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Extended Data Items in Report Studio Tip or Technique

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Extended Data Items in Report Studio Tip or Technique
Tip or Technique
Extended Data Items in Report
Studio
Product(s): IBM Cognos 8.3 BI
Area of Interest: Reporting
Extended Data Items in Report Studio
2
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Cognos ULC (formerly Cognos Incorporated). Cognos ULC
is an IBM Company. While every attempt has been made to ensure that the
information in this document is accurate and complete, some typographical
errors or technical inaccuracies may exist. Cognos does not accept
responsibility for any kind of loss resulting from the use of information
contained in this document. This document shows the publication date. The
information contained in this document is subject to change without notice.
Any improvements or changes to the information contained in this document
will be documented in subsequent editions. This document contains
proprietary information of Cognos. All rights are reserved. No part of this
document may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, transmitted in any form or by any means, or translated into another
language without the prior written consent of Cognos. Cognos and the
Cognos logo are trademarks of Cognos ULC (formerly Cognos Incorporated)
in the United States and/or other countries. IBM and the IBM logo are
trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United
States, or other countries, or both. All other names are trademarks or
registered trademarks of their respective companies. Information about
Cognos products can be found at www.cognos.com
This document is maintained by the Best Practices, Product and Technology
team. You can send comments, suggestions, and additions to
[email protected] .
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Contents
1
OVERVIEW .................................................................................................... 4
1.1
1.2
PURPOSE ............................................................................................................4
APPLICABILITY .....................................................................................................4
2
EXTENDED DATA ITEMS IN EXPRESS AUTHORING MODE ........................... 4
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
2.5
2.6
2.7
DOUBLE CLICK TO INSERT CHILD MEMBERS ..................................................................5
DATA PROPERTIES .................................................................................................5
USER INTERFACE OBJECT SELECTION ..........................................................................5
SET SORTING.......................................................................................................6
CONTEXT MENU CALCULATIONS..................................................................................6
HIDE MUNS AND OBJECT REFERENCES ........................................................................8
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE ........................................................................................8
3
EXTENDED DATA ITEMS CONCEPTS IN OTHER STUDIOS............................. 9
4
EXTENDED DATA ITEMS IN PROFESSIONAL AUTHORING MODE............... 10
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5
OPTIONAL TO PROFESSIONAL AUTHORING MODE USERS ................................................. 10
UNDERSTANDING THE EXTENDED DATA ITEMS ............................................................. 11
MIXING DATA TYPES ............................................................................................ 12
EXTENDED DATA ITEMS IN THE TOOLBOX ................................................................... 12
AUTHORING FOR EXPRESS AUTHORING MODE USERS ..................................................... 12
5
CONCLUSION .............................................................................................. 13
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1 Overview
1.1
Purpose
A set of new, extended data items was introduced to Report Studio in the
IBM Cognos 8.3 release. These extended data items have raised questions
from customers on what they are, why they exist and how they should be
used.
This paper discusses Report Studio extended data items from several aspects.
First, we will understand why these extended data items exist and what role
they play, how similar approaches are used in other studios, and how to use
them effectively in Report Studio.
1.2
Applicability
This document applies to Report Studio in IBM Cognos 8.3 and higher
releases.
2 Extended Data Items in Express Authoring Mode
The extended data items exist to support the user interface behaviours in
Express Authoring Mode. To fully understand how the extended items allow
Report Studio to expose these new behaviours, we will examine the
traditional data items first.
Traditional data items are expression based. Report Studio sees these
expressions as simple text strings and is therefore unable to differentiate the
user interface behaviour1. For example, Report Studio cannot provide drill
down on a member because it does not know an expression will return a
member as the result.
The extended data items solve this as each dimensional construct has an
associated extended data item – member, level set and so on – with
intelligent behaviours.
The following Express Authoring capabilities are possible because of the
extended high level data items:
1. Double Click to Insert Child Members
2. Data Properties
3. User interface Object Selection
4. Set Sorting
5. Context menu calculations
6. Hide MUNs and Object References
1
Only the query engine on the IBM Cognos 8.3 server can interpret the expressions. Report
Studio cannot.
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We will review these features in depth to fully understand the value add of
the extended data items.
2.1
Double Click to Insert Child Members
Double click on a member to insert the children in Express Authoring Mode is
a fundamental operation of the customer usage pattern. Report Studio
understands that the data item is a member and can therefore provide the
add children behavior correctly.
2.2
Data Properties
Express Authoring Mode for example uses live data and therefore Report
Studio has access to the metadata associated with the data item. For
example, selecting a member and the /Data/Data Properties show the details
for the selected item without the user having to get involved with expressions
or MUNs:
2.3
User interface Object Selection
The selection differs whether you select a member in a set or a stand-alone
member through the use of primary and secondary selection. In this example,
Camping Equipment is selected so it shows the primary selection and other
members in the set show the secondary selection.
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Falcon outfitters is a separate data item and is therefore not selected. Again,
this behavior is fundamental for the users to understand how the report is
constructed.
2.4
Set Sorting
Because Report Studio has set-oriented data items, an Analysis Studio-like
sort wizard can be provided:
Of course, using the sort wizard is a lot easier than writing the order
expression:
order([Product line], tuple(CurrentMember([great_outdoor_sales_en].
[Products]. [Products]), [Revenue], [2007]))
As we look to possible future Express Authoring Mode enhancements, we can
think of many operations where it will be critical to understand what type of
data item we are dealing with. For example, we might see different user
interface gestures to filtering of dimensional sets versus RDBMS columns.
2.5
Context menu calculations
Context menu calculations are yet another example of how Report Studio
provides appropriate behavior for members:
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It is much easier to select % Growth than dropping in a calculated item with
the expression:
([2007] - [2006]) / [2006]
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Extended Data Items in Report Studio
2.6
8
Hide MUNs and Object References
Extended data items encapsulate the Member Unique Name
[great_outdoor_sales_en].[Years].[Years].[Quarter]>:[PC].[@MEMBER].[20040101-20040331]
or dimensional reference
[great_outdoor_sales_en].[Years].[Years].[Year]
Users are never confronted with the technical underbelly of the
implementation.
2.7
Looking to the future
As Express Authoring Mode matures, extended data items will provide
additional behaviors. For example, we have Analysis Studio-like sorting today
using extended data items; we could use the same data items to expose
Analysis Studio-like filtering.
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3 Extended Data Items Concepts in Other Studios
Both Query Studio and Analysis Studio have their own concept of Extended
Data Item-like objects in the form of a ‘mini-spec'. Those specifications are by
design, higher level abstractions of the lower level expressions to allow the
studios to assign behaviors based on data type.
For example, this Query Studio report:
Has the following (truncated) mini-spec with special data items for list
columns, filters, sorts, even text items in the report:
<Column id="Mth" expression="[Inventory (query)].[Time
dimension].[Month]" sort="a">
<Filter id="F1" use="optional">
<FE dataType="string" filterType="enum">
<Value use="April" display="April"/>
<Value use="August" display="August"/>
<Value use="December" display="December"/>
</FE>
</Filter>
</Column>
<Column id="OI" expression="[Inventory (query)].[Inventory].[Opening
inventory]">
<TitleArea>
<Title locale="en-us" default="true" value="This is my report
title"/>
<Subtitle locale="en-us" default="true" value="This is my report
subtitle"/>
<Filters showFilters="true"/>
<Sorts showSorts="true"/>
</TitleArea>
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These objects are in concept extended data items with behaviors we cannot
model against a generic, expression based data item. At run time, these
items are converted to standard V5 XML report specification objects for
execution.
While Query Studio and Analysis Studio use the same basic concept as an
Extended Data Items, only Report Studio actually generates them.
When the Query Studio or Analysis Studio ‘mini-spec' is run or open in Report
Studio, it is converted to a standard Report Studio XML specification. During
this conversion, only expression based data items are used. Therefore, a
report authored in Query Studio or Analysis Studio will never contain
extended data items unless the report was subsequently opened in Report
Studio and the report author made a conscious decision to add an extended
data items to the report.
The only studio that will create an extended data item is Report Studio. In
Express Authoring Mode they are always created. In Professional Authoring
Mode it is the user’s choice to create the extended items or use expressionbased items.
4 Extended Data items in Professional Authoring Mode
We will cover several aspects of extended data items in Professional
Authoring Mode:
1. Optional to Professional Authoring Mode Users
2. Understanding the Extended Data Items
3. Mixing Data Types
4. Authoring For Express Authoring Mode Users
4.1
Optional to Professional Authoring Mode Users
Extended data items are entirely optional in Professional Authoring Mode.
Professional Authoring Mode users who are more comfortable with the
expression-based data items can continue to use them if they desire.
In Report Studio Tools/Options there is an option on the Report tab Always
create extended data items for new reports. If this is enabled, then new
reports will be created using extended data items. If this is disabled, then
new reports will be created using expression based data items. This option
does not affect existing reports.
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For existing reports, we examine the RS_CreateExtendedDataItems attribute
found in the XML report specification. This attribute is set according to the
Tools/Options setting when a new report is created. Reports being upgraded
from previous releases2 will have this set to False. Therefore, by default a
report will be internally composed of either all expression-based or all
extended data items.
Note that Express Authoring Mode users do not have the choice of which data
items are created. Reports created in Express Authoring Mode use extended
data items and set the RS_CreateExtendedDataItems attribute to True.
Of course, even if the report uses extended data items you can still use query
calculation objects to create expression-based data items.
4.2
Understanding the Extended Data Items
A frequently asked question about the extended data items deals with how to
determine what the object is and what it refers to. Professional Authoring
Mode provides key information through the properties. Imagine a report with
these two objects:
The Product line Data Item properties show that it is a Level Set object with
the associated dimension, hierarchy and level it represents:
The Falcon Outfitters data item is a member from the Retailers hierarchy.
2
Releases prior to 8.3 did not support Express Authoring Mode and/or extended data items.
Therefore, all reports from previous versions use expression based data items only.
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4.3
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Mixing Data Types
Expression based and extended data items can be freely mixed by a
Professional Authoring Mode user not only in the same report but even in the
same expression. For example, the query calculation children([2004 Q 1]) is
an expression based data item referencing an extended data item.
Of course, one must be careful of data type in either way as different
functions expect different parameter data types. For example, you can use
children(<member object>) but not children(<level set object>).
To create an expression-based data item in a report configured to use
extended data items a Professional Authoring Mode user would simply insert
a calculated query item from the toolbox. An Express Authoring Mode user
cannot insert expression based data items.
4.4
Extended Data Items in the Toolbox
Most extended data items do not appear in the toolbox. These objects are
created implicitly by inserting data items, members, levels and so on, from
the data tree into the report. The exceptions to this automatic object creation
are the calculated member and calculated measure objects which are created
explicitly by inserting them into the report from the toolbox.
4.5
Authoring For Express Authoring Mode Users
If you are creating reports using Professional Authoring Mode and you are
expecting users to modify these reports in Express Authoring Mode, you
should try to use only the new extended data items. The Express Authoring
Mode allows you to create extended data items only (for usability purposes,
hiding MUNs, level references, and so on). While the Express Authoring Mode
user can open a report that contains expression based data items, and these
reports will operate correctly, they will not get the behaviors they expect. For
example because the extended information is not available for the
expression-based item the double click to add children will not be available.
Also, the Express Mode users will get the same expression editor as
Professional Authoring Mode users when modifying the expression-based
data items. This can dramatically reduce the usability of the report by
opening up the complexities of the Professional Authoring Mode to the
Express Authoring Mode user.
To the Express Authoring Mode user this will be seen as a loss functionality
and should be avoided. Therefore, it is recommended that reports being
targeted at Express Authoring Mode users use only extended data items to
avoid potential usability or training issues.
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Extended Data Items in Report Studio
5 Conclusion
The extended data items provide the first step in increased usability and
easier authoring to both Professional and Express Authoring Mode users.
While their use is optional for professionals, they impose no limits and
provide great promise for future feature growth.
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