IBM Cognos Workspace Advanced

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by Dustin Adkison | June 2013 | Enterprise Articles IBM

The article, IBM Cognos Workspace Advanced, covers the new tool, Cognos Workspace Advanced. This article by Dustin Adkison, author of IBM Cognos Workspace Advanced, will guide you to learn how Cognos Workspace Advanced allows basic developers to create high-quality reports and analyse in one interface. You will also learn about its direct interaction with Cognos Workspace for a seamless, single interface. This article covers in detail how to create new reports and analyses using Cognos Workspace Advanced.

Cognos Workspace Advanced is changing the game for business-level users in IBM Cognos BI. The product is designed to allow querying and analysis from a single interface. It interacts with and enhances Cognos Workspace and is part of the shared workspace concept within IBM Cognos Business Intelligence v10.x.

In this article , we will look at:

  • Who should use Cognos Workspace Advanced?

  • Comparing Cognos Workspace Advanced to Cognos Query Studio and Cognos Analysis Studio.

  • Accessing Cognos Workspace Advanced.

  • Exploring the drag-and-drop interface and the right-click menu

  • Using external data.

  • The business case for Cognos Workspace Advanced.

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Who should use Cognos Workspace Advanced?

With Cognos Workspace Advanced, business users have one tool for creating advanced analyses and reports. The tool, like Query Studio and Analysis Studio, is designed for ease of use and is built on the same platform as the other report development tools in Cognos. Business Insight Advanced/Cognos Workspace Advanced is actually so powerful that it is being positioned more as a light Cognos Report Studio than as a powerful Cognos Query Studio and Cognos Analysis Studio.

Comparing to Cognos Query Studio and Cognos Analysis Studio

With so many options for business users, how do we know which tool to use? The best approach for making this decision is to consider the similarities and differences between the options available. In order to help us do so, we can use the following table:

Feature

Query Studio

Analysis Studio

Cognos Workspace Advanced

Ad hoc reporting

X

 

X

Ad hoc analysis

 

X

X

Basic charting

X

X

X

Advanced charting

 

 

X

Basic filtering

X

X

X

Advanced filtering

 

 

X

Basic calculations

X

X

X

Advanced calculations

 

 

X

Properties pane

 

 

X

External data

 

 

X

Freeform design

 

 

X

As you can see from the table, all three products have basic charting, basic filtering, and basic calculation features. Also, we can see that Cognos Query Studio and Cognos Workspace Advanced both have ad hoc reporting capabilities, while Cognos Analysis Studio and Cognos Workspace Advanced both have ad hoc analysis capabilities. In addition to those shared capabilities, Cognos Workspace Advanced also has advanced charting, filtering, and calculation features.

Cognos Workspace Advanced also has a limited properties pane (similar to what you would see in Cognos Report Studio). Furthermore, Cognos Workspace Advanced allows end users to bring in external data from a flat file and merge it with the data from Cognos Connection. Finally, Cognos Workspace Advanced has free-form design capabilities. In other words, you are not limited in where you can add charts or crosstabs in the way that Cognos Query Studio and Cognos Analysis Studio limit you to the standard templates.

The simple conclusion after performing this comparison is that you should always use Cognos Workspace Advanced. While that will be true for some users, it is not true for all. With the additional capabilities come additional complexities. For your most basic business users, you may want to keep them using Cognos Query Studio or Cognos Analysis Studio for their ad hoc reporting and ad hoc analysis simply because they are easier tools to understand and use. However, for those business users with basic technical acumen, Cognos Workspace Advanced is clearly the superior option.

Accessing Cognos Workspace Advanced

I would assume now that, after reviewing the capabilities Cognos Workspace Advanced brings to the table, you are anxious to start using it. We will start off by looking at how to access the product.

The first way to access Cognos Workspace Advanced is through the welcome page. On the welcome page, you can get to Cognos Workspace Advanced by clicking on the option Author business reports:

This will bring you to a screen where you can select your package. In Cognos Query Studio or Cognos Analysis Studio, you will only be able to select non-dimensional and dimensional packages based on the tool you are using. With Cognos Workspace Advanced, because the tool can use both dimensional and non-dimensional packages, you will be prompted with packages for both.

The next way to access Cognos Workspace Advanced is through the Launch menu in Cognos Connection. Within the menu, you can simply choose Cognos Workspace Advanced to be taken to the same options for choosing a package.

Note, however, that if you have already navigated into a package, it will automatically launch Cognos Workspace Advanced using the very same package.

The third way to access Cognos Workspace Advanced is by far the most functional way. You can actually access Cognos Workspace Advanced from within Cognos Workspace by clicking on the Do More... option on a component of the dashboard:

When you select this option, the object will expand out and open for editing inside Cognos Workspace Advanced.

Then, once you are done editing, you can simply choose the Done button in the upper right-hand corner to return to Cognos Workspace with your newly updated object.

For the sake of showing as many features as possible in this chapter, we will launch Cognos Workspace Advanced from the welcome page or from the Launch menu and select a package that has an OLAP data source. For the purpose of following along, we will be using the Cognos BI sample package great_outdoors_8 (or Great Outdoors).

When we first access it, we are prompted to choose a package. For these examples, we will choose great_outdoors_8:

We are then brought to a splash screen where we can choose Create new or Open existing. We will choose Create new.

We are then prompted to pick the type of chart we want to create. As we will see from the following screenshot, our options are:

  • Blank: It starts us off with a completely blank slate

  • List: It starts us off with a list report

  • Crosstab: It starts us off with a crosstab

  • Chart: It starts us off with a chart and loads the chart wizard

  • Financial: It starts us off with a crosstab formatted like a financial report

  • Existing...: It allows us to open an existing report

We will choose Blank because we can still add as many of the other objects as we want to later on.

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Exploring the drag-and-drop interface and the right-click menu

Now that we have a blank template to start with, let's explore how to build a complex report and analysis using the drag-and-drop interface. With Cognos Report Studio, there is a concept of objects that can be brought onto your palette. Here, we will explore how to add these objects by clicking, holding, and moving them to the location that we want to place them in.

Adding objects to your report

The tool has a few main components. Each is listed and shown in the subsequent screenshot.

  • Toolbars: These toolbars provide additional options for controlling your report.

  • Palette: This is what will show up on your report. By default, the palette will load with data.

  • Insertable Objects: These are the objects that can be added to your report.

  • We should start by looking at the objects that we can add to our report. The Insertable Objects pane has two main tabs, Source and Toolbox. Source is the package that you are working on, and toolbox is a list of objects that can be added to the palette.

    We will start off by building our report from the Toolbox area. Here we can see the list of insertable objects as seen in the following screenshot:

  • Text Item: A tool with which you can define the text that is used.

  • Block: This object is used for spacing and controlling where items appear on the report. A block is an area where other items can be inserted.

  • Table: A table can be used to separate items in the report or for inserting your own text.

  • Query Calculation: This item can be used to create a calculation based on data after it is aggregated in the query.

  • Intersection (Tuple): This allows you to add a single point of data based on dimensions and measures that you add through a wizard.

  • Image: This allows you to add an image to your report.

  • Crosstab Space: This option will add a blank row or column into an existing crosstab.

  • Crosstab Space (with fact cells): This option will add a column or row into an existing crosstab with fact cells to allow you to add additional information.

  • List: This option will insert a list data holder for adding levels, properties, or measures (similar to what you see when using Cognos Query Studio).

  • Crosstab: This option will insert a crosstab data holder for adding dimensions and measures (similar to what you see when using Analysis Studio).

  • Chart: This will allow you to add one of the new chart types to the report. Data will still need to be added to it, but this gives you a wizard for selecting the chart type that you want.

  • Hyperlink: This will allow you to create a link to another location on the Web or within your internal environment. You often see these used to link to a common area on your intranet.

  • Date: This will allow you to add a dynamic date to the report. Each time the report is run, it will be updated with the current system date.

  • Time: This will allow you to add a dynamic time to the report. Each time the report is run, it will be updated with the current system time.

  • Page Number: This will allow you to add a page number to your report. If you have multiple pages, they will be automatically updated with the correct page numbers.

For the purpose of this book, we will start by adding a table to the palette and choosing two columns and two rows. We will also check the Maximize width option to maximize the width so that the table takes up the entire screen:

We will now proceed to add additional objects into each quadrant of our table. In the upper-left quadrant, we will add a chart. This will give us our first look at the new charts that are available for inserting. To do this, drag-and-drop a chart object into the upper-left quadrant of the table. You will then be prompted to choose what chart type to insert:

The options that are available within the Insert Chart window are:

  • Column: This option allows you to choose between various column chart options, including standard column charts, cylinder column charts, and cone column charts

  • Line: This option allows you to choose between various clustered line charts

  • Pie, Donut: This option allows you to choose between various pie and donut chart options

  • Bar: This option allows you to choose between various bar chart options, including standard bar charts, cylinder bar charts, and cone bar charts

  • Area: This option allows you to choose a chart that is similar to a line chart; however, the area under the line is filled in

  • Point: This option allows you to create charts with data points only (no connecting lines)

  • Combination: This option allows you to create charts that have columns and lines

  • Scatter, Bubble: This option allows you to create reports with points that are dynamic in size based on a second measure

  • Bullet: This option allows you to create charts that reflect a measure compared to a target

  • Gauge: This option allows you to create various forms of gauge charts

  • Pareto: This option allows you to create Pareto charts for tracking individual data points and running totals

  • Progressive: This option is a column or bar chart and a running total as well

  • Advanced: This option contains 3D charts, radar charts, and heat map charts

For our purposes, we are going to start off by adding Clustered Cylinder with 3-D Effects from within the Column chart options to the upper-left quadrant. We will then drag in a second chart to the upper right-hand quadrant. For this chart, we will choose a Horizontal Bullet chart.

Let's continue by dragging a List to the lower-left quadrant and a Crosstab to the lower right-hand quadrant. When we are done dragging in our objects, our palette should look like:

At this point, we have all of the objects that we want in our report. We need to start adding the data that we need to make this report meaningful.

Adding data to your reports

In order to add data to the report, we need to toggle back to the Source tab in the Insertable Objects area. When we do so, we will see a member tree for the package that we are working with by default. This is because the package is built from a multidimensional source; however, we could have used a relational source as well.

We can choose to change between views using the options at the top. These options are:

  • View Members Tree: This option will show the metadata as members that can be added for multidimensional analysis

  • View Metadata Tree: This option will show you the metadata and properties that can be added to the objects meant for reporting

  • Create Sets for Members (currently inserting individual members): This option will allow you to toggle between inserting sets and individual members from a members tree

  • Insert Single Member / Insert Children / Insert Member with Children: This option allows you to choose what parts of an object to insert when inserting a member

For our purposes, let's start by inserting members to the areas where we want to perform analysis. We will use members for the cylinder chart and the crosstab. We can begin by clicking on the cylinder chart (in the upper left-hand corner) in order to see our available drop points.

Here we have drop areas for Categories (x-axis), Default measure (y-axis), and Series (primary axis):

We will drag in the Years dimension from Years | Years to Categories (x-axis). We will also drag in the Products dimension from Products | Products to Series (primary axis). Finally, we will drag in Revenue from Measures | Revenue to Default measure (y-axis). Note that once we drag in our measure, the chart is populated with data.

Our final chart in the upper left-hand quadrant should look like the following screenshot:

We can now begin populating our crosstab. We want to depict the same information in our crosstab. Therefore, we will drag in Years from Years | Years to Columns, Products from Products | Products to Rows, and Revenue from Measures | Revenue to Measures. The end result in our lower left-hand quadrant will look like:

Now, we will toggle over to View Metadata Tree so that we can build our reporting objects:

We will start by adding data to the bullet chart. If we select the bullet chart, we can see what data can be added:

The options available are as follows:

  • Bullet Measure: This is the measure that we are tracking and are interested in.

  • Target Measure: This is a measure that represents what our goal is for the bullet measure.

  • Default: This is the default measure.

  • Series (matrix rows): This represents rows of bullet charts that can be shown. This will do the same thing as thing as Categories until there are items dropped inuntil there are items dropped into both areas.

  • Categories (matrix columns): This represents columns of data that can be shown. This will do the same thing as thing as Categories until there are items dropped inuntil there are items dropped into both areas.

We are going to drag in Revenue from Measures | Revenue to Bullet Measure and Sales target from Measures | Sales target to Target Measure. When we are done with this, we will see data. To finalize our view, we drag in Product line from Products | Products | Product line to Categories (matrix columns). Our end result for the chart in the upper right-hand quadrant will look like:

Finally, we will build out our list report by dragging in Product line, Revenue, and Sales target as columns in the lower left-hand quadrant. Our list will look like this with the new items added:

We have now added to our report the data that we want to report on and analyze.

Drilling down

The key feature needed in order to perform an analysis is a drill down. Luckily, the hard work is done on the backend during the creation of the multidimensional data source. All we have to do is let the tool know that it is ok to allow drilling. This is accomplished from the Data menu under Drill Options....:

We are given two basic drilling options from this menu. We can choose Allow drill-up and drill-down, which we will be sure to check now for our reporting purposes. We can also choose Allow this report to be a package-based drill-through source. This means that, if there are drill-throughs defined in the package, we can access them.

With our drill-down enabled, let's go ahead and run the report for the first time by choosing the blue play button at the top:

Our end result will look like:

This now looks like a report. However, because we have drill-up and drill-down enabled, we can click on any component of the report and drill to the next level of detail. We can also right-click to be taken to a menu that allows us to choose Drill Down, Drill Up, or Go To (drill through):

As you can see, this menu also allows us to download the chart (saves the chart as an image), read the glossary (provides definitions for some items), or view lineage (traces the item selected back to the source).

Creating calculations

We can now begin further enhancing our report and analysis with calculations. We are going to start off by adding a calculation to our list report that is in the lower left-hand quadrant.

  1. First, we will highlight Revenue and Sales target.

  2. Then, we will right-click to bring up our right-click menu and choose Calculate and then Custom. From there, we can choose % Difference from the drop-down list.

  3. We can then choose % Difference (Sales target, Revenue). This will essentially give us a variance calculation.

We can choose to provide a different name for the default name as well. We will go ahead and name this one Variance. Once that is complete, you will see in the following screenshot, that it automatically formats the new column as a percentage:

In order to create a more complex calculation, you have to right-click on your new calculated query item and choose Edit Query Expression... from the list of available options. From this menu, you can freeform most calculations that Cognos BI supports.

In addition, the Functions tab will provide common functions, and each will show a tip if you click on it:

This is sort of a trick for getting the most out of Cognos Workspace Advanced. The default calculation menu will show only basic calculations; however, you are able to create more advanced calculations by editing the query in this way.

Understanding the other buttons

Now that we have covered the basics, it is important to understand our other options on the toolbar. Let's go from left to right. The first few buttons are all geared toward saving, opening, cutting, copying, pasting, and report-wide undo and redo functionality.

The buttons in the previous screenshot are:

  • New: This option will allow you to create a new report.

  • Open: This option will allow you to open an existing report.

  • Save: This option will allow you to save the report for future use or to be shared.

  • Cut: This option allows you to copy an item and move it to another place. It also erases the item from the original location.

  • Copy: This option allows you copy an item and create a duplicate for it in a new location.

  • Paste: This option is used to finalize the copy or cut actions with the creation of the new version of the item that was copied or cut.

  • Delete: This option will remove an item that is selected.

  • Undo: This option will reverse an action that was done.

  • Redo: This option will redo an action that was undone.

The next option is to run with different run options:

The next section has all the standard options that we have seen in the other two business-user studios:

The options are listed as follows:

  • Filter: This option will allow you to create a filter that limits the data being retrieved

  • Suppress: This option will allow you to remove rows or columns with zeros

  • Explore: This option allows you to perform analysis actions on your data

  • Sort: This option allows you to choose sorting options for your data

  • Summarize: This option will allow you to create summary aggregations for your various measures

  • Calculate: This option will allow you to create a calculation on any of your items

  • Group: This option will allow you to bundle within a data item

  • Pivot: This option will allow you to toggle from a list to a crosstab

  • Section: This option will allow you to create sections based on the contents of a data item or dimension

  • Swap: This option will allow you to swap columns and rows on a crosstab

  • Chart: This option will allow you to create a chart on your report

  • Layout: This option will allow you to choose a standard layout template for your report

In addition to these toolbars, there is a wealth of capabilities available in the menu bar and the formatting bar that can be explored for further enhancing your Cognos Workspace Advanced reports and analyses.

Using external data

Another way to expand the capabilities of this product is to bring in external data. External data is data that is not already included in the Cognos BI package that is being used. External data is typically some form of flat file (such as a CSV file). The ability to incorporate external data is a new feature in IBM Cognos Business Intelligence v10.x that is available only in Cognos Workspace Advanced and Cognos Report Studio.

In order to incorporate external data into your report, you will need to select the icon in the Insertable Objects area that represents the external data option.

Once you click on the icon, you will be prompted with the External Data wizard:

This wizard will walk you through the process of creating a connection between data that is outside of Cognos BI and data that is within a package. The first step is to select the data that you want to bring in. This is done very simply by clicking on the Browse... button and finding the file with the information that you want to bring in:

You can then choose which columns from the file to bring in and what to name the new namespace that you are adding.

After you click on Next>, you will be able to choose how to perform your data mapping.

You can choose an existing report (this is typically the report that you are working on; however, that is not required) to map to the external data.

For our purposes, we will choose Product Revenue from the Go Sales and Retailers folder. Here we will create a new link between the external data and the existing report by clicking on the New Link button. We will then click on Next> again:

In the next section of the wizard, we are prompted to select the data attributes for the data that we have. This is possibly the most important part of this entire process.

Unfortunately, if we select the wrong data type for an item that is being linked to while on this screen, it can affect our ability to create the relationship, and we will get errors when trying to pull data from both locations at once. Once we have all the data type options set correctly, we can click on Next> and move on to the final step:

In the final step, we can choose the cardinality that we want for the relationship that ties in our external data. When we are done, we can click on Finish, and it will take us to a place where we can name our new package and publish it to a location of our choice:

We have now officially created a new package with external data.

The business case for Cognos Workspace Advanced

Cognos Workspace Advanced was designed for business users that want it all. So, if you have users that need both query creation capabilities and analysis capabilities, this is the tool for them. Cognos Workspace Advanced adds a tool that provides flashy graphics and an easy-to-use interface to make these tasks easier than ever before. This tool also gives the IT group the ability to better enable their business users to do the things that they have historically done for them. For the world of business intelligence, this tool changes the game for those users.

As an IT group, the best way to convince the business of the value of this tool is to simply show it to them and then allow them to use it. As they find themselves more empowered to create their own reports and develop their own analysis, they will realize that this product decreases the time from question to answer for your business users.

Summary

Business Cognos Workspace Advanced adds the ability to perform queries and create analyses from one central location. It also further enhances the new Cognos Workspace product by allowing users to take an object from Cognos Workspace and further enhance it within this development product. In this article, we have compared Cognos Workspace Advanced to Query Studio and Analysis Studio. We have also looked at how to use the tool both from a basic and advanced perspective. With Cognos Workspace Advanced, you now have a one-stop shop for reporting and analysis for business users.

Resources for Article :


Further resources on this subject:


About the Author :


Dustin Adkison

Dustin Adkison is an active member of the IBM Cognos community. He began his career in Business Intelligence at one of the premier Cognos customers, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. After a short period, he became one of the Cognos administrators of a very large Cognos implementation as well as the training coordinator for all Cognos needs. While at BCBST, Dustin began to shape his skills in Cognos Report, which later became IBM Cognos 8 and IBM Cognos 10.

Dustin soon joined the Cognos consulting industry with Market Street Solutions (a Tennessee-based IBM Premier Partner that focuses on IBM Cognos). There he worked as both a consultant and a sales and presales resource. Dustin was an active member of the Atlanta and Tennessee Cognos User Groups during this time. He also further developed his skills around IBM Cognos and began presenting to various user communities.

For the last 5 years, Dustin has worked for BrightStar Partners and BSP Software, which are now owned by Avnet. He manages a team of sales resources, provides sales and technical sales support, and sets the direction for the sales team. Dustin is currently an active member of the Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, St. Louis, and Michigan User Groups. He has been a speaker at each of these User Groups in the past. In addition, he has presented at the Chattanooga, Nashville, Cincinnati,
Columbus, Victoria, Toronto, and Vancouver User Groups as a guest.

As one of the leaders of the adoption of Cognos Express, Dustin was asked to present both on a panel and as an individual at IBM Information on Demand (IOD) and on a cfo.com webcast. Dustin has written about the importance of soft skills in the BI industry and has had his writings featured on various forums.

For the past two years, Dustin has been honored as an IBM Champion, an award that is given to the information leaders within the IBM space.

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