It’s the holiday season and IBM has given us an unexpected gift in the waning days of 2019. No, I am not referencing the fact that Cognos Analytics is currently half-off! IBM rather suddenly dropped a new Cognos release chocked full of stocking stuffer features for all the good little Cognoids across the land. So let’s read on to learn what’s new in Cognos 11.1.5.
Schematics are undoubtedly the eye catching new feature in Cognos Analytics 11.1.5. Schematics allow Cognos to dynamically visualize data on an image – think a stadium or airplane seating chart, a hospital floor plan or a diagram of a machine. The schematic is interactive and plays nicely with other features.
One interesting feature of Schematics is the ability to create ‘views.’ Views enable end users to automatically filter the schematic to render only those sections that interest them. In the example above I created two views of the United States – one titled ‘Midwest’ and one titled ‘Rest.’ You can see that unselecting ‘Midwest’ hides those states. For a more complex example, imagine a schematic with a detailed diagram of a car. Users could interactively choose to view only the suspension, transmission, power train, etc… Very powerful!
Managing Schematics is not exactly straight forward but IBM has provided excellent instructions. Multiple schematics can be bundled together into a package, which allows report authors to select from a library of related schematics. These packages are managed just like the custom visualizations that debuted in Cognos Analytics 11.1.4.
Schematics are currently only available in reporting.
You guys know I love data modules. Well in Cognos Analytics 11.1.5 the changes to Data Modules are so, so, SO GOOD. Just ridiculously good. I got a huge smile of my face using it for the first time. You have no excuse at this point, they’re just too awesome!
IBM has taken all of the scattered virtual table/view building functionality and very smartly bundled it together into a new, clean and totally kick ass interface called ‘Custom Tables.’ From custom tables you can easily blend tables or spreadsheets from any source together while understanding at a glance how all that blended data is related. I cannot tell you how crucial this feature is as I and my customers build increasingly complex data flows in Cognos.
Members in the data tree
As of Cognos Analytics 11.1.5, members are now visible in the data tree regardless of source type. Yes, you read that correctly – even for relational sources. You can drag and drop individual members into visualizations, use them to build sets, etc. Even against excel spreadsheets. Holy cow! This change applies across the entire UI, not just data modules.
Show generated SQL and query control
Another huge quality of life upgrade – you can now see generated SQL directly in data modules! And you can now use a property called ‘item list‘ to determine whether the data module fetches the entire table or uses minimized SQL, just like you could in FM.
Dashboards received a host of small quality of life changes plus one big, frequently requested enhancement that I know you’ll love. So let’s start there.
Dashboard to dashboard drill through
Dashboards can now utilize other dashboards as drill-through targets. IBM did a great job of making this extremely straightforward so end users should have no problem with it. It works like this:
- Create two dashboards that share at least one data source
- Establish a Drill-through definition (pictured above)
- Notice there is no mapping of parameters or anything like that!
- In the source dashboard, select a visualization element and choose the drill-through icon
- The target dashboard will open and a new filter will appear in the ‘All tabs’ filter section
- The target dashboard has been filtered by the values passed from the source
You can now customize the location an appearance of Dashboard tabs. In the example above, I moved the tabs to the left side and formatted the fourth tab to appear in red with some cool spectacles as an icon.
Various and sundry improvements
Here is a summary of additional enhancements to Dashboards:
- Show and hide rows and columns in crosstabs
- Customize missing values in visualizations
- Assistant-suggested questions based on context
- Enhancements to forecasting (as in it’s more accurate)
I don’t write a ton about administration on this blog. Mostly that’s because it’s boring. However there are some important changes that I want to highlight for you.
Save reports to cloud storage
Save to cloud is a new capability that allows you to, well, save reports directly to 3rd party object storage services. This allows you to archive your 10-years-and-running collection of daily PDFs to Amazon S3 instead of in your content store. I think this is hugely helpful, especially for customers on Cognos cloud where archival and bursting capabilities have been severely restricted. It also portends good things as far as integration with 3rd party cloud vendors going forward.
The new AI capability controls who can use the AI Assistant in Dashboards and Explore. I know the ability to turn this on and off is something many Cognos teams have been asking for. My advice to you is to just leave it on! But if you absolutely must lock it away, now you can.
Other new features of Cognos Analytics 11.1.5
There are a host of other small changes that I’m not going to cover here. Many of the changes to Report Authoring, Explorations, etc… are covered above as there are quite a few UI spanning updates in this release. Overall I’m extremely pleased with this one. Schematics are a great new feature while the changes to Data Modules are exceptionally good. I suggest -as always – that you update to 11.1.5 as soon as possible. And as always, hit me up with any questions you may have.