When I take a break from work, I pretty much just find a personal project to get busy with! This time it was the Network Widget in MicroStrategy 9.3.0 that got me busy. I have been working on my family tree using Legacy Genealogy software. Being of the Indian (East) ancestry, I wanted to represent the relationships using terms from Indian languages, which none of the existing genealogy software supports. For example, mother’s brother in English is Uncle but in Gujarati/Hindi is Mama. Father’s brother in English is Uncle but in Gujarati/Hindi is Kaka and Chacha respectively.
I wanted to make a ‘dashboard’ of my own that would represent these terms and allow me to filter by family members and individuals. So I started with a database. Since this is just a proof of concept (to myself), I decided to keep the design pretty simple.
The design comprises simply of 3 tables. First and foremost are two ‘primary’ tables – tblRelationships and tblFamilyMembers. tblRelationships defines relationship names between two individuals in the family. These relationships are grouped by ‘Uncle Aunties’, ‘Siblings’, ‘Cousins’ etc. Each of these relationships have relationship name assigned to them.
Next table is tblFamilyMembers. As the name suggests, this is a list of individuals in the family. Below is a screenshot of the table. You can be very creative with this table and track as much information as you like – DoB, DoD, major life events, major cultural events etc. to display on a time series.
Finally, combination of the above two tables produces a secondary table - tblRelationships. Only relationship I define manually is Child to Parent. Once that is done, the algorithm in my stored procedure identifies the other relationships like uncle-aunty, grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews etc.
This table has 3 facts that will be used by Network widget – Relationship Level, Relationship Bond and Relationship Strength. In this network diagram, sum of relationship strength = size of circle, sum of bond = color of line and sum of relationship level = thickness of line between two individuals. In my project, relationship level is the highest between Husband and wife. Bond between two individuals (subjectively defined) determines the color of the line – which also for a visual identification of relationship. In this project, bond between husband and wife is the highest (!), represented by blue line. Now, in a given filtered display the number of members you are connected to defines the Relationship Strength and in turn defines the size of a member’s circle.
Without further ado, here is the screenshot of my relationships.
This is how it looks with about 50 of the family members listed. Each silo indicates a group of family members. For privacy, all family members’ names have been removed. But as you can see, the thick blue line across the network defines the relationship between my wife and me.
Finally, the BIG picture!
In ‘The Big Picture’, two largest blue nodes are my wife and I. Connected to me (big blue node on top) are my parents (Father to left and mother above) and then around them is a network of their siblings. Further, around my mother’s node are smaller nodes representing her family.
This was a fun little project. I could use Google Maps widget to plot my family members around the world and plan vacations accordingly – get to see your family, enjoy a vacation and free lodging! You can get more creative and employ many other widgets to make a ‘Family Dashboard’. I saw the biggest use of this to be the one for your kids. Your kids do have a tablet and do have a phone – let them explore your families in a fun way! Feel free to comment with your two bit coins or if find a widget that mimics the Organization Chart in MicroStrategy let me know!
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That Britney Spears song has been stuck in my head now for a few weeks. You know the one, “Oops I did it again”? The sentiment is the right one “did I really just do that, again?” although my confession has nothing to do with relationships and everything to do with projects. I’m writing another book.
As soon as I was finished with the manuscript for “Healthcare Business Intelligence” the question started “When are you going to write the next one?” The question felt premature at best, offensive at the worst. But, the truth was the routine had been established. I now think in terms of writing, so it was clear even to me that I had another book in me.
It took a few months for the idea to form in my head, and a couple false starts before it was something that I could present to my editor, but once it was set there I couldn’t stop thinking about it: Data-driven healthcare. And so the process begins. The new book will be out next summer (I hope) and will cover topics such as:
- What happens when you use data to transform an industry?
- How the lack of data standardization impedes data-driven healthcare
- Creating a data-driven healthcare organization
- Much More!!
I’d like to promise that I will keep you up-to-date on the progress, but I’m guessing much of my writing will be dedicated to the book. If you try to contact me and I’m delayed in my response, my apologies, it’s not you, it’s me. And the next time you hear that song “Oops, I did it again.” Just know that I am probably somewhere with my laptop humming it to myself and feverishly typing away.
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Based on conversations with thousands of people at MicroStrategy World 2013, the “hot” topics seemed to be:
- Social Transaction Services
- v9.3 Upgrade
After MicroStrategy World, we surveyed people who visited us at our booth to find out about their adoption of each of these, as well as the level of difficulty they had experienced with the implementation. Here is a recap of the survey findings in two different versions for you to choose from – written and visual.
Here’s a graphic version utilizing a basic MicroStrategy dashboard: Click here to view the results
Note: If you cannot view the link above, copy and paste http://lancetsoftware.com/mstr-world-survey into the address area in your browser.
Here’s the old-fashioned, typescript version:
- The top 3 in current use were Cubes, Mobile and Upgrade to v9.3
- Mobile and Upgrade to v9.3 topped the list for 2013 implementation plans
- Social was the least implemented at this point
- Dashboards were identified as the most challenging to implement
- The least challenging was Upgrading to v9.3
During the survey, participants were also asked about other MicroStrategy items of interest. The top four were Visual Insight followed by Admin Tools, Social and Analytics.
Thank you to all who participated – we appreciate your feedback!
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Ever tried to put the contents of a document into the body of an email using Distribution Services in MicroStrategy but it turned out looking nothing like your document? Follow these steps to fix that!
You created a document in web that looks great in a web browser:
But when you send it using distribution services, it loses formatting and ends up looking like this:
As always, there is a simple solution to this issue. You just need to find the right place.
Using MicroStrategy Desktop, navigate to the Administration section and expand Delivery Managers, then select Devices. This will show you a list of devices that can be used when sending anything from Distribution Services.
Double click the Device you’re using (Generic email is the default device, so this is likely the device you need to change), then click the Options button next to MIME.
Check the box at the bottom for “Use only tables to position elements in HTML” and click OK.
Now send your document again and the formatting should export correctly. Problem solved!
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MicroStrategy Web 9.3 has a fresh user interface, and good news- the underlying architecture for managing customizations remains the same as previous versions. This means two paths exist for migrating web customizations from previous versions to MicroStrategy 9.3, the path you use depends on how your system was customized.
The first path is accessible if MicroStrategy’s plug-in architecture was utilized in creating your customizations. The plug-in architecture is strongly recommended for a number of reasons, one being portability. On this path you should be able to find a folder (or multiple folders) inside their existing MicroStrategy Web “Plug-Ins” folder (found at <webroot>/MicroStrategy/plugins). The high-level plan on this path (as with any upgrade decision) begins with confirming you still need the plugins in 9.3. If so, save your plugin folder (or folders if you have multiple plugins) someplace safe, upgrade to the 9.3 web (preferably HF2 or higher) and then put the plugins back into the new website.
Before starting on the upgrade take a few moments to consider the following:
1. Measure twice, cut once. A little planning is in order when executing a MicroStrategy migration. Ideally, you will have the opportunity to deploy MicroStrategy Web 9.3 in parallel with your existing system, allowing you to review the new interface. You may find customizations you’ve made to previous versions are not needed anymore as MicroStrategy web’s functionality continually expands.
2. Say hello to the new interface. Within MicroStrategy 9.3 you will find the system deploys its own plugin called “_Interface”. This customization is what gives MicroStrategy 9.3 Web its distinct look and feel.
3. Understand who is doing what. Reserve some testing time to determine which of your plugins are responsible for each functional or appearance change in the system, particularly if you have multiple plugins prior to the upgrade. Plugins that alter the headers, tool bars and menus in MicroStrategy may need careful consideration as those items have a higher probability of having been changed in the 9.3 Interface.
4. Get to know their names. A single deployment of MicroStrategy cannot have two plugins with the same name. In the unlikely event your system has used the name “_Interface” for one of your own plugins there is more work to do. Simply changing the name of the folder may not be enough; internal references within your plugin may need to be updated as well.
5. Dealing with conflict. Assuming there is no naming conflict one of the benefits of the plugin architecture is you can put your plugins right next to the _Interface plugin and see if things work as expected. Don’t panic if they don’t; MicroStrategy 9.3′s revised UI may change the appearance of something your plugin was also altering leading to conflicts. Step back and review your plan, focusing on your user’s needs and the goals of the customizations. Understand which parts of the existing customizations you’d like to carry forward and which can be omitted in the new environment.
But what if the plug-in architecture was bypassed for your customizations? If you do not find a folder (or folders) inside of the plugin directory you may have a MicroStrategy Web installation that has been modified in a manner inconsistent with MicroStrategy’s guidelines. Systems fitting into this category may contain a few modified core files (e.g. the logo image) while others may have changes to multiple files.
Finding yourself on this path may require a couple extra steps, some tips for dealing with this scenario include:
1. Expand your Plan. You may want to expand your migration plan to include tracking down and documenting the exact post-migration expectation and test scenarios that will demonstrate your migration was successful. A parallel deployment of MicroStrategy Web would give you the ability to test “before” and “after” appearances and functionality.
2. Accommodate Change. Remember to reserve some time for trial and error, MicroStrategy Web is not a small application and it can take time to determine what’s been changed.
3. Keep the end goal in mind. Nobody wants to “break” a production system over the course of a simple upgrade, and whether something is “broken” or not depends on your end user’s expectations. Keeping an open dialog with your user group or their representatives can be helpful in determining what is important in their use of the system.
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Within MicroStrategy, you can execute certain commands to perform various administrative tasks. You can issue the following commands from your ‘bin’ directory to support the following MicroStrategy tasks:
Start/stop/get status of I-server
./mstrctl -s IntelligenceServer start
./mstrctl -s IntelligenceServer gs
./mstrctl -s IntelligenceServer stop
./mstrctl -s Listener stop
./mstrctl -s Listener start
To be able to configure an I-server
To be able to access License Manager on an I-server
./mstrlicmgr (if you have reflection X software)
./mstrlicmgr -console (if you are doing this with command line only)
To be able to use the configuration wizard
To be able to check an ODBC connection from the I-server itself
You can use the following commands to actually test the id/password directly on the I-server to ensure that the id has correct connection privileges as well as whether it has the correct privileges on the various tables to pull back data.
Run SQL on Linux
From time to time, you will need to run additional diagnostic commands to troubleshoot various issues with Microstrategy.
The following scripts can be used to set up the diagnostic logs and then turn on/off the various diagnostic tracing on an I-server from a command line (no Reflection X software needed to see the GUI panel).
Enable tracing for Report and Document caches
Server Cache Logging
Enable Job tracing to diagnose specific issues with a given job
Kernel Job Trace Logging
Enable User tracing to diagnose specific issues with a given user
Kernel User Trace Logging
Enable XML API tracing to diagnose specific issues with SDK customizations
Kernel XML API Trace Logging
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How to create a filtered prompt to retain “Not in list” operator when selecting the “Re-Prompt” button in mstr Web V9.3.0
Report SQL changes from “not in” to “in” when re-prompt a report using a ‘not in list’ filter in MicroStrategy Desktop 9.3.0
NOTE: This is a known issue in MicroStrategy V9.3.0.
Refer to TN 42081 in the MicroStrategy Knowledge Base for details on this to this known issue)
1. Create a new Expression Prompt. Create New Prompt and select “Qualify on an attribute”
2. Select the Attribute (this example is from MSTR “Tutorial Project” and the “Region” attribute)
3. Select “Web options: Modify” button
4. Use these settings. NOTE: “Not in list” is the Default operator chosen in this example (you can play around with display style and the other properties if you wish)
5. Select Next (no changes here)
6. Select Finish, Save & Close
7. Create a New Filter (you may wish to modify the existing filter, after you test this workaround out)
8. Browse to the Prompt Object created in steps 1-6
9. Drag and Drop the Prompt into the Filter definition
10. Save & Close Filter (example: Prompted Filter saves as “MJA_Region-v2Exclusion”)
11. Create new Report with Region Attribute on Grid and the prompted Filter saved in step 10
12. Report Template in Desktop
13. Execute report in MSTR Web. Qualify on Prompt — Move “Region” to the Selected pane on the right side
14. Select the “Empty” link and select and Attribute Element (Canada is this example)
15. Canada is excluded in results
16. Select “Re-Prompt” button and switch to Central Region
17. Central is now excluded. NOTE: Issue is no longer present (“Not In List” operator is not change to “in list”)
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MicroStrategy World Session: Mobile Performance & Security
I was only able to attend 1 session on Mobile; however it was a reoccurring theme throughout the keynotes and future presentation.
Performance and security are key focus areas in the mobile realm. Time and time again I heard about customers who did rapid prototyping of MicroStrategy Mobile in order to get it out to a subset of users as quickly as possible in 2012. For 2013, they have to roll it out to a larger user base and are not sure how to execute. Ease of use was a secondary issue during the POC phase. Performance bottlenecks were less of a concern then vs. now. Rolling this out with scrubbed data is one thing, but how can security be guaranteed when accessing private data across the public internet on a device that could be lost, stolen, or simply mishandled at any time?
Now onto the session notes on Mobile Performance Tools for Measuring Mobile Performance:
- Enterprise Manager
- Diagnostics Tool
- Web Server Statistics
- Device Slide Logs (9.2.1+)
Tip 1: Use Device Cache as much as possible
- Resulted in 30%+ improvement vs. document cache only
Tip 2: Use Subscriptions as much as possible
- Can be used in offline mode
- Stored in history list
- On app startup, doc is loaded onto device
Tip 3: Pre-cache on the device as much as possible
- Load at mobile app startup vs. being schedule driven
- Available in offline mode
- Pre-cache all supporting objects based on folder
- Have a “home dashboard” and load children while user is viewing home
Tip 4: Use the best hardware possible across all layers
- iPad 3 is 40% faster than iPad 2 in benchmark tests
- iPhone 5 is 30% faster than 4s
- Android varies greatly
Tip 5: Use the best network available
- WiFi > 4G > 3G
- Internal network hardware matters too
Tip 6: Use cache at ALL layers possible
- Document cache
- Results cache
- Element cache
- Object cache
- DB connection cache
Tip 7: Use incremental downloading
- Limit panels to only those needed
- Limit the number of slices
- Uses links to other Dashboards (link drilling) vs. embedding dashboard in layout
Tip 8: Use slicing and filter selectors
- Slicing Selectors – all data for slice, offline mode available
- Filter – only required slice is loaded, no offline mode available
Tip 9: Reduce the number of objects whenever possible
- Widgets, graphs, grids, etc.
Tip 10: User images wisely
- “Flatten” them
- Locate images close to web and app servers, public http servers also work well
- Images can now be added as part of the “App Resource Bundle”
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MicroStrategy World Session: Improve Service Levels by Monitoring Your Application Effectively
This session was geared toward administrators or power users, particularly those who had limited exposure to MicroStrategy Enterprise Manager. The focus was on the out-of-box reports (which I feel are extremely lacking, if you’re trying to do enterprise manager report development and getting stuck, let us know).
New EM Mobile Dashboard available in 9.3 (iPhone only)
- Basic stats – 20%
- Report job – 2%
- Document job – 8%
- SQL – 15%
- Job tables/columns accessed – 10%
- Prompt answers – 20%
- Subscriptions – 15%
- Inbox – 10%
MicroStrategy recommended only keeping stats around for approximately 2 weeks if possible, 3 months maximum or you will see performance issues.
Java based Unix version of EM Console coming soon.
Next week, we will post presentation highlights from “Mobile Performance & Security”.
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At every keynote large amounts of time was dedicated to Wisdom, Alert and Usher. If you want to learn more I would suggest checking out the links below:
It seemed like reactions to this “app focused” direction was somewhat mixed. Customers I spoke to were not exactly sure what to think, while others were openly concerned that it would pull focus and resources away from the core BI platform. Only time will tell.
Another focal point was MicroStrategy Cloud. Again a large amount of time was spent on promoting this offering during the keynotes and sessions. MicroStrategy stated they have around 40 current customers, 1,000 peak concurrent users and around half of the projects are using a data warehouse solution hosted by MicroStrategy vs. in the customer’s corporate network. Customers receive support and administration on the hardware stack only, no application support is included without purchasing additional resources from MicroStrategy Managed Services (therefore, Cloud alone does not replace the need for a service like LancetCare). I’ll include more on this topic in an upcoming session recap.
MicroStrategy Mobile continues to be a hot topic; not only on the design and development side, but on the administration side as well. I spoke to numerous customers who are trying to roll-0ut Mobile on a larger scale but are being held back by security and configuration challenges. It seems that finding a sweet spot between adequate security, good performance and ease of use is not as easy as originally hoped. This will hopefully get easier as upcoming releases add more functionality, including the ability to monitor app behavior more closely.
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