Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Dodeca Spreadsheet Management System, Version 6.3, Has Been Released!

We have been very busy at work on a new version of Dodeca and were working so hard, in fact, that we missed our marketing opportunity of the century.  Of course, I am talking about December 12th or “12/12/12” which is also known as, of course, “Dodeca Day”.  Oh well, we have 99 years, 11 months to plan for the next one!

Not all is lost, however, because after months of hard work, we have released the Dodeca Spreadsheet Management System, version  The new version of Dodeca is very exciting as we have worked very hard to make it easier and faster to create and publish dynamic spreadsheet content.  This new capability is provided by the new Dodeca View Wizard and the new View Designer.  First, let’s take a look at the View Wizard.

The View Wizard is used to create or modify a Dodeca View which is the Dodeca version of a report or input form.  In all previous versions of Dodeca, the system administrators used a three step process to create and deploy a view:
  1. Create a report template in Excel and import it into Dodeca using the Binary Artifacts Metadata Editor form.
  2. Create a View object to link together the Excel template with Essbase and/or SQL Connection objects, and set Essbase properties and other settings.  These settings were set in the View Metadata Editor form.
  3. Deploy the new View on a View Hierarchy object in the View Hierarchy Metadata Editor form.
When we originally had the vision for the View Wizard, our intent was that it would help developers who wanted to learn Dodeca as they wouldn’t have to learn these three separate forms just to publish a simple report.  We also thought that, once someone learned the ins and outs of the product, they would return to using the metadata editor forms.  What we have found, however, is that the View Wizard makes it so much easier that, even for me, *I* haven’t created a new view using the old ‘3-step process’ since I first had the View Wizard available to me in alpha form.

The View Wizard takes a step-by-step approach to creating the new view.  The first step is to choose the type of view that you would like to create.  Dodeca supports creating static views from Excel files or dynamic, data-driven views from Essbase and/or SQL data sources.

Choosing a specific wizard determines which properties are available on the view object.   Once you choose the type of view, the wizard then walks you through the steps.  The first step lets you assign a name to the new View.

Next, you specify the Excel file you would like to use or specify if you would like to create a view using a new Excel file.

In my example, I have selected a file from my desktop to bring into, and publish with, Dodeca.

The next step is to choose the member selectors you would like to filter the view.

The member selectors are highly configurable in Dodeca, but for this example I will let Dodeca use the default selectors, which use the Essbase hierarchy tree from which users can make selections.
Next, I will choose user interface settings including the toolbars and whether or not Dodeca displays the Excel formula bar.

In my case, I let Dodeca choose the default toolbars for this view type, and then I selected the checkbox that tells Dodeca to display the formula bar.
Next, I will skip the AutoBuild on Open step and jump to the Essbase Connection Settings.  When I initialized my Dodeca environment, I ran the Dodeca Essbase Connection wizard and chose the Essbase databases I wanted to include in my application.  In this step, I will choose which Essbase connection to use for this specific view.

In the next step, I will specify that Dodeca retrieve data into a specified range and will specify the format for #Missing and #NoAccess labels.   Dodeca has the ability to use a specified range name where the data will be retrieved.  This capability uses normal Excel range names which can be created dynamically within the spreadsheet.

My next step is to specify that this view be associated with a workbook script.  Workbook script is the typical way that customers customize and tailor view creation or behavior based on their unique requirements.   It works using a paradigm of events and related actions, or methods, which dynamically change either the spreadsheet or the Dodeca environment.  In my case, I don’t plan to do anything with the workbook script, yet, but I decided to add one just in case I want it later.

Finally, I am just going to press the Finish button in the navigation panel on the left and all of the necessary objects will be created behind the scenes and stored in the Dodeca server.   At this point, I have several options.

I need to make a couple of modifications to my Excel template.  Remember that I had picked three member selectors in an earlier step in the View Wizard, so I need to tell Dodeca where on the spreadsheet to place the member values selected by the user.   I also had specified that the data will be retrieved based on a named range, so I need to create that named range.   In all previous releases of Dodeca, this work would be done in Excel but that is no longer the case.  The new View Designer allows you to edit the Excel template directly within Dodeca.  First I will place the tokens that indicate where the selector values will be placed.

Next, I will specify the range where I want to limit the Essbase retrieve.

Finally, I saved the template back to the Dodeca server and tested the output by opening the view in preview mode directly from the wizard.

Since I liked how the view looked in preview mode, I decided to go ahead and deploy the view by placing the view in a view hierarchy and, using drag and drop, I dropped the new view on the hierarchy.

Once I placed the view in the hierarchy and committed it to the server, the view was now deployed and available to users on my server.

So, now you have seen an introduction to some very useful things in the new version of Dodeca and I hope you have the chance to use them soon. Soon, I will do a deeper dive post on the View Designer and explore the savings in both time and effort our customers are seeing when using this new component.

If you are not currently a Dodeca customer and would like to try it out, go to our Contact Us page on the Applied OLAP website and ask about an evaluation copy of Dodeca.