Design Studio can be used to build BI applications. To make sure that the applications have a consistent look and feel within an enterprise, it is necessary to work with templates. Also, since Design Studio is still being developed, a template helps incorporating new functionality in a consistent manner. And finally, a template speeds up the process of building new reports, since basic functionality is already in place and it is not necessary to rebuild this every time.
The benefit of course depends of the similarity of the reports. If the reports are all very different, the benefit will be less. Bearing that in mind, it can help to work with general principles in the design of the reports.
To achieve a consistent look, it is necessary to build a css file that is used in the template. The css file, in combination with the theme, makes sure that all the components, i.e. tables, buttons, and so on, have a similar look and feel. Also, certain icons should be developed that will be part of the template.
The report area
A typical set up of the report area of a template consists of three elements, a header, a filter panel and a body.
Header: In the header area icons are placed that call up functions. Functions can be: open/close a filter panel, switch pages in the report, export to excel, print, help, etc. Usually the functions in the header are similar for all the reports. Sometimes a logo is part of the header area.
Filter panel: in every report there will always be a certain filter panel where it is possible set filters, i.e. a different year or level of the organization. Also in the panel navigational properties can be placed, or other properties that influence the result area.
Body: The body is the place where the result is shown. This area depends completely on the type of report that is build, and in general this can differ a lot.
Depending on how sophisticated your reports will be, you will require scripting to make it all work. The scripting can be divided into two parts. One part that handles template functionality, and another part that is typically for a single report. The template scripting should be left alone by the persons who work with the template. This is scripting that handles i.e. functions that are triggered from the icons in the header. The report scripting is an area where the report builder can add his own code. Typically the data handling needs this kind of scripting. To organize the scripting, it is best to work with ‘buttons’ and call them with ‘onClick’ statements. The scripting can then be easily found and changed when necessary. Currently it is not possible to work with a library of scripting functionality throughout the whole application. Thus a change in the code needs te be copied to every report.
Since new functionalities is expected every new release of Design Studio, it is important that these new functionalities can easily be incorporated into the template. Version management is thus important to start with. Every time a correction or improvement is made, this is logged in the template and documented. With a proper set up of the coding, it should be a matter of replacing coding for reports that are already build.
In conclusion: to build an enterprise BI application with Design Studio, a template can be used to speed up the development and maintain consistency between the several reports.