Report basics and concepts


1. Overview

This article introduces the concepts behind reports, which represent one type of view you can create in Dundas BI. 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.

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

On a dashboard, you can add data items, visualization controls, or components and arrange them anywhere on the canvas. You can do the same in a report, except that the report canvas contains several specialized regions where you drop controls and other items in order to define the content of your report. The purpose of these regions is to allow you to specify a set of controls to repeat, and how you want them repeated. The 'how' part of repeating has to do with hierarchies and levels. For example, the inventory report shown above repeats based on a product category hierarchy, where each repetition (of a set of controls) corresponds to a specific hierarchy member (such as Accessories).

The diagram below illustrates the default regions of a report. You drop items onto these regions in Edit mode to build your report. Then switch to View mode 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. 

Since a report can span multiple exported pages, 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 set of controls added to the Group Body region should be repeated. In the Grouping hierarchy region, you don't add controls or components. Instead, you drag one or more hierarchies or levels that are found under a data connector, data cube, cube perspective, or metric set from the Explore panel and drop them onto the Grouping hierarchy region.

The group metric set cannot contain hierarchies on the Columns section. Metric sets with hierarchies on the Columns section will generate an error in View mode.

In View mode, the Grouping hierarchy region does not appear because it is not a visual element. Instead, the hierarchies or hierarchy levels that you added to the Grouping hierarchy region in Edit mode are now used to repeat the set of controls found in the Group Body region. Specifically, for each hierarchy member value (or combination of values), the set of controls in the Group Body region is repeated once. Additionally, any visualizations within the Group Body region are filtered by the corresponding hierarchy member value (or values). For example, to achieve the repetition of product categories in the inventory report shown earlier, a Product Category hierarchy level is added to the Grouping hierarchy region of the report.

The Group Header and Group Footer regions let you place components that appear just once per group. These components are not repeated according to hierarchy values (only the Group Body repeats). 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.

3.5. Group body

In View mode, data visualization controls (such as charts) and components (such as labels) added to the Group Body region are repeated once for each hierarchy member value (or values) according to the hierarchies 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 set of controls in the Group Body region will be repeated 20 times.

3.6. Child groups

The Child Grouping region lets you add a nested level of repetition in order to create a report that breaks down details further (like the inventory report example where products are repeated within each product category). When you add a hierarchy to this region, four new regions are automatically inserted into the report, forming a child group consisting of:

  • a child group header region
  • 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

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.

3.7. Sibling groups

When you create a new report, an initial group is added by default. But you also have the option of adding sibling groups, which are associated with their own set of grouping hierarchies. Sibling groups are positioned at the same level of the report as the initial group and their repetitions are generated independently.

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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