Analytics dashboards

With analytics dashboards, you can build sophisticated visualizations of your analytics results, and communicate the insights that you’ve discovered in your data on a dashboard.

Required service
Cognos Dashboard Embedded
Data format
CSV files
Tables in Db2 Warehouse, Db2 Warehouse on Cloud, PostgreSQL, Data Virtualization and Microsoft SQL Server
Data size
Any; columns in CSV files can only be 128 characters long

For more information on choosing the right tool for your data and use case, see Choosing a tool.

The analytics dashboard editor provides a graphical canvas for a line-of-business user to begin investigating data for patterns and insights. You don’t need to understand coding or SQL to explore the data and gain insights. You can share the results with other users both within your organization and externally through a URL link. Alternatively, you can hand off the dashboard to a data scientist for deeper analysis and predictive modeling.


Creating a Cognos Dashboard Embedded service

The analytics dashboard runs in a Cognos Dashboard Embedded service which you must provision and associate with your project before you can add an analytics dashboard to your project.

To create a Cognos Dashboard Embedded service in your project:

  1. Open your project in Watson Studio.
  2. On the Settings page from the Associated services section, click Add service and select Dashboard from the list.
  3. Select the pricing plan and create a service.

After you have provisioned a Cognos Dashboard Embedded service, you can see the service associated to your project on the Settings page for the project. Here is also where you can remove the associated service from the project.

Adding a dashboard to your project

Watch this short video to create a dashboard, view, and use data in customized visualizations, and save and share the dashboard.

Figure 2. Video iconCreate a dashboard, view and use data in customized visualizations, save and share with others
This video shows you how to create a dashboard, view and use data in customized visualizations, save the dashboard and share it with others.

To add a dashboard to your project:

  1. Click Add to project > Dashboard from the project toolbar, or click New dashboard from the Dashboards section on the project’s Assets page. You can create a blank dashboard or upload a dashboard file from your file system. The dashboard file must be a .json file.
  2. Type a name and description for your dashboard.
  3. Select a Cognos Dashboard Embedded service instance. If no Cognos Dashboard Embedded service is associated with the project, you can provision a new service instance or associate an existing instance directly from the New dashboard page. Save your settings.
  4. Select a template, for example the freeform template, and a new empty dashboard opens. Template dashboard
  5. Create visualizations of your source data by using the following options in the left-hand pane of the dashboard:
    • Sources: Enables selecting a data source connection. The data source connection must exist and have been added as a data asset on the Assets page of the project, see also Known limitations and unsupported features. The following data sources are supported:

      • CSV files
      • Connection to Db2 Warehouse
      • Connection to Db2 Warehouse on Cloud
      • Connection to PostgreSQL
      • Connection to Microsoft SQL Server
      • Connection to Data Virtualization
      • Data from a Db2 Warehouse, Db2 Warehouse on Cloud, PostgreSQL, Data Vitualization or a Microsoft SQL Server connection.
    • Visualizations: Opens many different types of graphs that you can use to visualize the data from the selected data source connection. Drill down into your source connection and select the data segments you want to visualize.
    • Widgets: Enables adding widgets such as text, media, web pages, images, and shapes to the dashboard. You cannot use custom widgets to extend the set of shapes to use of a dashboard.
      Dashboard with left pane open
      From the action bar of the dashboard, you can redo or undo actions, and change the dashboard properties, for example, colors.
  6. Click the Save icon to save your dashboard. The dashboard that you created is listed in the Dashboards section on the project’s Assets page.

Dashboard action bar

Dashboard action bar

From the dashboard action bar, you can:

  • Download the dashboard to your file system as a JSON file.
  • Create a permanent URL to your saved dashboard which you can share with others.
  • Undo and redo actions to the dashboard.
  • Save your dashboard.
  • Add and remove widget connections.
  • Change dashboard properties, for example, colors.
  • View your dashboard information. You can change the dashboard name and dashboard description or choose an alternate Cognos Dashboard Embedded service instance if multiple services are associated with the project.
  • Find resources in the community, for example, useful data sets.

The dashboards editor uses the dashboard functionality from IBM Cognos Analytics. You can learn more about how to use the dashboard in this documentation.

Actions on dashboards

All dashboards are listed in the Dashboards section on your project’s Assets page.

When you open a dashboard, you are notified if an associated data asset, for example a CSV file, or a connection, for example a Db2 on Cloud connection, is missing from your dashboard. You can select to skip the data asset or to relink it. Before you can relink the asset, you must add the missing asset to your project. Data assets associated with a dashboard might be missing if the data asset was removed from your project, or when you download a dashboard and create a new dashboard from the downloaded dashboard JSON file in a different project without the data assets it uses. If you do not relink the missing asset to the dashboard, the dashboard graphs will not render.

Note: If the name and the content of a data asset associated with a dashboard changes, it is found by the dashboard when it opens. However, the column names and column types in the data asset must be the same as those that were used in the dashboard graphs.

You can select the following actions from the Actions menu of a selected dashboard:

  • Share a dashboard with anybody else to view. Sharing a dashboard in read-only mode isn’t restricted to project collaborators. You can share your dashboard with anybody who has the link. You can stop sharing a dashboard at any time.
  • Duplicate a dashboard.
  • Publish a dashboard to a catalog so it can be added into other projects. When you select to publish a dashboard to the catalog, you can choose to add a preview of the dashboard with the dashboard file to the catalog. By taking screenshots of the dashboard, other users can see what the dashboard looks like before adding it into another project. Note: Only the dashboard file is published to the catalog. You will need to select or provision a Cognos Dashboard Embedded service and relink all missing data sources to use the dashboard in another project.
  • Remove a dashboard. You must have created the dashboard or have the Admin role in the project to remove a dashboard.

Known limitations and unsupported features

The following list details the limitations for users and includes the dashboard features that are not enabled for dashboards:

  • Only the following data source connections are supported:
    • CSV files
    • Connection to Db2 Warehouse on Cloud
    • Connection to Databases for PostgreSQL
    • Connection to Microsoft SQL Server on Cloud
    • Data from a Db2 Warehouse on Cloud, Databases for PostgreSQL, or a Microsoft SQL Server on Cloud connection
  • String values in a column in your source CSV file can only be 128 characters long. If your CSV file has string columns with values that are longer, an error message is displayed.
  • There are date format limitations for CSV files used in visualizations. For details, see Resolving problems when using data from CSV files in Cognos Dashboard Embedded.
  • The following functionality from IBM Cognos Analytics is not supported in analytics dashboards:

    • Reporting and modelling.
    • Custom widgets. You cannot extend the set of shapes to use on a dashboard.
    • Pinned objects. There is no My pins panel in the dashboard editor.
    • Intent-driven modelling.
  • When you add a visualization to an analytics dashboard, you cannot add a data table to the visualization if you previously added (and then removed) data fields from another data table. This includes Db2, CSV tables and more.

Learn more

Figure 3. Video iconVisualize insights using a dashboard
See how to use dashboards to visualize competitive sales insights.