How InetSoft's Reporting Business Intelligence Software Shortens the Development Cycle

As reporting business intelligence tools have become more prevalent in the market place, they have become more user-centric. Thus, they place less emphasis on providing tools for developers who will actually implement the reporting system.

Style Intelligence is a total dashboard and reporting solution that offers powerful and flexible tools to report designers and developers who are tasked with creating an internal or customer facing reporting system.

By providing powerful reporting elements, and reusable and sharable reporting components, Style Intelligence helps these developers to drastically shorten the development cycle and reduce maintenance overhead.

This article examines some common problems that report designers and developers face when implementing such a system and see how Style Intelligence offers a solution to each problem in an innovative and unique way.

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Reusable Components Problem:

The report development cycle is very long and requires reports and common report elements to be recreated over and over again. There is also a problem sharing these reports and reporting elements between groups of report designers and developers.

The Style Intelligence Solution

Style Intelligence provides a flexible and powerful report development environment that puts emphasis on shortening total development time by offering many reusable components that modularize the design of reports. When creating Style Intelligence, InetSoft chose to stress extreme reusability for all reports and report elements.

This section explores how the report development process in Style Intelligence is exceptionally modular. This modular approach allows report designers to reuse report templates and components to drastically shorten the report development cycle. All of these components are automatically stored in a single library file that can be shared by every report designer. We will take a closer look at the main reusable components within Style Intelligence, which are: meta-templates, report beans, parameter sheets, and scripts.

Report Meta-templates

A meta-template is a partial implementation of a report template that can contain report elements (table, charts, sections, etc.), scripted elements, and data binding. Meta-templates differ from standard report templates in that areas within the meta­template can be specified as static or editable whereas a typical report template contains only editable content. The report developer cannot change any element within a static region, whereas all elements in editable regions may be modified. Additional report elements can even be inserted into editable regions.

Report Beans

Any combination of reporting elements can be rolled together into a reusable package called a report bean. The bean can be added to a library that is used by multiple report designers to provide similar content and functionality to many reports. Like a meta­template, the report bean can have static and editable properties. For example, if a developer is creating a set of reports with a similar header, he can create this header element as a bean and expose the title property as editable.

Parameterized Reports

When a report requires parameter values to be set by an end user, a reusable parameter sheet can be created and set as the prompting screen for that report. Report designers can create parameter sheet objects that prompt the end-user for these values. Beyond simple parameter prompting, these parameter sheet elements can be chained together to provide multi-level parameter prompting that is dependent on user input values.

Report Scripting

Style Intelligence provides report designers with the ability to embed scripting into reports to create dynamic elements and dynamic events. The scripting language is 100% ECMA JavaScript. As developers build their set of scripts, they can save these scripts into a library that is accessible by all report developers.

Read what InetSoft customers and partners have said about their selection of Style Scope for their solution for dashboard reporting.

Team Development Problem:

A team of developers cannot easily share reusable reporting components and ensure continuity across all platforms.

The Style Intelligence Solution

Style Intelligence includes a team development environment that allows a team of developers of any size to create and share reports and reporting components across the entire enterprise. Style Intelligence stores all reporting components in a single library that can be located on the developer’s computer or on another system where it will be accessed remotely. The team development environment can be configured to use either a local or remote file system, or a server application provided with Style Intelligence.

When any component is shared, it can be locked by a developer to ensure ownership. This ensures a distributed development environment that protects reporting components. Beyond reporting components such as beans, meta-templates, scripts, and parameter sheets, data source and query definitions can be shared as well.a team development environment.

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Hot Deployment Problem:

A team of developers of any size (even a single developer) needs the ability to quickly test reports in a web environment.

The Style Intelligence Solution

Most reporting tools require developers to deploy report templates into a reporting server using an administration console. This process slows down development and breaks the pace of developers when they need to test a single report. Style Intelligence provides all report designers and developers with the ability to deploy their reports into a running report server from within the Report Designer. This feature speeds up development and testing time and reduces the need to use other application such as an administration console.

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Live Editing Problem:

When designing a report, it is slow and awkward to constantly halt design to preview the report with data. When previewing a report, no data elements or data binding properties can be modified, making the process repetitive and inefficient.

The Style Intelligence Solution

When reports designers need to preview a report in Style Intelligence, they can use the Live Edit feature. This feature allows report designers to view a report with live data coming from any and all data sources with the report’s formatting and display properties set. Even interactive features such as forms, drilldowns, and hyperlinks are enabled in the live edit view. Paired with the hot deployment feature described above, Style Intelligence’s live edit capability results in a dramatically reduced design and testing cycle.

Resistance to Change Problem:

The number one problem companies face with updating business software is often resistance to change from employees who are accustomed to existing processes and interfaces, leading to challenges in adoption and training. Additionally, ensuring compatibility with existing systems and data migration can pose technical hurdles, requiring careful planning and execution to minimize disruptions to operations.

The Style Intelligence Solution

The solution to resistance to change from employees when updating software involves proactive communication, comprehensive training, and fostering a culture of openness and collaboration. Companies should communicate the reasons for the software update clearly, highlighting the benefits and addressing any concerns or uncertainties. Providing thorough training programs that cater to different learning styles and skill levels can empower employees to adapt to the new software more effectively. Additionally, involving employees in the decision-making process, seeking their input, and soliciting feedback throughout the implementation phase can foster a sense of ownership and engagement, easing the transition and promoting acceptance of the new software. Regular communication, ongoing support, and recognizing and rewarding early adopters can further reinforce a positive attitude towards change within the organization.

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Reporting Business Intelligence Software Summary

Style Intelligence is an extremley flexible dashboard and reporting solution with regard to reusability and common element sharing between designers and developers. By providing reusable components such as meta-templates, report beans, parameter sheets, and a scripting library that can all be shared through a central component library, Style Intelligence provides a flexible and robust solution for a development team of any size. These components will give developers the features they need while reducing development time and shortening time to market.