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Simplifying Report Studio with Object Libraries

By David Pacific. Education Services Practice Lead, Creative Computing

Who among us doesn’t want to save time? Who among us wouldn’t want to know that there are shortcuts in the system they’re already using, shortcuts that could dramatically simplify their lives and level of effort?

I’ve participated in countless Cognos Report Studio projects and often find that the client is asking for help to do what I like to call “monkey work” — changing report titles, headers and footers, logos or simple text elements. Most of these clients are unaware of a very powerful concept in the Object Library, which is why I think it’s imperative to discuss and share this capability again and again. It can save days of editing and maintenance when tedious template or layout changes are required.

With Layout Component References, Report Studio allows you to reuse objects from other reports. You can use this “library” — actually a report itself — to store commonly used objects, such as headers, footers or a complex report template for a specific set of tables containing commonly used report elements. This allows standards to be utilized across an enterprise so there is no longer a question of what logos, color schemes, layout calculations or prompt tables should appear or function.

I have personally used and implemented an Object Library on many of my projects to store all of the prompt tables that would be used on the design of multiple reports. I have found report development to be very quick and successful in creating a “self-service” template that has all of the possible permutations for commonly used report objects. Instead of giving developers the task of creating new report content from scratch, they have a contained template utilizing Layout Component References and can simply remove components they do not care about.

What’s more, with an Object Library you can make a change to an element that’s referenced multiple times, and the change will be propagated across all locations without even having to open any of the reports that contain the reference. Rather than opening and editing hundreds of reports to repeatedly change text or a header, you can make that change once, and it will appear in every subsequent report that includes the reference. This creates consistency across all reports, which is always crucial for successful report implementation. If you need to eliminate a referenced object from a new report, you can always override it, while still keeping the object in your library for later use.

It sounds so obvious, but once leveraged, this feature can save you hours and hours — and possibly even weeks — of development and maintenance time. After all, there’s no need to constantly reinvent the wheel when there’s content you can simply reuse, maintain and update once. Put this best practice in place and you’ll see the immediate benefit and value added from a concept that all Report Studio developers should be utilizing.

About the Author
As Creative Computing’s Education Services Practice Lead, David Pacific oversees all training engagements and participates in analysis and requirement gathering for all potential training opportunities. In this respect, he coordinates to identify training needs and provides a fit for scheduling and courseware. He also has a combination of onsite development skills, so when he is not overseeing or delivering trainings he is working on implementation for a multitude of Fortune 500 clients. This has helped him develop an excellent mix of skills sets between the classroom and real world development work, which has proven to be a valuable asset as a trainer.


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