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Designing more advanced documents and dashboards

Calculating metrics and totals
Creating a metric based on other metrics on the report: Derived metrics
Drilling on documents

Creating drill links
   - Drill link syntax
   - Drill link examples
   - Steps to create a drill link
Creating hyperlinks
   - Including dataset values in hyperlinks
View filters
   - Creating a view filter in a Grid/Graph on a document
   - Editing a view filter in a Grid/Graph on a document
   - Deleting a view filter from a Grid/Graph on a document
Prompts
Using documents for Narrowcast Server
Working with multiple datasets
   - Changing the primary dataset
   - Using a subset report as a dataset
Creating dashboard documents

   - Dashboards and scorecards
   - Best practices: Designing dashboard documents
   - Maximizing your view of a dashboard: Full Screen mode
   - Setting documents to open in Full Screen mode
   - Executing all documents in Full Screen mode
   - Zooming in or out of a document
   - Hiding and displaying document sections
   - Layering data: Using panel stacks and panels in a dashboard
   - Providing interactivity to users: Using selectors in a dashboard
   - Displaying the titles of Grid/Graphs and panel stacks
   - Quick Switch for Grid/Graphs in a document

Calculating metrics and totals
A metric is calculated differently depending on its location in the document. For example, a metric placed in a text field on a group header or footer section calculates a subtotal for that grouping level. The same metric in a text field on the Document Header or Footer provides a grand total for the document. The following list describes how metrics are calculated in various locations within a document:

Metric Location Metric Calculation
Text field in Detail section At the level returned by the dataset report
Text field in a group header/footer      Totaled at the level of the group
Text field in the Document Header/Footer or Page Header/Footer Totaled across entire dataset
Grid/Graph control in a group header/footer At the level defined by the objects on the Grid/Graph, plus the level of the grouping section
Grid/Graph control in the Document Header/Footer or Page Header/Footer At the level defined by the objects on the Grid/Graph

Notes:

  • For a text field in a header or footer, the calculation of the total is determined by the definition of the metric. If a total does not aggregate the way that you want it or if it does not aggregate at all, refer to the Report Services Document Creation Guide. 
  • If a Grid/Graph does not contain anything other than the metric, the metric returns the same value as if it were placed in a text field in that section. This rule applies regardless of the section in which the Grid/Graph is located. For more information on Grid/Graphs, please see Grids/Graphs in documents.
Example: A document is grouped by Region.
  • To calculate the subtotal of the Revenue metric at the Region level, place the Revenue metric in a text field in the Region Header or Footer.
  • To calculate the grand total of the Revenue metric,  insert the Revenue metric in a text field in the Document Header or Footer.
Creating a metric based on other metrics on the report: Derived metrics
A derived metric is obtained directly from metrics in a dataset used by the document, by combining two or more existing metrics for the purpose. Derived metrics permit the dynamic application of calculations to a document without requiring new metric definitions.

For example, if your dataset contains the dollar sales for a particular region, and you want to view the same data in millions, you could create a derived metric with a definition of Dollar Sales/1,000,000.

A derived metric:
  • must be a compound metric. The reverse is not true—a compound metric does not have to be a derived metric.
  • must use metrics from the same dataset. If the new definition demands metric data not readily available, the information cannot be obtained dynamically, as the dataset must first be re-executed.
  • is calculated by the Analytical Engine based on metrics that are contained in Dataset Objects.
  • can have a specified dimensionality. For example, the derived metric sum(M1) {A1, A2} is calculated at the A1, A2 level as in the Metric Editor.
  • cannot use transformation objects.

When you create a derived metric, it is added to Dataset Objects but is not automatically placed on the document. You can add it to the document just as you would any other dataset object. However, if you select a Grid/Graph object before creating the derived metric, the metric is added to the Grid/Graph as well as placed in Dataset Objects for future use.

To create a derived metric:

  1. Open a document in Design Mode. To do so, from the View menu, select Design.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To create a metric in a Grid/Graph, select a Grid/Graph in the Layout area.
    • Otherwise, select the dataset in the Dataset Objects that contains the metrics to be used in the derived metric.
  3. Select Insert New Metric from the Data menu. The Rename/Edit Objects dialog box opens.
  4. Enter a name for the new metric.
  5. Use the arrow to move available metrics to the Definition panel, using operators, such as +, -, x, /, in between the metrics.

    Note: More than two existing metrics can be used in a derived metric's formula.
  6. Click OK. The new metric is added to the appropriate dataset in Dataset Objects. If you selected a Grid/Graph before creating the metric, it is also added to that Grid/Graph.

    Note: When naming a MicroStrategy object, you must follow the naming convention rules for your particular database platform. Using a word reserved by your database platform can result in an error. Refer to your database documentation for a list of these database-reserved words.
To delete a derived metric:
  1. In the Dataset Objects pane, right-click the metric to be deleted.
  2. Select Delete from Document.

Drilling on documents
In Report Services documents, you can drill on any report objects that appear as hyperlinks. For example, if the attribute Country appears on your report as a hyperlink, clicking the link can drill down to attributes like Region or Call Center. Similarly, if the year 2004 is displayed as a hyperlink on your report, clicking it can result in a drill down to quarterly or monthly data.

For detailed information about drilling in MicroStrategy Web, see Drilling. For information specific to drilling on HTML documents, see Documents.

Creating drill links
Drill links are selectable connections from text fields or images in one document to other documents, HTML documents, or reports. Drill links can pass parameters to answer prompts in the target. When you click the object (text or image) associated with a drill link in the document, you can see its target.

A drill link contains the event to be triggered (such as executing a document or exporting a report) and the ID of the document, report, or HTML document to be executed. You could define a drill link on an attribute element in a document. When clicked, a report is executed using the attribute element in the prompt. Additionally, the drill link can pass information to the target to answer prompts in the target. This information can be one or both of the following:

  • existing prompt answers from the source document
  • selected attributes from the source document

Drill link syntax
The drill link URL, which is entered in the Hyperlink field, must be in one of the following formats:

  • to execute a document
    http://MSTRWebURL?evt=2048001&documentID=objectID&promptinfo

  • to export a document to PDF
    http://MSTRWebURL?evt=3069&documentID=objectID&promptinfo

  • to execute a report
    http://MSTRWebURL?evt=4001&reportID=objectID&promptinfo

  • to execute a report by supplying a template and a filter
    http://MSTRWebURL?evt=4033&templateID=objectID&filterID=objectID&promptinfo

  • to execute an HTML document
    http://MSTRWebURL?evt=32001&documentID=objectID&promptinfo

  • to subscribe to the target or send it via e-mail
    http://MSTRWebURL?evt=event#&objectID=objectID&objectType=#&promptinfo

Note: MicroStrategy Narrowcast Server must be installed and configured on your system before the target can be sent via e-mail.

The italics represent variables that are replaced when creating the drill link. All the parts of the URL are described briefly below; for more detailed information, please refer to the Report Services Document Creation Guide that is part of the library for this product.

Examples of drill links are listed below:

MSTRWebURL
This piece of the drill link URL is the base URL, which represents the URL path to the main controller of the Web application. Depending on the environment in which MicroStrategy Web is deployed, replace this part of the URL syntax with one of the following:
  • for .NET: Webserver/MicroStrategy/asp/Main.aspx
  • for J2EE: Webserver/WebMstr7/servlet/mstrWeb

Replace Webserver with the name of your MicroStrategy Web Server.

Event#
The event parameter signifies the action, such as a document or report execution, to trigger.

Event# Event
3034 Subscribe to a report, document, or HTML document
3036 Send a report, document, or HTML document via e-mail on a schedule
3037 Send a report, document, or HTML document via e-mail now
3062 Export a report to PDF
3067 Export a report to PDF, according to specified PDF preferences
3069 Export a document
4001 Execute a report
4033 Export a report by supplying a template and a filter
32001 Execute an HTML document

ObjectID
To execute a document or HTML document, use the parameter documentID=objectID. Similarly, to execute a report, use reportID=objectID. To execute a template+filter report, supply both the template and filter IDs in the format templateID=objectID&filterID=objectID. The object ID is listed on the Properties dialog box. For instructions, see Steps to obtain an object's ID.

ObjectType
Subscriptions and e-mail require an additional parameter, the object type. The parameter is objectType=#. For a report, replace # with 3. For a document or HTML document, replace # with 55.

Promptinfo
The item promptinfo represents a number of different parameters that can be used to pass prompt information to the target. If you do not include prompt information, the target report or document is executed normally. If the target contains prompts, the end user must answer them as usual. However, you can pass information to be used as prompt answers into the target. Any prompts not answered by the passed answers are displayed for the user to answer manually.

Prompt answers can be in any of the following forms:

  • list of attribute elements, to pass attribute elements as answers to an element list prompt, in the following syntax:
    elementsPromptAnswers=Attribute;{& AttributeName@ElementID}
    where
    • Attribute is the attribute name or the auto text code{&AttributeName@GUID}.
    • AttributeName is the attribute name.
  • prompt XML, to pass a collection of specific prompt answers to the target, in the following syntax:
    promptsAnswerXML={&PROMPTXML}where
    ={&PROMPTXML} is an auto text code that generates the appropriate XML string at run time
  • message ID for the source document, to pass the prompt answers from the source document, in the following syntax:
    originMessageID={&DOCUMENTMESSAGEID}
    where
    {&DOCUMENTMESSAGEID} is an auto text code that supplies the correct message ID at run time.
Drill link examples
These examples present complete drill link URLs. The only missing items are the object IDs.

Note: The examples below use the base URL syntax for the .NET environment. For the J2EE syntax, please refer to
MSTRWebURL. In addition, replace localhost with the name of your Web server.
  • to execute a document using the message ID to pass the prompt answers from the source document to the target:
    http://localhost/MicroStrategy/asp/Main.aspx?evt=2048001&documentID=####&originMessageID={&DOCUMENTMESSAGEID

  • to execute a report using prompt XML to pass prompt answers:
    http://localhost/MicroStrategy/asp/Main.aspx?evt=4001&reportID=####&promptsAnswerXML={&PROMPTXML}

  • to execute a report using a list of attribute elements to pass a prompt answer:
    http://localhost/MicroStrategy/asp/Main.aspx?evt=4001&reportID=####&elementsPromptAnswers={&Region@GUID}; (&Region@ElementID}

    Note: In this example, it is assumed that Region is the name of an attribute.

  • to execute a prompted report using the current prompt answers from the document to answer prompts in the destination report:
    http://localhost/MicroStrategy/asp/Main.aspx?
    evt=4001&reportID=####&originMessageID={&DocumentMessageID}


  • to execute a prompted report using all of the current prompt answers from the document except for a specific attribute (the attribute {Quarter} in this example):
    http://localhost/MicroStrategy/asp/Main.aspx?evt=4001&reportID=####&elementsPromptAnswers={&Quarter@GUID};{&Quarter@ElementID}&originMessageID={&DocumentMessageID}

    Note:
     In this example, the prompt answer for {Quarter} is retrieved from the actual field you select.

  • to execute an HTML document without passing any prompt information:
    http://localhost/MicroStrategy/asp/Main.aspx?evt=32001&documentID

Steps to create a drill link

To create a drill link:

  1. Open the document and view it in Design Mode or Editable Mode. To view the document in one of these modes, select the mode from the View menu.
  2. Add the control to use as a drill link and enter the text to display for the link:
  3. Select the control that you just added.
  4. Select Properties from the Format menu or right-click the control and select Properties.
  5. On the General tab, select the Is Hyperlink check box under Navigation.
  6. Enter the drill link URL for Hyperlink in the format as described in Drill link syntax, replacing the variables shown in italicized text with the correct information. Refer to Drill link examples for sample URLs. For text fields, the control is underlined automatically.
Creating hyperlinks
Hyperlinks are selectable connections from text fields or images to other destinations, such as home pages or other Web pages. When the document is in Document View or viewed as a PDF, a user can click the hyperlink to display the link's destination.

For example, you can define a hyperlink on a logo in the Document Header. When clicked, the logo displays your home page.

To create a hyperlink:
  1. Open the document and view it in Design Mode or Editable Mode. To view the document in one of these modes, select the mode from the View menu.
  2. Add the control to use as a drill link and enter the text to display for the link:
  3. Select the control you just added.
  4. Select Properties from the Format menu or right-click the control and select Properties.
  5. On the General tab, select the Is Hyperlink check box under Navigation.
  6. Enter the Hyperlink URL in the space provided.

    Note: http:// is automatically filled in, although you can delete it if necessary.
Including dataset values in hyperlinks
If the hyperlink is a text field, you can insert additional text fields within it that are interpreted when the document is run. This allows you to create URLs that change according to the data in the document.

For example, if your Intranet web site contains pages for each region, you could insert a text field with the dynamic region name as part of the hyperlink. A user viewing the PDF could then click the region name on the document and view the associated Intranet page.

To create a dynamic URL:
  1. Open the document and view it in Design or Editable Mode. To view the document in one of these modes, select the mode from the View menu.
  2. Click the Text icon on the toolbar or select text from the Insert menu.
  3. Drag and drop the cursor to create a text field.
  4. Select Properties from the Format menu or right-click the text field control and select Properties.
  5. On the General tab, select the Is hyperlink check box.
  6. Enter the HTML code in the Hyperlink field. 

View filters
View filters can help reduce the number of datasets used to build a document that contains multiple Grids/Graphs, when all of the Grids/Graphs could share a single dataset with the use of multiple filters. For example, a document used as a dashboard contains revenue and profit information for different regions. Without view filters, you can create a report with revenue and profit metrics, then create copies of it, applying a different regional filter to each copy. If you have 10 regions, then 10 reports must be created and maintained. Each report must be added to the document as a dataset.

In contrast, view filters allow you to create one report and add it once to the document as a dataset report. Next, add multiple Grids/Graphs using the same dataset.  Apply a different view filter, for each region, to the various Grids/Graphs. Now all the Grids/Graphs share a single dataset. This reduces maintenance and execution time, since only one dataset report has to be created and maintained, and only one dataset report has to be executed when the document is viewed. You can use the View Filter dialog box to create, edit, and delete the view filters assigned to the Grids/Graphs in your document. A view filter restricts the amount of data displayed on a Grid/Graph, by allowing you to manipulate, redefine, and combine attributes to create new qualifications. View filters can help reduce the number of datasets used to build a document with multiple Grids/Graphs, when all of the Grids/Graphs could share a single dataset with the use of multiple filters.

Note: These view filters are local to the document. This means that a view filter does not affect the report results, only the Grid/Graph displayed on the document. A view filter created on a report in the Report Editor is ignored in the document, so that all the data from the report is used in the document.

Creating a view filter in a Grid/Graph
The following steps describe how to create a view filter in a Grid/Graph on a document.

Note: You must own a MicroStrategy OLAP Services license to create view filters.

To create a view filter in a Grid/Graph:

  1. Open a document in either Design or Document View.
  2. Right-click a Grid/Graph and select Edit View Filter. The View Filter dialog box opens.
  3. Click Add Condition to start a new qualification to create a new view filter.
  4. From the Filter On drop-down menu, select the attribute on which to qualify.
  5. Do one of the following to select the qualifications used in the view filter: 
    • Click the Qualify option and, from the first drop-down menu, select whether the attribute is qualified by its ID or description (DESC) column. From the next drop-down menu, select the appropriate qualification criteria (Greater than, Equals, Ends with, and so on) upon which the attribute is to be qualified. From the drop-down menu on the far right, insert a numeric value. However, if you want to qualify based on attribute ID or DESC columns, click Attributes to open a drop-down menu that contains the ID and DESC columns for each attribute in your Grid/Graph and make a selection. Click Enter Value to return to the text field into which you can add a numeric value.
    • Click the Select option and, from the first drop-down list, select In List or Not In List to determine if the Selected list of elements are to be included or excluded from the view filter. Select (to select multiple elements, press CTRL and click) elements from the Available list and click the right arrow to add them to the Selected list. To return elements from the Selected list back to the Available list, select the element and click the left arrow.
  6. Click the Apply check mark to apply the view filter to the Grid/Graph and return to the View Filter dialog box.
    OR
    Click the Cancel check mark to discard your current view filter conditions and return to a blank Edit View Filter dialog box. Return to Step 3 above.
  7. To add another qualification to the selected Grid/Graph, return to step 3 above.
  8. Click Apply to apply the view filter(s) to the selected Grid/Graph without closing the dialog box. The newly created view filter is applied to the Grid/Graph when you view the document in Document View.
    OR
    Click OK to apply the view filter(s) to the selected Grid/Graph and close the dialog box. The newly created view filter is applied to the Grid/Graph when you view the document in Document view.
  9. To add a view filter to another Grid/Graph, return to step 2 above.

Editing a view filter in a Grid/Graph on a document
The following steps describe how you can edit a view filter in a Grid/Graph.

Prerequisites

You must own the MicroStrategy OLAP Services product to edit view filters. For more information, contact your administrator.

To edit a view filter in a Grid/Graph:

  1. Open a document in either Design or Document View.
  2. Right-click a Grid/Graph and select Edit View Filter. The View Filter dialog box opens with each view filter displayed.
  3. Click the highlighted text of the view filter to edit.
  4. Make changes to the view filter conditions as necessary.
  5. Click the Apply check mark to apply the view filter to the Grid/Graph and return to the View Filter dialog box.
  6. Click Apply to apply the changes to the selected Grid/Graph without closing the dialog box. The newly created view filter is applied to the Grid/Graph when you view the document in Document View.
    - OR -
    Click OK to apply the view filter(s) to the selected Grid/Graph and close the dialog box. The newly created view filter is applied to the Grid/Graph when you view the document in Document view.

Deleting a view filter from a Grid/Graph on a document
The following steps describe how you can delete a view filter in a Grid/Graph.

Note: You must own a MicroStrategy OLAP Services license to delete view filters.To delete a view filter in a Grid/Graph:
  1. Open a document in either Design or Document View.
  2. Right-click a Grid/Graph and select Edit View Filter. The View Filter dialog box opens with each view filter displayed.
  3. Click the X next to the view filter to delete. To clear every view filter, click Clear All
  4. Click Apply to apply the changes to the selected Grid/Graph without closing the dialog box. The view filter will be deleted from the Grid/Graph when you view the document in Document view.
    - OR -
    Click OK to apply the changes to the selected Grid/Graph and close the dialog box. The view filter will be deleted from the Grid/Graph when you view the document in Document View.
Prompts
Prompts in documents limit the data that is displayed, thus acting as a filter. These value prompts affect how many rows of data are displayed, but they do not determine which objects are returned from the data warehouse. You cannot use a prompt directly on a document or put a prompt into a grid on a document. Only attributes, consolidations, custom groups, and metrics can be used as data fields from the dataset.

Note: Object prompts on the template, which allow you to select the objects to include in a dataset report, are not supported.

A document does not itself contain prompts, but a document can include datasets that have prompts. You are prompted the first time you open a document with such prompts. No matter whether you want to save your current prompt answers as part of the document definition (see below), the dataset reports that contain the actual prompts are not affected.

To save a document with prompts:
  1. Select Save As from the File menu.
  2. Select one of the following options:
    • Display prompt and use the current prompt answers as the default answers to save the last prompt answers in the document definition. By default, this setting is selected.
    • Display prompt but discard the current prompt answers to clear the last prompt answers from the document definition. The prompts are displayed when the document is executed again.
    • Do not display and use the current prompt answers as the default answers to ensure that prompts are not redisplayed when the document is executed again.
  3. Click OK to save the document.

Using documents for Narrowcast Server
MicroStrategy Narrowcast Server services can include documents linked from Narrowcast Administrator, the Service Wizard, or the Publication Wizard. While you cannot modify documents in Narrowcast Server, you can add them to services for standard report delivery as any other report objects.

Note: Narrowcast Server supports documents in PDF format only.

For more information, see the MicroStrategy Narrowcast Server documentation.

Working with multiple datasets
When documents contain multiple datasets, the Intelligence Server joins the data in the datasets using a compound join.

  • If the datasets have any of the same attributes, the common attribute elements are matched.
  • Then beginning with the first row of each dataset and continuing to the last, a row is created in what is called a virtual dataset, that is the complete set of joined rows held in memory, consisting of all attributes, consolidations, custom groups, and metrics.

Metrics come from their respective datasets and exist only at the level of that dataset. The compound join saves memory space and processing time on the Intelligence Server executing the document.

When there are multiple datasets in a document, the primary dataset is the one bolded in Dataset Objects. A document can be grouped and sorted using fields from the primary dataset only.

Changing the primary dataset
When you change the primary dataset of a document, all the grouping fields that are associated with the old primary dataset but do not exist in the new one are removed. These items are also removed from the corresponding headers and footers. The document can be grouped and sorted using fields from the primary dataset only.

To change the primary dataset:

  1. Open a document in either Design or Document View.
  2. In Dataset Objects, right-click the dataset that you want to be the primary dataset and select Set as Primary Dataset.

Using a subset report as a dataset
Two kinds of reports can be used in documents:

  • Base report: the original report before you make any kind of modifications to it.
  • Subset report: a modified version of a base report. Modifications include using a view filter, creating a derived metric, and moving objects from the grid of a report to Report Objects.

Among the modifications in subset reports:

  • The view filter on the report is ignored when the report is used in the document.
  • Derived metrics in the report are not displayed in Dataset Objects and cannot be used in the document.
  • All objects in the base report, including objects on the grid or moved from the grid to Report Objects are displayed in Dataset Objects, available for use in the document.

To use a subset report as a dataset for a Grid/Graph:

  1. Open a document in Design Mode.
  2. Hold down the SHIFT key while dragging and dropping the dataset's name from Dataset Objects to the desired section. All the objects from the subset report, excluding the view filter and derived metrics, are placed on the grid.

    Notes:
    • This action also copies the formatting of the subset report.
    • This action does not create a link to the subset report. This means that any changes you make to the subset report is not propagated to the grid in the document.
    • If you drag and drop the dataset's name from Dataset Objects to the desired section without holding down the SHIFT key, all the objects in the base report is not placed in the grid.

Creating dashboard documents
A dashboard is a display of related sets of data on one screen. A dashboard is commonly used to assess company or personal performance, to take a quick status check of the company, or to monitor personal work or work group contributions to overall goals of the business. Dashboards summarize key business indicators by presenting them in visually intuitive, easy-to-read, interactive documents. The designer can create more flexible data presentations with dashboards than with documents, since more users can be served with a single dashboard. Each user can choose to see only the subset of data they are interested in, or can choose to see only specific attribute elements or metrics.

A typical dashboard contains the following characteristics:

  • Only one page, so that it is easy to view the entire document at once and see all the information.
  • Used online rather than printed out, to enable interactive functionality.
  • Allows users to change how they see the data. For example, a user can select exactly which data to see by selecting metrics or attribute elements to be displayed in a Grid/Graph.

There is no single feature that you use to design a dashboard; you can choose selectors, widgets, panels, and other controls, to create a personalized, custom dashboard that suits your users' specific needs. Various formatting options such as gradient colors and 3D effects also help you create dashboards with a style appropriate for the boardroom.

Some dashboards are simply documents with just one main section, that takes up the whole screen. An easy way to begin creating a dashboard document is to use the Blank Dashboard template available in the Create Document page. In the document, only one section, the Detail Header, is displayed. You can display other sections, if you wish, once you create a document using this template. If you created a document without using the Blank Dashboard template, all sections are displayed by default. But you can hide and display sections to help you create a dashboard document. For information, see Hiding and displaying sections.

Other MicroStrategy features that help you create dashboards include:

  • Blank Dashboard template: This template displays only one section. It also shows title bars on Grid/Graphs by default. For more information on document templates, see Creating a document using a template.
  • Panels and panel stacks: Allow the user to see mutually exclusive predefined views of data in the same document. For example, you can stack two panels, each containing a different Grid/Graph. In Interactive or Editable Mode, a user can flip between the panels, quickly replacing one Grid/Graph with the other. For more information, see Adding panel stacks.
  • Selectors: Allow a user, in Interactive or Editable Mode, to flip through the panels in a panel stack or display different elements or metrics in a Grid/Graph. For more information about selectors, see Adding selectors.
  • Full Screen mode: Displays the document without menus and panels, and with a simplified toolbar, to maximize the amount of the document that can be shown at once. This feature gives maximum priority to the document, instead of the Web interface. You can switch Full Screen mode on and off; in Desktop, you can determine whether a document initially opens in Full Screen Mode. For more information, see Maximizing your view of a document: Full Screen mode.
  • Title bar: Identifies Grid/Graphs and panel stacks on the document, and allows users to minimize and maximize Grid/Graphs when the document is displayed in Editable or Interactive Mode. For more information about title bars, see Adding title bars to Grid/Graphs and Adding title bars to panel stacks.

The following image provides an example of a dashboard document and several of the features mentioned above.

Notice the following in the dashboard above:

  • A Button style selector is used at the top right of the dashboard. This selector allows a user to choose to view either a Corporate, Regional, or Detail Data view. Each of these separate sections of the dashboard is actually a separate panel within a panel stack in the document. For example, within one panel stack, there is a panel for Corporate, a panel for Regional, and another panel for Detail Data. In the image above, the Corporate panel is displayed, but the other two are hidden. This is the main use of panels and panel stacks, as explained in Layering data in dashboards: Adding panel stacks and panels.
  • A Radio Button style selector is used at the top left of the dashboard. This selector allows a user to choose either Overall Performance or KPI List data.
  • A Slider style selector is used in the graph at the top right of the dashboard. The Slider selector allows a user to browse data along the X axes, from left to right.
  • A Button style selector is used at the bottom right of the dashboard. A user can press a button to view that specific data on the grid report.

Best practices - Placing objects in a dashboard

The following image of a dashboard provides information about where and how to place and use graphics, data, and other objects in a dashboard.

Dashboards and scorecards
You can create a variety of documents, including dashboards and scorecards.

A dashboard is a visually intuitive display of data for monitoring personal work or work group contributions to overall goals of the business. In general, dashboards do the following:

  • Allow for rapid visual assessment of performance via gauges
  • Incorporate other strong data visualization
  • Make information available at-a-glance and easy to understand quickly
  • Tells you what your company is currently doing

A scorecard is a visual display of information that spotlights key areas to improve corporate performance. In general, scorecards do the following:

  • Often adhere to a major management methodology, such as a Balanced Scorecard, Activity-Based Management, or Six Sigma.
  • Tracks key performance indicators (KPIs) to show actuals against targets or benchmarks and graphically indicate significant changes or scores.
  • Tells you what progress your company is making towards achieving a goal.

You can blend elements of the dashboard and scorecard presentation styles to produce a visually-appealing, easy-to-understand, and useful document. For information about creating Report Services documents, refer to the Document basics and Adding and working with objects in a document topics within this online help. For additional examples, refer to the MicroStrategy Report Services Document Creation Guide. For tips on creating effective Report Services documents, see Best practices for designing effective documents.

Best practices: Designing dashboard documents
The goal of most dashboards is to magnify specific points of data, making them easy for users to identify. To achieve this goal effectively, you must make certain decisions before you begin creating your dashboard.

For best practices when designing a standard document, see Best practices: Designing effective documents.

These best practices are grouped into the following sections:

Choosing datasets for a dashboard

You can use existing reports and documents as datasets in a new dashboard. This can save you time and help avoid unnecessary duplication in your MicroStrategy metadata. You can also create new datasets for your dashboard.

  • A dataset should have enough data to be useful as a rich source of analysis for many users, but it should not have extra data that is not needed on the dashboard. For example, do not include product item information when you only want to display product category information.
  • As you gather or create datasets, focus on important indicators such as performance stakes, trends, and variances.
  • Users typically browse a large number of reports somewhat randomly, looking for interesting trends. You can gather related reports to use on your dashboard, so that all the data is available together in a single context. Users can then locate the data more easily and analyze it more efficiently.
  • When choosing reports to incorporate into a single layer on a dashboard (a dashboard page or panel), consider the ratio of graph to grid reports to display. Common graph:grid ratios range from 4:1 to 1:3. The average graph:grid ratio from a general sample of dashboards was approximately 2:1.
    Consider using a dashboard to replace 8-12 existing reports in your MicroStrategy project. You will generally use 3-5 reports on each layer of the dashboard; dashboards generally have from 1 to 3 layers (see Layering information in a dashboard).
  • Consider using a dashboard to replace three to four existing documents in your MicroStrategy project. If you have three documents that contain data from a related subject area, you can use each document as a single layer (or panel) of your dashboard. Having all this related information in one dashboard can provide a more productive analysis experience for your users.

    For example, you have three documents for your human resources department. Each document is related to salaries and other benefits, headcounts, or hiring. Create a dashboard with a panel stack sized to cover the entire screen. Add two more panels so you have three panels in the panel stack. Then re-create the first document on the first panel of the dashboard, the second document on the second panel, and so on. Add a selector of three tabs (buttons) at the top of the panel stack. Users can tab between the layers of human resources data, depending on whether they are interested in headcounts, hiring, or salaries. For examples, see the MicroStrategy Report Services Document Creation Guide.

Layering information in a dashboard

  • Plan to have from 1-3 layers for your dashboard. You can visualize these layers as pages of your dashboard; analysts will see one page at a time. Multiple layers allow you to design a dashboard that contains much more information overall, but presents only a reasonable subset of that information in the layer currently being displayed.
  • Create layers by adding a panel stack to your dashboard. Size the panel stack so it is large enough to cover the entire screen. Then place enough panels on the panel stack to equal the number of layers needed in your dashboard. Each panel becomes one layer of your dashboard. Finally, create a set of tabs above the panel stack by adding a button or link bar selector, with one tab (button) for each layer (panel).
  • Consider grouping data by layers according to subject areas or business dimensions, with one subject area or business dimension per layer. For example, one layer might show income at the corporate level, while a second layer might also show income but at a departmental level or a regional level. The final layer might show detailed income data. This lets you serve diverse user communities without overwhelming users, as they can each flip to and work with the dashboard layer that specifically interests them.
  • Consider grouping data by layers according to regions of the country or regions of the world, so that, for example, sales metrics can be displayed within a given regional context.

Planning the dashboard’s outline and structure

  • Use Microsoft Excel, Paint, PowerPoint, or another tool to create a mockup of the dashboard. The mockup should convey a clear vision of the information, structure, layout, and formatting. Send the mockup to your user community to gather feedback on its usefulness. This can save time creating and formatting a complex, finished dashboard that may need to be redone.
  • The Quick switch feature lets users toggle between grid display and graph display without requesting data from the server. The Quick switch feature can therefore help improve response time for users.
  • To minimize the amount of data passed between the web server and the web browser:
    • Use the grouping feature. This is useful because documents do not use incremental fetch to return data from the server. See Grouping records in a document.
    • Use selectors for attributes and metrics if a document will be viewed in Editable Mode and Interactive Mode. This is not necessary if users will be viewing dashboards in Flash Mode, because all dashboard data is downloaded to the web browser when the dashboard is executed.
  • Group related reports so they can be placed in a small panel stack, each panel displaying a single report. As users flip through the panels, they will be flipping through the related reports. The reports in a panel stack should not be reports that a user might want to see side-by-side in a dashboard; rather, the reports should show different levels of detail about the same or closely related data.
  • Plan to provide visualizations. These can include any of the available widgets, such as a Gauge, Thermometer, Heat Maps, and so on, which can help users understand data at a glance.

Note: Do not add so many graphical objects that the focus of the dashboard is no longer the data. Too many visualizations can detract from the importance of the data.

  • Plan to provide interactivity. This can include any of the available selectors, such as tabs, buttons, and sliders, which let users change a report’s metrics, attribute elements, and filters, or interactive widgets. Interactive features let users customize the display of data without needing a developer or designer to perform any work.
  • Consider common user workflows when designing a dashboard. Think about how analysts are going to move through the dashboard, what links they will want to click, and so on. Try to embed this workflow directly into the dashboard. Do this by placing objects so that data can be interpreted from the top left to the bottom right.
  • Granularity should increase from top to bottom on a dashboard. For example, place objects that display key performance indicators at the top of the dashboard. These objects might include large graphs such as a funnel graph (also called a pipeline), a pie graph, widgets such as a gauge, and so on.
  • Decide which objects on the dashboard should share the same formatting styles, and which objects should be physically aligned with each other. These decisions are important time-savers if you make them before you spend a lot of time actually formatting objects and fine-tuning object placement.
  • Use effects for trends, summaries, and other high-level data. If users want to analyze details in a report, too many effects can make it difficult to understand more detailed data.

For example, if you apply the curved effect to the line in a line graph, the exact points where the line hits the graph are adjusted so that the line can be curved smoothly. This looks nice, but users who rely on seeing every detail will have difficulty. If you want to apply the curved effect, you can also provide a grid report alongside showing exact values. An alternative is adding tooltips which display actual values for points on the graph when you move the mouse over the graph.

Placing the data and visualizations onto a dashboard

  • Place reports into appropriate areas on the dashboard, and then resize them as needed to achieve your planned appearance. Placement should take into account the user workflow and granularity discussions above.
  • Keep the number of objects on the screen to a minimum, to achieve a clean look. Use graphical objects sparingly. Make use of abbreviated text in text fields as appropriate, to make the best use of space. You can add a tooltip (a mouseover) to explain any abbreviations that may not be clear to all users.
  • For any graph or widget, provide a tooltip (a mouseover) so that users who are interested in specific details can see the actual values behind the general trends displayed by graphic visualizations. This is an excellent way to support two sets of users who need widely differing levels of information on the same subjects.
  • Provide a quick switch capability for all graph reports, so users can switch with a single click between the graphical display of data and its corresponding grid report showing individual cells with specific values.
  • Provide a title bar on reports (Grid/Graphs) on the dashboard so users can maximize and minimize the individual reports. This ability to minimize and maximize reports provides users with a portal-like environment, with each report behaving like a portlet window. This allows users to control how space is used on their screens, and to focus on the data they are interested in.
  • If you have a panel stack on the dashboard, add a selector so users can flip between the panels on the panel stack.
  • Sliders are best used on graphs that specify a date range. Sliders can not only change the time frame of the data displayed in a report or set of reports; they can also change the span of time being analyzed.
  • If you have related reports on a dashboard layer, add a selector to one of the reports and connect it to the related report. When users choose to see a certain aspect of the first report, the second report automatically changes to display the related data. When the user clicks on one grid or graph, his selection serves as a filter for the related grid or graph. For example, in a pie graph showing revenue for all products, a user clicks a slice of the pie graph representing electronics revenue. The connected report below the pie graph, displaying detailed sales numbers, automatically updates its data to reflect the user’s selection, displaying sales numbers for various electronic products.
  • Add selectors to different parts of the dashboard so users can customize the data they see at many levels. For example, add a selector at the top of the dashboard itself, so users can switch between layers of the dashboard. Then add a selector at the top of an individual layer, so users can change metrics, for example, to change the focus of that layer of the dashboard. Finally, add a selector to each of the reports on that layer, so users can focus the details of their analysis on a specific area.

Positioning and formatting the dashboard objects

  • Use the color palette to match your corporate standards, or create any other color desired. Consider the following best practices:
    • Colors are especially effective when used as a background that visually groups a set of reports or other related objects.
    • Contrasting colors support quick comparisons between two measurements, such as actual vs. forecasted values.
  • To make visual analysis easy, use drop shadows, rounded edges, geometric lines and shapes, color gradients, transparency, and borders to visually link related sets of data. For example, group related sections of information under the same title bar and use the same background color to tie them together visually.
  • Include text fields as needed. For example, a concise text field explaining a set of buttons can make the difference between users who are confused by a busy layout, and users who know exactly what to select so that the data displayed provides the information they need.
  • Edit titles as necessary to make sense of your final display.
  • Improve readability for grid reports by adding special formatting, such as background colors or a drop shadow, to alternating or important rows so those rows stand out.
  • Add thresholds to any important grid report data. A threshold is special formatting that is applied automatically when a value in a cell reaches a certain number. For example, if any of your regions returns sales numbers that fall below a specified low mark, the appropriate cell of the grid is automatically formatted, perhaps with a red background and bold numbers, to alert you to the condition. For details on applying thresholds to grid and graph reports, see the MicroStrategy Basic Reporting Guide.
  • If there are other reports or documents that cover analysis areas related to data on your dashboard, consider adding one to three link bars, which are links from the dashboard directly to the separate report or document. You may find it helpful to ask your users what common investigative paths they might follow after using the dashboard. Links can help make that transition easy.
  • If a grid report takes up too much room, make it smaller and add a scrollbar. The data will remain accessible but the report itself will use less space on the total dashboard area.
  • Display your finished dashboard in the same format your users will be viewing it in—for example, HTML, PDF, Excel, or printed—and ensure that the display is effective for your planned output.

Enhancing dashboard performance

  • Use as few datasets as possible when designing the dashboard. For example, one dataset report with 1000 rows displays faster than ten smaller dataset reports. However, be aware that combining dataset reports can create a Cartesian join, which inflates the size of the combined dataset and results in slower performance.
  • Having all the data in the rows negatively impacts the rendering time for Editable Mode and Interactive Mode.
  • A selector with many items (for example, the buttons or check boxes) increases the time it takes for the dashboard to execute. For example, if you increase the number of items by a factor of ten, server execution times can increase up to 50%. In essence, a larger number of items translates into a larger dataset.
  • Flash Mode provides better performance when selectors have many targets (that is, the Grid/Graphs and/or panel stacks affected by the selectors).
  • A selector that controls attributes displayed on a Grid/Graph performs faster than a selector that controls attributes that are not displayed on a Grid/Graph.
  • Nesting panel stacks (that is, placing a panel stack on a panel) increases client rendering time. To reduce that time, include data in both panel stacks, not just the nested panel stack.
  • In Flash Mode, after the dashboard is initially loaded, manipulations such as choosing a selector item are executed on the client machine. In contrast, such manipulations in Interactive Mode send additional requests from Web Server to Intelligence Server. Since Flash Mode uses minimal server resources after the initial load is complete, system overhead is reduced for multiple users concurrently manipulating their dashboards. Therefore, Flash Mode has faster response times for manipulations, regardless of the number of users accessing the dashboard. However, these same users must accept longer document execution times due to the initial loading of Flash.
  • Graphs perform better in Flash Mode than in Editable Mode and Interactive Mode.

Maximizing your view of a dashboard: Full Screen mode
MicroStrategy Web users can view a dashboard or other document without seeing all of the navigation elements located on the normal MicroStrategy Web interface: panels, menus, and most toolbars.

Hiding the navigation elements:

  • Focuses attention on the data itself
  • Maximizes the amount of the document that can be shown at once, allowing easier analysis of the data

This view in MicroStrategy Web is called Full Screen mode, and it is particularly helpful when analyzing a dashboard document that contains multiple Grid/Graphs, sections, and images.

MicroStrategy Web’s Standard toolbar (displaying icons) and Grouping panel (displaying dashboard pages) still appear in Full Screen mode, so the user can still interact with the document as usual.

  • The Standard toolbar allows you to quickly switch viewing modes, save, print, export, and deliver the document, among other tasks.
  • The Grouping panel allows you to display the different groups of data in the document.

To enable Full Screen mode in a document:

  1. Open the document.
  2. From the View menu, select Full Screen Mode.
    OR
    From the Standard toolbar, select the Full Screen Mode icon .
    OR
    Press F12.

All of the menus and toolbars are removed from the screen, except the Standard toolbar.

Note: To maximize your view of the document even more, enable full screen mode in your browser as well as the Full Screen mode in Web. For example, you can press F11 to enable Full Screen mode in Internet Explorer, and press F12 to enable Full Screen mode in Web.

To switch from Full Screen mode back to the normal screen mode in a document:

  1. In a document currently displayed in Full Screen mode, select the Restore Normal Screen Mode icon from the Standard toolbar.
    OR
    Press F12.
  2. The menus, toolbars, and panels are displayed again.

You can also zoom in and out of a document, as described in Zooming in and out of a document.

Setting documents to open in Full Screen mode
You can ensure that when a document is executed, it opens in Full Screen mode by default. You can also ensure that all documents in your project open in full screen mode when they are executed.

To ensure that a document opens in Full Screen mode:

  1. Open the document in Editable or Design Mode.
  2. From the Format menu, select Document Properties. The Document Properties dialog box opens.
  3. Select the Other tab.
  4. In the General area, select the Always open this document in full screen mode check box.
  5. Click OK to apply the changes and close the dialog box/panel. The next time the document is executed, it will automatically open in Full Screen mode.

Executing all documents in Full Screen mode
You can set your user preferences to control whether all documents execute in Full Screen mode by default. There are three possible options:

  • To ensure that documents are executed in Full Screen mode only if the document's Full Screen mode setting is enabled, use the Read from document setting. Within documents, this setting is the Always open this document in full screen mode check box in the Document Properties dialog box/panel.
  • To ensure that all documents in the current project are executed in Full Screen mode by default, use the Open every document in full screen mode setting.
  • To ensure that no documents in the current project are executed in Full Screen mode, use the Don't open any document in full screen mode setting.
    Note: If you select this setting and open a document with the document-level setting Always open this document in full screen mode enabled, the document will not open in Full Screen mode.
    The project-level setting Don't open any document in full screen mode overrides the document-level setting Always open this document in full screen mode.

To determine whether all documents in a project are executed in Full Screen mode:

  1. Click the Preferences link at the top right of the screen. The User Preferences page is displayed.
  2. From the left, select General.
  3. In the Output Formats area at the bottom, select the appropriate option in the Full Screen Mode Behaviour for Documents drop-down list.
  4. Click the Apply button at the bottom to confirm the changes.

Zooming in or out on a document
You can zoom in or out of a document by using the Zoom drop-down list next to the Full Screen mode icon on the Standard toolbar. This zoom tool works like the zoom tool available in browsers, as described below. It can be useful to zoom in on a document while viewing the document in Full Screen mode.

To zoom in or out on a document:

  1. Open the document.
  2. From the Standard toolbar, click the arrow on the Zoom drop-down list. A list of zoom percentages is displayed.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • Select a numeric zoom percentage to zoom in or out on your document. Smaller numbers such as 25% present a smaller view of your document.
    • Select Fit Width to stretch the document out to the left-most and right-most edges of your browser window. The document is stretched out if it is currently smaller than the width of the browser. If the document width is currently larger than the width of the browser, the document shrinks to fit the browser's width.
    • Select Fit Page to view the document within the working space available in Web.

Hiding and displaying document sections
By default, all document sections are displayed in all display modes.

  • While you are editing a document in Design Mode, you can collapse a section by clicking the minus sign next to it. This conserves space while you are editing the document but does not change whether it is displayed in other views.
  • You can hide sections in all views, using the Sections tab of the Page Setup dialog box. Only the sections selected in this interface are displayed in the document. This can be helpful when you are creating a document template which should not display particular sections.
  • You can also use this feature to work in a single large section, as in a dashboard, for example, using all the available space in the Document Editor. To do this, display only that one section. You can also use the Blank Dashboard template to create a document. This template displays only the Detail Header section.

Note: You cannot hide all the sections in a document; at least one section must be displayed.

For steps to hide and display sections, see Hiding and displaying sections.

Layering data: Using panel stacks and panels in a dashboard
You can display different controls (that is, objects that can be placed on a document, such as Grid/Graphs, text fields, shapes, and so on) in a dashboard or document so that users can navigate them as if they were pages or subsets of the larger document. These "pages" or layers of data are called panels; and a group of panels is referred to as a panel stack. Panel stacks allows a designer to create several different views (panels) of data, each view (panel) containing a logical grouping of controls that display data that is related in a meaningful way.

In other words, panels allow the user to see mutually exclusive, predefined subsets of data in the same document. Panels are essential building blocks for interactive dashboards.

For more details about panel stacks and information on how to add them to your document, see Adding panel stacks.

Providing interactivity to users: Using selectors in a dashboard
Selectors provide dashboards with interactivity, allowing each user to change how he sees the data. A selector can change panels, the focus of a Grid/Graph, or dynamic text fields (a text field that is a reference to an object on a report) in a panel stack, as described below .Selectors allow a user, in Interactive Mode, to:

  • Flip through the panels in a panel stack. A panel stack is a collection of panels, which allow the user to see different predefined views of data in the same document. For example, each panel can display a different Grid/Graph, and the selector allows the user to view the different panels and Grid/Graphs.
  • Display different elements or metrics in a Grid/Graph. For example, a Grid/Graph contains Region, Employee, and various metrics. The selector allows the user to select which regions to display on the Grid/Graph. The user can therefore slice or filter the graph by the selected region or regions. Similarly, a selector might allow the user to select which metrics to display. All regions and employees are displayed, but only with the selected metrics.
  • Display different elements of attributes, custom groups, or consolidations in a dynamic text field. A dynamic text field is a text field populated by the dataset; it is essentially a reference to an object on a report.

Note: The same selector can control both a Grid/Graph and dynamic text fields on the same panel.

These uses of selectors allow you to create interactive dashboards, which summarize key business indicators in easy-to-read interfaces.

For more details about selectors and information on how to add them to your document, see Adding selectors.

Displaying the titles of Grid/Graphs and panel stacks
A title bar is simply an area across the top of a panel stack or Grid/Graph. You can choose whether to display the title bar for each panel stack and Grid/Graph. When it is displayed, the title bar contains a title and several buttons.

  • The title identifies the panel, panel stack, or Grid/Graph.
  • The buttons allow users to minimize and maximize Grid/Graphs in MicroStrategy Web.

For more details about adding title bars, see Adding title bars to Grid/Graphs and Adding title bars to panel stacks.

Quick Switch for Grid/Graphs in a document
In Editable, Interactive, View, or Flash mode, a user can quickly switch a Grid/Graph between Graph view and Grid view, with a click of a button. The Graph view and Grid view are both loaded when the document is initially viewed. This means that the document loads more slowly initially, but switching between the views is quicker since a request to the Web server does not occur. This Quick Switch option is ideal for dashboard documents, which are generally smaller and less data-intense.

The button to perform the switch is located at the top of the Grid/Graph. The button is only displayed when you select a Grid/Graph. If you are viewing a grid, click the button to view the graph version of the report. If you are viewing a graph, click the button to view the grid version of the report.

A document designer can determine whether users can quickly switch between the grid view and the graph view of a report in a document. For more information, see Enabling Quick Switch for Grid/Graphs in documents.

For more details about quickly switching between Grid view and Graph view, see Quick Switch for Grid/Graphs in a document.