Quando omni flunkus, mortati. Die dulci fruere.

| Subscribe via RSS

Thursday, December 18, 2008

IBM Cognos 8.4 - Released to the masses


Just in time for Christmas, Cognos 8.4 was released for download on December 15th. Highlights include Flash-based dashboards, improved BI search, location-aware mobile delivery and new data lineage capabilities. A new viewpoint interface lets business users manage hierarchies and dimensions. A bus full of new features have been added:

  • Increased visual appeal includes new background designs and colors. Users can add gradient colors and behind charts
  • New chart types: Merimekko, Stepline, Sparkline, Sparkbar, Spark Win/Loss
  • Report annotations: Users can add comments directly within the body of HTML-rendered reports
  • Enhanced suppression: Suppress all types of reports against relational, dimensionally-modeled relational, and OLAP sources. Also, users can also suppress rows, columns, or rows and columns based on "zero" values, "divide by zero" values, missing values, and overflow values
  • Extended filters now include wildcards, range, and between operations
  • Associated frames now drill together
  • Strategy Maps and Impact Diagrams now available as portlets that can be integrated into IBM Cognos Connection, IBM WebSphere, and MS Sharepoint portals
  • Data lineage: Users can access and view major transformations to data as it moves through the system
  • Expanded data access: Use data from IBM Cognos Now! and IBM Cognos TM1
The reviews are fairly positive (quote from intelligententerprise.com):
"I give Cognos a lot of credit for taking the time, a few years ago, to rewrite the entire platform, but with that effort they fell somewhat behind on bells and whistles," says Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson. "With 8.4, Cognos is filling out many of the pieces that competitors have provided over the years."
Read the complete review here: After Leading on Platform, Cognos Catches Up On Details

More information can be found on the Cognos site: What's New in 8.4

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Your Corporate Brand on the C8 UI


Want to modify / customize your C8 headers (and add your company name and logo for example)? Look to make these changes directly in the system.xml (cognos\c8\templates\ps\portal\system.xml).

  1. 1. Place an image in the folder \c8\webcontent\skins\my_style\branding, where "my_style" is one of the skins/styling that is being used for the portal.
  2. 2. Edit the /c8/templates/ps/portal/system.xml file using Notepad or an XML editor.
  3. 3. Search for You will notice that this section is commented out. Un-comment out this section and customize as needed.
  4. 4. Restart the Cognos 8 service for these changes to take effect.
Ensure you make a backup of your original system.xml file. Refer to the section: "Part 8 Customization" in the Cognos 8 Administration and Security Guide.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Reference book: IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence


From the editorial review: Develop, deploy, and maintain a complete BI solution across your enterprise. IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence: The Official Guide shows you how to take full advantage of the robust service-oriented architecture and simplified role-based user interfaces. Learn how to create, share, and analyze data-rich reports that lead to increased productivity and better business decisions. Featuring real-world insight and expert tips, this is a must-have guide for IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence users of all levels, from administrators to end users.

Measure and monitor performance using dashboards and scorecards; Assign user roles and privileges; Provide complete and consistent access to a broad range of data sources via Cognos Connection; Use Cognos 8 Go! to extend BI to Office applications, mobile devices, and search engines; Enable business users to create reports with Query Studio; Develop new insights by exploring data in multiple dimensions and perspectives with Analysis Studio; Build Dimensional Reports with Report Studio; Use Event Studio to identify and deliver mission-critical information; Create, modify, organize, and publish a model from Cognos Framework Manager;
Implement sound security measures; Take advantage of the management tools in Cognos Administration to ensure maximum reliability and availability.

We'll review this book soon. You can purchase this book on Amazon or as an eBook.

Disclaimer: The author of this blog is not affiliated with the author or publisher of the above described book.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Javascript technique: Tag cloud


I was recently asked to build a quick view dashboard for the Sales team which contained a web 2.0 style tag cloud. What's a tag cloud? A tag cloud or word cloud (or weighted list in visual design) are usually single words and are typically listed alphabetically, and the importance of a tag is shown with font size or color.

Since Cognos 8 doesn't include such a widget, I utilized my peer network and was given this example which utilizes javascript. Here are the steps I followed to put it together (I'll use the standard demo data in Cognos called Go Sales):

Open a new Report Studio List report with the GO Sales package and populate it with [Staff Name] and [Revenue]. Next add [Order year] to the Query. Click the Filters button on the toolbar and create new filter:

[gosales_goretailers].[Orders].[Order year] = ?date?

Set it to Required. Drag a [Value Prompt] from the Toolbox (Insertable Objects) to left of your list so it appears on top. Set it to use the existing parameter ‘date’ and click Finish. In the properties for this prompt, set the Query to [Query1]. Set the Use Value to [Order year] and the Display Value to [Order year]. Create new Static Choices for this prompt. The new variable should be a string (call it anything) and add the use/display values 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 as below:

Next set the Properties to [Order year]. Set the Auto-Submit and Hide Adornments for this prompt to ‘Yes’. Finally, set the Default Selections to 2004 and change the width in the Size & Overflow to 75px.

From the Insertable Objects Toolbox drag an [HTML Item] to the right of the newly created Value Prompt. Add another [HTML Item] to the right of the List. Your page should look like this:

Open the top [HTML Item] and add the following:

<div id="cloud"></div><div id="dg" style="display:none">

Click OK. Open the second [HTML Item] (the one below the list) and add the following:


Click OK. Delete the contents of the page footer and add a new [HTML Item]. Open it and add the following modified open source code:

<textarea readonly="" cols="40" rows="20" id="cloudhtml" style="display:none;"></textarea>
// ====================================
// params that might need changin.
// DON'T forget to include a drill url in the href section below (see ###) if you want this report to be drillable
var delimit = "|";
var subdelimit = "[]"; // change this as needed (ex: Smith, Michael[]$500,000.00|)
var labelColumnNumber = 0; // first column is 0
var valueColumnNumber = 1;
var columnCount = 2; // how many columns are there in the list?
// ====================================

function formatCurrency(num) {
num = num.toString().replace(/\$|\,/g,'');
num = "0";
sign = (num == (num = Math.abs(num)));
num = Math.floor(num*100+0.50000000001);
cents = num%100;
num = Math.floor(num/100).toString();
cents = "0" + cents;
for (var i = 0; i < Math.floor((num.length-(1+i))/3); i++)
num = num.substring(0,num.length-(4*i+3))+','+ num.substring(num.length-(4*i+3));
return (((sign)?'':'-') + '$' + num + '.' + cents);

function filterNum(str) {
re = /\$|,|@|#|~|`|\%|\*|\^|\&|\(|\)|\+|\=|\[|\-|\_|\]|\[|\}|\{|\;|\:|\'|\"|\<|\>|\?|\||\\|\!|\$|/g;
// remove special characters like "$" and "," etc...
return str.replace(re, "");

tags = document.getElementById("dg").getElementsByTagName("SPAN");
txt = "";
for (var i=columnCount; i<tags.length; i++) {
valu = filterNum(tags[i+valueColumnNumber].innerHTML);
txt += valu;
txt += subdelimit+tags[i+labelColumnNumber].innerHTML+delimit;
i = i+columnCount;

function getFontSize(min,max,val) {
return Math.round((150.0*(1.0+(1.5*val-max/2)/max)));

function generateCloud(txt) {
//var txt = "48.1,Google|28.1,Yahoo!|10.5,Live/MSN|4.9,Ask|5,AOL";
var logarithmic = false;
var lines = txt.split(delimit);
var min = 10000000000;
var max = 0;
for(var i=0;i<lines.length;i++) {
var line = lines[i];
var data = line.split(subdelimit);
if(data.length != 2) {
data[0] = parseFloat(data[0]);
lines[i] = data;
if(data[0] > max)
max = data[0];
if(data[0] < min)
min = data[0];
}lines.sort(function (a,b) {
var A = a[1].toLowerCase();
var B = b[1].toLowerCase();
return A>B ? 1 : (A<B ? -1 : 0);

var html = "<style type='text/css'>#jscloud a:hover { text-decoration: underline; }</style> <div id='jscloud'>";
if(logarithmic) {
max = Math.log(max);
min = Math.log(min);
for(var i=0;i<lines.length;i++) {
var val = lines[i][0];
if(logarithmic) val = Math.log(val);
var fsize = getFontSize(min,max,val);
dollar = formatCurrency(lines[i][0]);
html += " <a href='###Some drillthrough url which includes the param "+lines[i][1]+"' style='font-size:"+fsize+"%;' title='"+dollar+"'>"+lines[i][1]+"</a> ";
html += "</div>";
var cloud = document.getElementById("cloud");
cloud.innerHTML = html;
var cloudhtml = document.getElementById("cloudhtml");
cloudhtml.value = html;
function setClass(layer,cls) {
function show(display) {
var cloud = document.getElementById("cloud");
var cloudhtml = document.getElementById("cloudhtml");if(display == "cloud") {
else if(display == "html") {

Click OK, run the report. Roll over the individual Sales rep to see the actual revenue in the flyout. You can now customize this for your needs and add it as a Cognos Viewer portlet to a Cognos portal page or your preferred portal.

Monday, November 17, 2008

YouTube find: MB Dashboards for Cognos 8


A UK company called morgan benjamin (lower case on purpose) has developed a sharp looking dashboarding tool for Cognos 8 business intelligence. From the visuals, it seems to integrate nicely into the Cognos suite and is available for all Cognos 8 releases.

Key features:
  • Data driven ticker
  • Pop up & Transition facilities
  • Zoom Functionality
  • Links to other Studios (Report Studio, Analysis Studio, Query Studio)
  • Animated KPI’s
  • Content and functionality Rich Dashboards created in hours not weeks
  • Compatible with all versions of Cognos 8
  • Leverages your in house report studio skills
  • Employs professionally designed graphical layout
  • Multiple templates and colour schemes
  • Simple to add corporate identity
  • Allows users to add comments to dashboards
  • Links seamlessly with existing reports, cubes and data sources
I'm most interested in the ability to add comments or annotations to reports although I have read that this type of functionality will be included when Cognos 8.4 is released.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Top 5 and ranking


Need to build a top 5 list into your dashboard report? In my simple example, I have a 2 column list with [Products] and [Sales]. I create a new data item with:

rank([Sales] within set [Products])

I called this new data item [Rank] then applied a filter:

[Rank] < 6

That does it. But not really, because the rank() function will potentially give more then 5 rows if there are multiple entries with the same value. For example, if we were ranking on the following list and filtering for top 3:

Products: Sales: Rank:
Product1 50,000 1
Product2 40,000 2
Product3 30,000 3
Product4 30,000 3
Product5 20,000 5

You will end up with 4 rows in your report.

To restrict this to a only 3 rows, you'll need to sort the query by [Sales], and then use "running-count(1 for report)" in your [Rank] function. Then you'll get just the first 3 rows. Note that whether you get Product3 or Product4 will depend on other sorting criteria or the natural order of the data in the database, so take care!

The tip I've explained above uses the rank() function which is part of the member summary functions and utilized on non-dimensional source. For dimensional source, you will want to use the topCount() function to define [Products].

Friday, September 19, 2008

Installing Cognos ReportNet on Oracle


This supporting guide is a little dated (Cognos ReportNet) but still useful when setting up Cognos and the BI samples with the Content Store hosted on Oracle. If you need a copy of the Oracle database to practice on, there is a developer program where you can download any Oracle software for free, as long as you do not use it for commercial purposes (and some other restrictions). http://technet.oracle.com

The installation process is as follows:
  1. 1. Install Cognos;
  2. 2. Configure Oracle;
  3. 3. Configure IIS;
  4. 4. Configure Cognos;
  5. 5. Install Samples;
  6. 6. Test
Download the document: ReportNet Install Guide on Oracle

For more detailed installation information always consult the official install guides.