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Analyzing Data Shouldn’t be Rocket Science: OLAP for Silverlight

, 9 Feb 2011 CPOL
Learn how to perform OLAP analysis on plain data (no need to setup SQL cubes on your server). With ComponentOne OLAP™ for Silverlight Beta you have the tools to create interactive tables, charts, and reports. Drag-and-drop views give you real-time information, insights, and results in seconds.

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So, what exactly are OLAP tools? OLAP means "online analytical processing". It refers to technologies that enable the dynamic visualization and analysis of data. These tools allow users to redefine these grouping criteria dynamically (on-line), making it easy to perform ad-hoc analysis on the data and discover hidden patterns.

Rather than summarizing data in spreadsheets, which can be tedious, repetitive, and error-prone; add OLAP tools your business solution. OLAP tools help discover new trends and drive efficiency with faster data analysis. For example, consider the following table:

Date Product Region Sales
Oct 2007 Product A North 12
Oct 2007 Product B North 15
Oct 2007 Product C South 4
Oct 2007 Product A South 3
Nov 2007 Product A South 6
Nov 2007 Product C North 8
Nov 2007 Product A North 10
Nov 2007 Product B North 3

Now suppose you were asked to analyze this data and answer questions such as: Are sales going up or down? Which products are most popular in each region? In order to answer these simple questions, you would have to summarize the data to obtain tables such as this:

Product North South Total
Product A 22 9 31
Product B 18 0 18
Product C 8 4 12
Total 48 13 61

Here, each cell represents a calculation of several cells from the original data source, where one or more value fields are summarized or grouped. This can be done in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel, but the work is tedious, repetitive, and error-prone. If you wrote a custom application you would have to spend a lot of time maintaining new views to answer an unlimited number of questions the user may have.

OLAP tools allow users to define the views they want interactively, in ad-hoc fashion. They can use pre-defined views or create and save new ones. Any changes to the underlying data are reflected automatically in the views, and users can create and share reports showing these views. In short, OLAP is a tool that provides flexible and efficient data analysis.

OLAP for Silverlight

ComponentOne has recently unveiled a new suite of Silverlight UI controls which provide analytical processing features similar to those found in Microsoft Excel Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts. ComponentOne OLAP for Silverlight takes raw data in any format and provides an easy-to-use interface so users can quickly and intuitively create summaries that display the data in different ways, uncovering trends and providing valuable insights interactively. As the user modifies the way in which he wants to see the data, OLAP for Silverlight instantly provides pivot grids and charts (and soon reporting) that can be saved and exported. With drag-and-drop views, you get real-time information, insights, and results in seconds.

image001.png

OLAP for Silverlight includes four key controls:

  • The C1OlapPanel is the core of the product. It takes raw data as input, and its OLAP engine provides custom views summarizing the data according to criteria provided by the user. The C1OlapPanel also provides the familiar, Excel-like drag and drop interface that allows users to check which fields from their data source they want to summarize in the row, column and values field boxes.
  • The C1OlapGrid control is used to display OLAP pivot tables. It extends the C1FlexGrid control and provides automatic data binding to C1OlapPanel objects, grouped row and column headers, as well as custom behaviors for resizing columns, copying data to the clipboard, and showing underlying details for any given cell.
  • The C1OlapChart provides charts for the OLAP data. It extends the C1Chart control and provides automatic tooltips, five different chart types and 22 palette selections.

image002.png

  • The C1OlapPage control provides the complete OLAP user interface by combining all of the C1Olap controls, plus a menu and table displaying raw data. The menu is customizable and includes built-in commands for the following: opening and saving views, undo and redo actions, grid settings, chart settings, and reporting options. To create the simplest OLAP application, just drop the C1OlapPage control on the page and connect to a data source. It's that easy. Or you can use the separate controls to build your own UI. For instance, you can hide the C1OlapPanel portion from end-users and give them a preset collection of views to see for more efficient usage.

Features, Features, and More Features

OLAP for Silverlight was designed to give you the custom views you need to analyze your data. This section showcases some of the popular features.

Subtotals and Grand Totals

You can summarize multiple fields across rows and down columns. When you do this, the C1OlapGrid will automatically calculate grand totals and subtotals for each slice of your data. Users can collapse groups displaying only the subtotal value.

image003.png

Reporting

The C1OlapPage has a new Report menu item allowing users to print or open the Document Options window. Directly print the C1OlapGrid and/or C1OlapChart in a single report. Users can customize scaling, page margins, headers and footers, and insert time stamps, page counts and a title for the report.

image004.png

Plus More

  • Filtering: Filter the data pool on multiple fields.
  • Data Formatting: Format values for dates, currencies, percentages, etc.
  • Built-in Conditional Formatting: Highlight highs and lows
  • Totals and Aggregates: Calculate not just sums but also counts, averages and more!
  • Date/Time Grouping: Automatically group DateTime values per years, months, days, etc.
  • Undo/Redo History: Built-in functionality for the C1OlapPage control.
  • Save/Load Views: Persist views in local storage.

Download Free Trial

This first official release of OLAP for Silverlight is scheduled for mid-March, 2011. You can download the Beta now; it’s completely free to use and try. Download the controls which support Silverlight 4.

To learn more, visit the OLAP for Silverlight product page. Here you'll find PDF documentation, the forum link, and more feature screenshots.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Greg Lutz
Product Manager ComponentOne
United States United States
I am the ComponentOne product manager for Studio for WPF, Silverlight, Windows Phone and WinRT XAML. You'll find me blogging about these awesome XAML technologies and speaking around the country at various code camps, techfests and tradeshows.

Comments and Discussions

 
Bugcan't print charts in correct scale [modified] PinmemberJohn_C29-Feb-12 1:35 
@ greglutz: there is a bug with the printing function. Because the chart does not print. The title font is gigantic and the chart missing.
Hope someone can fix this problem.

modified 8-Mar-12 8:00am.

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