I wouldn’t say that it’s commonly overlooked, but I’ve seen it overlooked by some developers…simple and streamlined data sources. There’s basically two ways that this can be achieved: single reports, multiple reports.
Keep in mind as you are creating these reports that you don’t want to design a report that will be used as a data source that contain more that what you need. If you just need the current price of an item on your store front, make sure that your report is built to pull back the current price…not every single price with a view filter for “today”. A lot of the usability and functionality of a Dashboard comes from the amount of time that it takes to run it. Trust me when I say executives don’t like to wait for 5 minutes just so they can see what the inventory level of one product is. Make sure there’s a little “cubing” and every attribute and metric that exists in the report, you’re actually going to be displaying.
As a rule, I like to create reports specifically for dashboards, that way I can work with them from Development to Production, and I know exactly what to expect. I tend to not make these reports visible.
I put them all in a hidden folder, in this case called “Source”, and under folder properties, there’s an option to make it hidden. I don’t want these reports accessible to the general public, unless there’s a specific search, and I don’t want to deal with security issues and user group functionality, so I just avoid dealing with those settings in this case. We’re keeping this higher level, so for clarification purposes, this is a dashboard that is going to be visible by everyone. There are no user or object level security in anything that I’m going to be going here.
Once you’ve selected your data set, the next option is to select what kind of dashboard you actually want to create. MicroStrategy has several templates at your disposal, as seen below.
Four our purposes, we’re starting from scratch. The image above is actually in Desktop…but, the medium I’m going to be doing most of this in is web, simply because it’s easy to flip back and forth in the web environment, and actually see what you’ve created, as it’s meant to be seen. As another note, if you’re on a developer box, and you’re not necessarily sure about your companies IT rules, now is a good time to check.
MicroStrategy works on all of the major browsers, and you’ll see some differences in some of the data as presented in Firefox, IE, and especially Safari. I’m going to be doing my development on IE and Firefox for the most part, so if you’re a Mac shop, or you have weirdos that browse in Safari or Chrome, there’s some extra homework you’re going to have to put into the process.
Next post, I present my sketch/storyboard for what I’m going to be presenting. I’m thinking right now this is going to be a two tabbed report, with a selector on each page. So, conceptually, this means two reports. One is going to be at the “Item Group” level…since my project is going to be cell phones, that group is going to be “Manufacturer”; think Blackberry or Apple. The next report is going to be specific to the Models. I’ll have the data aggregated at the two levels that I care about. I’m going to avoid from getting specifically into what drives the values of the reports (trade secret), and some of the data might be jumbled.