Configuring Drillbridge with Financial Reporting Web Studio

Drillbridge works perfectly with Financial Reporting Web Studio – the successor to the desktop-based version of Financial Reporting (also commonly called HFR, FR). FR was stuck with a very archaic client (let’s just say it’s from around the Clinton administration), but it has revamped for the future, with a completely web-based interface now. In retrospect, and based on my interactions with the interface, I think this product overall can be thought of as gap coverage for FR users. It’s not necessarily the place you want to do new development, especially given some of the other shifts/developments in the reporting ecosystem lately. My colleague Opal Alapat has posted some really great thoughts on FR and its place in this ever-changing world, which I encourage you to read.

In the meantime, there are countless current installs of FR that organizations need to support and perhaps transition to this newer incarnation of FR. As with before, Drillbridge works seamlessly to give you and your users advanced drill-through capabilities in Smart View, Hyperion Planning/PBCS, FR, and now FR web. I found that the UI had a few quirks to it, but I’ll walk through a simple example and try to point those out along the way.

Continue Reading…

Interesting Time Period Conversion with Drillbridge/PBCS

I recently helped a customer with their Drillbridge installation/configuration for PBCS that had an interesting time period conversion issue I wanted to write about.

Drillbridge helps convert a given POV into a SQL query, webpage link, MDX query, or whatever you want (such as with a custom plugin). Out of the box, Drillbridge contains a number of commonly-used convenience functions for easily converting months to numbers (as well as other functions). You can do this in SQL too but it seems to almost always be a little “cleaner” to let Drillbridge do it for you, especially when it comes to upper-level drill-through.

Interestingly enough, a client has an interesting but not incredibly uncommon fiscal calendar where February is actually period 1,  March is 2, and so on. In this calendar, January is actually period 12. But the Drillbridge calendar conversion functions usually return the common month numbers. What to do? Just adjust the expression a little to check for January specifically, otherwise convert the month and subtract one. For example:

SELECT 1 WHERE FROM DUAL WHERE
PERIOD IN ({{"name":"Period","expression":"#Period == 'Jan' ? 12 : #monthAbbreviationToDigit(#Period) - 1","drillToBottom":true,"sampleValue":"Q1","quoteMembers":false,"suppressParentheses":true,"overflow":"","overflowAt":0,"flags":""}})

There are a few variant methods to handle this, but this one is pretty straightforward and clean. This token actually also handles upper level drill (such as from member Q1, Q2, and so on), so the query predicate to use is a SQL IN clause, to accommodate multiple values.

Now when we drill on member January, we get this test query:

SELECT 1 WHERE FROM DUAL WHERE
PERIOD IN (12)

And if we drill on Q1, for example, we get this:

SELECT 1 WHERE FROM DUAL WHERE
PERIOD IN (1, 2, 3)

You might have been expecting to see 12, 1, 2 there but it’s actually right since Q1 contains February, March, and April – so everything is mapping as expected.

I’ve been pretty happy over the years with how the original Drillbridge expression/token concept has been able to accommodate some tricky use cases, although this one is relatively straightforward. It’s also nice to be able to write a bit of a “pure” query that doesn’t have to join against a calendar table just to get the right dates. This is just one of the things that makes Drillbridge, in my opinion, a true turnkey drill-through solution.

Pre-seeding Hyperion Planning User Preferences with values for a smoother user experience

Wow, I think I am actually writing an article on Hyperion Planning. I think pigs are flying right now. I have been helping out on a system upgrade for the last few months where we are in many ways “refactoring” a Planning deployment. I’m borrowing that term from the software world. In other words, we are changing how things work under the hood without the explicit intention of changing how things look to users. One of the changes we are making, however, is to introduce some variables for users to be able to change their Version and Scenario.

Just to be clear, the variables are the ones that are set in the preferences menu. And we’d like to provide some defaults so that the users have the most likely choices pre-selected. We can export the User Preferences option from LCM. The corresponding XML file has a section for each user’s variables. It’s like this:

<UserPreferences>
  <UserPreference UserName="jason">
    <!-- some stuff here -->
    <UserVariables>
      <Variable Name="Scen_UserVar" Value="Forecast"/>
      <Variable Name="Ver_UserVar" Value="Working"/>
    </UserVariables>
  </UserPreference>
</UserPreferences>

There’s, of course, a UserPreference section for each user. We can edit the variables here in this config file and the import it to the target system (or back into the current one) to fill the values. A couple of notes to consider:

  • If you try to strip out the other stuff in the UserPreference section so that it doesn’t get touched, it’ll just load defaults for that user. You might not want to blow out the user’s settings that way.
  • The reason for trying to do the above bullet item would be if you’re just trying to copy and paste the same block of code for each user.
  • A user in the target system might not be in the User Preferences export – you can create that manually by copying and pasting a different user.

It’s incredibly likely that there’s a better way to do this or some magical option I don’t know of somewhere that’ll take care of it, but I wasn’t aware of it and decided to “brute” force it. The copying/pasting and editing was the “hardest” part as I couldn’t think if this procedure could be reasonably automated in UltraEdit or Notepad++ or something, so I just did it by hand.

Hope this helps someone!