I created a report for my user in Reporting Services 2005. The report was a very simple matrix, but the problem I had with its header could have just as easily existed in a table. Having a lot of rows and columns in the matrix meant though that when my user would scroll through the matrix, he couldn't see the headers for the columns and rows. So obviously I had forgotten something...
I went into the matrix properties and went to its Groups tab:
I entered each and every one of the groups and defined that the Group's header would always be visible:
I went back to my report and saw that wherever I scrolled I could see the header, but it wasn't at all readable as it would overlap with the data rows:
(The problem existed whether you were scrolling down - and then the column title overlapped, or if you were scrolling to the side - and then the row title would overlap).
So what's the missing part you need to do?
Well, it's pretty simple. All there's left to do is color the headers! See, the fact that the default background property for the table or matrix is "Transparent" really makes the overlapping happen:
Microsoft must have secretly wanted us to style the reports we create because giving the headers some color makes it all readable:
(If you notice, both this and the previous example show the title above Adam Barr - only this one is readable)
So don't forget to style your report - it may end up helping you see the header of your report.
Site stats have shown me that you like free e-books, which is fine - because I like them too! :)...
So following their free SSIS 2005 book, Microsoft is offering a few more books for free. First and foremost is Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Yes, they have offered the book before, but only a few chapters out of it. This time, we're talking about the whole book! Most of the book handles what's new with the product in general like Performance and Programmability, but chapter 7 is dedicated to everything that's new specifically for the part of BI.
Another nice book to add to your collection is Understanding Microsoft Virtualization Solutions which should help you brush up on Hyper - V and Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5.
Last but not least, Microsoft is also offering books on Visual Studio 2008. This time though, we're only talking about selected chapters on either LINQ, Silverlight 2 or ASP .Net 3.5.
So, take Microsoft up on its offer!
I was recently approached by SiSense to have a look at their product SiSense Prism. The product gives you a solution for "Dashboards, Reports, Guided Analytics, Business Presentations and everything in between", as SiSense would put it, and I dare say the definition is quite correct.
The tool enables you to build a dashboard really within minutes the application is quite simple to get used to. Even if you do get lost along the way, there is also a collection of shorts videos to guide you through. The products dashboard and reports are based on widgets. The data sources to the widgets can be from various different places, ranging from SSAS 2005, MySQL, CSV files, Google Spreadsheets and more.
The beauty in creating the dashboard in this tool is how easily all of these widgets from different data sources can be connected:
The product also gives you the ability to easily see their alignment:
And define them as multi selects:
Moreover, once you buy the tool, there's no need to further buy charts and gauges, as they are also provided, so you get all you need for a very pretty dashboard:
I think the visualization part of the tool is really good and user friendly. And yes, in my opinion, visualization is a key part for making a good BI tool.
Also, I have to admit I've been playing around with Excel as a cube viewer lately. I found out that if you want to add a member to an existing group you defined there, then you need to break up the entire group and redefine it (which can be very tedious). In SiSense Prism you can add a member to an existing group without breaking it apart.
Still there are some points that I have noticed while working with SiSense Prism:
The product still does not support calculated members but only calculated measures.
The product still does not support translations and so if you used translations rather than friendly names in your cube, then you won't be able to see them.
All the calculations in the product are with a syntax which is quite unique to the tool. This means that you and your user don't need to know SQL (to work against tables) or MDX (to work against OLAP cubes). Still, you do need to go over the User Guide to learn the syntax for this language. The calculations can vary from looking like something in Excel
to something like MDX
(though only like
and not exactly).
Points 1 and 2 (as well as others) are documented in the company under Prism Issues
and are given a proper follow up from the development team. Point 3 is really by design and so it's up to you to decide if it's a plus or a minus. In any case, you have a very detailed User Guide
on the product - be it for basic use or for learning how to use the query language.
I admit I have left out the most interesting part about SiSense Prism which is its Question part. I think this is where SiSense really found a niche that never got answered before. Still, to read more about that I would recommend you read Chris Webb's post about SiSense Prism as it details that part.
All in all, I would also join Mr. Webb in recommending SiSense Prism as an easy to use and easy to understand BI tool for your reports and dashboards - so give it a look!