Dashboard Creation – Step 2 – Background and Panel

Since this dashboard is going to be built around the the ability to select different products, a panel is going to be necessary. When you select the dashboard template that you’re going to be using, the left hand menu is going to have a several options. We’re going to focus on the second option called “Data Structure” right now (the first one being data sets). The “Data Structure” will show the layered flow of your Dashboard as you progress.

MicroStrategy utilizes the right click…a lot. I like this option, though people have complained about the softwares dependence on the interface. All of the menus that are on the right can be right clicked, at which point you see the different options that are available for the specific object that you’ve picked.

In the image below, we’ve selected the properties for the base layer.

I’m going to make a simple gradient background, white to blue, top to bottom. Select the “properties and formatting” option, and under “colors and lines” select gradient. The rest of the walk through is relatively simple to perform, but play around with the color pallete until you find what pleases you, or your client. For me, this is just a back layer, that’s eventually going to be covered with the panel layer, logos, and selectors.

Next, we’re going to insert the panel itself. Under the “Insert” section of your toolbar/ribbon bar/whatever you call it, you’ll see the option to create a panel (outlined in a blue box). Select this and then, much like a standard paint program, draw the box onto the area that you want. If it’s not perfect, that’s not a problem, the right click will always allow you into the menu to measure out the specifics of the margins and the width.

There are a few formatting options that I prefer with the panel stacks. First, I make sure that name the panel properly. In my opinion there are two ways that you name them, either by item_function or function_item. I prefer the first, so that when you’re browsing the items in a menu, they’re grouped by type first. So, in the case of this panel, I’m going to name it “PANEL_MAIN” descriptive enough. Say this was a title of a report instead, I have a tendency to name it “TITLE_REPORT_REVENUE”, then the report that goes with it “REPORT_REVENUE”. The other option is “REVENUE_REPORT” or “REVENUE_REPORT_TITLE”. The difference comes from how you view them as far as design. When I decide that I want to make a formatting change, related to the font of the titles, I want to make sure I can scroll through them relatively quickly, and as a group…instead of trying to find whether or not I added a title to a specific group. Maybe I’m spending too much time of this, but for ease of element browsing, it makes a big difference for me. Things as simple as horizontal lines that I add are much easier to find if I tag them “LINE_BLAH”. Keep in mind, it’s good practice to name the element as soon as you create it, otherwise it’s easy to lose track of all of the various items, and what their use is.

As a general rule, as you can see in the image above, there’s an option for “Show Title Bar”…I hate the title bar. It’s crappy font, crappy colors, and useless in a panel stack. Remove it. You’ll be cool in my book.

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