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Designing Analytical Dashboards

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Modified on Wed, 01 May 2013 12:38 PM Categorized as Design, Level-Intermediate, OLAP, Virtual Cubes
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Overview

An analytical dashboard provides dashboard viewers with full interactive access to the data in an OLAP cube. Use analytical controls including the chart and data grid on your analytical dashboard to allow viewers to choose dimensions and measures, slice, drill-down, and filter data for in-depth analysis. Optionally customize the dashboard to restrict some functions to focus on certain areas.

A preview of an analytical dashboard that contains a single Analytical Combo control.

A preview of an analytical dashboard that contains a single Analytical Combo control.


Workflow

The figure below illustrates the workflow for analytical dashboards in &dw;:

Workflow for analytical dashboards.

Workflow for analytical dashboards.


Creating a new analytical dashboard

From the Home Screen

To create a new analytical dashboard from the Home Screen:

  1. Click Home from the Toolbar.
  2. Select the Analytical Dashboard type.
    Select the Analytical Dashboard type.
  3. Click Create an Analytical Dashboard. The Analytical Dashboard Designer screen is displayed.
    Analytical Dashboard Designer.
  4. The New Analytical Dashboard item appears in the Design Explorer.
    Newly created item in the Design Explorer.

From the Design Explorer

When you create a new analytical dashboard from the Design Explorer, you have the option of choosing a name for the dashboard and also choosing its destination. For example, if you have a sub-folder in the Design Explorer called My OLAP Dashboards, you can choose to create a new analytical dashboard in that location instead of the top-level Analytical Dashboards folder.

To create a new analytical dashboard from the Design Explorer:

  1. Click Design Explorer in the Sidebar.
    Accessing the Design Explorer from the Sidebar.
  2. Select the Analytical Dashboards folder, then click its menu button.
    The Analytical Dashboards menu.
  3. From the menu, choose New Analytical Dashboard.
  4. In the text box below the Analytical Dashboards folder, type a name for the dashboard, then press ENTER.
    Analytical dashboard name.

The Analytical Dashboard Designer is displayed and a new item appears in the Analytical Dashboards folder.

Designing the analytical dashboard

The toolbox

The toolbox for the Analytical Dashboard Designer contains a different set of items than the toolbox for standard/performance dashboards. The toolbox shows:

  • The list of available virtual cubes.
  • A set of analytical controls.
  • A set of general controls.

Toolbox for designing analytical dashboards.

Toolbox for designing
analytical dashboards.


Adding a virtual cube

To have your dashboard display the data from a virtual cube, you can choose to use either an Analytical Combo or Report Manager control.

  • To quickly build an analytical dashboard that allows viewers access to the entire virtual cube and full interactivity, choose an Analytical Combo, which combines an Analytical Grid with an Analytical Chart and several controls for changing what data is displayed.
  • To have complete control over what controls are on the dashboard and their layout, choose a Report Manager or split an Analytical Combo. The Report Manager will manage the current report and data for all of the controls associated with it.

To get started with an Analytical Combo:

  1. Locate your virtual cube in the toolbox.
    • To add a particular report, expand the virtual cube and locate the report.
  2. Drag either the virtual cube or one of its reports from the toolbox to the design canvas. The virtual cube will be automatically displayed as an Analytical Combo.

(If there is already an Analytical Combo on your dashboard, you can also drop a virtual cube or report onto it.)

A virtual cube appears on the canvas as an Analytical Combo control.

A virtual cube appears on the canvas as an Analytical Combo control.


To get started with a Report Manager:

  1. Locate the Report Manager in the Analytical Controls section of the toolbox.
  2. Drag the Report Manager onto the design canvas, or just outside of the design canvas. (The Report Manager is not visible when the dashboard is viewed.)
  3. Locate your virtual cube in the toolbox.
    • To add a particular report, expand the virtual cube and locate the report.
  4. Drag either the virtual cube or one of its reports from the toolbox and drop it on top of the Report Manager.

(You can also start with an Analytical Combo and split it.)

A Report Manager is visible only in the designer.

A Report Manager is visible only in the designer.


Choosing a report

By default, when you add a virtual cube to your dashboard, the corresponding analytical combo control will be automatically configured to display the first report defined by the virtual cube, or the report that you dragged from the toolbox. This report will be displayed initially when the dashboard is viewed.

To select a different report to be displayed:

  1. Locate the control where the virtual cube was added, either an Analytical Combo or a Report Manager.
  2. Right-click the control, or click it and click its menu button.
  3. From the menu, choose Reports.

    Image
  4. The Select Default Report dialog will appear. Choose the desired report and click OK. (You can even set the default report to None; this might be useful if you want to use scripting to set the current report.)

    Image

Note: If your virtual cube does not define any reports, you cannot choose a report as described above and no data will be displayed initially when you view or preview your dashboard. To show data, create a report and choose it as described above, or drag and drop dimensions when viewing the dashboard.

Tip: Dashboard viewers can also choose from the predefined reports from the virtual cube if a Report Selector control is added to the dashboard.

Tip: Reports can be customized on charts to change the chart type, Y axis and appearance for each measure, and to add formulas. See Using Analytical Charts for details.

Adding analytical controls

Analytical dashboards have their own set of controls that allow viewers to both view data and modify what data is displayed. Each control can be added separately, or an Analytical Combo control can be split into its component parts.

  • Analytical Combo: An analytical control containing several other controls, which can optionally be added separately:
    • Analytical Grid: A data grid control that displays OLAP data and allows hierarchical member drill down.
    • Analytical Chart: - Chart controls that display OLAP data and allow hierarchical member drill down.
    • Analytical Tree: - Lists and makes available the schema elements from the virtual cube to drag onto an axis.
    • Axes: Allow users to determine which data is displayed by the analytical chart or grid.
    • Toolbar: Provides users with options for how data is displayed and custom functionality.
    • Report Manager: Works with other controls to allow data to be interacted with and displayed.
  • Report Selector: Allows users to select a predefined report from the virtual cube to display.
  • Pagers: Allow users to page through result sets that are larger than the current page size.

Each of these controls depend on a Report Manager to work. (The Analytical Combo includes a Report Manager.)

Analytical controls must be associated with a Report Manager.

Analytical controls must be associated with a
Report Manager.


The next section describes how to configure controls to work with a Report Manager control when using one separately.

Choosing a report manager

Analytical controls other than the Analytical Combo need to be associated with a Report Manager in order to access the current report's data or change the current report. Once you have added a Report Manager, the other controls will automatically associate with it. Each control will reflect whatever dimensions, measures, and other cube items are currently selected.

If you want to display more than one report on the same dashboard so that different dimensions, measures, etc. are selected, you can use multiple Report Manager controls. You can do this one of two ways:

  • Drag a second Report Manager (or Analytical Combo) onto the design canvas; or
  • If you have a control that you want to display separate data, drag and drop a virtual cube or report onto it. Choose Create a new Analytical Data Source in the dialog.

    Dialog that appears when dropping data onto an analytical control.

    Dialog that appears when dropping data onto an analytical control.



If you have more than one Report Manager, a dialog will appear when you add a control allowing you to choose which report manager to use.

Choosing from multiple Report Managers when adding a control.

Choosing from multiple Report Managers when adding a control.


To change which Report Manager a control uses after it is added:

  1. Right-click the control, or click it and click its menu button.
  2. Choose the Data Source submenu.
  3. Choose which Report Manager to use. The current selection will be checked.

Choosing from multiple Report Managers.

Choosing from multiple Report Managers.


Viewing or changing the virtual cube

If you have an Analytical Combo or Report Manager on your dashboard and you want to find out or change what virtual cube it connects with:

  1. Right-click the control, or click the control and click its menu button.
    Control menu.
  2. From the menu, choose Data Information. A popup menu appears, which shows the name of the virtual cube associated with the control. Hover over the name to see a popup to the right, which shows additional information.
    Popup menu showing virtual cube.
  3. Optionally, click the Remove button if you want to remove the virtual cube from the analytical control.

To replace the virtual cube, drag a new virtual cube or report onto the control.

Paging

By default, data is returned by the database in pages of a maximum size, which can be configured in the virtual cube report, or by the viewer by using the Paging command. This prevents data results from being too large and time-consuming, and viewers can then use pagers to navigate through the pages of data when there is more than one.

A categorical axis pager.

A categorical axis pager.


Axis controls have built-in pagers that will automatically appear when there is more than one page. If your dashboard does not include axis controls, or if you want to customize the pager's settings, you can add separate Pager controls:

  1. If you are using Axis controls, set their Pager Enabled property to False. (If you are using an Analytical Combo, you will need to split it first.)

    Pager Enabled property.
  2. Under the Analytical Controls and Pagers folders in the toolbox, choose a pager type and drag it onto the design canvas.
  3. Set the Display Mode to one of the available display modes:
    • First Last Numeric: Includes first, last, and individual page number buttons.
      First Last Numeric Pager
    • First Last Previous Next: Includes first, last, previous, and next buttons, and a page number text box.
      First Last Previous Next Pager
    • First Last Previous Next Numeric: Includes first, last, previous, next, and individual page number buttons.
      First Last Previous Next Numeric Pager
    • Numeric: Includes individual page number buttons.
      Numeric Pager
    • Previous Next: Includes previous and next buttons, and a page number text box.
      Previous Next Pager
    • Previous Next Numeric: Includes previous, next, and individual page number buttons.
      Previous Next Numeric Pager
  4. Set Auto Ellipsis to True if you are using one of the numeric pagers and prefer to see "..." appear when more pages exist than can fit within the width of the pager control.
  5. Adjust the Width and Numeric Button Count properties so that the contents of the pager fit correctly.

Customizing commands

Viewers of the dashboard can access commands through the controls of an analytical dashboard by clicking buttons on a Toolbar control, or by right-clicking a control that has a context menu enabled. It is possible to customize which commands are made available, and to add custom commands.

An Analytical Toolbar control.

An Analytical Toolbar control.


Data commands allow viewers to change how data is retrieved or displayed by the analytical controls on the dashboard. These commands are included by default in the Analytical Combo control toolbar, and are the same ones available in the Cube Viewer, which is used to define reports. The following are the data commands available:
  • Totals: Shows or hides totals (totals are only visible in the Analytical Data Grid.)
  • Empty: Shows or hides empty cells.
  • Paging: Adjusts the maximum number of rows and columns of cells returned from the database at a time.
  • Transpose: Switches the rows and columns in the Analytical Data Grid if enabled, so that categorical dimension members make up columns, and measures and grouping dimension members make up rows.
  • Freeze: If enabled, freezes the displayed data until disabled.
  • Undo: Undoes the last change to the query used to retrieve data from the database.
  • Redo: Re-applies the last change undone using the Undo command.

There are additional commands available when using a toolbar control separately:
Data commands and Script commands can be added to the Toolbar control, and to the context menu of any other analytical control, which can be accessed by right-click. To add, remove, or customize these commands:

  1. On a toolbar control, find the Commands property. To customize a context menu of another analytical control, find its Context Menu Commands property.
    • If using an Analytical Combo, each panel has its own Context Menu Commands available after expanding the Categorical Axis, Chart, Cube Tree, Grid, Grouping Axis, Measures Axis, or Slicer Axis properties.
  2. Click the property's ellipsis button to bring up the commands dialog.
    The commands dialog.
  3. To add commands, click the drop-down arrow button next to Create New or Add Existing and choose the type of command to add.
    • To add a Script command, click the Create New button. Find the Script property and click its ellipsis button to add script to execute when a dashboard viewer chooses the command.
  4. To edit commands, select a command from the list on the left, and modify properties in the list to the right:
    • Name: The text displayed for the command.
    • Data Source: Allows you to use the command to affect a different report manager than the one associated with the current control.
    • Description: The tooltip displayed for commands added to the toolbar.
    • Enabled: If set to False, prevents the user from choosing the command.
    • Image Resource: The image displayed for the command.
    • Visibility: If set to Collapsed, hides the command from the viewer.
    • Group Key: Commands set to the same group key will be grouped together. Separators will also be displayed between groups on a context menu. Groups will be sorted by their group key in ascending order.
    • Sort Key: Use the sort key to sort commands within the same group. Commands will be sorted by their sort key in ascending order. Commands with the same sort key will be sorted by their names in alphabetical order.
  5. To display a cascading submenu of commands, click the Create New dropdown arrow button and choose Group. Open the group's Commands property dialog to add, modify and remove commands within the submenu.
  6. To remove commands, click the Remove button.

A customized context menu.

A customized
context menu.


Viewer commands: these commands are provided especially for viewers of dashboards when they right-click analytical controls:
  • Apply Formula (chart and grid only)
  • Export
  • Print
  • Report Customization (chart only). See Using Analytical Charts for more details.

These commands are enabled by default only for the chart and grid. To customize whether they are available for each component, set the Add Viewer Commands property on the control. On an Analytical Combo, you will find this setting after expanding the Categorical Axis, Chart, Cube Tree, Grid, Grouping Axis, Measures Axis, or Slicer Axis property.

To hide only the Export option, set the Disable Exporting property (advanced) to False on the control.

Note: Viewer commands are only visible when viewing a dashboard, not when previewing a dashboard from the designer.

Viewer commands and Data commands in a chart's context menu.

Viewer commands and Data
commands in a chart's
context menu.


Adding parameters to an analytical dashboard

You can add parameter controls to an analytical dashboard in much the same way as a performance dashboard.

For analytical dashboards, the Set Up a Dashboard Parameter wizard gives you two options:


To create a query parameter:

  1. Select the first option in the parameter wizard.
    Set Up a Dashboard Parameter wizard - Step 1.
  2. In the second step of the wizard, select the MDX parameter from your virtual cube or report as a filter.
    Set Up a Dashboard Parameter wizard - Step 2.
  3. In the third step of the wizard, choose the type of parameter control. For this example, the Dimension parameter control is automatically selected because that is the type of the underlying virtual cube query parameter. This parameter control is actually an Analytical Axis Button control.
    Set Up a Dashboard Parameter wizard - Step 3.
  4. Drag the parameter control from the Parameters toolbox to the analytical dashboard.
    Drag the parameter to the dashboard.

You can now preview the dashboard and click the Dimension parameter control which lets you choose dimension members.

Dimension parameter control.

Dimension parameter control.


Related topics


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