Smart Containers

Visualize your spreadsheet data with Smart Containers! Smart Containers allow you to separate unique values from your dataset into groups. Stop wasting time sifting through each row of your spreadsheet data to find the metrics you need. Instead, use Smart Containers to easily organize and visualize your data in Lucidchart.

To begin using Smart Containers, follow these steps:
  1. Navigate to File > Import Data and select “Smart Containers,” OR click the Import_Data_Icon.png icon on the bottom of the left panel and select "Smart Containers."
  2. Click “Import Your Data.”

  3. Choose the dataset you want to import. You can import data from Google Sheets, Excel, BambooHR, or a CSV file. If your dataset has multiple sheets of data, you will be prompted to choose the sheet within your dataset you want to import.

  4. Choose how you want to group your data in Smart Containers. For example, if you want to separate your projects by status, you would choose the “Status” field for “Containers” and the “Project Name” field for “Shape Title.”


    The smart containers would then look like this:


    If you have created your Smart Containers from a Google Sheet dataset, you can refresh your Lucidchart document to sync changes to your dataset at any time. To do so, under “Data”>“Manage Data” on the right hand side of your canvas, select “Refresh Dataset”. You can also replace your dataset with a new dataset by selecting “Replace Dataset”.


To change the grouping field, or container name, click the dropdown menu under “Group By” on the right panel and select a different option.


Please note: you can only change the “container” grouping field, not the “shape data” field.


To add new smart containers containing different shape data, simply follow steps #1-#4 again and select a different field for “shape data.” You can also add an empty smart container by clicking the Screen_Shot_2019-03-22_at_5.00.50_PM.png icon.

You can move shapes from one container to another by dragging and dropping. Note that these changes to your containers will not affect your data set.

To delete a smart container, select the container and click “delete” on your keyboard, or right-click the container and select “delete.”

To move smart containers,
click and drag the Screen_Shot_2019-03-22_at_5.00.59_PM.png icon. This will collectively move all smart containers on the page.Then, click on the container name and drag the container to the desired position.
Please note: All smart containers are automatically sized equally, which means all containers will match the size of the largest group. There is not currently a way to resize smart containers.

To add additional fields to shapes within smart containers, select the “Selection Tools” option on the right of your canvas, and under “Layout”>“Manage Fields” enable any fields you want to display.
To add a new custom field, click image2.png to the right of “Manage Fields” and rename the new custom field.
To apply default styles to smart containers, select a shape or container that has the style you want, then select “Set Default Shape Style” under “Layout” on the right side of your canvas. Alternatively, you can also either right click on the shape/container or navigate to the “Edit” dropdown, and click "Set Default Style."

At the end of the day, what you can do with Smart Containers really depends on the information you store in spreadsheets. While the inherent flexibility of Smart Containers makes it possible for you to customize how to use them, it also makes it more difficult to grasp the full potential of the feature. When the sky's the limit, where do you begin?

To illuminate the potential of Smart Containers, this section will take a closer look at one concrete example that demonstrates how Smart Containers can help you organize a marketing campaign through data visualization. Click the screenshot at the end of this section to begin working from our marketing campaign template or browse additional templates here!

How to use Smart Containers for a marketing campaign:

Any business-person knows that in order to successfully launch a product, you need a comprehensive marketing campaign to showcase the use and value of the new product to customers.

However, marketing campaigns require extensive organization and proactive planning. Not only do marketing managers need to pinpoint the perfect messaging to promote the product, but they also need to come up with a detailed action plan to organize exactly how to execute.

A lot of the time, organizing a marketing campaign means breaking down large projects into smaller tasks, and then delegating these tasks to sub-teams or individual team members. These smaller tasks usually end up in a spreadsheet which looks something like this:


As a result, these large spreadsheets often act as the center for information regarding the marketing campaign. Color coding cells can help keep track of progress, but it is often tedious to find information quickly and difficult to rearrange the spreadsheet’s format.

While spreadsheets are a great place to simply store data, Smart Containers go further and provide the tools to visualize and organize data.

Lucidchart lets you import existing spreadsheets, and then it separates your data into multiple Smart Containers. To determine how your data is organized, you’re asked to choose a “containers” field and a “shape title” field from your spreadsheet. Therefore, if you want to separate tasks by status, then you would make the following selections:


In this example, you can easily differentiate the tasks which need immediate attention from those which are already being taken care of by another team member because the tasks are divided into separate containers according to task status.


You can also invite your team members to collaborate directly on the Lucidchart document to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Once a task is completed, team members can simply drag the task from the “Not Started” or “In Progress” containers and drop it in the “Completed” container. Rather than wasting time trying to track down your team to stay up to date with the campaign, anyone can glance at the Smart Containers to calculate progress and find what to work on next.

Furthermore, conditional formatting allows you to add even more layers of complexity to your Smart Containers. Let’s say you want to prioritize what to focus on within each container. In this example, three unique border styles are used to indicate a task’s priority, as shown in this legend:


Instead of manually referencing the spreadsheet and then changing the border style for each individual task, you can automate this process through conditional formatting rules.

Three rules are used in this example – one rule for “high priority” tasks, one rule for “medium priority” tasks, and one rule for “low priority” tasks:


Specifically, the “high priority” rule looks like this:



These rule settings indicate that any tasks with the “Priority” set to ““High” in the spreadsheet should have a blue 5px border with a filled line style.

Alternatively, you can also create a new set of Smart Containers from your spreadsheet to visualize task priorities. In this case, during the import flow, you would select “priority” as the container name instead of “status.”

Ultimately, Smart Containers allow you to visualize spreadsheet data in an easy, collaborative workspace. Whether you need to organize a marketing campaign or simply want to streamline your own workflow, try out Smart Containers today to discover the potential of data visualization with Lucidchart!


Click the screenshot above to begin working from our marketing campaign template or browse additional templates here!

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