In this section:
In the business climate today, cutting costs and increasing profitability are critical. Organizations create and distribute reports for evaluating and taking action when management-defined conditions are not met. The evaluation can largely be automated using Alert reporting.
Alert reporting automates the evaluation of a defined condition to determine whether or not a report should be submitted. Recipients of the report know before they open it that they are receiving this report because there is an exception in their area of responsibility.
A data-driven Alert is an event that is prompted by a guideline that you define. This guideline can vary from the simple to the complex. For example, a simple guideline is to alert a sales manager when an order that exceeds $1 million is entered. An example of a more complex guideline is to alert a department manager when cumulative expenses exceed budget for any category. The report sent to the manager as a result of the Alert might show the most recent transactions, the amounts, and the sources.
Alert reporting is an integrated feature of WebFOCUS Managed Reporting and ReportCaster. An Alert report can be run interactively or by authorized users. You can use ReportCaster to schedule and distribute an Alert report. Burst capability can send targeted information to the people who need it, so that there is less information for each person to analyze.
Alerts work with all email clients. They are supported on the following mobile devices: iPhone®, iPad®, BlackBerry®, and email enabled mobile phones. Alerts can also be sent to any PC or laptop computer with email capability.
Alerts provide the following:
In this section:
The Alert feature requires the following components:
An Alert consists of the following:
An Alert test is required to check whether or not a set of defined test conditions (rules) is met (true or false). An Alert test can be a WebFOCUS Test, which is a simple TABLE request that you create to define the condition to test for. Alternatively, an Alert test can be a Test for File Existence, which checks for the existence of a file that is accessible to the WebFOCUS Reporting Server to which the Alert test is submitted. The file does not need to be in the APP PATH. It just needs to be in a location where it can be found by the Reporting Server.
The Test for File Existence file does not need to be an actual file with an extension. Testing for the existence of a folder is also valid.
If the Alert test is triggered (true), returns records, the Alert result request is processed. You have the option of creating the result report or selecting an existing Managed Reporting report you are authorized to run.
Alerts Created in the Browser
When you select a new Alert from the BI Portal or BI Dashboard, the WebFOCUS Alert Assist tool opens for the creation of components. Alert Assist is a Bindows™ application that is launched in a separate browser window.
The browser tab uses the generic name Alertn, where n is an index number starting at 1. All subsequent Alerts increase by 1. If you save the Alert, the dialog box is automatically set up with this generic name. However, you can change the name as desired.
If you select WebFOCUS Test in the browser, you are prompted to create the Alert test using InfoAssist. The version of InfoAssist that is invoked does not have field styling, heading, footing, or report options, such as OLAP and On-Demand Paging. The Alert test determines whether or not a specified condition is true. It is not the report that is displayed as the result of the Alert.
You can create the Alert result using InfoAssist, this time with all the available styling and report options. Alternatively, you can select an existing Managed Reporting report.
Note: It is recommended that you select an existing report for the Alert result request, as it is available to edit, run interactively, or schedule independently of the Alert. If you create the Alert result using InfoAssist within Alert Assist, you need to use Alert Assist and select the open option again to edit the request, because the Alert test and the report to be run are contained within the Alert procedure.
In the sample code that follows, both the Alert test and the report to be run (Alert result) are created with InfoAssist. To keep the sample code simple, styling and report options, such as report headings and conditional styling, are not included in this request.
Notice that after the first TABLE request, there is a –IF statement that checks if the number of lines in the Alert test is equal to zero (-IF &LINES EQ 0). This test condition determines if the second TABLE request, to execute the report, should be triggered (true).
If the number of lines is greater than zero, then there are records that satisfy the Alert test, and the report is run. If the number of lines is equal to zero, then there are no records that satisfy the Alert test, and the report is not run.
-* Created by Alert Assist -* start of the test report ENGINE INT CACHE SET ON -DEFAULTH &WF_SUMMARY='Summary'; -DEFAULTH &WF_TITLE='WebFOCUS Report'; TABLE FILE ibisamp/wf_retail SUM WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_SALES.COGS_US WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_SALES.REVENUE_US BY WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_PRODUCT.PRODUCT_CATEGORY BY WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_PRODUCT.BRAND WHERE WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_SALES.COGS_US GT WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_SALES.REVENUE_US; ON TABLE HOLD ON TABLE NOTOTAL ON TABLE SET PAGE-NUM NOLEAD ON TABLE SET SQUEEZE ON ON TABLE SET EMPTYREPORT ON ON TABLE SET HTMLCSS ON ON TABLE SET HTMLENCODE ON ON TABLE SET CACHELINES 100 END -* end of the test report
-* start of the test -RUN -IF &LINES EQ 0 GOTO ALERTEXIT; -* end of the test -* start of the output report ENGINE INT CACHE SET ON -*COMPONENT=Define_wf_retail DEFINE FILE ibisamp/wf_retail Loss/D12.2=WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_SALES.REVENUE_US - WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_SALES.COGS_US ; END -DEFAULTH &WF_SUMMARY='Summary'; -DEFAULTH &WF_TITLE='WebFOCUS Report'; TABLE FILE ibisamp/wf_retail SUM WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_SALES.QUANTITY_SOLD Loss BY WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_PRODUCT.BRAND ACROSS WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_TIME_SALES.TIME_QTR WHERE WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_SALES.COGS_US GT WF_RETAIL.WF_RETAIL_SALES.REVENUE_US; ON TABLE SUBHEAD "Brand Revenue Loss" ON TABLE PCHOLD FORMAT HTML ON TABLE NOTOTAL ON TABLE SET CACHELINES 100 ON TABLE SET PAGE-NUM NOLEAD ON TABLE SET SQUEEZE ON ON TABLE SET HTMLCSS ON ON TABLE SET HTMLENCODE ON ON TABLE SET EMPTYREPORT ON ON TABLE SET GRWIDTH 1 ON TABLE SET STYLE * INCLUDE=IBFS:/FILE/IBI_HTML_DIR/javaassist/intl/EN/ENIADefault_combine.sty,$ TYPE=REPORT, TITLETEXT=&WF_TITLE.QUOTEDSTRING, SUMMARY=&WF_SUMMARY.QUOTEDSTRING, HFREEZE=OFF, $ TYPE=TABHEADING, LINE=1, JUSTIFY=CENTER, $ TYPE=TABHEADING, LINE=1, ITEM=1, OBJECT=TEXT, SIZE=14, STYLE=BOLD+ITALIC, $ ENDSTYLE END -* end of the output report
-* start of the options -* end of the options -ALERTEXIT -* Finished by Alert Assist
The Tool Setup dialog box opens. It provides options for selecting a Reporting Server and Application Paths.
Note: User access to the Tool Setup dialog box to specify Reporting Server properties is controlled by a WebFOCUS security privilege. For information on WebFOCUS security privileges, see the WebFOCUS Security and Administration manual.
When you create an Alert in the web browser, it invokes Alert Assist and then InfoAssist. Alert Assist has a user interface similar to InfoAssist. The following image shows the WebFOCUS Alert Assist interface.
Alert Assist Main Menu
In the upper-left corner of the browser window is the Application button, which provides access to the Alert Assist Main Menu. This menu contains the Save, Save As, Run, Close, and Exit options. Some of these options are also on the Alert Assist Quick Access toolbar.
The following image shows the expanded Alert Assist Main Menu.
Saves the Alert. This option is disabled until both parts of the Alert are created.
Saves the current Alert with a new name. The Save As dialog box displays a field where you can type the new name. This option is disabled until both parts of the Alert are created.
Closes the current Alert and prompts you to save any changes.
Exits the Alert Assist and prompts you to save any pending changes to the open Alert.
Alert Assist Quick Launch Toolbar
The Alert Assist Quick Launch toolbar contains the following buttons.
Saves the Alert. This option is disabled until both parts of the Alert are created.
Reverts back by undoing one action.
Moves forward by redoing one action.
Displays the Alert procedure code in a read-only window.
Submits the entire Alert procedure to the Reporting Server. This option is active when both parts of the Alert have been created. The output always opens in a new browser.
Under the Alert Assist Quick Access toolbar is a ribbon. When Alert Assist first opens, none of the ribbon options are activated.
You must select the Test node or Result node to activate the New option, as shown in the following image.
You must create a Test to activate the remaining options, as shown in the following image.
The ribbon contains the following options:
Displays a menu from which you can choose to create a new WebFOCUS report or WebFOCUS test, open an existing report, or test for file existence. This button is active when the Test node or Result node is selected. You can also find these options in the shortcut menus for the Test node and Result node.
Invokes InfoAssist so that you can make changes to the report when an Alert test or Alert result is selected. The Open option is only activated after a report test is created.
Opens the report on FILENAME data source dialog box when an Alert test or Alert result is selected. You can then edit the report in a text editor.
Runs the report in a new browser window when an Alert test or Alert result is selected.
Removes the report from the Test or Result node.
Authorized users can run an Alert test interactively and optionally schedule it to be distributed by ReportCaster.
The following image shows basic Alert processing.
The following image shows scheduled Alert processing.
Note: The scaled-down version of InfoAssist is used to create basic TABLE requests with HOLD (not PCHOLD FORMAT) statements. It generates procedure syntax that is written to the Alert the same way as in earlier WebFOCUS releases. The Edit option on the ribbon allows you to open the editor and manually enter the procedure code or edit existing procedure code. When the test is saved from the editor, the syntax needs to be validated as having an ON TABLE HOLD statement, a prerequisite for an Alert test.
Testing a folder for existence is also valid. Type the full path to the folder accessible to the Reporting Server. If the file is located, the Alert is triggered (true) and the Alert result report is run.
InfoAssist opens, and you can create the report that will be run when the Alert test is triggered (true).
The Open dialog box closes and the selected report appears under the Result node.
The Alert result is automatically run if the Alert test report is triggered (true). If you are authorized to schedule reports for distribution, you can optionally schedule the Alert.
Note: As you use Alert Assist to create reports, you may see messages that state Report Saved. Your changes to the report have been saved, but they are not written to the WebFOCUS Repository until the Alert is saved. If you exit Alert Assist before you click Save in the Alert Assist menu, the Alert is not saved.
The ReportCaster Basic Scheduling tool opens in a new browser window, as shown in the following image.
For more information on the Basic Scheduling tool and distribution options, see the ReportCaster manual.
The Alert Options dialog box opens, as shown in the following image.
As you complete the creation of the schedule, remember to consider the burst option to distribute specific report values, instead of the entire report. When a report is burst, the distribution information must be provided in a distribution list, distribution file, or dynamic list for email distribution and an access list for library distribution. The email and library distribution options are the most effective for Alert reports because of the push versus pull notification through email. For more information on using the burst option in ReportCaster, see the ReportCaster manual.
For more information on Recurrence options, see the ReportCaster manual.
The schedule report now appears in the Resource tree, as shown in the following image.
When an Alert test is false (and therefore not activated), the Alert result report is not run. When an Alert schedule runs, information about the Alert test evaluation (true or false) and any error or warning messages that occur during schedule or Alert processing are written to the log file.
In order to track the completion of a scheduled Alert, or errors that occurred during processing without checking the log report for the Alert schedule, we recommend that you use the Schedule Notification option.
In the Scheduling tool, the Notification tab allows you to specify:
A data-driven Alert is an event that is prompted by a guideline that you define. This guideline can vary from the simple to the complex. The following tutorial describes how to create a simple Alert that is triggered when the cost of goods exceeds the revenue for a brand. This type of Alert could help a company decide whether they should continue to carry a specific brand, based on the money loss throughout a given timeframe.
To follow this tutorial, you must have access to the WebFOCUS Retail sample data source.
The Alert Assist tool opens in a new browser window, as shown in the following image.
WebFOCUS InfoAssist opens.
Before you complete your report, you must add the Where condition that defines the criteria that you want to be met.
The Create a filtering condition dialog box opens.
The drop-down menus for Fields and Subqueries, Operators, and Values open.
The following image shows the finished Where condition.
Your report now shows under the Test node in the Alert Assist browser window.
WebFOCUS InfoAssist opens.
Since your Alert Test is checking for revenue loss, in this tutorial you want the final report to have a field that highlights the loss. This field is not available by default. You can create it.
The Detail Field (Define) dialog box opens.
You can type the expression directly into the expression field or choose the fields from the data tree.
The Data pane refreshes and now displays the new field, Loss.
To ensure that the Alert Result generates the correct report when the test criteria is met, you must add the same Where condition as the one you added to the Alert Test.
You can style the report that gets distributed by adding a header.
The Header & Footer dialog box opens.
Once both Test and Result are completed, you can save the Alert procedure.
The Save As dialog box opens.
Your new Alert now displays in the Resource tree and can be scheduled, as shown in the following image.
You can schedule the report to be distributed through email, FTP server, report library, repository, or sent directly to a printer. In this tutorial, you want a monthly email to be sent.
The ReportCaster Basic Scheduling tool opens, as shown in the following image.
The Alert Options dialog box opens.
The following image shows an example of the Distribution tab.
Additionally, you can set notifications of the Alert distribution. Click Notification and fill in the fields, as required.
The Save As dialog box opens.
The Alert Schedule now displays in the Resource tree, as shown in the following image.
A prompt will ask you if you want to run the schedule.
The email addresses that you identified earlier will receive the Alert Report, shortly.
The following images show examples of the Alert email and Alert report.