[Tip 1 - 39] Dundas BI Tips & Tricks!

I know you’re busy and aren’t able to always complete the Tip of the Week in The Cube – Dundas VIP Program, which is why I’ve created this new thread to allow you to catch up on what you’ve missed or forgotten! This thread will remain open so you can always come back to a tip for reference!

In this thread, you can find every tip and trick we’ve posted in The Cube – Dundas VIP Program and have a discussion with your peers about them. Let them know which tips helped you, which you never knew were possible, and which ones you may have already known about.

The way the thread works is as follows:

  1. Each tip will be posted as a separate comment
  2. VIPs can comment on each tip individually
  3. Tip of the Week challenges will still be posted - once they expire they will be posted here
  4. Add your own tips! We may feature them in our weekly challenges

Remember, you’ll still get more points by completing the Tip of the Week challenges!

So without further ado, here are all the tips:

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Tip 1 – Help Overlays

Did you know that you can easily introduce a help overlay to your dashboard to help consumers better understand your data and take action? Your help overlays can include information such as metrics definitions (business logic and calculations), as well as possible interactions consumers can use to further analyze data.

Help overlays can be designed as you wish, but its good practice to include your help information on top of existing metrics so that consumers can relate the information to the metric.

Labels can even be semi-transparent so users can see the data while reading!


Tip 2 – Formatting Text

Did you know Dundas BI allows you to use placeholder keywords and formats so you can provide better context to your visualization consumers? Use keywords along with formats on your different text properties such as tooltips and labels, and help users better understand the values they are seeing!

For example, you can create a tooltip for a chart that shows sales over time:

Sales were [Sales:C0] in [Date], vs. [Sales PoP-1Year:C0] the previous year

This would result in a tooltip that reads:

“Sales were $150,000 in 2015, vs. $125,000 the previous year.


Tip 3 – Filter Values

Did you know you can help your users to make a faster selection of data and encourage them to interact with their data by creating one click filters of common, predefined selections? Use components such as buttons/images/labels to setup a filter action of a predefined data selection that is available to the user outside of the filters drop down lists or token menus:

For date filters, you are able to create buttons that will allow the user to quickly filter on MTD/YTD/Other. For categorical filters, you can setup selection of multiple values or common values the user often needs to choose from. These include values such as North America and EMEA for region filters or any other common value the users in your organization typically choose.

Remember, these filters can be actioned not only from buttons, but from other components as well. Such components include images, which allows you to design your dashboard with meaningful images and have the user click on those to filter the data. A good example of this would be on a sales dashboard, where you have the logos of your biggest clients within images, so you can quickly filter. You could filter to show orders by your biggest clients rather than having to search for them in the list with all the other clients.


Tip 4 – Chart Properties

Dundas BI gives you great flexibility when it comes to styling your visualization. This is done via hundreds of properties at the smallest granularity that allow you to have full control over the way your visualization will look like. While properties are organized into categories and offer a searchable interface, a faster way to quickly find and access the desired properties you want to use, is made available by simply clicking on the visual you are currently working on.

For example, if you are working on a bar chart and you want to customize the bottom axis, you can simply click on the bottom axis area (while in edit mode). You will notice that the area is now selected and the properties panel is now open on the bottom axis. The same would apply with series or column within the tables, letting you quickly access the relevant properties for that selection and save time while styling.


Tip 5 – Configuration Settings

Did you know that Dundas BI works seamlessly on server farms? Just install Dundas BI on multiple computers and point each installation to the same Application Database. In large farms, you can organize the servers into groups (from the Dundas BI admin UI), and even specify different configuration setting values for individual servers or server groups using the 'Setting Scope' dropdown.


Tip 6 – States

Did you know that you can setup state conditions using hierarchies (and not just constant values or other measures)? You can set up states on a metric set to indicate whether your data is in a good or bad condition based on comparison with other measures, formula results, or hierarchy values.

For example: You can format table cells in 'red' to indicate values above a certain threshold, but also past 2015, because that threshold doesn't apply to values prior to 2015. Alternatively, you can apply your format only to values that are associated with one of your operation centers.


Tip 7 – Styling Properties

When styling your dashboard - you can save time by quickly accessing chart properties simply by clicking on the chart elements. For example: If you wanted to style the bottom axis, click on it and you'll notice the properties panel automatically switches to the bottom axis properties. The same applies for the other axis as well, the series and the grid lines.


Once you are done with your styling, you can save those styles and re-apply them to new visualizations. Once you have defined styles to multiple types of visualizations, you can create a new theme and then apply that theme as your application default theme. This ensures that every new visualization you start creating is automatically using those styles



Tip 8 – Ranking

In business, much like in professional sports, it's almost always about ranking - who is the best and who came in last. In Dundas BI, there are different ways to rank and get to your top and bottom values. Here is a quick overview of the methods and the pros and cons for each:

Using the metric set Top/Bottom settings

Pros: Quick and easy to set up. Gets the Top/Bottom records by filtering the data source at the query level and is therefore fast for large data sets.
Cons: To edit the number of Top/Bottom data points you want to get back, the metric set needs to be checked out.


Using a Top/Bottom formula

Pros: Easy to run for self-service users using the formula bar, and also easy to hook up a filter to control the number of data points to get back
Cons: Creates a separate visual (could be a pro as well) and runs on the existing metric set without filtering at the source level - can be slower with larger data sets.



Using a Top/Bottom transform

Pros: Filters the data at the data cube level - if all you ever need is the Top/Bottom N data points, and you store the data upfront in-memory or warehouse, then you optimize your storage and load time. Can also be used to create advanced Top/Bottom analysis such as top N + other.
Cons: Requires a developer to set up as its change to the data cube


Tip 9 – Placeholders

Did you know that you can add placeholders that will act as variables within your formulas? This can be used to create 'what-if' scenarios where the variable value changes according to a user selection on the dashboard via a hooked up filter or script. To add a placeholder to your formula, simply create a new formula on one of your visualizations or formula visualizations, and enclose the variables within $ signs (i.e. $YearlyRates$). Then you can associate a filter control (usually numeric or slider) to the placeholder.

Click here to open a sample using placeholders in formulas

Tip 10 – Display Count & Distinct Count for Hierarchies

You can now drag a hierarchy onto the data analysis measures and get the count or distinct count for the hierarchy, against the existing hierarchy under the rows section. Drag a date dimension to the rows and then a product (or other) hierarchy to the measures section. Now you can see the count of each product under that specific time slice!

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Tip 11 – Searching for Content

To help promote content and enable faster development, you can open the properties of any object (dashboard, metric set, data cube, etc.) and add tags (i.e. keywords) to that object! Those tags are then searchable from the search bar, allowing you and others to find those objects instantly without having to scroll through the explore tab folders.

Tip 12 – Total Rows

By default, Dundas BI tables shows the totals row at the top of the table. This allows you to focus on the total number, which is often what the user needs when looking at a large table. However, some users are more comfortable or used to having the totals shown at the bottom of the table. In both cases, if your table is long enough, once you start scrolling, the total rows may disappear. In Dundas BI Version 3.0, you have the option to freeze the totals row (using a simple table property) and ensure that users can still see it no matter how much scrolling is done in the table.


Tip 13 – Reading Multiple Files

You can now have a single data connector pointing to a series of files representing all of their data under a single connection. This allows you to analyze the historical data accumulated over multiple files. This is often useful when you have scheduled data dumps from a certain operational system or even logs files that are constantly generated using the same structure under a certain shared folder. Dundas BI allows you to create a single connector to all of those files and automatically show all of them under a single data connection. In doing so, you can avoid the need to have a data preparation process where you union the data.


Tip 14 – Total Values

You can now show or hide data points representing total values on a chart. Go to Properties for the chart and look under Main\OPTIONS. Uncheck the Hide Total Values property which applies to chart types other than Pie. When this property is unchecked, grand totals and subtotals are displayed in the chart. This feature is valuable as it allows you to be able to compare breakdowns to the overall (total) value


Tip 15 – Limiting Data Structures

Since Dundas BI offers power users with direct data exploration on top of an existing data connector, it may help your users if the data connector only exposes relevant tables/views (i.e. Data Structure). A simpler option than creating data cubes, is to simply limit the structures you expose under your data connector


Tip 16 – Hiding Objects

Did you know that with Version 3.0 you can easily hide objects from the file system by removing the user's permission to that object? For example, if you wanted to hide the data connectors folder for some users, you can simply deny the user's read permission (you can still have the execute permission if other depending objects are applicable for those users) and that folder will not show in the explore tree.

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