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Archive for August, 2011

Cognos Reports and Microsoft Office

Posted by Brad Greene on August 20, 2011

IBM Cognos has provided an ancillary piece of software that dynamically connects Cognos Reports to Microsoft Office tools like Word, PowerPoint and Excel for several releases. It was called Go Office under the 8.x series but has been renamed Cognos for Microsoft Office. I have not used this tool before Cognos 10 but a new client was looking for a way to produce reports in PowerPoint without needing to manually keep the data in them up to date. New to report development they were expecting to seamlessly connect some Cognos Report Studio reports to Microsoft Office. Fine idea in theory. It looked great in the demo I’m sure.

As with all things in the world of software the devil is the details. This tool works well for certain things. Simple things. If you are producing reports with small list reports, crosstabs of a half dozen cells or charts, it’s fine. The integration of Cognos into Office is fairly seamless. Once you configure the Options with your Cognos gateway server’s URI you will be presented with a tree prompt widget that lets you navigate your Cognos Connection folders. Find the report you want in the tree, select Import and set a few options in the dialog boxes you’re presented with and the report is imported. Pretty simple really.

The surprise comes when you don’t understand that the reports you import are converted to Office objects native to the tool you are using. So if you are importing into PowerPoint and import a list report the result will be a PowerPoint table. The data in the table will be “live”. It is refreshed with a click of a button. That’s the “beauty” of the integration. The unfortunate side is you just lost all your formatting. If you spent any time formatting your report in Report Studio all the work is tossed away as it is converted to the PowerPoint table. I suppose this is not unreasonable because of the vast differences between the Cognos Studio product capabilities and PowerPoint.

The same is true for Word and Excel of course. If you have complex reports that are large and heavily formatted then you are going to have to carefully plan how you use Cognos for Microsoft Office. PowerPoint tables are limited to 25 lines for example and header, footer, label and other text seems to be left behind during import. It works, but don’t expect your nicely formatted lists and crosstabs to pop up in Word just like they did in Cognos Connection. There is some work left to do on formatting but your data will be live.


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