Crystal Reports - Best Practices in Report Design

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This presentation will be delivered at both SAP TechEd 2011 and SAP BusinessObjects User Conference 2011. In addition, the authors of the presentation will be starting a report design group within SAP …

This presentation will be delivered at both SAP TechEd 2011 and SAP BusinessObjects User Conference 2011. In addition, the authors of the presentation will be starting a report design group within SAP to talk about the proliferation of report design best practices.

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  • 1. BI203"Best Practices in Designing Effective ReportsCoy Yonce & Jaclyn ChurcherAugust 2011
  • 2. DisclaimerThis presentation outlines our general product direction and should not be relied on in making apurchase decision. This presentation is not subject to your license agreement or any other agreementwith SAP. SAP has no obligation to pursue any course of business outlined in this presentation or todevelop or release any functionality mentioned in this presentation. This presentation and SAPsstrategy and possible future developments are subject to change and may be changed by SAP at anytime for any reason without notice. This document is provided without a warranty of any kind, eitherexpress or implied, including but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for aparticular purpose, or non-infringement. SAP assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in thisdocument, except if such damages were caused by SAP intentionally or grossly negligent.©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 2
  • 3. FoundationsIntroductory Concepts
  • 4. Cognitive Analysis Aided by Software “The power of visualization comes from the fact that it is possible to have a far more complex concept structure represented externally in a visual display than can be held in visual and verbal working memories. People with cognitive tools are far more effective thinkers than people without cognitive tools and computer-based tools with visual interfaces may be the most powerful and flexible cognitive systems. Combining a computer-based information system with flexible human cognitive capabilities, such as pattern finding, and using a visualization as the interface between the two is far more powerful than an unaided human cognitive process.” •  SAP Crystal Reports is one tool that should be leveraged in the pursuit of analyzing information and making informed decisions. •  Designing effective reports means understanding who will be using them and how that information consumer will be analyzing information.©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 4
  • 5. Directed Analysis versus Exploratory Analysis Directed Analysis starts with a specific question as a context for information review and arrive at an answer Exploratory Analysis allows for the exploration of available data which generates a question to be used as the context for information review and arrival at an answer •  SAP Crystal Reports is tool which delivers information viaStephen Few, Now You See It (Page 83) the implementation of directed analysis. It is not a data exploration tool. •  Any analysis capabilities built into reports are pre-defined by the report creator. ©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 5
  • 6. Directed Analysis: Overview  Pinpoint  Details “Overview first, zoom and filter, then details-on-demand” •  SAP Crystal Reports provides many directed analysis features to information consumers (e.g., interactive parameters, filtering, sorting, etc…) •  As a general rule, it is good to start with an overview of the data that an information consumer may require, allow them to pinpoint specific information from the overview, and then drill into more details as they require them. •  In the context of SAP Crystal Reports, this means starting with an information view that you think satisfies the general information needs of a group of users. An individual can then filter or sort the information. Finally, they can request more details via drilling into a group or subreport.©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 6
  • 7. Aesthetics: An Integral Part of Information Design Dr. Rolf Hichert,“More about the psychological response to sensory stimulus, than the actual trigger.” –Stephen Anderson, Eye Candy is a Critical Business Requirement©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 7
  • 8. Aesthetics Creates Trust Which one do you trust?Stephen Anderson, Eye Candy is a Critical Business Requirement Stephen Anderson, Eye Candy is a Critical Business Requirement ©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 8
  • 9. Types of Reports Operational Tactical Strategic Form projects further into the future directly support detail oriented and showing trends deeper provide a mechanism for end processes support short term activities into the past users to input data fewer numbers of pages line item detail and lots of compared to operational direct impact on long-term displayed data planning reports directly support operational processes groups and sorts to provide focus on showing short-term mainly represented visually for easier navigation summary data with textual annotations designed specifically for printing or web-based data displayed via a traditional combination of tables, interaction table or crosstab crosstabs, and charts highly interactive group or grand total drill from summary data to mimic the look and feel of a personalized content for the summaries detail where necessary dashboard intended recipient©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 9
  • 10. Agenda Report1 SAP Crystal Reports Page Setup Sections Groups for Enterprise Designer Features Guidelines Format Options Alerts Subreports Information Depth of Interference Organizational Color and Type Comparisons Understanding Effects Strategies2 Sampling of Best Flexibility Form Follows Guttenberg versus Continuation De-cluttering Function Diagram Practice Topics Usability Working Pre-Attentive Hick’s Law Chunking Memory Attributes©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 10
  • 11. SAP Crystal Reports for EnterpriseFeatures and Options
  • 12. Page Setup •  Selecting Paper Size automatically changes the width, height, and margins of either the blank canvas or an open report •  Leverage Portrait Orientation for longer report and Landscape for fitting more visual information on a single page •  Appropriate Margins allow for fitting more on a page and for ensuring that information is not cluttered©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 12
  • 13. Report Sections •  Report Header" Any information to be displayed once at the top of the report •  Page Header" Any information to be repeated at the top of each page •  Body" For basic reports, this is the section that provides the most detailed information •  Report Footer" Any information to be displayed at the end of the report •  Page Footer" Any information to be repeated at the bottom of each page©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 13
  • 14. Groups •  Allows the report creator to insert ad hoc hierarchies in a report •  Provides the information consumer with the ability to go from summary to detailed information as needed •  Operational, or listing, reports usually require large amounts of data. Leverage multiple groups to provide a gradual drill down to the require level of detail •  Tactical and Strategic reports can leverage groups to provide a quick way to get a specific region, month, quarter, or any other context©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 14
  • 15. Guidelines •  Rulers at the top of the design canvas allow the report creator to properly measure the width of fields •  The new Smart Guidelines feature allows for quickly modify the width and layout of fields in the design canvas •  Format > Make Same Size command allows for setting multiple selected fields to the same width and/or height©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 15
  • 16. Format Options •  Quickly accessible field formatting options allow for setting the typeface, alignment, borders, background colors, currency, percentage, and decimals •  Conditional formatting options available that allow for changing field formatting when a condition arises •  Available field formatting options for conditional formats are line styles, border, and background color •  Leverage field formatting for drawing attention to specific fields or areas of report that need attention based on changes in the data©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 16
  • 17. Alerts •  Alerts allow for triggers to be used as the means for notifying information consumers that an event has occurred •  These alerts are stored in the report and, when the report is published to the BI Platform, users can subscribe to them •  Use alerts to reduce the amount of information that your users need to consume by only sending out an alert when something needs attention©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 17
  • 18. Subreports •  Insert > Subreport command used to quickly insert a subreport into the main report •  Create a new report against a the current or a new data source OR use an existing report •  Full subreport, that is either linked to data in the main report or not, can be visible or displayed on demand •  Subreports are a means of creating hierarchies within a report and for creating visual information displays that require data from multiple, unrelated sources •  When using subreports for the purpose of creating hierarchies of information it is best to use on demand subreports rather than in place ones©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 18
  • 19. DemoSAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise Features and Options
  • 20. Sampling of Best Practice Topics in Action
  • 21. Information ComparisonsControlling the way the information consumers realize relationships and patternsInformation that is meant to be Information that is meant to be Information that is being comparedcompared should be presented compared amongst many different against a certain phenomena or pastusing a common measure contexts should be presented on a events should be accompanied by single display benchmark data©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 21
  • 22. Depth of UnderstandingForcing information consumers to analyze information at increasingly deeper levels ensures that theyunderstand and retain information Shallow Levels of Information Deep Levels of Information©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 22
  • 23. Interference EffectsBy presenting elements in your reports that are beyond the expected norms for your audience, youslow down their processing of the information and can impact the effectiveness of their analysis Go Stop Go StopRed Black Pink Green OR Red Black Pink GreenOrange Purple Yellow Gray Orange Purple Yellow Gray©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 23
  • 24. Color and TypeEffectively using contrasting foreground and background along with an appropriately chosen andstyled typeface not only improves readability for information consumers that have disabilities for yourentire audience vs. vs.©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 24
  • 25. Organizational StrategiesOrganizing information based on a dimension allows information consumers to quickly understandpatterns and relationships. For example, you can categorize information the way that I did earlier onthe slide where I showed the Types of Reports. Alphabetical Time Location Continuum Category For reference Comparing Clustering Geographical Sorted or nonlinear chronological based on relevance information lookup events similarities©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 25
  • 26. Flexibility versus Usability Usability If your information consumers can anticipate their needs, then a usable report is more important than one that is flexible in its design and available information. Flexibility©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 26
  • 27. Form Follows FunctionThe design of your information, or report, becomes beautiful as its usability becomes definite andthere is an absence of ornamentation. Beauty in design results from purity of function©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 27
  • 28. ContinuationBy arranging informational points in your reports along a continuous line or curve, your informationconsumers will perceive those elements informational points as a group. OR©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 28
  • 29. De-ClutteringRemoval of the “junk”, or unnecessary elements, within your reports will make them easier toconsume and will, in turn, make it easier for information consumers to make decisions with thosereports.©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 29
  • 30. Gutenberg Diagram The Gutenberg diagram defines a pattern for how individuals will read evenly distributed, homogeneous information on a printed page (e.g., book) or in a digital format (e.g., web page). For Western readers, they naturally start at the top right and then move across and down.©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 30
  • 31. Hick’s LawThe time required to make a decision increases with the number of available options. For example, anincrease in the number of road signs that need to be read by a driver causes in increase in theamount of time taken to decide which route to use.©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 31
  • 32. Working MemoryWorking memory (i.e., short term memory) defines the ability to actively hold information in the mindneeded to do complex tasks such as reasoning, comprehension, and learning. Humans are onlycapable of remembering those things to which we explicitly pay attention. Even then, we are onlycapable of retaining a specific amount of information in short term memory. Highlighting Sorting Filtering©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 32
  • 33. Pre-Attentive Attributes “We perceive several basic attributes of visual images pre-attentively, that is, prior to and without the need for conscious awareness.” Stephen Few, Now You See It (Page 38)©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 33
  • 34. ChunkingChunking refers to how information can be grouped together so that it is easier for informationconsumers to remember. First presented by George Armitage Miller in The Magical Number Seven,Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information. 678 – 575 – 8916 6785758916 Grouping Patterns Organizing Categorize Group information Locate a pattern information into based on a in the information smaller groups context or its meaning©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 34
  • 35. Questions
  • 36. Further InformationSAP Public Web:SAP Developer Network (SDN): BusinessObjects Community (BOC): Place: SAP Education and Certification Opportunities©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 36
  • 37. Further InformationExternal Sources:Stephen Few: Hichert: Tufte: Shneiderman: S. Cleveland: Ware: P. Anderson: Bertin: Maeda: Babauta:©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 37
  • 38. FeedbackPlease complete your session evaluation.Be courteous — deposit your trash, "and do not take the handouts for the following session.
  • 39. Thank You!Contact information:Jaclyn Churcher Coy W. Yonce, IIIProduct Owner Product Owner, SAP Crystal Reports
  • 40. © 2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. ®No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or for any purpose HTML, XML, XHTML and W3C are trademarks or registered trademarks of W3C , Worldwithout the express permission of SAP AG. The information contained herein may be Wide Web Consortium, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.changed without prior notice. SAP, R/3, SAP NetWeaver, Duet, PartnerEdge, ByDesign, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer,Some software products marketed by SAP AG and its distributors contain proprietary StreamWork, and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as theirsoftware components of other software vendors. respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP AG in Germany and otherMicrosoft, Windows, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint are registered trademarks of Microsoft countries.Corporation. Business Objects and the Business Objects logo, BusinessObjects, Crystal Reports,IBM, DB2, DB2 Universal Database, System i, System i5, System p, System p5, System x, Crystal Decisions, Web Intelligence, Xcelsius, and other Business Objects products andSystem z, System z10, System z9, z10, z9, iSeries, pSeries, xSeries, zSeries, eServer, z/ services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registeredVM, z/OS, i5/OS, S/390, OS/390, OS/400, AS/400, S/390 Parallel Enterprise Server, trademarks of Business Objects Software Ltd. Business Objects is anPowerVM, Power Architecture, POWER6+, POWER6, POWER5+, POWER5, POWER, SAP company.OpenPower, PowerPC, BatchPipes, BladeCenter, System Storage, GPFS, HACMP, Sybase and Adaptive Server, iAnywhere, Sybase 365, SQL Anywhere, and other SybaseRETAIN, DB2 Connect, RACF, Redbooks, OS/2, Parallel Sysplex, MVS/ESA, AIX, products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks orIntelligent Miner, WebSphere, Netfinity, Tivoli and Informix are trademarks or registered registered trademarks of Sybase, Inc. Sybase is an SAP company.trademarks of IBM Corporation.Linux is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries. All other product and service names mentioned are the trademarks of their respective companies. Data contained in this document serves informational purposes only. NationalAdobe, the Adobe logo, Acrobat, PostScript, and Reader are either trademarks or product specifications may vary.registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or othercountries. The information in this document is proprietary to SAP. No part of this document may be reproduced, copied, or transmitted in any form or for any purpose without the express priorOracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. written permission of SAP AG.UNIX, X/Open, OSF/1, and Motif are registered trademarks of the Open Group.Citrix, ICA, Program Neighborhood, MetaFrame, WinFrame, VideoFrame, and MultiWin aretrademarks or registered trademarks of Citrix Systems, Inc. ©  2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 40