Creating a data module

A user can quickly create a data module that includes data from one or more sources of different types.

The data module can be shared with other users, and used as a source to create reports, dashboards, stories, and explorations.

Before you begin

Prepare the sources that you plan to use to create the data module.

  • Save the sources to Team content or My content.

    The only exception are your data files that can be uploaded while the data module is created.

  • For data server sources, create connections in Manage > Data server connections.

    For more information, see Using data servers as data module sources.

About this task

To access the data modeling user interface, users need execute and traverse permissions for the Web-based modeling capability. For more information about capabilities, see the Managing IBM Cognos Analytics guide.


  1. In the Cognos Analytics welcome page, from the Open menu icon Open menu icon in the application bar, click New > Data module.
    open menu screen capture
    Tip: An alternative way to start creating a data module is to upload data files first by using the Quick launch facility. When you drop the files onto the Cognos Analytics welcome page, in the Data module box, you can immediately start creating your data module. Other sources can be added to the data module later.
  2. In the Select sources dialog box, select one or more sources of any type.
    • To select a saved data module, data set, uploaded file, or package, click the Team content Icon denoting team content, My content Icon denoting my content, or Recently viewed content Icon denoting recently-viewed content folder, and locate the source that you want to add. If needed, use search and filtering options to find the sources.
    • To select a data server, click the Data servers and schemas Source view icon folder. Select the data server connection that you want. The available schemas in the data server are listed. Choose the schema that you want to use. Only schemas for which metadata is preloaded are displayed.
    • To upload a data file from your hard drive or LAN location, click the Upload icon Uploaded file icon, and browse for the file. By default, the file is saved to My content.
  3. If all selected sources contain one table each, the basic data module is created, and you can proceed to step 5.
  4. If any of the selected sources, such as a multi-tab spreadsheet or a data server, contain multiple tables, you have two options to add the tables to your data module:
    • Select tables

      You select the tables manually, and click OK to create the data module.

    • Discover related tables

      A word cloud visualization is displayed that contains keywords from sources that the data module is based on. Select one or more keywords, and click Next. A data module proposal is generated for you. You can accept the proposal, or click Previous to try different keywords. To accept the suggested proposal, click OK. The data module is created for you.

      For more information, see Discovering related tables.

    The data module is created based on the chosen tables.
  5. Examine the data module.
    • In the Data module panel, view the sources that are included in your data module.

      You can expand the sources to view their tables, columns, and members.

      The link icon Icon denoting linked module. on tables indicates that the tables are linked to the source data module. For more information, see Relinking sources.

      For data server schemas and uploaded files, the table and column labels are cleaned up in English and some other languages in the following way:
      • For uploaded files, the file extension, such as .xls or .csv, is removed from the table label. For example, Customer.csv is changed to Customer.
      • If all label characters in the source are in uppercase, and the label contains special characters, such as underscore (_), dash (-), or slash (\), in the data module, each word in the label is capitalized, and the special characters are replaced with the space characters. For example, VEHICLE_CLASS in the source is changed to Vehicle Class in the data module.

      If this cleanup produces unintended results, you can disable it at the service level. For more information, see Disabling the default cleanup of labels in data modules.

    • To view data, select a table or a column in a table, and click the data grid view Icon representing the data view.
    • To view relationships between tables, click the Relationships tab Icon representing diagram view. Typically, the relationships are detected by the system and joins between tables are created automatically. If the tables are not joined, you need to join them manually. For more information, see Creating a relationship manually.
    • The data module is validated automatically. If there are any broken references, the failed validation icon Failed validation icon is displayed in the data module tree and in the diagram. For more information, see Validating data modules.
  6. To create a test report from your data module, click the Try this data module in Reporting icon Run this data module in Reporting icon in the data module toolbar.

    A new tab opens in your browser with IBM Cognos Analytics - Reporting open within it. Your data module is shown in the Insertable objects pane.

    Note: The data module object capabilities are not applied with the option Try this data module in Reporting when editing the data module.
  7. To save the data module, click Save or Save as.


The data module Icon denoting a data module is created in the location that you saved it to, in Team content Icon denoting team content or My content Icon denoting my content.

What to do next

You can enhance the data module by adding calculations, filters, groups, custom tables, and more. For more information, see Modeling metadata.