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Posted Jun 16, 2003

Reporting Options for Analysis Services Cubes: Cognos PowerPlay - Page 8

By William Pearson

Using PowerPlay Web for Reporting and Analysis

PowerPlay Web ("PPWEB"), like PPWIN, has two presentation modes. The purposes of PPWEB's two modes do not directly parallel those of the PPWIN's Explorer and Reporter components. In the case of PPWEB, the mode choices are called PowerPlay Web Explorer and PowerPlay Web Viewer. The Explorer option again provides a direct browse of the cube data. PowerPlay Web Viewer, however, is different from PowerPlay for Windows Reporter, in that the Viewer acts essentially as a simple viewer for PowerPlay .pdf reports. This option is often adequate in cases where static reports meet the business requirements of the organization's information consumers, and it allows for easy deployment of the reports using a minimal overhead browser - all the real processing occurs on the server. Access to non-local cubes (be they native PowerCubes or non-Cognos cubes), as well as reports that do not reside on the PC from which we are running them, is provided through PPES, as we discussed above.

Let's look at using PowerPlay to report from our Analysis Services cube. We'll examine a few of the capabilities within PowerPlay for viewing cube data, and get a feel for the functionality PowerPlay can provide us in reporting for Analysis Services data sources. We have established connectivity to the Warehouse cube via Cognos Connect in the steps above. After a brief introduction to the application, we will initialize PowerPlay Web and begin exploring our cube.

The platform for deploying our MS Analysis Services cube to the web is essentially the same as that which we would use to deploy a proprietary PowerCube generated within the PowerPlay Transformer application. PowerPlay Enterprise Server acts as the publication / server mechanism in either case, with little difference between the two cube types, once the Pointer cube is created.

There are two general ways of accessing the cube from the PPES platform. One is often referred to in the documentation, the literature on the Cognos site, and other references, as "thin client." In the "thin-client" environment, information consumers use PowerPlay for Windows on their PCs to access the Pointer file, which, even in this option, is deployed via PPES. "Thin client" operation very closely resembles standard PPWIN client operation, only connected to a remote cube, so we won't repeat what we have already covered earlier.

The other option for accessing cubes (be they native cubes or MS Analysis Services Cubes) using the PPES platform is via Web access, wherein authorized information consumers access the cube using a web browser ("zero-footprint" because no part of the PowerPlay application need be installed on the client PC).

In both of the presentation options above, the Pointer file for the Analysis Services cube must have been inserted into PPES. We will focus on the Web option for the remainder of the lesson Web solutions.

Preparing PowerPlay Enterprise Server for PowerPlay Reporting

Before briefly examining the reporting functionality of PPWEB for an MS Analysis Services cube, let's take a look at the PPES preparation process.

1.      Select Start -> Programs.

2.      Select Cognos EP Series 7 -> Cognos Server Administration.

The Cognos EP Series 7 -> Cognos Server Administration selection screen appears.

3.      Select the OLAP Cubes and Reports button to initialize PowerPlay Enterprise Server - Administration.

PowerPlay Enterprise Server - Administration initializes, with the appearance of the Connect to Server dialog shown in Illustration 39.

Illustration 39: The Connect to Server Dialog.

4.      Type in the name of your Server (or localhost) as appropriate. (Mine is defaulted to my server, MOTHER.)

NOTE: If prompted here, or at any step going forward, supply a user name and password that is valid for your environment.

5.      Click OK.

The PowerPlay Enterprise - Server Administration window appears. Now we will insert the MS Analysis Services cube for "publication" via PPES.

Select Insert -> Cube from the top menu, PPES Administration window, as depicted in Illustration 40.

Illustration 40: The PowerPlay Enterprise - Server Administration Window

Immediately after we click Insert -> Cube, we see the Cube Properties dialog appear.

6.      Type Warehouse Analysis Services Cube into the Name box of the dialog.

Note that the name typed here can be essentially anything unique that makes sense to the Administrator, and not necessarily the file name of the cube, or any names previously associated with the cube elsewhere.

7.      Type useful text into the Description box of the dialog (I typed Sample Warehouse MS Analysis Services Cube).

8.      Click the ellipses button (...) to the right of the Cube Source box.

The Select Source dialog appears.

9.      Navigate to the location of the Pointer file MSSQL_Warehouse.mdc, which we created earlier in the article (mine was saved in the default location, the Bin folder in the Cognos/cer2 directory, as depicted in Illustration 41.

Illustration 41: The Select Source Dialog

10.  Select the MSSQL_Warehouse.mdc file.

11.  Click OK to apply the file selection and to close the Select Source dialog.

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