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Introducing #Cognos Analytics 11.0.8

The Cognos Analytics team has been hard at work on new enhancements, and I am thrilled to announce that release 8 (11.0.8) is now generally available. This release tackles a lot of those small, but significant, enhancements that will help you and your users get the most out of this smart business intelligence and analytics solution. Our large installed base of customers will be happy to know that in this release we focused on addressing some of your top Requests for Enhancements (RFE), so rest assured that we appreciate (and are listening to) your feedback. We also addressed some items that will make it easier to administer and manage your BI and analytics environment. Finally, we continue to enhance existing capabilities, for example, we added latitude/longitude support in mapping for reporting. The enhancements touch all aspects of Cognos Analytics, but they are all focused on reducing the time it takes to get things done and making visualizations easier to understand. These enhancements mean Cognos Analytics 11.0.8 is: Faster and more precise for dashboard and report creation Addition of latitude and longitude layer in reporting More output options for reports with the ability to save and output a report as XML format Support the viewing experience your users want with the ability to select the Default run action per report (latest saved output, always run the report with the latest data, open in edit mode) Tailor-made to meet your needs – so you can customize your experience Upload custom images with Image library extension in reporting (on premise and on cloud) Designed to make your data work for you with faster data preparation Ability to select from multiple connections to a data source with support for ambiguous data connections (either mutliple connections to the same data source or multiple signons to the same data source) for data modules and dashboard Faster data set creation with support for Design mode in data set editor Better visibility and control of your BI and Analytics environment Easy tracking of dashboard usage with support for auditing Keep track of all of your scheduled reports with support for Manage my schedules and activities Want a quick overview of the cool new features in R8? Watch Kevin as he takes you through the highlights in the What’s new in R8 demo video.

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#Cognos Analytics 11.0.8: Adding Latitude/Longitude Maps in Reports

Cognos Analytics Release 8 adds support for Latitude/Longitude based maps in reports allowing geocoded data to be displayed on the maps shown in reports as seen below: In our example, businesses in Hawaii are shown as points located by latitude and longitude with revenue driving the size, and Profit driving the color of the points. As with the Regions and Points layers, the Latitude/Longitude layer is available on the layer selector:   The Latitude/Longitude layer requires two data numeric data items for the latitude and longitude: The label field is used to provide a meaningful tooltip for the points. That’s because, generally speaking users will know the name of the store “ABC Retail,” but not necessarily the latitude and longitude of the store. For this reason, the label, but not the latitude/longitude location is displayed in the tooltip:   Much like the Points layer, Size and Color require a measure data item to style the circular points displayed at each unique latitude/longitude location. Of course, you can define all three layer types, or any combination thereof, at the same time. In fact, in our example, there is a region layer on “State,” which resulted in the green color used to style Hawaii. Latitude/Longitude Encoding While there are several ways to store latitude/longitude , Cognos Analytics requires using a WGS 84 / World Geodetic System (WGS) encoding stored as numeric data items. WGS 84 simply means latitudes between -90 and +90 degrees, and longitudes between -180 and +180 degrees suitable for use on a Web Mercator map. An example would be the White House in Washington DC located at latitude 38.897957, and longitude -77.036560. Other formats such as degrees, minutes, second and decimal seconds for example 38° 53' 52.6452'' N, 77° 2' 11.6160'' W are not supported, nor are other X, Y coordinates systems. In such cases, the data would need to be converted to WGS 84 for use in Cognos Analytics. Errors and Null Island As part of our error checking, we determine if the latitude values in the data fall between -90 and +90 and longitudes between -180 and +180. Any values outside of these ranges cannot be mapped as they fall outside of the coordinate system. Rather than not mapping that data, we replace the query values with latitude 0 and longitude 0 which allows those data points to map so you can detect the error. For instance, the 0, 0 location is found just off the coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea as shown below: As there is no actual land mass there, this location is somewhat humorously referred to as “Null Island,” and is commonly used by mapping systems to display out of bounds data. If you ever see data mapped here, it’s probably in error. The likeliest cause of such an error is putting the latitude and longitude data items into the opposite data slots when defining the map. Geocoding As odd as it sounds, mapping systems, generally speaking, cannot use addresses for locations. Rather, the mapping systems need to have the address converted to an latitude/longitude which can be mapped. The process of converting an address to a latitude/longitude location is referred to as “geocoding.” Companies provide geocoding as a paid service. For example, the address of the White House “1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500” would be passed to a geocode service which would return the latitude 38.897957, and longitude -77.036560. These values are then stored into the RDBMS for use with Cognos Analytics. Although, it is important to note that Cognos Analytics does not provide geocoding; your data must be geocoded before being used within Cognos Analytics. Conclusion Latitude/longitude support extends the report map support nicely and give us a further foundation to build on.

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#Cognos Analytics 11.0.8: Updated Data Module Capabilities

In Cognos Analytics Release 11.0.8, data modules were augmented with some new capabilities. These improvements were delivered in the areas of ambiguous connection support, and diagram view changes. Ambiguous Connections: Ambiguous connections that were supported in earlier versions of Cognos products, were not well supported in Cognos Analytics. Each data source had to have an explicit connection and sign on assigned. If a data server had multiple connections that were not explicitly resolved, the data module user would encounter an error. In 11.0.8, Cognos Analytics will now prompt the user when ambiguous connections are encountered. This increases flexibility for clients, as well as provides an upgrade path for Cognos clients running previous versions. Diagram View improvements Prior to Cognos 11.0.8, many users did not leverage the diagram view within the data module experience because the user had to know to select the “eye” icon before they could control the diagram (as shown below)   As seen below, the default in 11.0.7 was cardinality off, and maximum degree of separation.   In Cognos 11.0.8, we improved the usability of the diagram view in data modules. The diagram display allows the user to focus on an area of the model, while providing a view of the complete model. Additionally, the cardinality is now ‘on’ or shown by default in this latest release. If a user wants to supress the display, they can simply un-check the cardinality check box.   In 11.0.8, when a user opens a data module the first table in the module is in focus. If the user accesses the diagram view, the degrees of separation is set to one. The diagram will show the tables related to the table in focus within 1 degree of separation. The remaining items are displayed in a translucent rendering. This ensures the user can understand the entire model, but remain focused on the current items that need investigation.   Release 11.0.8 After loading data module – grid view:

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#Cognos Analytics 11.0.8: What’s new in dashboards

We focused this release on a few key enhancements around ease of use and flexibility of the dashboard. Ease of use Higher data points cap for visualizations The goal of the dashboard is to provide a fast, interactive experience to allow the user to find the results they need with minimal spinners. For some visualizations, however, there is an advantage to show more data points simultaneously. To meet that need, we have bumped up the data points cap to 10k on tables and crosstabs, and to 30k for maps. Of course, keep in mind that the more data points you pass to a viz, the longer the spinner may be depending on your browser and computer. Filter indicators on visualizations To better help the user understand which filters are currently being applied to a viz, we now list the filters individually in the tooltip. This comes in handy when the user needs to exclude several data points consecutively, and then wants to add a few back. Now, they can simply remove the exclusions one at a time by using the tooltip. In the example below, I was looking at Product Types and I excluded one data point at a time. Each action then created a new entry in the filter pop-up, allowing me to clearly see which ones were excluded.   Administration of dashboards Support for ambiguous connections To better serve users who have access to multiple connections to the same data source, we now prompt the user to select which one they wish to connect to. This applies to ambiguous connections and sign-ons. In the example below, I am using a data module that points to a data source where I have access to multiple connections. The dashboard now prompts me to select which one I want.   Once I select the connection, it is set for the remainder of this current session, it will only prompt me a single time. If I want to switch connections, I have two options: close and re-open the dashboard or use the re-link option and select the same source again. The pop-up will prompt again. Auditing of dashboard This is for the administrators who want to track the usage of the dashboards. Once Auditing is enabled at a system level, any time a dashboard is opened, it will add an entry to the audit logs in the same way as other Cognos assets such as reports. Upon a dashboard action, the system will log the name of the user, dashboard name, timestamp, sources used as well as execution time. To make it easier for the admin to see the new data, we have updated the Audit sample deployment archive to include dashboards as an output type. See example below: To close things out, I’d like to mention two more smaller improvements we have also made: The widget titles now remain a fixed size, regardless of the size of the widget. This will provide a consistent look across all widgets. The button to change visualization when in focus mode is now in a more visible location above the viz, and it also indicates the name of the current selected chart type.

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#Cognos Analytics 11.0.8: What’s new in Reporting

The reporting capability in the latest release of Cognos Analytics 11.0.8 is filled with popular RFEs from our customers around the world. Latitude and Longitude support Mapbox integration in reporting has a new layer – latitude and longitude. Report authors can use up to two measures to represent bubble size and color when mapping lat/long. An additional label slot has been added to the interface to provide meaningful tooltips. For detailed information on this feature, please visit the blog here. Design mode in Data Set editor When creating a data set with large number of records, the results may take a long time to return. Design mode allows users to create a data set with metadata only. Live data only becomes available when switched to preview mode.   Export a report to XML format This feature has been brought back into the product due to popular demand. XML format is available as an output option from within report editing environment, Cognos 11 interactive viewer, Cognos 10 classic viewer, scheduling, run in background and subscription. Hyperlink to open in a new tab By default, a hyperlink opens in the current browser tab. This replaces the entire Cognos Analytics environment. This approach no longer works well in Cognos Analytics 11 because reports are running under the Cognos Analytics portal, under the switcher. Replacing Cognos Analytics content within the browser tab means losing navigations. A new property has been added for the hyperlink object allowing it to open in a new browser tab. We did not change the default setting for upgrade purposes. All reports created prior to R8 continue to open in the current browser tab. Image picker Administrators can upload custom images through extensions in Cognos Analytics. This option is available under Manage-> Customization->Extensions tab.   There are sample extensions available with the Cognos Analytics install to help you understand how to write extensions. You can use the Sample_Custom_Media_All json file as a test and import it using the above method. Once this extension has been imported, images are available in dashboarding, storytelling and reporting interface. The way to access them within reporting is to use an ‘image’ object and double click on the object to launch the image picker dialog. This dialog continues to support images hosted on your webservers.