There are several reasons why end users desire the ability to save information from their dashboard for future use. Hopefully with this article, I can sort out what you have available to you in order to solve some of these scenarios below.
- Save a personal scenario- A dashboard that contains some level of runtime scenario analysis (what-if) users want to save personalized scenarios based on their inputs to share or recall them at a later time.
- Save a shared scenario- A dashboard that contains some level of runtime scenario analysis (what-if) users want to save scenarios for all other dashboard end users to see.
- Offline usage- A dashboard that resides on the desktop that connects to live data, where the end user wants to take the SWF offline and still have access to the data.
- Write-back- A dashboard contains multiple inputs and functions as a form to write back to a database. This write back data is then used as a data source for the dashboard.
The path of least resistance to saving scenarios is achieved through the local scenario button. This Xcelsius component works similar to a cookie in your browser. The local scenario button takes a snapshot of the dashboard’s current state. This snapshot includes both the data and selections and is associated to the SWF if it is on your desktop or hosted on a server. If you access the same SWF in another browser session or after you re-start your computer, the scenarios will remain. This functionality also works using other deployment methods including Power Point and PDF.
I use a browser cookie to explain this functionality because the local scenario button does have similar limitations:
- Local Scenarios will only work for the local PC end user. Other people who access the SWF on your server will not have access to your scenarios.
- If you re-publish your SWF and overwrite the existing file, your scenarios are cleared. There is no way to transfer the scenarios to your new SWF.
- You cannot re-use the saved scenarios for other applications to access.
In our initial 4 scenarios we have solved #1 and #3. The only thing to remember with saving scenarios for connected dashboards, is the scenario will only grab the data present within the dashboard at that moment. If you are using parameterized queries to retrieve data, you may need to save multiple snapshots to tell your story in an “offline mode.”
For #2 and #4 you have two potential options.
Business Objects customers can potentially use Take action as a Web Service, which is an application that generates web services for writing back to a data base. I have not used this in any projects yet but it looks pretty nice.
Non-BOBJ customers or those who don’t have time or resources to create a database can use Xport Wizard to generate XML files on a server from Xcelsius, then load them back into the dashboard using the XML data connector. I have been using this utility for a while and love it because of its simplicity. Some of the XML data button binding gets a little tricky depending how complicated your dashboard saving is, but I have had tremendous luck so far.
Hopefully this clarifies what options you have available to you.