IBM Cognos Framework Manager overview - IBM Cognos

IBM Cognos Framework Manager is the metadata model development environment for IBM Cognos BI. It is a Windows-based client tool that you can use to create simplified business presentations of metadata that are derived from one or more data sources. With IBM Cognos Framework Manager, you can publish that metadata to IBM Cognos BI in the form of a package. You can also use it to add dimensional information to relational data sources that allow for OLAP-style queries. This type of model is known as a Dimensionally ModeledRelational (DMR) model.

Reporting requirements and data access strategies

Before creating an IBM Cognos Framework Manager project, it is important for the modeler understand the reporting requirements. This knowledge allows the modeler to make better decisions regarding data access strategies, metadata model design, and report package delivery to IBM Cognos BI.

Reviewing sample or mock reports that meet the business needs is a good start, followed by identifying which data sources contain the information that is required. The modeler also needs to consider the following types of questions:

  • Are those data sources appropriate for reporting?
  • Is it a transactional system or the preferred reporting database structure, known as a star schema data warehouseor data mart?
  • How fresh does the data need to be?
  • Will your reporting occur daily, weekly, or monthly?

The answers to these types of questions can affect dramatically the data access strategy that you choose.

For example, if you require up-to-the-minute data in your reports, then going with the transactional database might be the only option. This choice, however, can increase the metadata modeling work drastically, because transactional systems are typically quite complex. If the intervals of data freshness are greater, by the hour day, week, or month for example, then using data warehouses or data marts that are refreshed at the required interval is a better choice.

IBM Cognos bases its algorithms around industry-standard star schema designs that consist of fact tables and related dimension tables. For larger warehouses that have slower response times due to the sheer volume of data, consider using some form of materialization in which views are created with pre-aggregated results.

You can also use OLAP sources, which can by pass the requirement for metadata modeling in IBM Cognos Framework Manager. This method can reduce response times dramatically as well, because the data is already calculated and aggregated. OLAP sources provide the added bonus of dimensional analysis and reporting, which allow users to navigate through the data and to apply powerful dimensional functions.

Also ask the following questions before creating an IBM Cognos Framework Manager project:

  • What type of business logic needs to be implemented?
  • Are there specific calculations, filters, or security requirements.

These types of questions allow you to investigate what can be done at the data source level rather than in the IBM Cognos Framework Manager model. As a general rule, it is better to off-load to the extract, transform, and load(ETL)process that populates a warehouse to avoid that processing time when running reports. In addition, it is better to push more processing to the data source, such as filters, sorting, grouping, and so on, because vendor databases are typically optimized for those types of operations.

Give special attention to planning and scope before you embark on a business intelligence project to avoid rework down the road.

Metadata model
Before we continue, we need to define a metadata model in the context of IBM Cognos BI. A metadata model is a collection of metadata that is imported from a database. It describes the tables, columns, and relationships in the database. This metadata is published as a package to the IBM Cognos BI portal, and is used to generate appropriate SQL requests to the database when reports or analysis are run.

MetaData WorkFlow

MetaData WorkFlow

In most cases, the metadata is altered in IBM Cognos Framework Manager to ensure predictable results when reporting and to meet reporting and presentation requirements. The model can hide the structural complexity of underlying data sources and provide more control over how data is presented to IBM Cognos BI users. You can also choose which data to display to users and how that data is organized. The overall goal of modeling the metadata is to create a model that provides predictable results and an easy-to-use view of the metadata for authors and analysts.

The IBM Cognos Framework Manager UI

The IBM Cognos Framework Manager UI

The user interface includes the following panes:

  • The Project Viewerpane, by default, is on the left side of the window and provides an easy way to access all your project's objects in a tree format.
  • The Project Info pane is the center pane and provides access to the project’s objects through various methods. The three tabs in this pane(Explorer, Diagram, and Dimension Map)allow you to create, edit, configure, or delete objects. You use each of these tabs throughout this.
  • The Properties pane, by default, is located in the bottom middle of the window and allows you to configure various properties for any of the project's objects.
  • The Tools pane, by default, is located on the right side of the window and provides several useful tools. You can use it to switch the project language quickly, to view project statistics, and to perform common tasks for selected objects. This pane also provides a search utility(second tab)and an object dependencies utility (third tab). Simply drag an object(and its children if it has any)to the top panel, select the object or one of its children in the top panel and view the dependant objects in the bottom panel. This is very useful when you want to change an object and assess the impact that the change will have on other objects in the model.

All panes can be hidden except the Project Info pane, which is the main work area. To restore a pane, use the View menu or use the toggles on the toolbar. You can also detach and rearrange the Project Viewer, Properties, and Tools panes.

Reporting objects

In IBM Cognos Framework Manager, there are several objects with which you interact in either the Project Viewer or the Project Info panes. For simplicity, we examine the objects in the Properties pane, with the exception of relationships.

Reporting objects

The Project Viewer pane includes the following reporting objects:

Model objects in the Project Viewer pane

  • The following types of query subjects:
  • A Data Source object, maps to a corresponding object in the data source and uses a modifiable SQL statement to retrieve the data. This object is identifiable by the small database icon in the top-right corner.

    Data Source query subjects
    Data Source query subjects

  • A Model object, maps to existing metadata in the model.

    Model query subjects
    Model query subjects

  • A Stored Procedure executes a database stored procedure to retrieve or update the data. Its icon appears the same as a Data Source query subject.
  • A Query item, is contained within a query subject and maps to a corresponding object in the data source.

    Query items
    Query items

  • A Regular Dimension object, contains descriptive and from the highest level of granularity to the lowest, allowing for OLAP-style queries.
  • A Measure Dimension object, is a collection of facts for OLAP-style queries.

    Measure Dimension
    Measure Dimension

  • A Shortcut object, is a pointer to an underlying object that can act as an alias or reference.
  • Shortcuts
    Shortcuts

  • A Namespace object, is an organizational container that also uniquely identifies the objects that it contains. For example, two different namespaces can both contain a shortcut called Products without causing a naming conflict in the model, which is useful for star schema groupings.

    Namespaces
    Namespaces

  • A Folder object, is an organizational container for various model objects. Query item folders are also available to organize items within a query subject.

    Folder
    Folder

  • Other objects are available, such as model filters and calculations, but we discuss those later. The Project Info pane on the Diagram tab includes the following relationships:
    A relationship, explains how the data in one query subject relates to the data in another.

    Relationship
    Relationship

  • A scope relationship, exists between Measure Dimensions and Regular Dimensions to define the level at which the measures are available for reporting.

    Scope relationship

    Scope relationship

    You might also work with the following types of objects:

  • The Data Sources folder, contains the data sources that we used in the project. The data sources are defined in IBM Cognos Connection. The data sources are definitions containing the pertinent information the IBM Cognos BI requires to connect to the underlying data sources.
  • The Data Source folder
    The Data Source folder

  • The Parameter Maps folder, contains parameter maps that allow for data or some other model value substitution at run time. These parameter maps are useful when trying to dynamically affect the way that the model behaves when reports are run.

    The Parameter Maps folder
    The Parameter Maps folder

  • The Packages folder, contains packages that are published to IBM Cognos BI to make model metadata available to authors.

    The Packages folder
    The Packages folder


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