Period as a Dimension

#1

Hi Community…

I have a Customer Dashboard that provides me multiple views of Customer Data via Query Widgets and Charts. In the National Customer Query, I can select one of the customers - select Phocas, and all the other Queries are filtered as well. Recently it was suggested to me that it would be advantageous to be able to filter that way on a Period selection.

My problem is, I am not seeing how this can be done? Would you have to set up Periods as Dimensions in Designer to accomplish this, or is there an easier way.

Apologies if this question has already been addressed.

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#2

Hi @sensor
I think most of us define each widget on a dashboard with its own individual period selections.
The fact that we can do this makes an over-all-style period selector a little unusual as a requirement, but I can see a case for it definitely.

Imagine a dashboard with a Summary chart on it showing how profitable a customer was in the past and then want to change the period to see how profitable they are in future periods. With other summaries showing the costs of materials were at the first time point, and the costs of labour over time, and how that would all work together with a period selector I am growing to like the idea even more.

Plus (In my opinion) it would be great to have another feature which makes Dashboards more interactive. I have spoken previously in other threads about the use of Variables being potentially useful in creating calculations. A way of adjusting a Variable like Time on a dashboard with a spinner or slider control would be really cool.

Anyway, back on topic! You could try making a dimension out of a date, but it would make the main database view look quite strange I think. Probably best to use a Cominationkey of YYYY-PP
eg:

2019-01 would be Jan this year
2019-02 Feb
etc

Then the years and periods would be in the right order at least.

Let us know how you get on :slight_smile:
Warm regards,

Richard

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#3

Thanks for the feedback Richard. I like the way you think with respect to adding more interactivity via sliders and spinners. Phocas could borrow a few tricks from Business Objects I think, such as a formula editor and a language syntax other than SQL - or at the very least it would be nice if they published a list of commonly used SQL syntax to assist those who don’t speak SQL.

We have had a multitude of ideas for development, but I’m not sure the company is really interested in developing out the reporting tool-set. For example, there are things that come basic in MS Excel that would be beneficial, like the ability to sort by multiple columns. Or on the home page: Last Saved and Last Accessed dates to help you determine which Dashboards and Favorites are no longer used so you can delete them. Personally, I hate the whole folder structure. I have over 400 Favorites - I can create folders and move copies of them there, but why cant I create a folder and move the favorites there so they no longer run a half mile down the home page?

Someday I suppose, someday!

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#4

Definitely useful.

When I show the period line chart to a user, the first thing they want to do is click on a month and filter the whole dashboard the same way they can click on any other dimension. This is intuitive behaviour that most other tools do automatically.

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#5

400 favourites? Oh my goodness that’s a lot yes.
I would ask for a Phocas usage database if I were you to help you analyse who is using what and where. It can highlight underused databases and active areas.

In my experience Phocas are very open to new ideas for their product. @will.marriott and his cohorts are very active on this forum.

Warm regards,

Richard

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#6

Hi @sensor. I’m very interested to see how you go with turning the period into a dimension. We often do this for the hour of the day but rarely for day, month or year.

We already allow users to choose a custom period for all dashboard widgets (which that period type can be applied to). This can be done by clicking the period icon on the dashboard controls.
image

@richj I’ve logged your suggestion about improved sliders and controls on the dashboard. As more and more users are using the dashboard it make sense to do some improvements in this area. I’ve also logged @sensor’s suggestion about improving the calculation/formula syntax. Do you think the excel syntax be the most appropriate?

@michael.fenton I’ve also logged your suggestion about filtering the period by clicking on a chart. I think that’s a great little improvement.

@richj good suggestion with the usage database. They are a great way of knowing what’s being used and how users are using Phocas in your organisation.

As you can all see (even just from this post), we get heaps of improvement suggestions. We have a small but dedicated development team so we try to concentrate on areas which provide you the most value. We’re about to expand our development team and we’re embarking on some big improvements to our core areas (including multi column sort). Feel free to message me directly with how you would prioritise all these improvements or what things will make a world of difference for you.

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#7

Thanks Will.
I am looking forward to meeting some of the team at PUG Live in May.

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#8

Hi Will,

Most definitely I think Excel syntax is more commonly used, and most suggestions we tend to hone in on tend to come from “Why can’t we just do it like we do in Excel?” My background was in using Crystal Reports/Business Objects - I had gotten quite accustomed to having a formula editor in which you could use basic or SQL syntax, and the help section provided working examples of the structure and order the syntax needed to be in. You could eventually teach yourself.

So much of our data is exported to excel for further manipulation because its just easier.

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#9

Thank you for your response @sensor I’ve added it to the suggestion. We’re definitely aiming to match more and more of Excels functions over time.

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