Monday, September 18, 2006

Three sheets to the wind

No, not a description of the weekend’s activities unfortunately, not a drop passed my lips.

The sheets to which I refer are CSS or Cascading Style Sheets, PortalBanner.css, PortalContent.css and Views.css.

You probably will not be interested to know that the original form of the expression was 'three sheets in the wind', this refers to the nautical term for a rope, derived from sheet line, a rope used to control a sheet or sail, and literally means 'with the sail completely unsecured', and thus flapping about, and with the boat itself thus unsteady. So, no more grog at lunch time.

Style sheets are used to separate the content of an HTML page from the control and formatting applied, this is particularly useful where the content, i.e. the data, is more important than the appearance in the long term.

From a productivity point of view, creating the 'look' of your dash boards once leaves you more time to actually create the reports.

In early HTML pages the appearance of text was controlled by tags like 'FONT' and their attributes like color, face, size etc, these were used to surround the text to which they were applied, this was fine until you had a hundred pages using three colours of text and you decided to change the colour, the tag for every instance of the text had to be changed. With 'css' the tag becomes a reference to the style sheet, and therefore, if you wish to change the attributes of the tag you change them once, in the style sheet, not on every page.

PortalBanner and PortalContent are css files that affect Siebel Dashboards, they can be found in SiebelAnalytics\Web\App\Res\s_Siebel77\b_mozilla_4, a word of warning however, the best way to learn what does what is to 'do a Claudio', i.e. tinker all you like to see what happens.

With this in mind you should always copy the original before you start to tinker, likewise, if you decide to use an edited css file, save a copy to the SiebelAnalyticsData\Web\App\Res directory to preserve a copy should you ever upgrade analytics.
Siebel's recommended practice is to copy the s_Siebel77 folder to the SiebelAnalyticsData folder and then rename it appropriately, this file name is then available as a style to select in Dashboard Properties, once the Analytics Web service has been restarted.
Editing these can be a useful way to enhance the appearance of a dashboard and make it more familiar to the users by using a corporate colour scheme, for instance. You should also remember that there are contractual obligations with regard to the appearance of elements such as the 'Powered by Siebel' logo etc.

To my mind though, the most useful of the three files is Views.css, this is the file that controls the appearance of the reports created in Answers and displayed in your dashboards, the reason I say this is because the sheer volume of reports means that altering these settings once will save you the most time, even using the copy formatting feature will not save you as much time.

The styles are defined as classes (name preceded by a full stop) under headings commented out e.g. '/* Title */' .TitleCell, the attributes are then defined within the curly brackets, names such as these are fairly intuitive, some are more obscure and you might only decipher them by tinkering. I have found the most useful to be:

.TitleTable The border attributes control the heavy line below a report title, change the colour to suit your corporate image.

.TitleCell The title added to the report via the table properties.

.TitleNameCell This formats the title if the saved report name is used.

Also useful for the table of results it self:

.ResultsTable The outer borders of the results table.

.ResultsTable TD Individual table cells of the results table.

.ColumnHdg Column heading format.

.ColumnHdgD Column heading where the heading is a drill down.

And so on,

I hope this has wetted your appetite, happy tinkering.

1 comment:

Udayakumar said...

Good going buddy.Thanks a lot for all those articals on Analytics. Keep them coming.

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