October 2009
Business Intelligence Unlocked: October 2009  
Creative Computing
Conditions and Variables
Cognos 8 Report Studio

Conditions and Variables
Using the Condition Explorer, the report author has the ability to format a report based on a certain criteria or condition.  Under the Condition Explorer the user may define a Report Language Variable, String Variable, or Boolean Variable.

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Condition Explorer

Given a set of conditions, a user can highlight, hide, or alter the appearance of any given object within a report.  This is useful for formatting the report to highlight objects that need to be brought to attention.  For example, if Revenue falls below a certain threshold then we can display the value in red so that whoever views the report can take immediate action to rectify the situation.

Basically, conditions can be used to perform the following:

  • Highlight specific data using conditional styles
  • Highlight specific data using style variables
  • Specify whether or not an object is rendered at run time

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A variable in Report Studio is best defined as a condition when a certain value or set of values is given, how the report output will be affected to highlight or hide objects to help make the best business decisions.

  • Report Language Variable – Use to create variables that have values which are different languages.
  • String Variable – Use to create variables whose values are string based.  This is useful for highlighting a specific string value within a report.
  • Boolean Variable – Used to create variables whose values only have two outcomes: Yes or No (“True or False”).

Creating Variables

To create a variable there are several steps that must be followed in order to format the report according to a condition.  The first step involves creating the variable, then applying the variable to the report object, and finally determining how the object is to be formatted given the condition is true.  In this example we will be using a Boolean Variable which is the most common variable type utilized.

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The first step is to hover the mouse over the “Condition Explorer” and click on the Variables link.  Once inside, the user is able to view the “Insertable Objects” pane which contains several different variables.  By simply clicking and dragging the type of variable desired into the variables pane, the user is prompted to insert an expression into a Report Expression window.

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The user is only able to access data items that are already contained within a query meaning they cannot use the objects straight from the model source.  In the Report Expression window, the user is able to define the variable or variables they wish to condition the report.  In the diagram above, the report developer has chosen to format the report differently based on an employees “Position” being a “Level 2 Sales Representative” or “Level 3 Sales Representative” and if their “Revenue Variance” is less than or equal to ‘0’.
**It is a best practice to rename the variables to enable the user to easily identify the purpose of each variable.

Applying Style Variables
Now that the variable has been defined, the user must choose which object or objects they would like to format given the condition.  Select the object you wish to format, in the diagram above we are selecting the entire List object using the ancestor button.  Once the object is selected, under the Properties Pane there is a setting called “Style Variable”.  By clicking on the ellipsis the user determines which variable previously created they would like to use on the object to format it at run time.  This is done simply by clicking on the drop down menu with the “Style Variable” window and choosing the desired variable.

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The next step in applying a style variable to a report object involves turning the Condition Explorer “on”.  To do so, the user must again hover over the Condition Explorer pane, and select the variable link that they defined in the previous step.  Once the Condition Explorer is set, the Explorer Bar will be highlighted in green.  If you do not have the object selected with the variable defined on it, you must reselect the object.  You may only access the formatting properties of an object with the variable defined on it.

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Apply the desired formatting to the report object with the Condition Explorer highlighted.  To turn off the Condition Explorer, double click on the green area of the Explorer Bar itself, or alternatively, hover over the Condition Explorer and choose the link “No Variable”.

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At this point, if the report were to be run, it would produce the output below.  Notice that the highlighted rows meet the criteria for the conditional expression.  In this manner we were able to clearly isolate values that need to be brought to attention in order to perform executive decisions.

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