The fourth release of Cognos Analytics is available. Here are some of the more interesting features of Cognos Analytics 11.0.4.
Framework Manager packages
This is the big one we have all been waiting for. We could see the potential of the new dashboard tool when Cognos Analytics 11 was first released, but were unable to take advantage of all the FM models we had created over the years. Now we can, just not in the same fashion as we do in standard reporting.
Cognos Analytics 11.0.4 introduces data sets, which allow you to choose the data you want to bring into a dashboard from a FM package. This data is then cached to improve performance and reduce database workload.
A nice feature of data sets is the summarize detailed values, suppress duplicates option. This functionality helps tremendously if you are pulling records from a large fact table that contains millions of transaction level details, but you only need a summarized month. The final data set output would reduce millions of rows from a fact into just a few hundred and deliver blazing performance.
Because you will be caching the data, you will need to determine when to refresh your data sets. You can schedule these in the same way you schedule reports or you can do them on-demand.
- This feature will replace the snapshot data module setting from prior versions of Cognos Analytics 11. If you have any data modules that are set to snapshot, they will be updated to live upon upgrading to Release 4.
- Do not use the summarize detailed values, suppress duplicates option if you are going after the lowest detail level in the fact.
Crosstabs are now available and allow the functionality you would expect with row/column swapping, filtering, sorting, formatting and custom calculations.
Note: There is a limitation on nesting: you are limited to two levels on both edges. Measures are unlimited.
Do you have a dashboard used for monitoring and data that is changing throughout the day? With the new refresh widget, you can have the dashboard automatically refresh the visualizations without needing to click refresh.
Note: Options include seconds, minutes and hours.
Top and bottom functions
One of my favorite features from Powerplay was the built-in Top/Bottom count. This is now available in dashboards. Just click the visualization you want to apply and the new Top/Bottom button to apply.
Note: Current options include Top/Bottom 5 and Top/Bottom 10. Hopefully we can get some more customizations around this in a future release, but it’s a welcome addition.
Time and geolocation
Importing a file or creating a data module now allows you to define fields as time- or location-based. This setting may not sound exciting, but the results are worth visiting. For example, using the new location field type to define a column in your file that contains countries you do business with will cause the dashboard to default to a map when working with this field. On a similar note, using the new date attribute, will now give you a full calendar when working with date filters.
Customizations – branding/skinning
In previous versions of Cognos, skinning was a painful process. You had to modify multiple files and copy images to multiple locations. Cognos Analytics 11.0.4 allows you to modify the UI screens and add remove buttons as well as apply custom colors, logos and brand text. What’s even better, these now can be exported/imported as deployments, so it’s never been easier to sync up and keep all environments in sync.
More information, as well as samples, can be found on the Cognos Analytics blog.
Improved startup time for interactive viewer
Did you feel like the new interactive viewer took longer to run a report than it did in previous versions of Cognos? You were not alone. This issue has been addressed and you can now expect to see these reports open 2-3 seconds faster and use less memory in 11.0.4.
Note: This is only verified in Internet Explorer, other browser times may vary.
Thanks to our own Todd Schuman for contributing this post. Todd is the Cognos practice lead at Senturus in charge of installation, upgrade and optimization.