Archive for June, 2012
I have been a long time convert to Analysis Studio and have always found Powerplay users’ objections to it a bit puzzling. Sure, I developed Powerplay reports years ago but I am now quite comfortable in the Analysis Studio interface. Analysis Studio is more flexible and more powerful than Powerplay, and yet I continue to find Powerplay users resistant to make the change. I recently had an opportunity to speak to a Powerplay user and she spoke specifically to a number of issues she had with Analysis Studio.
1. The Welcome Screen
When you open Powerplay, you see the default view of your cube, which consists of the first measure shown against the first and second dimensions. When you open Analysis Studio, you are asked if you want to open the default view or a blank canvas for a new report. There is an option to turn this screen off. Turning off this screen will remember your choice semi-permanently (you can clear the choice you’ve made by deleting your browser cookies but this is not clear from the welcome screen itself). On the face of it, this minor feature makes the tool more flexible. However, it comes across as overly complicated and annoying to the Powerplay user and gets them off to a bad start.
In Cognos support, More is known better by its technical definition “number of visible items”. By default, Analysis Studio shows 12 rows on a crosstab. For additional rows, a More row is displayed, which when clicked allows the user to choose the number of rows displayed. This is of course configurable by your Cognos administrator. Powerplay shows all rows by default. While More gives you flexibility, not having More gives you ease of use.
3. Drag and Drop
In Powerplay, all dimensions can be dragged and dropped into the crosstab. In Analysis Studio, dimensions can be dragged and dropped but only once you have navigated the alternate hierarchies (if any exist). Analysis Studio will show dimensions with alternate hierarchies as a folder instead of a dimension symbol, and you need to find the dimension you want within that folder. Powerplay has no such folders, allowing you to drag the default hierarchy by default and also allowing you to dig for the alternate hierarchy if desired. So when you compare the tools one against the other, Powerplay appears to allow easy drag and drop and Analysis Studio appears to not.
At this point, some Powerplay users will throw up their hands in frustration! This goes a distance in explaining why Powerplay Studio continues to be offered in the Cognos Suite (even though this was not intended to be so). Perhaps Powerplay Studio will continue as a simplified OLAP product tool much like Business Insight is a cross between Query Studio and Report Studio. Only time will tell.
For more specific technical differences between Analysis Studio and Powerplay, see this IBM article.
Sometimes in Report Studio, you may find it necessary to dice up your report parameter values with substring functions, especially if you are drilling from a cube source to a relational source. But be careful how you approach this. Report Studio can behave in unexpected ways.
Consider the following example:
You have a cube report that drills through to a relational report with a single parameter defined, called My_Parameter. You pass a single parameter value which is equal to DIM1-0001 in your cube source. Your relational source is expecting the value 0001. So you code the following filter in your relational source report:
[Code] = Substring(?My_Parameter?, 6, 4)
For a single parameter value filter, this will work.
Now you want to pass multiple parameter values, so you modify your filter to read:
[Code] in ( Substring(?My_Parameter?, 6, 4) )
This will appear to work, but really it doesn’t. If you pass only one parameter value it will work perfectly, but only because it will read the first parameter value and ignore all of the others. Attempting to dice up Report Studio parameters like this doesn’t fly when it is receiving an array of parameter values. Incidently, adding parameters to query calculations will behave the same way – the first parameter value is used, the rest ignored.
So how can you pass multiple parameter values, but still dice up your parameter values as needed?
You simply do the opposite. You build your code value to match your parameters, not deconstruct your parameters to match your code value.
The filter that works in this instance looks like this:
‘DIM1-’ || [Code] in (?My_Parameters?)