As I say whenever I talk about third party products here, I don’t do reviews on my blog, I just highlight products that look interesting and probably deserve closer inspection. So here is a non-review of a client tool I had a demo of today, Report Portal, a thin client, pure-html solution that includes both ad-hoc browsing capabilities and dashboarding/reporting. Although the UI looks a little dated, the fact that nothing needs to be installed on the desktop, that there are no requirements that might fall foul of corporate IT policies (which might, for example, rule out a Silverlight solution), and that it is licensed on a per-server basis do remove a lot of potential deployment headaches.
Rather conveniently, Igor, the guy who gave me the demo, realised that I’ve seen hundreds of client tools for SSAS and just showed me the features that make this particular product stand out from the pack, so that’s what I’ll talk about. Here are the main points:
- It automatically creates a number of date calculations and relative time selections (such as ‘current month’, ‘previous month’) for you, meaning you don’t have to develop them yourself.
- On time dimensions you can set up selection by a date picker, and also do date range selections by selecting a start and end date.
- It can also do cascading parameters rather like what’s possible in SSRS or with Excel 2010’s slicers.
- For drillthrough it allows you to build your own drillthrough query, select which measures you want, which attributes/columns you want and the order you want the columns to appear
- There are a wide range of charts and visualisations to choose from, including an interesting (although possibly not Stephen-Few-approved) pie-chart tree report.
- There’s also a load of other features, such as the ability to embed SSRS, OWC, SQL-based and other report types in dashboards; it supports writeback; it allows you to save comments in cells; and there’s also a blog and a wiki inside the portal.
Overall, it’s a solid, mature product that’s been around for six years and does pretty much everything you’ll want. Definitely looks like one to add to the shortlist if you’re looking for a zero-footprint SSAS client tool.