Earlier this week (and without much fanfare) an incremental, but none the less exciting update to Cognos BI was released. Cognos 10.2.1 FP1 (Fixpack 1), also known as Cognos 10.2.1.1, includes a number of new features that build on the June’s impressive release, especially in the area of extensible visualizations or RAVE.
Extensible visualizations (EV) were one of the most exciting new features in the June release of Cognos 10.2.1 BI. They allow you to create dynamic and interactive data visualizations of all types, shapes and sizes that were previously unavailable within the IBM Cognos platform. This includes treemaps, heatmaps, network diagrams, word clouds, packed bubble charts and more. All of these new visualizations were highly interactive, and included visually appealing animated transitions. The only shortfall was that this new feature was available only within Active Reports. As of Cognos 10.2.1 FP1, RAVE / Extensible visualizations are now available for use in standard reports of all types. Authors and business analysts can use both Report Studio and Cognos Workspace Advanced to create reports with extensible visualizations, and all users can consume EV content within Cognos Workspace dashboards.
New Look and Feel
As you may have noticed from the screen capture above, Cognos Workspace has a brand new skin that completely aligns the look and feel with the Cognos Insight desktop client. This improves usability across the platform by preventing users from having to readjust when switching back and forth between the web and desktop client.
Support for IBM Cognos Theme Designer
Don’t like the new look and feel? No problem, you can now design your own through support of the IBM Theme Designer. The theme designer is a WYSIWYG editor that allows you to fully brand and customize the IBM Cognos UI, and this now includes Cognos Workspace as well. You can even create multiple themes to select from, or apply them on a tenant by tenant basis in a multi-tenant configuration.
Embedding and customizing workspaces
Cognos Workspace can now be published in any of the supported third party portals such as SharePoint and Websphere Portal. You can completely customize and control the interface that is presented through these portals when deploying Cognos Workspace in this manner.
Cutting, copying, and pasting widgets and duplicating tabs
Just like objects in the other IBM Cognos studios, you can now cut copy and paste widgets from workspace to workspace, tab to tab or any other combination. You can also quickly duplicate existing tabs.
Aside from the aforementioned addition of extensible visualizations to Report Studio for standard report types, there were also improvements to the EV interface, adding the ability to sort and filter all of the visualizations in your library.
Report booklets are a long awaited new feature that allows you reference other report objects in your environment, and add their entire contents to your current report via reference. Think of this as a layout component reference, but for an entire report. A facility to manage parameters from report references and merge them with existing parameters in your current report is also provided, but we recommend trying to sync up your parameter naming conventions across your reports ahead of time to make things as clean and simple as possible.
Full tenant impersonation capability for system administrators
Are you a system administrator in a multi-tenant environment and you need to be able to see the world as your tenant does for troubleshooting or security configuration purposes? If so, you’ll love this new feature which allows you to impersonate any tenant when logged into Cognos 10.2.1 FP1.
Report execution options logging
If you’re as geeky about doing analysis of your analytics platform as we are, you’ll be excited to learn you can now log and capture all sorts of interesting run time information about your users. This includes prompt parameter values, run options, and report specifications themselves. We envision some insightful system usage reporting can be produced with this additional information. If you have database logging enabled in your environment, you’ll find this new data in the COGIPF_PARAMETER table where the field COGIPF_PARAMETER_NAME value is set to either ‘parameterValues’ or ‘options’.
Dynamic Cubes API
New for Cognos 10.2.1 FP1 is the dynamic cubes API. This is a REST / HTTP API that can be used to programmatically design/model, build and deploy dynamic cubes. If you currently maintain an old OLE automation or MDL scripted solution to programmatically and dynamically build and deploy PowerPlay Transformer OLAP cubes, and you were looking to transition to dynamic cubes, this is definitely worth looking into. Also if you were looking for ways to script and automate repetitive administrative tasks related to cube refreshing, metadata or security updates and other operational management tasks, this is also a great place to start.
Cognos Insight 10.2.1
In addition to Cognos 10.2.1 FP1, Cognos Insight 10.2.1 was released on Tuesday of this week (along with IBM Cognos TM1 10.2) and incorporates some exciting and sought-after new functionality.
- Print and export workspaces
You can now print and export to PDF any tab of a Cognos Insight Workspace.
- Combination charts
You can now display multiple measures on a single chart by using combination line / bar charts.
- Work with attributes
If you’ve imported member attributes with your data set you can now filter by them, create new attributes and display them on a workspace.
- Spread data
Here’s an exciting new feature for the finance crowd or TM1 users: The ability to spread data by a number of new methods. This includes relative proportional spread, equal leaves, equal spread, repeat, straight line, and growth percentage.
- Support for bidirectional languages and digit shaping
Expect improved multi-lingual support with bidirectional language and operating system determined digit shaping.
- Import external data into TM1 plans
When using Cognos insight as a TM1 client and contributing to a plan, you can import external data from a text file and incorporate it into your plan.
- Drill through to view details
You can now right-click crosstab a crosstab cell and drill through to view related data in another cube. In order to enable this new feature your IBM Cognos TM1 administrator should create drill through links in IBM Cognos TM1 Performance Modeler.
- Distributed mode improvements
In the IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal, you can now start IBM Cognos Insight in distributed mode from a parent element. You can also now open a Central application type in distributed mode.
With the move of Metrics Studio and scorecarding to the TM1 platform, you can now view and use scorecards that your administrator has created in IBM TM1 Performance Modeler.
Next Steps with Cognos 10.2.1 FP1
If you have questions about Cognos 10.2.1 FP1 or want to learn how you can upgrade your environment in rapid fashion, you can contact one of our experienced architects to learn more. Our Business Intelligence team would be happy to assist you.