Report basics and concepts


1. Overview

This article introduces the concepts behind reports in Dundas BI, which are one type of view you can create. Although similar to dashboards, reports provide a structured way for you to create detailed views involving repetitions of data visualizations and components.

Reports can be interactive, just like dashboards, but they are often designed to be simply viewed or exported and printed.

If the type of report you want to create is laid out by hand rather than repeating vertically, and is not meant for PDFs or printing, a dashboard can be used instead.

Related video: Scorecards and Reports

2. Example report

Walkthrough: Designing an inventory report

An inventory report with two levels of grouping
An inventory report with two levels of grouping

3. Report regions

Just like on a dashboard, you can add visualizations or components and arrange them anywhere on the canvas. In a report, the canvas contains several specialized regions that allow you repeat some content for each value of some data. For example, the inventory report shown above includes a row for each product category (e.g., Accessories), and you are able to design the contents of each row to include whatever you like.

The diagram below illustrates the initial regions available in a report. You can drop items onto these regions when editing, then switch to View in the toolbar to see the actual report consisting of repeated elements.

Report regions in Edit mode
Report regions in Edit mode

You can add regions to better organize your reports. Simply select a region and use the toolbar to Add Template Area Before or Add Template Area After. Unused template areas will not be visible in the report unless you uncheck the Hidden If Empty property.

When a template region is selected, the decorators (a rectangle to the right of each region) of all sibling regions will be highlighted to make them easier to identify.

The Report Header region lets you place components that appear just once per report. For example, you can show a title for the overall report here. Conveniently, when you create a new report from the main menu, Dundas BI automatically adds a Label component with the text Title and places it in the Report Header region.

Similarly, in the Report Footer region, you can add labels to display a list of references or other information to close off your report. 

The PDF version of a report can be viewed as separate pages and is suitable for printing.

Since a report can span multiple pages when exported to PDF, the Page Header and Page Footer regions let you add components that are repeated once per page. For example, you can add a label and a separator line to be displayed at the top of each page. Dundas BI automatically adds a Label component with the text [PageNumber] in the Page Header region and another Label component with the text Page [PageNumber] of [TotalPages] in the Page Footer region:

  • [PageNumber] is replaced with the current page number
  • [TotalPages] is replaced with the total page count of the report

3.3. Grouping hierarchy region

The Grouping hierarchy region (drop a column or hierarchy here to repeat each value) is the key to specifying how the Group Body should be repeated. This region is equivalent to the Rows of the Data Analysis Panel for a regular metric set, where you drag a column of data or hierarchy to display a row for each value. You can drag one or more columns, hierarchies, or levels from under a data connector or cube in the Explore window and drop them onto the Grouping hierarchy region. For example, to achieve the repetition of product categories in the inventory report shown earlier, a Product Category hierarchy level is dragged here.

This region makes up the Rows of the group metric set, which has its own Data Analysis Panel, accessible from the cube icon displayed to its left. This Data Analysis Panel allows you to optionally further customize how the Group Body rows are repeated. For example, you can add or edit a measure in this metric set and use it to sort the rows of the report by the measure values when the report is viewed.

Reports are made up only of rows that repeat content vertically. Adding data under Columns in the Data Analysis Panel will produce an error when viewing.

The Group Header and Group Footer regions let you place components that appear just once per group, either above or below its rows. For example, in the inventory report shown earlier, Label components are added to the Group Header region in order to display the Qty Left and Unit Price column headings.

Group headers and footers are not repeated, unless this group is a child or inner group placed inside another group (see below).

3.5. Group body

When viewing a report, data visualizations (such as charts) and components (such as labels) added to the Group Body region are repeated once for each hierarchy member value according to the hierarchy added to the Grouping hierarchy region. For example, if a Product Category column or hierarchy level is added to the Grouping hierarchy region, and there are 20 such categories in your data, the Group Body region will be repeated 20 times and will display data specific to each category.

You can add multiple hierarchies to the same Grouping hierarchy region. This will repeat the same Group Body once for each combination of the hierarchies' values in your data.

3.6. Child groups

The Child Grouping region lets you add an inner or nested level of repetition in order to create a report that breaks down details further. For example, the inventory report shown earlier displayed products within each product category by adding Product as a child group within the Product Category group.

When you drag a hierarchy or level to this region, four new regions are automatically inserted into the report, forming a child group consisting of:

  • a child group header region (optional)
  • a child group body region (this is the part that repeats)
  • a child grouping region (lets you insert another nested/child group)
  • a child group footer region (optional)

In fact, you can keep on inserting child groups to create deeper and deeper levels of repetition. This allows you to design complex reports that break down details on multiple levels.

The child group has its own Group Body that you can design separately from the outer or parent grouping. In our inventory report example, the product category rows have a light gray background and bold fonts, while the product rows have normal fonts and display measure values toward the right.

Because they are displayed inside another group that is already repeating, child groups can appear multiple times (e.g., the products listed separately within each product category). You can choose to add content to the child Group Header or child Group Footer, and these will appear above and below the child Group Body region's repeated rows, for each outer group value. Unlike the parent/outer group body region (e.g., product category row), the child/inner group header and group footer do not appear if there are no child group values: for example, an empty product category containing no products.

3.7. Sibling groups

Rather than displaying groups inside other groups, you also have the option of adding sibling groups. These are completely independent from the neighboring groups and may contain data unrelated to the rest. Sibling groups are positioned at the same level of the report as the initial group and their repetitions are generated independently, either before or after all of the data from neighboring sibling groups.

Sibling groups can be added using the + buttons to the right of the report canvas.

4. Layout for the example report

The following diagram illustrates a simplified design for the inventory report example. This report repeats visualizations on two levels. It repeats via an initial group that corresponds to the Product Category level, and also repeats via a child group that corresponds to the Product level.

Layout for the inventory report
Layout for the inventory report

See this walkthrough to learn how to build a similar report.


5. See also

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