One of the improvements we've made in PerformancePoint Monitoring CTP3 is an improved design experience for analytic charts & grids. It's a small increment in terms of requested/planned capabilities, but it's leaps and bounds above CTP2. (Which involved a textbox and square-bracket/curly-brace/parenthesis counting. you had to know MDX, and the unique IDs of metadata in your cube. or at least how to import generated MDX from another application.)

Here's a quick look at the CTP3 experience:

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For analytic grids, the experience varies very little from charts, so I'll talk about charts and chart concepts like "Series", and "Bottom Axis", instead of "Rows" and "Columns", from here on out.

To set what's displayed on Series, Bottom Axis, and scope of the data ("Background"), drag/drop measures, hierarchies, and named sets to the "bins" below the visualization. To select individual members for a given hierarchy, click the down arrow. You can also do "children of" and "descendants of" operations here. you don't have to hand-pick every single member you want in the report.

For reasons I'll get into in a separate blog entry, you can't interact directly with the chart. But you can get all the direct interaction features (like drill down/up, crossdrill, expand, and hide/show) by clicking "Browse". This launches a separate window where all interaction is enabled. Changes you make through interaction can be saved, or thrown out if you were just exploring.

A few nice details our team added:

- You can add Named Sets (as defined in the Analysis Services cube), and interleave the sets with member selections from the same hierarchy.

- You can order measures by drag/drop.

Where'd the MDX go?

If we don't have the MDX generation functionality you need, don't worry. You can start in "design mode" (the Design tab), and then switch to "query mode" (the Query tab), where you can start with the MDX generated by PerformancePoint Server, and customize it.

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In this mode, as in CTP2, you can insert parameter tokens (<<Region>>) almost anywhere in the MDX, which can be connected to filters in a dashboard.

When you hand-modify the MDX the Design tab becomes a preview of the query result. There's a handy "revert to design" hyperlink here to undo to the point where you originally started modifying your query, in case you get lost in curly-brace land & feel like starting over.

A nice detail our team added:

- You can drag/drop metadata from the Details pane directly into the MDX text box.

Parameterization

One question I've been asked a lot:

"I know I can type <<MyParameter>> into an analytic chart's MDX, and "MyParameter" will appear as something to link a filter to when building a dashboard. Does that mean I have to switch to the Query tab to parameterize my CTP3 analytic chart?"

Nope!

Any hierarchy you've added to a bin when you built your analytic chart is available to link a filter to when building a dashboard.

For example, say I want to make a historic trend chart for the last 8 quarters. I add Date.Calendar to Bottom Axis, and select the last 8 quarter, and add a measure to Background. I add Product.Product to Series. But I want dashboard users to select the product. so I just leave it as "All Products".

Here's what we've got so far:

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Now I add chart to a dashboard, and build a filter called Product.

I connect the Product filter to the "[Product].[Product]" endpoint of the chart.

(My full set of options is "[Product].[Product]", "[Date].[Calendar]", and "[Measures]" . Sorry about the hierarchy unique names appearing here. we'll be cleaning up naming in CTP4.)

A power-user tip:

You can also connect a filter for any other hierarchy to this endpoint... you can trend Products, Customers, or anything else over the 8-quarter time period with a single report. But be careful... although you'll be allowed to connect a Date.Calendar or Measures filter to this endpoint, you'll get an MDX-generation error in those 2 cases, because for now a hierarchy can't be on 2 axes at once.

More To Come

I'll follow up this entry with more on navigation (you can't do it) on a query-mode analytic report, among other things.

- Wade Dorrell (a program manager for PerformancePoint Monitoring, and designer of this feature... so please, for the love of analytics, send me feedback at wadedor@microsoft.com.)