Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cognos 8 Dashboard project

In this post, I'd like to share my implementation of a Cognos 8 Dashboard application with you.

This dashboard application shows several Gauges and Charts, displayed both one Gauge and one Chart per page (see beelow) and several Gauges on a row (cockpit look):

One remark here: the Gauge Palette values indicating the red-to-orange and orange-to-green borders, are not dynamic but must be entered as static values in the report. This is annoying as these values are changing every year.

The application also offers filtering possibilities for the most common dimensions. These filters are not built in the prompt page but in the first page and also below the charts and graphs, so it's easy for users to filter what they want in a compound and multi-level way using a tree prompt for each common dimension:

PowerPlay cube
The data is queried from a single PowerPlay cube, so dimension sharing among the measures is guaranteed! I've chosen to create a PowerCube for this application in order to speed up quering (as data is already stored as aggregates in the cube, this should be performed really fast). The PowerCube is created as just simple data source of type PowerCube in Cognos 8, and this data source connection is all what's needed to publish the Package from Framework Manager.

Transformer model
The PowerPlay Transformer model looks like this:

The table queries are stored in a data warehouse database and are designed really simple (star schema design), so manual SQL queries have been used here as feeders to each Transformer model data source.

There's just one drawback using this PowerCube data source approach. You can only refresh the PowerCube file when there's no connection to it. This means that either
  • the Cognos 8 service must be stopped entirely (which should be no problem outside office hours), or
  • the cubeswap script must be executed, which alters the data source connection to another cube file (see <Cognos 8 install location>webappsutilitiescubeSwap)

I'm really looking forward to see PowerPlay's Transformer OLAP designing and cube creating technology being integrated with Cognos 8 Framework Manager, as this would further reduce Cognos tool complexity. Although it's currently not really complex in comparison to Business Objects...

Final navigation path implementation

As it appeared to be impossible to implement a navigation path the way I wanted to (using the browser's history back function, see my previous post), I've decided to create a limited but robust alternative using the javascript exit function. It's limitation is that the user can only junp back to the previous page (report), and not to pages higher (more to the left) in the path.
Therefore I've created a piece of javascript code just for the last entry in the navigation path, and created a hyperlink only for this entry ('Marap' is the name of the previous page):

<a href="javascript:exit()">Marap</a>

Of course, the user is always able to use the browser history to go back to prior pages by clicking on the Go Back drop down button in the browser's navigation toolbar!