I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while and have finally decided that tonight is the night. 🙂
Some of you may have found the symbols feature in Analysis for OLAP where you can use different symbol indicators with varying colors to add some visual cues to Analysis Workspaces. This is also possible with Webi if you get a little creative. The method that I will describe should work in any browser or platform that is supported by Webi, and you shouldn’t have any of the dynamic image display problems that you might get by using pictures as your symbols.
These can be used for many things, but most notably for any kind of report where you want to provide some kind of indicator on current status or recent changes. For example, prices or any other simple measurement that have gone up or down within the last day can be very easily identified with a symbol and a bit of color.
Step-by-step, here is how you can do it. My screenshots will be in Webi for BI 4, but you should also be able to do the same thing in XI 3.1. First, of course, start by adding a new column to the block in your Webi report.
Then create a new Conditional Rule.
For the “Filtered object or cell” option, select the “Select an object or variable.” You will need an object or a variable available on your report that allows you to do some kind of comparison. For example, you could have a variable that has the amount a price has changed from one day to the next. You could compare the value of the variable against zero (0), and if the new value is less than 0, the price has gone down, so you might want to show a green-colored arrow pointing down. There are many different standard font symbols that you can use available in the character map, and you can make your conditional colors whatever you would like.
In my example I am using stock prices. This is easy enough–there is one measure for the opening stock price for that day, and another measure for the closing price. Just compare the two values to see if today’s price closed higher or lower than what it opened.
And here I am setting the condition to check for if my “Close” measure is Greater than my “Open” measure:
After setting up the value of your comparison, you can then set the format options for what you want the cell to look like if that condition is met. Click the Format button to open that dialog.
In my case, I want to use a symbol in the cell as a visual indicator. To get my symbol, I am going to use a tool that has been included with Windows for many, many years called the Character Map. Sometimes you have to install this as an extra option or feature, and the same information should be available in other operating systems and even online.
In Windows 8.1, you can go to Windows Accessories and then open the Character Map.
I would recommend sticking with a normal font that is widely used across different operating systems, such as Arial, and look through all of the characters until you find a symbol that looks like what you want to display. There are plenty of shapes to choose from, but I would still try to stick with a normal font just in case someone uses your report that is not on the same operating system, browser, or has a custom font that you may have installed.
From here it is pretty simple: just find the character, double-click on it (or highlight and click “Select”), and then click “Copy.”
I’m going to go ahead and put a positive, negative, and neutral symbol in my clipboard so I can have quick access to each and use them all on my report:
Back in Webi, on the Formatting Rules window, you can actually set a custom formula to populate the cell based on a match for your rule. This can be used for many different things, including swapping out values or placing words or characters in the cell, but in this case we will use it to display our visual symbols. In this case, I am looking for when the stock price was higher at the end of the current day, so I want the up arrow in my cell formula.
Then you can set any font and background colors and attributes that you may like.
Once you have the first one set up, just continue adding conditions by clicking on the “Add” button until you have all of your conditions set up.
On my report I have added a positive (green arrow pointing up), a negative (red arrow pointing down), and a neutral (blue dash) symbol.
Click on the “OK” button and your new symbol should appear.
There are a lot of possible things that you can use this for, but this is just a little trick that I have used from time to time to give a very simple and user-friendly visual indicator to a grid of data in Webi.