TM1 Tip 3: Café vs Perspectives
Perspectives is heading towards the end of its life cycle but as such is far more mature than Café in terms of its TM1 capability.
For my last tip in the TM1 series I thought I would take a look at the pros and cons of Cognos Café vs TM1 Perspectives.
Like a lot of aspects of Cognos, Café and Perspectives are both in a state of flux at the moment but for different reasons. Perspectives is heading towards the end of its life cycle but as such is far more mature than Café in terms of its TM1 capability.
Café on the other hand is primarily a BI tool with some leanings towards TM1 but it isn’t a TM1 editor in the way Perspectives is.
But here is the interesting thing. The TM1 Developers I have worked with don’t use Perspectives for development as they all prefer Architect. In contrast, they all use Perspectives to create web pages for data input and workflow.
Café is not capable of creating Web Pages into TM1 so this is a major consideration if you want to control your workflow through the Web.
TM1 – Looks matter
When it comes to planning systems looks should not be important – but they are. As a general rule, the person signing the PO for TM1 is unlikely to have a technical background and will expect the product to not only be great look great as well.
Here is a typical interface:
It’s all a bit of a throwback to the early days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and my jokes were original.
So take a look at the equivalent screen in Café:
Much easier on the eye, and you can animate it just like a Web Page by attaching hyperlinks to other tabs. The Excel client can be automatically served up from a Web Page but it’s not a Web Page itself which may or may not be an issue.
You might be wondering why we cannot do this in Perspectives since it is after all just an Excel Add-in. The bad news is that Perspectives only supports Excel features up to around 2009 so all the funky stuff like shapes and arrows just come up as blanks.
Could we just use Perspectives as an Excel client?
Yes of course but you wouldn’t be allowed to attach Turbo Integrator Processes to the post-2009 Excel shapes as they can only be attached to older things like bitmaps and JPEGs that just don’t look as nice.
Here’s one I prepared earlier:
See what I mean? Functional but not pretty.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could run TI Processes in Café
Well, it just so happens that I have a Widget for that. IBM have released a piece of API code in VBA which can be used to action TI processes from the Café Excel Addin. The code is not perfect as it only takes a single string as a parameter but, for those geeks amongst you, it is possible to break up this string with a 2nd delimiter and break the single string up into its multiple parameters once you are inside TI.
This means you could in principle start using Café as your TM1 interface today.
MDX support in Café
Only 1 more fly in the ointment for Café is support for MDX for dynamic Hierarchies.
These days pretty much all long lists are automated with MDX commands and whilst I am sure that this issue will be on the roadmap for IBM, I don’t as yet have knowledge of the fix.
You could create a TM1 Web Application using Performance Modeller but that’s a future Blog.
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