possible.

February 14, 2024
In this article, we're going to discuss:

So, what is a table reader?

It’s a handy bit of code that takes data tables and scans them to find recognisable chunks. Also called a ‘parser’, a table reader looks at the files you upload to SlideGen. SlideGen then uses this codified view of the data to rearrange it into your PowerPoint formats. We already have table readers set up for most data processing software and we are more than happy to make one if you use another data processing tool or proprietary software.

How is it useful?

Well, it’s a translator and it’s scalable. It takes a sheet of data and identifies the components, so when you select information in SlideGen the reader will directly find and pipe in the correct data. Which removes time and potential errors in manually searching and copying information over. 

Whatever files you are currently using will work for SlideGen once a table reader is made. No reformatting or saving different sheets all over the place. The raw data gets translated, updated and reformatted. 

When a table reader is created for a data format it can be repeated again and again. So each new set of data can be uploaded and instantly digested. This makes it easy to update reports with new waves of data or to create whole new PowerPoints.

What does it look for?

Navigating a new file with hundreds of tables isn’t always easy. So in SlideGen we make it simple to navigate data within the app. It does this by looking for common features of the tables. At the core, the reader is looking at how your data is formatted.

When it’s easy to navigate you can quickly create a chart (or a bunch of them) based on one table. Then you can repeat the slide using any of the other tables in a file. Map once, apply to many.

So what is it looking for?

  • Table descriptions. For example the table name, question text, and base description. This useful information means you can map the text into textboxes on any slide.
  • Columns in a table. The platform identifies your column groups (banner groups) and individual columns (banner columns ). This works with nested banners, and doesn't need the banner groupings to be the same on each table. With this located you can make a dynamic map of individual or entire column groupings. The smart repeat function lets you repeat charts/slides across your column groups or individual columns.
  • Rows in a table. The reader scans between base rows, percentage rows, counts, means, and standard deviation. This gives you the ability to filter on a specific row type (e.g. only show % data) and map key information like base sizes.

What table readers already exist?

All of these data processing companies are already supported, so if you use these you can get started straight away.

  • WinCross
  • Q
  • Quantum
  • Decipher (Forsta Surveys)
  • Confirmit (Forsta Plus)
  • Russell Research
  • Uncle
  • Merlinco
  • Survey Reporter
  • SPSS
  • Askia
  • Confirmit
  • Walnut
  • MarketSight
  • Ruby

If you use a custom format or a company not listed then we can set up a reader.

How can I request a new one?

Get in touch to request a new reader. We’ll need to see a minimum of 5 (ideally 10!) data sets. Which should include tables:

  • With and without counts
  • With and without sig testing
  • That are weighted and unweighted
  • Including nested banners
  • Including and excluding means/standard deviation etc
  • Including nets

Would you like to see how quickly we can turn your data tables into branded, editable PowerPoint slides? Book demo