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Create reporting packages

with IBM Cognos Framework

This chapter provides an overview of IBM Cognos Framework Manager and
illustrates several general modelling concepts through practical exercises. This
chapter is not intended as a replacement for formal training on IBM Cognos
Business Intelligence (BI) metadata modelling. Because metadata modeling is
the foundation of business intelligence reporting on relational data sources, it is
critical that the proper training and experience be gained to ensure a successful
IBM Cognos BI project. The recommended training for IBM Cognos Framework
Manager is IBM Cognos Framework Manager: Design Metadata Model.
In this chapter, we discuss the following topics:
_ IBM Cognos Framework Manager overview
_ Build a model with IBM Cognos Framework Manager
_ Add business logic to the model
_ Create dimensional objects for OLAP-style reporting
_ Create and configure a package
_ Apply security in IBM Cognos Framework Manager
_ Model troubleshooting tips

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4.1 IBM Cognos Framework Manager overview
IBM Cognos Framework Manager is the metadata model development
environment for IBM Cognos BI. It is a Windows-based client tool that you can
use to create simplified business presentations of metadata that are derived from
one or more data sources. With IBM Cognos Framework Manager, you can
publish that metadata to IBM Cognos BI in the form of a package. You can also
use it to add dimensional information to relational data sources that allow for
OLAP-style queries. This type of model is known as a Dimensionally Modeled
Relational (DMR) model.
In this section, we discuss items that you need to consider before beginning
metadata modeling projects. This information familiarizes you with the IBM
Cognos Framework Manager user interface (UI) and terminology.
4.1.1 Reporting requirements and data access strategies
Before creating an IBM Cognos Framework Manager project, it is important for
the modeler to understand the reporting requirements. This knowledge allows
the modeler to make better decisions regarding data access strategies, metadata
model design, and report package delivery to IBM Cognos BI.
Reviewing sample or mock reports that meet the business needs is a good start,
followed by identifying which data sources contain the information that is
required. The modeler also needs to consider the following types of questions:
_ Are those data sources appropriate for reporting?
_ Is it a transactional system or the preferred reporting database structure,
known as a star schema data warehouse or data mart?
_ How fresh does the data need to be?
_ Will your reporting occur daily, weekly, or monthly?
The answers to these types of questions can affect dramatically the data access
strategy that you choose.
For example, if you require up-to-the-minute data in your reports, then going with
the transactional database might be the only option. This choice, however, can
increase the metadata modeling work drastically, because transactional systems
are typically quite complex. If the intervals of data freshness are greater, by the
hour day, week, or month for example, then using data warehouses or data marts
that are refreshed at the required interval is a better choice.
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IBM Cognos bases its algorithms around industry-standard star schema designs
that consist of fact tables and related dimension tables. For larger warehouses
that have slower response times due to the sheer volume of data, consider using
some form of materialization in which views are created with pre-aggregated
You can also use OLAP sources, which can bypass the requirement for metadata
modeling in IBM Cognos Framework Manager. This method can reduce
response times dramatically as well, because the data is already calculated and
aggregated. OLAP sources provide the added bonus of dimensional analysis
and reporting, which allow users to navigate through the data and to apply
powerful dimensional functions.
Also ask the following questions before creating an IBM Cognos Framework
Manager project:
_ What type of business logic needs to be implemented?
_ Are there specific calculations, filters, or security requirements?
These types of questions allow you to investigate what can be done at the data
source level rather than in the IBM Cognos Framework Manager model. As a
general rule, it is better to off-load to the extract, transform, and load (ETL)
process that populates a warehouse to avoid that processing time when running
reports. In addition, it is better to push more processing to the data source, such
as filters, sorting, grouping, and so on, because vendor databases are typically
optimized for those types of operations.
Give special attention to planning and scope before you embark on a business
intelligence project to avoid rework down the road.
4.1.2 Metadata model
Before we continue, we need to define a metadata model in the context of IBM
Cognos BI. A metadata model is a collection of metadata that is imported from a
database. It describes the tables, columns, and relationships in the database.
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This metadata is published as a package to the IBM Cognos BI portal, as shown
in Figure 4-1, and is used to generate appropriate SQL requests to the database
when reports or analysis are run.
Figure 4-1 Metadata model workflow
In most cases, the metadata is altered in IBM Cognos Framework Manager to
ensure predictable results when reporting and to meet reporting and
presentation requirements. The model can hide the structural complexity of
underlying data sources and provide more control over how data is presented to
IBM Cognos BI users. You can also choose which data to display to users and
how that data is organized. The overall goal of modeling the metadata is to
create a model that provides predictable results and an easy-to-use view of the
metadata for authors and analysts.
IBM Cognos BI Portal
IBM Cognos BI Metadata Model
Relational Files Cubes Other
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4.1.3 The IBM Cognos Framework Manager UI
Figure 4-2 shows the IBM Cognos Framework Manager UI.
Figure 4-2 IBM Cognos Framework Manager user interface
The user interface includes the following panes:
_ The Project Viewer pane, by default, is on the left side of the window and
provides an easy way to access all your project's objects in a tree format.
_ The Project Info pane is the center pane and provides access to the project’s
objects through various methods. The three tabs in this pane (Explorer,
Diagram, and Dimension Map) allow you to create, edit, configure, or delete
objects. You use each of these tabs throughout this chapter.
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_ The Properties pane, by default, is located in the bottom middle of the window
and allows you to configure various properties for any of the project's objects.
_ The Tools pane, by default, is located on the right side of the window and
provides several useful tools. You can use it to switch the project language
quickly, to view project statistics, and to perform common tasks for selected
objects. This pane also provides a search utility (second tab) and an object
dependencies utility (third tab). Simply drag an object (and its children if it has
any) to the top panel, select the object or one of its children in the top panel
and view the dependant objects in the bottom panel. This is very useful when
you want to change an object and assess the impact that the change will have
on other objects in the model.
All panes can be hidden except the Project Info pane, which is the main work
area. To restore a pane, use the View menu or use the toggles on the toolbar.
You can also detach and rearrange the Project Viewer, Properties, and Tools