MicroStrategy, the culmination of over 20 years of BI experience from the Washington based company of the same name, offers a unified enterprise platform on which to create models, documents, components, and applications, all of which are governed by a central metadata repository. This metadata repository is at the core of every MicroStrategy deployment, and is essential for every report, dashboard and application.
This blog post is going to highlight something I’ve been focusing on for the past few months. Reports. Reports. Reports. Beautifully pixel perfect reports.
In order to create reports in MicroStrategy, you have to have access to MicroStrategy Developer (previously known as MicroStrategy Desktop). MicroStrategy Developer is the BI software component that provides integrated monitoring, reporting, powerful analytics, and a decision support workflow through a visual interface on Windows-based OSs.
Reports are built using MicroStrategy’s metadata objects such as attributes, metrics and filters. These metadata objects represent the information stored in your data warehouse. Attributes provide qualitative context about your business dimensions, while metrics are the business calculations you want to analyse. Filters allow you to focus on a particular subset of the data and can include prompts, which are questions presented to the user when the report is executed. These objects are developed in MicroStrategy Architect, which is one of the sub-components of MicroStrategy Developer, and can be inserted into any number of reports.
All reports created in the developer interface are immediately available across all MicroStrategy interfaces, such as MicroStrategy web. Within MicroStrategy, you can build reports using existing report templates or create new reports from scratch leveraging reusable metadata objects. To add these attributes, metrics and filters on your report is as simple as a drag and drop movement, quite literally. Seeing that these objects are already created, you don’t need knowledge of the underlying data warehouse structure.
Reports can be shared to a location, giving other users access and there are no additional steps needed to publish reports to the web environment. With MicroStrategy, it is pretty easy to create reports from scratch in order to meet business requirements and make them available to all users. Reports have also been improved in MicroStrategy 10.6. The new PDF export engine improves dashboard delivery, allowing horizontal and vertical pagination.
MicroStrategy’s powerful SQL Engine writes SQL by reacting to metadata objects, dragging and dropping tables, fetching rows and columns, defining joins and specifying filtering conditions. The SQL used to execute reports can be viewed, displaying a detailed level of information, including whether the report is using a reporting caching mechanism, when the report execution started and ended, the breakdown of the execution details, including the duration in Query Engine of both the SQL statement and the analytical processing of results. Reports can also be created using FreeForm SQL, handing greater control to the user, which of course has pros and cons.
From these reports, we can create detailed documents. The source report will become the document’s dataset, displaying the same metadata objects. The detailed document offers the opportunity to customise every section of the document, allowing users to edit sections as shown below:
All in all, MicroStrategy offers a very efficient reporting tool that is not only powerful, but is also easy to use.