A Dashboard is a user interface that, somewhat resembling an automobile's dashboard, organizes and presents information in a way that is easy to read. However, a computer dashboard is more likely to be interactive than an automobile dashboard (unless it is also computer-based). To some extent, most graphical user interfaces (GUIs) resemble a dashboard. However, some product developers consciously employ this metaphor (and sometimes the term) so that the user instantly recognizes the similarity.
Interactive graphs and dashboards have never been easy to put together on the web. Sure, there are graphing libraries out there for PHP, but to get something that looks really good and that a user can play with has been tough. Or at least, it was yesterday. Today, I show how to use a combination of PHP for the back end and Adobe Flex for the front end that will put interactive 3D within your grasp. Right now.
Some products that aim to integrate information from multiple components into a unified display refer to themselves as dashboards. For example, a product might obtain information from the local operating system in a computer, from one or more applications that may be running, and from one or more remote sites on the Web and present it as though it all came from the same source. Hewlett Packard developed the first such product, which began as a tool for customizing Windows desktops. Called Dashboard, the HP product was subsequently acquired by Borland and then a company called Starfish. Microsoft's Digital Dashboard tool incorporates Web-based elements (such as news, stock quotes, and so on) and corporate elements (such as e-mail, applications, and so on) into Outlook. Dashboards may be customized in a multitude of ways and named accordingly, generally, for example as a general corporate or enterprise dashboard, or more specifically, as a CIO or CEO dashboard.