The Reporting UI: Cognos 11.2.4 vs. 11.1

Cognos 11.2.4 is a stable long-term release and is worthy of the upgrade. Get a detailed review of what’s new in the 11.2.4 release in our on-demand webinar with Cognos product marketing. Differences between the user interface between Cognos 11.1 and 11.2.4 are not drastic and speak to improvements to usability and performance. 

In this blog, we cover changes to the reporting interface in Cognos Analytics 11.2.4.  Read our comparison of general changes to the UI between Cognos 11.1 and 11.2.4 

Overall design 

Overall, Cognos Analytics has adopted Carbon, the IBM open source design system for all digital products and experiences. This design system streamlines the web client user experience and unifies the products in the IBM family. For more information visit Carbon 

General changes and new themes  

As with previous versions, in 11.2.4 you start a new report by first choosing a template. You’ll see a few changes on the template screen:

  • New themes are available: Carbon X light and dark. 
  • The OK button has been replaced with Create and has moved to the top right from the bottom. 

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Quick add button 

After selecting a template and theme, you arrive at the work area. Things here look the same except for the Quick add button. Instead of displaying a radial menu, clicking on Quick add shows a list of items. These items can still be changed from the toolbox as pinned items. 

Change to the Edit icon 
Button When looking at content, you’ll see the Edit icon has changed. Gone is the pencil icon that has been around for a long time. It has been replaced with a toggle switch icon. Use the Edit toggle switch to enable the edit mode in dashboard, stories and reports.   
PDF drill through  

In Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 and earlier, PDF drill through was supported only in Internet Explorer, using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Acrobat Reader provided a mechanism that allowed for generation of self-contained PDFs where the drill through information was encapsulated in the PDF. Drill through links worked as long as the PDF was viewed in Acrobat Reader. 

In Cognos 11.2.4, downloaded PDF reports can now be opened in any PDF viewer. However, drill through links work only in the following situations: 

  • The downloaded PDF report is viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader. 
  • The report output is saved in Cognos Analytics, such as when running a report in the background and selecting the Save delivery option. 
Active report viewer 

In earlier versions of Cognos, active reports were viewed as MHT files using Internet Explorer. With 11.2.4, a separate tool, the Active Report Viewer, can be downloaded and used to view active reports. Download the Active Report Viewer from the IBM Accelerator Catalog. 

New image service 

The VIDA image service is new in Cognos Analytics 11.2.4. This service allows Cognos Analytics reports to render maps and other visualizations into PDF and Excel formats. In previous releases, these visualizations were available only in HTML format. 

VIDA image service supports these chart types: 

  • Map (tiled map using MapBox API) 
  • Donut 
  • Treemap 
  • Bullet 
  • Marimekko 
Performance improvements in tabbed reports 

When you produce reports in HTML format, you have the option to show each report page as a tab. Report page names are used to name each tab in the output. In Excel output, each tab becomes a single sheet within the same workbook.  

The View pages as tab option is not supported when a report is used as a report reference in a report booklet. This option is also not supported when a report contains page sets. Page sets are created in a report when you add a page set object, page layers and page breaks.  

Optimized tab rendering. This option is found in report properties. You can optimize tab rendering when a tabbed report is run. When optimized rendering is used, each tab is rendered individually.

Optimized rendering is faster, but it has the following limitations:  

  • Optimized rendering is not suitable for reports with conditional pages or reports that rely on continuous page numbers across tabs. 
  • Pages with no content are still rendered as tabs. 
New visualization properties 

The 11.2.4 release includes several new visualization properties: 

  1. You can set or change the following color visualization elements: 
    • Border color on a per-axis basis 
    • Grid line color on a per-axis basis 
    • Value label color 
    • Repeat label color on a column 
    • Repeat label color on a row 
  1. The following new properties are also available: 
    • Element ID of SVG schematics. If you are creating SVG schematics, you can view the SVG key string. 
    • Pagination control of SVG schematics. This property is available on uploaded SVG custom schematics. 
    • Transpose bullet visualizations. This new property allows you to switch between horizontal or vertical bullet charts. 
    • Customizable range of bullets in bullet visualizations. These new properties allow you to customize the appearance to suit your preference or to align with your corporate branding. 
    • Default swatch symbol shape for legend symbols. Choose a legend symbol from a list of options such as, circle, square, star, triangle and so on. 
    • Use iterator to set how repeating visualizations are displayed. This property changes the display so that the chart iterations for each value of the repeat category are shown one at a time, using the whole widget for each iteration. You can then swipe or click the visualization to view each iteration. 
    • Bubble and scatter visualizations. You can now specify border width and color, size of bubbles, a min and max size for bubbles and label rotation. 
    • The treemap supports the following new properties: 
      • Show mid-level labels: the mid-level labels are separated from Show leaf labels. These labels are available only on three-level treemaps and always display the item name. 
      • Show leaf labels: when this property is enabled, the values in each rectangle within the treemap are shown permanently. When this property is disabled, the values are shown only when you hover your cursor over the rectangle. 
      • Leaf label format: the values are Item, Value or Both. 

These properties are available on certain visualization types and only in relevant contexts. For example, you will not see the option to change a repeat column label color if there is no data on the repeat column.  

Downloading reports 

When you run reports that generate downloadable formats (Excel, CSV, XML), the user experience is consistent in both classic viewer and interactive viewer. 

The download viewer no longer closes automatically and the toolbar options are consistent in both viewers. When you leave the viewer open while viewing the output, you have access to all controls. 

When using Google Chrome, you can set automatic or manual report downloads. 

Custom filter options 

When you create a custom filter in a report by manually entering values, you have the option to ignore empty values. When you use the Manually input items option to enter values when creating a custom filter, you can use the Ignore empty items option to either include or remove the empty values that were copied from a delimited text file. By default, the empty values are removed. 

Select & search  

The Select & search prompt in Reporting has been renamed to Search & select. This prompt is also available in reporting when your source is a data module. 

Sharing via Microsoft Teams 

Building on its existing integration with Slack, Cognos Analytics now offers the option to use Microsoft Teams to share content with colleagues. Use Teams to  share Cognos Analytics dashboards and report content, as well as your own messages. 

In Microsoft Teams, you can add a tab with an embedded report from an external Cognos Analytics environment. On any platform, Teams users can then perform interactive analyses of the report without having to log into Cognos Analytics. 

Hiding elements in reporting  

Administrators can hide the Properties pane or the More button from specified users of Cognos Analytics reporting. Doing so simplifies the user interface for business users who want to create simple ad hoc reports. 

More granularity in report properties  

The reporting capability has been enhanced to give directory administrators more flexibility. Previously, users with access to the secured features for bursting, HTML content and SQL content could either both edit and run the associated code, or they could do neither. 

Now there is a separate secured feature for each task: 

  • Edit Burst Definition allows users to author burst reports. 
  • Generate Burst Output allows users to run burst reports. 
  • Edit HTML Items allows users to edit the HTML Item button and hyperlink elements of the report specification when they author reports. 
  • Run HTML Items allows users to use the HTML Item button and hyperlinks. 
  • Edit User Defined SQL allows users to edit the SQL statements directly in the query specification. 
  • Run User Defined SQL allows users to run the query specifications that contain SQL statements. 

While the user interface changes are relatively minor between the two Cognos versions, there are many changes behind the scenes that make 11.2.4 a compelling upgrade. From performance enhancements and new properties to integration with Microsoft Teams, Cognos Analytics 11.2.4 has adapted and grown to fit into the modern reporting world. 

When you do get ready to upgrade, read our blog Tips for Installing 11.2.4. and get in touch with Senturus for extra support. Our Cognos upgrade team will help ensure a smooth transition.

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