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Using Report Studio

Efficiently
In this chapter, we will cover the following topics:
ff Using Report Studio's environmental options
ff Copying and pasting partial or full reports
ff Upgrading report specifications
ff Setting the execution timeout
ff Setting the maximum row limit
ff Handling slow report validation
ff Capturing a query
ff Browsing values from the data expression window
ff Viewing the page structure
ff Picking up and applying styles
ff Using the "grab them all" practice
ff Using Default Data Formats

Introduction
A common issue when learning any rich tool is that we tend to miss out on some options or
features that are not frequently used. We do routine development work without even knowing
that there are some features that can improve our experience as a developer (report writer) or
improve the deliverables.
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This chapter will show you different customizable options and utilities within IBM Cognos
Report Studio that can make a report builder's life easier. They will save you time and effort
and some will reduce the number of defects as well.
Though I have made some recommendations throughout these recipes depending on my
personal preference, I suggest that you try these options yourself and then decide. Please
refer to the IBM Cognos manual for detailed information about each option and utility.
Using Report Studio's environmental options
In this recipe, you will learn about some environmental options that you can set in Report
Studio to aid development.
Getting ready
Create a simple list report with Product line and Product as columns from the Products
query subject.
How to do it...
In this recipe, we will examine some features in Report Studio that can be very helpful while
creating your reports:
1. Select the Product column. Using the Ancestor button in the Properties pane, select
the List Column object as shown in the following screenshot:
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2. From the Properties pane, change the Box Type property to None:
3. You will notice that you cannot see the Product column on the report page anymore.
Now, assume that you want to change the Box Type property back to default. It is
difficult to do it as you cannot select the column now.
4. From the menu, select View | Visual Aids | Show Hidden Objects. You will notice
that the Product column becomes visible.
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You can now select this column and change its properties as required.
Similarly, you can experiment with other options in Visual Aids.
Now we will see a crosstab-related feature:
1. Create a new page in the report and drag a crosstab with Product and Product color
nested on rows, as shown in the following screenshot:
2. Now try to drag Product size beneath Product. You will see that it will create a new
node without nesting Product color in it:
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3. Now undo the last operation, and from the menu, select Structure | Create Crosstab
Nodes. Uncheck this option.
4. Try to drag Product size again beneath Product. You will notice that you can now
insert it without creating a new crosstab node. It can be a peer of Product with
Product color already nested in it, as shown in the following screenshot:
We will discuss its usage in the How it works… section.
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Now let us examine some options from the Options menu under Tools:
1. This dialog box has four tabs. The first tab is related to the look and feel of Report
Studio. One important setting here is Reuse IBM Cognos Viewer window, shown in
the following screenshot:
2. Toggle this option and run the report multiple times. You will notice that when this
option is turned off, Report Studio creates a new window for every execution of
the report.
3. Take your time to examine the options from other tabs as well. The Report tab has
some useful options, which are discussed in the How it works… section.
How it works...
Now let us talk in detail about the options we visited in this recipe.
View | Visual Aids
As the name suggests, these are some visual aids to help the report writer during the
development of a report.
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We experimented with the option that toggled the visibility of hidden objects. Once an object
is hidden, if it is not visible on the report page, the only way to manipulate it is to go to Page
Structure. We will talk about this in another recipe in this chapter. However, I personally
prefer Show Hidden Objects as it is very handy to select them from the report page and
manipulate them.
Show Repeating is particularly useful when you have multiple levels of nesting and different
group spans.
You should take your time to experiment with these options to decide on the ones you would
like to keep.
Structure | Create Crosstab Nodes
As we have already seen, when this option is on and a new item is added to a crosstab, it
is created as a crosstab node. When this option is off, the new item is added to the existing
node and retains the existing nesting.
It is advisable to turn this option off. This will allow you to create discontinuous crosstabs.
Also, you can manually add the same nesting as peer nodes anyway if you need to do so.
Tools | Options | View | Reuse IBM Cognos Viewer window
I prefer to turn this option off during development. By doing so, I can compare the report
output with that of the previous execution and see the effect of whatever changes I
performed. However, you might end up having loads of report viewer windows. So, you should
remember to close the ones that are not needed. Again, it is your personal choice to keep or
reject this option.
Tools | Options | Report
Let us examine some useful options from this tab:
Option Description
Alias member unique
names
This is useful when working with dimensional models. If turned on,
Report Studio creates a separate data item (alias) for any member
dragged into an expression.
I prefer to keep this option off, as it unnecessarily increases the
number of data items in a query subject.
Delete unreferenced
query objects
When on, Report Studio automatically deletes the query objects
linked to another object that is deleted. For example, if you delete a
list, the query subject linked to the list is deleted as well. I like this one
as it helps with housekeeping.
If you want to remove an object from one place but still keep it in
other places, you can "cut" it instead of "deleting" it.
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Option Description
Delete unreferenced
conditional styles
This automatically deletes conditional styles when the last data item
that refers to the conditional style is deleted.
Aggregation mode This is a very useful option when working with a dimensional data
source. It specifies the aggregation type to use when aggregating
values in crosstabs and charts.
ff Within detail aggregates the lowest level of visible details.
ff Within aggregate aggregates the visible aggregates at the
next lower level of detail.
ff Within set aggregates the member sets. It considers members
within the current content and is faster than Within detail.
Within set can not only affect the result of the aggregation, but also
the performance of report. This option has been taken off in Version
10.2.
Always Create
Extended Data Items
for new reports
I like to turn this option off. When turned off, any member dragged
from Source to Report is created as an expression-based data item
that can be modified by changing the expression.
If this option is turned on, the items are "Extended Data Items" with
extended properties but cannot be manually updated.
Limit on inserted
individual members
This option works with a dimension source when you choose to insert
children while dragging a member onto the data container. Instead
of inserting all children, this allows us to specify how many children
should be added, and the remaining children are grouped into
OTHER.
There's more...
You should refer to the Cognos documentation to learn more about these options and then
experiment with them to decide which are best for you.
Copying and pasting partial or full reports
Perhaps this is not something that is going to impress you. However, I was really impressed
when I saw this feature. We will see how to copy part of a report and a full report and paste it
into another instance.
We often need to copy part of a report or the full report from one Report Studio environment
or instance, to another. This might be for re-use purposes or for promoting it to the next stage.
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Getting ready
We will use the report created in the previous recipe for this one.
How to do it...
In this recipe we will see how to copy part of a report—in our case, a query and its list
table—from one report to another report. We will also see how to copy the whole report
to a new report. To do this, perform the following steps:
1. Open the report in Report Studio. We will call it the Source instance.
2. Now open another instance of Report Studio from the same connection portal for the
same package, GO Data Warehouse (query). We will call this instance Destination.
3. Now go to Query Explorer in both the instances.
4. Right click on Query1 from the Source instance and choose Copy:
5. In the Query Explorer pane of the Destination instance, right-click and choose Paste.
You will see that the query subject is successfully copied. You can open it and check
the data items. They carry all the properties properly.
6. Now go to Report Page in the Source instance. Select the list object. This time hit
Ctrl + C on the keyboard to copy it.
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7. Switch to the Destination instance. Go to Report Page. Select the page body and hit
Ctrl + V to paste the list object. Change the Query property of this list to Query1 as
shown in the following screenshot:
8. Run the report to test it. You will see that the list report is produced correctly.
9. Finally, we will see how to copy the whole report. For that, go back to the
Source instance.
10. From the menu, choose Tools | Copy Report to Clipboard.
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11. In the Destination instance, from the menu, choose Tools | Open Report
from Clipboard.
12. You will see that the whole report has been copied to the Destination instance.
Here, it is a new report that you can validate and save at an appropriate location.
How it works...
When a part of the report is selected and copied (right-clicking and then selecting Copy or Ctrl
+ C), its XML specification is copied on the clipboard. You can paste it in any XML or text editor
and examine it. In the Destination instance, you can paste this XML specification and Report
Studio properly parses it to create the objects.
When the copied object has some dependency, for example, a list that is dependent on the
query subject, then the dependency object should be copied first. That is why we first copied
the query subject and then the list.
This feature is useful as it allows for the quick re-use of objects and saves
time. Please note that this feature works only with IE up to Cognos 10.1.1.
I have tested it on Firefox but it doesn't seem to work.
The Copy Report to Clipboard and Open Report from Clipboard options are particularly
useful when copying reports across environments or servers. This comes in handy when
the packages are promoted