IBM Cognos Analytics is designed to empower business users, giving them the self-service tools they need to solve individual or workgroup challenges. Cognos Analytics uses a continuous delivery model to roll out new features on a regular basis. Here is a break down of new features introduced to Cognos Analytics in each release per component.
Latitude and Longitude mapping support
Label axis orientation
Full screen mode and narrow side bar
Higher data points cap for visualizations
Filter indicators on visualizations
Support for ambiguous connections
Auditing of dashboard
This release is by far our biggest one in terms of new Dashboard features:
On-demand toolbar in charts
New visualizations slots
Multiple columns per slot
Measures as categories
Mapping refinement slot
Values labels in the charts
Data tray in consumption mode
Direct access to OLAP packages
OLAP packages are supported as a datasource when creating dashboards. This includes support for sources such as PowerCubes, Dimensionally Modelled Relational (DMR), TM1, Dynamic Cubes, MSAS and all the other supported OLAP sources. For the DMR package, the same rule applies as for relational packages, meaning that it needs to be published as DQM, unless there is also a JDBC connection defined for it.
By default, all widgets on a canvas from the same source are connected. This allows you to drag a few fields onto the canvas and quickly filter the information by simply clicking on the values inside the widgets. This is very useful when you need to find a value, but with the new widget connections, you can now do comparison-based analysis by disconnecting the widgets preventing them from being filtered by other widgets.
New Grid widget
We are introducing a new grid widget in R6 that provides improved performance when scrolling, it displays summaries per groups as well as stretches to fit the size of the widget. You can also decide to hide or show the summaries.
Showing nav paths in metadata tree
In the previous release (11.0.5), we introduced navigation paths to allow users to define a logical order in which to explore their data. What makes navigation paths fun to use is that they do not have to be the traditional Year > Quarter > Month type of hierarchy; it can be anything that makes sense for the user of the dashboard, perhaps start at Products then jump to Sales Reps and finally to Region, this provides a flexible and quick way to navigate through the data. In this release, navigation paths now appear under a new folder at the top of the metadata tree in the dashboard to make them more visible to the user.
Colour slot on charts
When viewing a chart, you can now drag in another measure to act as a colour gradient.
Filtering on dates containing blanks
When filtering on date fields that contain blanks, you will now be able to use the new filtering dialog with calendars. This is particularly useful when filtering on a field such as Shipped date for example, where a product may have been ordered, but hasn’t shipped quite yet.
Direct access to relational Framework Manager packages
We are thrilled to now provide direct access to your relational Framework Manager (FM) packages in dashboards. Simply select your package and off you go, no need to create a data set if you do not want to.
New visualization engine with pan and zoom
As soon as you create a new chart and start interacting with it, you’ll notice a new look and feel. We’ve introduced our new visualization engine called RAVE2 as part of dashboards. Your existing dashboards will automatically be updated to use the new charts, giving you access to the new features immediately.
Navigation paths allow the user to explore their data in a new and exciting way. The user can just as easily navigate in one direction or the other, passing context to each level.
Clear filters from any visualization
Here’s a small change with a large impact, the user now can clear any filters from the little pop up on the top right of any visualization. This becomes particularly useful when you have many widgets on the screen where the user has selected a few values.
Pinned headers in crosstabs
This one makes a big difference in the way you interact with your data. The column and row headers are now pinned automatically on crosstab, allowing you to freely scroll left, right, up and down without losing context of the values you are looking at.
An admin can now import extensions into the dashboard that will appear as new widgets where the user can drag them onto the canvas.
We took a feature that has been around for years and completely turned it on its head to make it more visual, more dynamic and fun to use. The traditional idea behind conditional formatting is to highlight certain data points based on predefined thresholds. We not only wanted to do that, but also wanted to use it as a way to analyze your data to see trends, groups and outliers.
Drag a measure into the color by slot of a grid or crosstab and you’ll immediately see two indicators on the visualization:
- the values get highlighted based on the thresholds
- a visual representation of the distribution of your data
Ask any data analyst what type of visualizations they use most, and many of them will say the crosstab. These users will be happy to see that we now provide the ability to define them in the dashboard. Our goal was to provide a crosstab that was both easy to use and provide the right level of functionality. Check it out and play with them, you’ll notice that we provide two levels of nesting on both edges, unlimited number of measures and display summaries on the groups.
Refresh widgets on a timer
One of the traditional usage of a dashboard is to monitor data, but where it gets interesting is when the data continuously changes and you need to update the visualizations without manually clicking on refresh.
We are introducing a refresh timer for all widgets. The delay can be set in seconds, minutes or hours, with a minimum of 5 seconds. Open up a widget’s properties to enable the timer, and watch your visualization automatically update based on the latest info. Of course, this is more visually interesting when the data actually changes.
Top / Bottom count
When I am faced with lots of information, I very often find myself filtering down what I’m looking at to only a subset. Maybe I’m interested in only my top performing products, or maybe I want to zero in on the stores that are struggling. To facilitate this, we’re introducing the ability to filter your data on the top, bottom five or 10 on any chart. Click on the axis label to expose the new icon in the on-demand toolbar and select the new double-arrow icon for the top/bottom feature.
Time and geolocation fields in the dashboard
After importing a file or creating a data module in 11.0.4, you’ll notice new icons next to the names of the fields in the dashboard. Cognos Analytics now recognizes dates and geolocation fields and use these to provide a better user experience in the dashboard.
When an end user looks at data, they often need to manipulate the data itself to show it in different ways and act on it. We have added the ability to create calculations directly in the dashboard to facilitate the discovery of insights or to simply show a value that normally would need to be done outside the tool.
Hover-over tool tip It’s a simple gesture to quickly see the value of a particular data point without affecting the visualization. Hover your mouse over to the data point and a little pop-up tool tip appears with its context. To interact with the data point, click on it and more options will appear. For touch screens on iPads, a single tap will now bring up the tooltip.
Relink a dashboard to another source
Once a dashboard has been created, it’s handy to be able to repoint it to a new source and keep going. For example, you’ve created a great dashboard based on your data, but now you’d like to repoint that same dashboard to a new source that contains more info that may or may not have the same field names. No problem, relink it and fix up the fields that don’t match.
Change the formatting of your fields The dashboard will always take the default formatting based on what was defined in the source. However, as a user, sometimes it’s handy to have more control over how the numbers get displayed. We now allow the user to select the number of decimal points or even to abbreviate the number completely.
Latitude and Longitude support in Maps
Design mode in Data Set editor
Export a report to XML format
Hyperlink to open in a new tab
Lineage support for FM packages
Lineage information traces the metadata of an item back through the package and the data sources. This option is available in Cognos Analytics interactive viewer, as well as page preview mode in report editing mode.
Business glossaries help you manage and share your enterprise vocabulary and classification system. It is only available when IBM InfoSphere Information Governance Catalog is configured in Cognos Administration.
Freeze List column heading
A report author can specify the height of the scrollable area, in pixels using the ‘Scrollable area height’ property. This property is available for List objects. Formatting applied on the List is also maintained.
Enhanced query support for data modules
Starting in 11.0.6, report authors can access and modify queries when creating reports using data modules. This enables the ability to create parameterized filters, custom calculations, conditional styles and many more. Expression editor and authored drill through definition are also available for advanced report authoring.
New Visualizations Out-of-the-box
Cognos Analytics users no longer have to download and upload visualizations starting this release. We have included the newest visualizations out-of-the-box and will maintain and enhance them in every release going forward. This includes but not limited to adding more properties and more visualization types.
Brand New Visualization Window
We are introducing a new visualization gallery window that combines all charts and visualizations in this release. The Chart toolbox object is deprecated.
Interactive Viewer URL API
You can use a URL to open a Cognos Analytics report in Interactive Viewer starting 11.0.5. This also gives you the ability to embed Cognos Interactive Viewer in an iframe inside of your own application or web page.
Modernized Prompting UI
All prompting controls’ UI have been updated to have a more modern and mobile friendly look and feel. To take the advantage of this, you can set ‘Report styles’ to use 11.0.4 styles under Report properties.
Filter Window Redesign
When creating a custom filter from reporting edit mode or from the interactive viewer, a newly designed filter window will be launched. It has improved searching capability and an infinite result panel instead of traditional paging. The new design makes it much easier to use for both report authors and report consumers.
Improved Reporting Navigation
Report pages and queries are two of the most frequently accessed areas within reporting. As part of our ongoing usability improvement work, pages and queries are now directly available on the side navigation bar.
New Authored drill through in Interactive Viewer
Drill-through definition is now available when a report is set to run with full interactivity in 11.0.4. This allows you to benefit from the new capabilities in the interactive viewer, while continue to be able to drill through from report to report.
Data List formatting
The Data List control was introduced in Cognos Analytics 11.0.3. As of 11.0.4 you can style a Data List with the same properties as a regular List.
Context toolbar allows you to change font properties, foreground and background color, horizontal alignment and conditional formatting. You can also change data format on measures stored in this Data List.
Report authors can create a single report leveraging data from multiple packages. This new feature is only available for Framework Manager packages that use dynamic query mode.
Active report performance suffers when trying to render a report with large data volumes. The main use case of presenting large volume of data is in a list format.
The Data List is a new control available for Active Reports. It provides better performance than a regular list as it is rendered on the client machine instead of the Cognos server.
As a report author, you can add text that shows the filters that are applied to the report. The filter text object can be formatted like a regular text object and it is available as part of the report layout for printing.
Latitude and Longitude support
Multiple admin boundary and postal code support with the integration of Pitney Bowes Polygons
With 11.0.6, we have integrated Pitney Bowes polygons that enables users to visualize their geospatial data across multiple admin boundaries and postal codes. Users can now visualize data across multiple geospatial hierarchies from Countries, states, cities down to municipalities, precincts and cantons, etc.
Cognos 11.0.5 expands on existing RAVE 2 technology in the Cognos Analytics Dashboard. Users now can analyze measures (such as revenue) at a country and state level with bi-directional filtering.
Additionally, Mapbox’s highly scalable and high performance vector maps will allow users to pan and zoom all the way down to street level with the click of a button.
Diagram View improvements
User Interface improvements
Text filter conditions
Dynamic Data Groups
User experience improvements for relationships
Linked Data Modules
Data modules are now more reusable and combinable than ever before.
Saved data modules that have been previously created can be used as data sources for other data modules. No need to reinvent the wheel. No need to redefine the same KPI calculations over and over again. Reuse and recycle.
As of version 11.0.5, by default a data module source will be a linked data module. Changes to a linked data module propagate to all other data modules that reference it. A linked data module is always in sync with all other data modules that depend on it.
A navigation group is a collection of non-measure columns that business users might associate for data exploration.
When a data module contains navigation groups, dashboard users can drill down and back to change the focus of their analysis by moving between levels of information. The users can drill down from column to column in the navigation group by either following the order of columns in the navigation group, or by choosing the column to which they want to proceed.
Framework Manager Packages in Data Modules
Now you can use a Framework Manager package as a source to a data module. This enables line of business users to extend IT managed metadata models with their own sources of data. You can combine a package with tables from other data modules and data servers, uploaded files, and data sets.
Improvements to Loading Database Schema Metadata
After defining a connection to a data server, you can load metadata for one or more schemas in the data server. Only schemas that have metadata loaded can be used in data modules.
Hiding Tables / Columns
You can now hide tables and columns in a data module. The hidden tables or columns remain fully functional and visible in the modeling interface, but they are not visible in the reporting and dashboarding interfaces.
Undo / Redo
While designing a data module, you can now undo and redo changes made during your session.
Clean NULL values
Business users can get confused by the difference between zeros and NULL values. In 11.0.4 we’ve extended data cleansing options with NULL-handling operations. You can replace NULL values with text, numbers, and date/time values that you specify, e.g., for a Discount Amount column you can specify 0.00 to replace the cells where the amount is unknown (NULL).
We’ve added a validation feature to give you heads up if there’s something in your data module that won’t work in reports and dashboards. Erroneous objects in the data module are identified by red exclamation marks. Descriptions of errors and corrective actions are shown in the validation tray when it is open.
Recognizing Time and Locations
Cognos Analytics 11.0.4 will look for columns within a data module that contain time or geographic location data and mark them accordingly using the Represents property. You can overwrite these properties if Cognos Analytics incorrectly infers that a column contains temporal or geospatial information (perhaps a misleading column header?) or if column that does contain such information was overlooked.
Smarter Relationship Detection
In all versions of Cognos Analytics, you can use intent-driven modeling to add tables into your data module. Intent-driven modeling proposes tables to include in the data module, based on matches between the terms you supply and information in the underlying sources.
In 11.0.4 we’ve added new smarts to intent-driven modeling to infer relationships (joins) between tables. I want to tell you all about the algorithms behind these smarts, but that would be giving away important trade secrets to our competitors!
Visual Modeling with an Actionable Diagram
In all versions of Cognos Analytics, a diagram of the table relationships within a data module has helped data modelers understand how their data sets are connected.
Now the diagram is more than just a visual aid in that you can perform actions on the tables and joins directly from diagram (in prior versions such actions were exclusively supported from the data module tree). This is something that comes naturally to new users especially since the diagram tends to occupy most of the screen.
Highlight at point in time
New Guided Journey Templates
Guided journey now contains four new templates to allow users to tell their stories in more engaging ways.
Along side fade and slide we have introduced scale, zoom and pivot.
When you pin an item the system will detect the fields contained in and the type of visualization. Based on this the system provides a “smart name”. This smart name is searchable from the top of the pin panel.
We have made changes to the timeline in order to make authoring easier for you. The first enhancement was much like pins where we include smart names making it much easier to determine which items you are working with. In addition to this you can also re-arrange the order of timeline items to group items together.
Change scene template
You can now update the template while authoring if you decide that the initial one you selected is not suitable as you start to build out your story. The same capability also exists in dashboards for each tab.
The infographic summary provides a mechanism to easily visualize your data utilizing the built-in shapes available in dashboards in lieu of a standard number.
With Cognos Analytics 11.0.5, in addition to fade in and out, users can now select to have items slide in from the top, bottom, left or right of a scene.
With Cognos Analytics 11.0.5, we are adding additional story arcs in the form of Guided journey.
This is the first release for Storytelling. It leverages the underlying Dashboarding technology but provides additional capabilities on top of this.
As you are looking at and exploring other dashboards you can now select any widget and utilize the pin icon on the on demand toolbar to add this to your pin panel.
Users can leverage the timeline capability to have items appear or disappear at certain points over the course of the story.
Support for Planning Analytics Subsets
Share and Embed
In this release, we enhanced this feature by adding the ability to share/embed dashboards, reports, report saved output, and story that is open, through overflow menu on Application Bar.
Custom folder allows you to define starting points for a user and eliminates the need for the Navigator portlet.
Shortcut and create report view
You can now create a shortcut in Cognos Analytics. A shortcut is a pointer to another entry such as a report, report view, dashboard, module, or folder. Another feature that we introduce in this release is to create a report view from context menu. Prior to release 11.0.6, you need to run a report to create a report view. In this release, we add the option to create report view without running the report from context menu.
Managing OpenID connect namespaces
Use the OpenID Connect namespace type to implement BlueID authentication for IBM Cognos Analytics. BlueID is the IBM Identity Service, a cloud-based identity access and management solution that provides identity and single sign-on services for IBM applications.
Sharing and Embedding Content
In IBM Cognos Analytics 11.0.5, you can easily share IBM Cognos Analytics content objects with other users. You can share content objects, such as report, dashboard, story, data set and module with a URL that opens the content object directly, instead of having to navigate to the content object from the Cognos Analytics welcome screen.
You can also embed Cognos Analytics content objects, reports, dashboard and stories in web pages. An embedded content object will not display the application or navigation bars by default but will remain interactive (if applicable).
In IBM Cognos Analytics 11.0.5, system administrators can now define a theme and a landing page for specific group of users. You can either specify a customized home view, or a particular report or dashboard, to be displayed when a user with a particular role opens IBM Cognos Analytics. In addition to home view and theme, you can specify what User Interface (UI) elements are available to group of users.
You can use the new Licenses panel to review licenses in use, export user license information, and restrict user access to the Cognos namespace.
Customizing IBM Cognos Analytics in 11.0.4
The IBM Cognos Analytics user interface is built on an extensible model. In this model, the user interface screens are defined as views (such as home, authoring, dashboard, and modelling). You can customize these views by adding and removing user interface elements, such as buttons and menus as well as define new views to extend the Cognos Analytics user interface.
You can replace the default home and sign-in views. You can substitute your own theme (colors, logos, and brand text) for the default theming on all views.
Azure SQL Data Warehouse
Support for Presto
Support for MemSQL
Dynamic connection parameters in JDBC connections
Cognos Analytics 11.0.6 introduces support for Google BigQuery and Google Cloud SQL via the BigQuery JDBC and MySQL JDBC drivers, respectively.
JDBC URL entry for Data Server Connections
Data server connections under the Manage area of Cognos Analytics now offer an entry to paste in a JDBC URL.
Feedback information when testing a connection
When you successfully Test a connection to a data server, you can now see useful information like the server and client software versions and the time to connect (lag). Previously this information was only exposed in the Cognos Administration console.
New Data Sources
As of Cognos Analytics version 11.0.5, the following technologies are officially supported:
- Pivotal HDB
- Amazon Aurora (using the MySQL connection option)
IBM Cognos Analytics Lifecycle Manager
Lifecycle Manager is a stand-alone application that helps validate and compare report outputs within a single environment, between environments or between different versions of Cognos. It is included as part of the Cognos offering without added cost to our customers.