Analysis in 10 Minutes (or Less!) with AWS QuickSight

Posted by Rajesh Nadipalli on Feb 2, 2017 4:09:57 PM

AWS QuickSight is the next generation Business Intelligence (BI) application that can help build interactive visualizations on top of various data sources that are hosted on Amazon cloud infrastructure. In this post, I will show you how easy it is to build your first analysis in under 10 minutes all in the AWS cloud infrastructure.

Navigating with QuickSight

Once you have registered and started QuickSight you will see the Home page.

Key navigation icons as noted in the diagram below:

  • The “QuickSight” icon on top left is a quick way to return to the Home page
  • To upload new data, click on ‘Manage Data’ on the top right
  • To create new analysis, click on ‘New Analysis’ on left side below the QuickSight logo

To manage your account settings, click on the person icon top right corner

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 3.07.06 PM.pngFigure 1:  QuickSight navigation

Loading Data to QuickSight

For this demo, I have used College Scorecard data from and also saved the file to the following GitHub location:

Let’s explore the steps to load our data to QuickSight.

  1. From the QuickSight home page, click on the ‘Manage data’ icon.
  2. Click on ‘New Data Set’ icon and you will see the Create data set page with several options as shown in the figure below. Select the ‘Upload a file’ option and upload the “MERGED2013_PP.csv” from your local desktop to AWS QuickSight.Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 3.20.11 PM.png
  3. After you have successfully uploaded the “MERGED2013_PP.csv” file, you will see a confirmation screen from QuickSight as shown in the figure below.  Click on the “Next” button to accept the defaults.
  4. After the confirmation page, QuickSight imports the data to SPICE and provides a quick access to Visualize the data as shown in the figure below. Click on the ‘Visualize’ button and then proceed to the next section.
Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 3.45.40 PM.png

Starting your visualizations

Now you are ready to start visualizing data using the built-in charts in QuickSight. Let’s see how to create our first useful analysis, which is also demonstrated in the figure. Follow the steps below to create a chart showing the average tuition fees by state:

  • First select the Horizontal Bar Chart from the ‘Visual Type’.
  • Next select the ‘STABBR’ as the Y-axis and ‘TUITFTE’ as the value field.
  • Next in the Fields wells option, change the aggregation type of the value from the default Sum to Average.

The visualization is complete as shown in the figure below and now you can explore the chart and get more insights from the data.

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 3.49.48 PM.png
Building multiple visualizations

You can then add another visual for the same dataset pretty easily and get a further understanding of the data. In the steps below we will see how to build a pie chart that shows sum of in-state tuition by city.

  • First click on the ‘+’ to add a new visual.
  • First select the Pie Chart from the ‘Visual Type’.
  • Next select the ‘City’ as the Group/Color and ‘TUTIONFEE_IN’ as the value field.
  • Notice the default aggregation for value is automatically set to Sum.
The visualization is complete as shown in the figure below and now you can explore the chart and get more insights from the data.

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 3.51.09 PM.png


Amazon QuickSight is the innovative and next generation cloud hosted BI platform that addresses shortfalls of traditional BI systems and is priced at $9 per user per month.  QuickSight can source data from various sources including relational databases, files, streaming and NoSQL databases. QuickSight also comes with an in-memory caching layer that can cache and calculate aggregates on the fly.  With QuickSight, data analysts are truly empowered and can build intuitive reports in minutes without any significant set up by IT.  In the next blog we will look into details on onboarding various data sources that are supported by QuickSight.

This blog is the second in a series on AWS QuickSight. Read the first blog here and order my latest book, “Effective Business Intelligence with QuickSight” for an in-depth introduction.

Topics: Big Data Ecosystem, Data Lake, Data Management