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Author's profile photo Former Member

Reportapalooza Monster Sighting Dashboard: The How and the Why

I’m part of a big reporting challenge called “Reportapalooza: Prepare yourselves for domination” to help raise awareness of SAP Crystal Dashboard Design and as part of the fun I created a Monster Sighting Dashboard (as requested by you all).  I knew I faced some pretty stiff competition, so I knew I’d have to bring it. And since I was dealing with monsters, I know I’d have to bring it hairy, toothy, clawy, and probably at my own risk. 

I decided if I was gonna bring this one home, I’d have to combine two of my three greatest skillsets — knowing practically everything about monsters and making freakin’ awesome dashboards.  And for those dashboards to work, they’d need to bring some data connectivity, some pretty, and some “what-if” analysis to the party.

Tab 1: In which our hero explores Data Connectivity

My first thought was “I really like shiny stuff.  Hey, that’s shiny; I like it.”  My second thought was that I was gonna have to come up with some data.  My third thought was that I didn’t want to, so I’d just make up the data.  My fourth thought was that making up data sounded like a lot of work, so I’d ask my friends and followers to make up data.  And boy, did they ever.  

I’d like to take a bunch of credit for figuring stuff on this out, but I really just relied on Hacking SAP’s DIY guide. I did have to request folks tweet in a special syntax (“#Reportamonster #[MonsterType] [Location where you saw it]”) so I could parse it out using standard Excel functions, but that was pretty easy. I chose Twitter because anyone could submit, anyone could read, and because the info is public, no one could get too awful mad about it.

To really dial up the sexy on this dashboard, I used the GMaps Plugin (much thanks to Ryan at Centigon Solutions) which is available for a free trial.  It was very easy to use.  I also considered a few of Donald MacCormick’s XComponents (which are free but didn’t have the multiple series options I needed), largely because everyone loves the Spinning XGlobe.

Unfortunately, some of those entries either couldn’t be parsed out by Excel or couldn’t be found by Google Maps, so I added a table to show the last 50 entries and used a toggle button and dynamic visibility to let users choose between the map and the table. People like to have their hard work validated, and my Monster Sighting Field Agents are no different.

Tab 2: In which our hero explores “The Pretty”

Here I just wanted to show off some of the various graphs and components native to the tool that got everyone to buy SAP Crystal Dashboard Design back when it was Xcelsius.  I figured dynamic visibility and some interactivity are always useful.  On this one, I used dynamic visibility as well as the Insert Filtered Rows Functionality to dynamically switch graphs, factoids, and links based on what the user picked on the FishEye Selector.  Toughest part here (as always) was figuring out the best graph to use with which type of data. I usually refer here for more info.

 Tab 3: In which our hero determines “What-If”

What-If analysis is one of the tool’s biggest selling points, so I decided to make a Vampire Preparedness Evaluation tab.  Like above, the hard part was coming up with the rules (How many vampires can one unit of silver dust? What if you have special training? What if you can’t decide between Team Edward and Team Jacob?).  After that, making the display was easy. 

  1. You put the rules in Excel.
  2. You hook the components to those cells.
  3. You sit back and wait for the job offers to roll in.

What happens now?

Please go out and vote.  You can vote for each dashboard once, make sure you make it count.  I encourage you to be fair. If you can’t be fair, please be biased towards me.

Submit your reporting war stories.  People who submit the most heroic ones will be commemorated on a poster.

Choose what you’d like to learn more about regarding SAP Crystal Solutions.  Anytime I make streaming online content, it is sure to be a hit. 

And, if you’d like a copy of the .XLF file I made (you’ll need the GMaps Plugin Trial installed to view it) just find me on Twitter or via my SCN Business Card.

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      Author's profile photo Matthias Steiner
      Matthias Steiner
      Hi Jamie,

      I really like the idea of leveraging social media to gather the data for reports.

      In fact, especially the simple Twitter integration allows you to reach out to a huge community and with the right multiplier (central nodes) you could easily get a solid data base with minimal effort. Furthermore, if the map integration is that simple and you may even include real geo date for the posts you could reduce the entry barrier of collecting (social) data for building such custom reports to the very minimum.

      I'm thinking of stuff like:

      etc... or for whatever purposes. If a special #hashtag on twitter is all that it needs to generate mass data you have tons of options.

      Great idea... build upon it!


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I think there are a ton of uses.  The biggest problem is honestly Twitter.  It is immensely popular, but down every other day.  I don't see it as a reliable source for IMPORTANT data. 

      The second issue is that folks often can't see it from work (my dashboard is apparently having this issue, and there are apparently some workarounds, but I don't like workarounds). 

      Finally, crowdsourcing isn't exactly reliable.  I might report a traffic jam where I am to drive traffic away from my proposed route. Actually, forget I ever said that!

      However, the basic building blocks are definitely there, and potential is tremendous.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I  have enjoyed being one of your field agents for the monster sightings, and I am very much looking forward to logging on tonight from home, where the network does not block Twitter, so that I can vote and see the new push pins from the sightings reported today. I am already looking forward to Monster Map 2.0 with even more exciting functionality, especially music and a popup chorus of field agent smiling faces.

      However, you mentioned that this challenge used two of your three greatest skills. What is that third skill, or is it too racy to share on SCN?

      This challenge was a great idea; it demonstrates the various interactive reporting capabilities in a fun and user friendly way. Kudos to all the challenge participants!


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      My third greatest skill is blogging.  Since that wasn't evident, I'm assuming it is a big drop off from Skill # 2 to Skill # 3.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blogging? Oh, well, yes, but I would have put witty repartee (regardless of delivery media) as valued skill #1. Then again, knowing all about monsters certainly came in handy for this exercise with an excellent result. Anyway, chacun à son goût.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Thanks for the French. You make me "oswald" more things than anyone I know.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Jamie,

      This is great.  Thanks for shining light on the campaign.  Great story and great dashboard. i LoVE the monster profile tab!


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      It's easy to love what you are beating.  Hopefully the conspiracy theorists out there will show up to vote!  And soon!
      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      For the best sense of humour on SCN! Your blogs are hilariously good reads! Oh yah, they're informative too.