A Hack Night To Remember- Our Trainer Baan Bapat Shares His Experiences

Sanchita Lobo

A Hack Night is simply a time set aside to experiment, learn and play with a group of like-minded people and with technologies that you would otherwise not get to use. On 29th and 30th June The Fifth Elephant presented visualization tutorials and a hack night where participants learnt about visualizing data using some of the available open source technologies like D3.js, Python Pandas and R. The trainers include Sameer Segal, S. Anand and our very own Baan Bapat. It ended with a presentation by Pallav Nadhani of FusionCharts on Data Visualization for Business.

There were 80 participants and the exposure sessions were each an hour long. It was followed by teams and individuals forming groups and taking up some projects to learn/demo the skills acquired in the sessions.

This was a first of its kind event for Baan Bapat, a trainer with us. Baan has over 14 years of experience in analytics solutioning and has delivered across multiple sectors including service and manufacturing. He has significant experience with open source platforms including R, and has trained multiple corporates in R and analytics techniques using R. Baan has an M.Tech in Quality and OR from ISI Calcutta, and an M.Sc in Statistics from Pune University.

This is what Baan had to say about his experiences at the hack night.

Baan: As soon as Gaurav Vohra told me about the event, I was immediately very interested and curious. The idea sounded appealing. I thought it would be an engaging experience to put together the presentation on Data visualization with R and deliver it. The event would be a great sharing opportunity and it was indeed a great learning experience.

Essentially, the event was meant for techies and programmers. The goal was to showcase 3 separate data visualization technologies – D3.js, Python Pandas and R. All of the three are open source technologies. D3 is based on java and Pandas is based on python – both are programming languages that the audience had some experience on. R, on the other hand, is primarily an analyst’s tool and very few in the audience had any real experience on it. And so it was all the more interesting and challenging to do the tutorial.

As soon as the session started, and I realized that just 3-5 participants had an exposure to R, I had to make a quick decision. I had two options. I could jettison the presentation & thought process I had built up, and start off with a simple basic session of R intro with graphics focus. The other option was to go ahead with what I had planned. Instead of trying to kill two birds and missing both, I chose to merely showcase how much can be achieved with few lines of code in R.

[youtube] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOd3wfCOhLY[/youtube]

The tutorial on D3.js by Sameer Segal was aimed at showcasing how efficient D3.js is in manipulating DOM elements in a browser and parsing relatively huge amounts of data. He covered the basic philosophy of d3, the basics of the API, some basic data-driven charts, and an introduction to layouts. Sameer started artoo in 2010 and is a self-taught geek who works on the entire technology stack from Android to Cloud. He has been recognized as one of Asia-Pacific’s most promising young social entrepreneurs by the Foundation for Youth Social Entrepreneurship’s Paragon 100 Fellowship.


The session by S. Anand, on Pandas, a popular data manipulation tool in the Python world, thanks to its richness and speed covered how to load data from files, databases and the web, perform simple data analysis and plot data. S. Anand  has advised and designed IT systems for organisations such as the Aditya Birla Group, Citigroup, Honda, ICICI, IBM, Oracle, RBS, SAP, Steelcase and Tesco, among others.


It ended with a very engaging session by Pallav Nadhani of Fusion Charts. He talked about how to approach data visualization holistically, the input-output process, slicing and dicing of visualizations based on the role and functions of the viewer and pillar of visualization to build on top of it. The audience was enthused to see the different ways data can be displayed and how the choice of appropriate metric and plotting technique makes all the difference. Here are some interesting links to his resources:




Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Baan. We looks forward to your team participating in many more such events. It’s always great to be able to spread the word about analytics and the various useful analytics tools available.

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