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SAP’s Reportapalooza marches on, staring down oncoming haunted holidays and political elections with shere determination.  The Dash for Charity challenge is under way this week and it is time to let you in on the backstory.  About a month ago, each of the five Reportapalooza Experts chose a charity for which to build a real dashboard, only this time the stakes were higher.  Not only were we competing for your votes but the winning dashboard’s charity will also recieve a $1000 donation.  I chose to work with Academy of Hope, an organization dedicated to offering a second chance for undereducated adults who believe that tools they need to improve their futures lie in achieving basic academic skills and accreditation.

 

Academy of Hope is not a large charity – they are concentrated in the Washington DC area – but the impact their services have on clients is life changing. Establishing a strong partnership with their teachers, students learn to set and achieve goals, often leading to obtaining a GED and in some cases even moving on to college.  Academy of Hope serves learners of all ages and from all backgrounds who share a common belief that knowledge and education holds they key to improving their lives.  Every report, every dashboard tells a story, and the Academy of Hope’s story was one I wanted to tell.

 

Before I go any further, there is some administrative stuff we need to take care of.  You can view all the dashboards from the Reportapalooza Dash for Charity challenge, including this one, at http://bit.ly/ci3Qb2. We did not win, but this is a charity that is truly deserving of support.

 

Ok, back to the challenge.  After selecting the charity with whom I wanted to work, and since they were in Washington DC and I wasn’t, I set up a conference call to introduce myself.  After going over my background and learning more about Academy of Hope, we worked out some basic requirements for the dashboard.  Academy of Hope operates almost excluseively through the generosity of its sponsors, so the target audience would be potential donors and the dashboard message would be to convey the basic information they needed to know how much their support would be valued.  In short, the dashboard would communicate the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of the organization. 

 

All while showcasing the capabilities of Crystal Reports Dashboards.  Easy peasy, right?

 

The next step was to get some actionable information to start the project.  Academy of Hope followed up the phone conference with additional information via email, links to online reports, photos and graphics, color schemes, and of course spreadsheets full of ripe, juicy data.  Now it was time to get to work.  Siezing on the Who What Where When theme, I started out with a blank canvas and created six tabs, each telling a different part of the Acedemy of Hope story. As you work your way though the tabs, you become more familiar with the organization, what it does, who it serves, where they come from, how they benefit.  The story concludes with a fundraising simulator that shows how you can help.

 

The first tab begins the story in nine parts with photos of Academy of Hope at work. Each photo is accompanied by a piece of Academy of Hope‘s story.  The tools used for this tab included a sliding picture menu, photo images and text boxes.  Using dynamic visibility properties, the images and text are conditionally displayed based on the selected thumbnail.  A label formula produces quick facts obove the thumbnails to accent the story.

 

The second tab tells the story of what Academy of Hope does, listing the number of students participating in the various academic programs.  Because the students come from so many different levels of previous education, each student starts out by establishing goals and achievements in different categories. The guages describe by program the number of students over the last year completing each goal or achievement, as well as the total number of students from all programs completing that goal or achievement.  This tab uses an accordian menu object to select a key row of data, then single value guague objects to display individual data points.  Finally, a ticker at the bottom of the page displays a key for each program name and its definition.

 

The third tab takes the Academy of Hope story on the road, presenting demographic information for each serviced ward in the Washington DC area.  Selecting a ward from the label menu triggers five visual elements that complete the picture.  The first are images showing the location of the ward, displayed and hidden through dynamic visibility.  The second is a pie chart that shows what Academy of Hope programs have students from that ward enrolled, also controlled through dyanmic visability.  The horizontal bar chart showing ages and the stacked bar chart showing ethnicity count use VLookup formulas based on the selected ward.  The Employment Status combines VLookup formulas and single value display objects to complete the picture.

 

The fourth tab appears simple on the surface, continuing the story describing Academy of Hope, breaking down program completion by age, months duration and hours of instruction.  But beneath the hood is a bee hive of activity.  A dynamic radio button control object reads its options from the data and using filtered rows copies whole blocks of data to a staging area where the list view object picks it up and displays it in a easy to read table format. 

 

The fifth tab delivers emotion to the dashbaord by letting four of the Academy of Hope‘s students tell their own stories about what Academy of Hope has meant to them.  Through a drop-down combo box, dynamic visibility is again called upon to display the student’s photo and their compelling stories. 

 

Finally, the sixth tab draws upon the facts, figures and emotion of the Academy of Hope story so far and channels it into action.  The Fundraising Simular is a fun, interactive tool that lets the prospective sponsor see how easy it would be for them to make a difference.  It is not enough to list on the left how far donations can go.  After entering a fundraising goal into the data input object, the simulator is set.  Using the horizontal slidebar to represent the amount of funds raised, the vertical thermometer measures the success of the campaign with both numeric and visual indicators (the thermometer changes color from deep red to vibrant green).  Additionally, a dynamic text lable drives the story home, describing in real time how much Academy of Hope could accomplish of the simulated sponsorship came true.

 

So that is the story of how I created the Reportapalooza Dash for Charity challenge dashboard for Academy of Hope.  To see all the features described in this blog post, just go to http://bit.ly/ci3Qb2 and take a look for yourself.  I felt this was a winning dashboard even though it fell just a few votes short.  I wanted to win the challenge but especially the donation to my charity as $1000 could have paid for a full term of GED services for two students.  I learned that from the Academy of Hope dashboard.  What a great ending to a terrific story.

 

As Reportapalooza pulls into its home stretch next month, there are more surprises ahead, including the final challenge, Reporting Remix, and a webinar where you can talk directly with all your Reportapalooza Experts.

 

Plus, do you think you can beat the experts?  Reportapalooza has opened up the challenges to you (http://bit.ly/aI6qn2).  If you think you can build a better dashboard or produce a better tutorial video, take your best shot!  You could even win a Zune MP3 player, but don’t wait too long – submissions will only be accepted through November 5th.  As always, check back here for Reportapalooza updates!

 

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and have been following Reportapalooza. If so, I would love to hear from you.  If you want to find out more about me, Reportapalooza or Crystal Reports, you can visit follow me on Twitter @David_Deitch, become my professional friend on Facebook (http://bit.ly/9HaNKj) or connect with me on LinkedIn (http://linkd.in/cBQzEv).

 

You can also visit Crystal Connections Atlanta on Facebook (http://bit.ly/ciXH0T) and coming soon, my new web site, http://crystalconnectionsatl.com.  And of course, you are invited to join over 2800 Crystal Reports professionals on my Crystal Reports group on LinkedIn (http://linkd.in/9stmUW) and join the over 2100 members of the Crystal Reports Users Group on Yahoo Groups (http://bit.ly/bW2YuN).

 

Finally, if you tweet about this blog (and please do), be sure to include the #Reportapalooza tag in your tweet and help us get the word out.  This has been a long post, and if you have read this far (please let me know if you have), thank you.  If you have visited the Reportapalooza web site (http://bit.ly/ajKAJF), thank you.  And if you voted for the Academy of Hope Dash for Charity dashboard (http://bit.ly/ci3Qb2), then on behalf of myself and the Academy of Hope, THANK YOU.

 

David Deitch

Senior Crystal Reports Developer
SAP Reportapalooza Maestro

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