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3/15/2012

I’m surprised many of my colleagues didn’t have Xcelsius templates created for each of their projects. Many clients I’ve visited don’t have templates setup either when I first walk through the doors.  However, as soon as I arrive, I sit down and develop a template right away.  It’s second nature for me to copy and paste a template to work a new dashboard. Everyone eagerly adopts the concept, too. It’s easy!

Whether you’re new to Xcelsius or a seasoned guru, if you open a brand new Xcelsius file for every new dashboard you create, developing a template will save you time.  You can save time by placing components and sourcing them to cells to reuse every time you copy your base template.  You can create multiple templates based on your audience’s specific needs.

Before you even open Xcelsius, have a layout in mind.  A few sketches or napkin doodles are all you need.

Let’s get started by opening a new Xcelsius dashboard.  I always start by saving this blank canvas and spreadsheet as “00TEMPLATEBASE_<SETNAME>” for easy searching later.  I have multiple template base sets, so I have a different name for each of them.  The “set name” usually matches my current project title or client’s organization name.

With the sketch of your default layout handy, start by dragging components to match your layout. I usually drag in 3-5 canvas containers to start (A title container, a footer container, and at least one body/content container to match my planned layout).  Next, create a mock-up for the title and footer.  Continue inserting components until you match your desired layout. Don’t worry about text or component content yet.  Just make sure the components are resized, formatted and renamed.  Once the components are in place and formatted, save your progress.

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Now, move on to the spreadsheet.  Rename the first sheet to “Master” or the name of your choice to show that it’s the place to map base components (I also map data connection URLs to this sheet as well).  Make sure each template component has a cell for sourcing.  I usually provide one user input (green text below) and one component output (red text below).  I like to color code my Excel sheets, which usually makes it easier to maintain the dashboards.  I have a small table that shows the keys for the color code.  Finally, I’ll save the document again before linking the components to the cells.

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Once the components and spreadsheet are laid out, link the two together.  Title label to the title formatted cell and so forth.  Lock each component as you go to keep from moving components accidently.  Once all the components are locked, you know you’re ready to save for the last time. Save and exit Xcelsius.  Copy and paste this base template in order to create templates that contain content.  Insert charts, selectors, maps, etc.

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Once you have a good set of templates created, copy and paste them into your Xcelsius template folder. For Xcelsius 2008 SP5 on Windows 7, this is found in <your Business Objects install location>\Xcelsius\assets\template.  I create new folders to match each set name.  Once you’ve saved the templates into this folder, you can now open them from within Xcelsius and not have to worry about saving over them.  You can find these templates in File>Templates or keyboard shortcut Ctrl+T.  (If you export your template to a shockwave flash file of the same name into the template subfolder, you will be able to see a preview of the template within Xcelsius.)

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Here’s a screenshot of the template utility within the Xcelsius tool.

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