This section describes how Crystal Analysis can create compelling analytic reports that enable users to extract valuable insights from their data. It shows how the Guided Analytic techniques provided by Crystal Analysis can be used to identify and prioritize problems, and ultimately extract actionable information and value from the underlying OLAP data.
The examples in this section use Crystal Analysis version 10 and the Key Performance Indicators cube from the Crystal Samples collection. The sample cubes can be installed by running setup.exe located in the Samples subdirectory on the CD-ROM in the back of the book. You might need to look in the appropriate language subdirectory under which you installed the product (for example, en for English).
Design Environment Overview
Think of the Crystal Analysis Design Environment as a painter's canvas. The Report Designer uses this canvas and a palette of available analytic objects to create an analytic report (often called an analytic application). The point-and-click, free-form designer environment for creating the analytic reports is ultimately flexible and the power of the available analytic objects is impressive. Figure 19.10 shows the major features of the Crystal Analysis Professional designer.
Figure 19.10. The Crystal Analysis designer components provide unique report creation capabilities.
At the top of the window is a toolbar divided into the following three sections:
At the bottom of the designer window, there is also a group of controls for managing the pages in the Crystal Analysis report in much the same way that you would in Excel.
Connecting to an OLAP Cube
Whether using an expert or creating a blank report, the first step is to connect to a cube. The cube is selected using the OLAP Connection Browser dialog, shown in Figure 19.11.
Figure 19.11. Select the OLAP server and Key Performance Indicators cube.
For more information on adding cube servers, p. 378
The design paradigm of Crystal Analysis is similar to that of an Excel workbook with respect to pages. A Crystal Analysis report or application can contain multiple pages and each page can provide an entirely unique viewpoint on the same underlying data source. New pages are added to the report by either choosing Insert, Page Menu or right-clicking on any existing Page tab and then accessing the Insert option. A New Page template dialog, shown in Figure 19.12, enables pages to be created quickly. If none of the page templates are suitable, a blank page can be inserted.
Figure 19.12. Use templates to create pages quickly.
If the New Page template dialog is not displayed when pages are inserted, it can be re-enabled through the Tools, Options menu.
New pages are automatically inserted at the end of the report and named Page 1, Page 2, and so on. A page can be renamed by right-clicking its tab and selecting Rename from the menu. You can change the order of the pages by dragging the tabs to a specific destination or by right-clicking and choosing Move or Copy. Creating analytic reports with multiple pages provides the power of a custom application because it provides varying perspectives of the cube and facilitates guided navigation between them. This guided navigation is explored in the next chapter.