Business Intelligence Tools

Adding Collaboration to Spotfire using SharePoint

Spotfire is a powerful BI tool but lacks some fundamental collaborative functions. As a core principle of BI, tools are meant to report on and not change systems of record. Of course, anyone who has built BI solutions knows that in the real world you want to add the ability for users to capture their findings or edit/adjust key values without adjusting or talking to source vendor systems. Enter SharePoint! Here’s a quick guide for creating a collaborative analytics dashboard in Spotfire using SharePoint.

SharePoint is available in most enterprise environments and provides a robust set of KM features and functions. One of these functions are lists. Lists are flexible and can contain everything from files to user generated content. With the RAI SharePoint Data Source you can import these lists – and their metadata – into a Spotfire table. You also get a SharePoint visualization that dynamically shows marked list items and provides data functions for adding, editing and removing marked list items. Combined with Spotfire’s compute engine, this allows you to inject analytics into your SharePoint solutions and collaboration into your analytic solutions. Basically, connect SharePoint to Spotfire.

Loading data from SharePoint

Once you have the RAI SharePoint Data Source installed, you can load SharePoint lists as a new data source.

How to connect to SharePoint
  1. Just go to add a new data table, From > SharePoint.
  2. In the prompt, select the authentication method of choice.
  3. Refresh to get all the lists. Select which columns to bring in. Make sure to bring in the ID column – it’s always useful to have a primary key and you need it for the SharePoint visualization.
How to select and load columns

Using and Refreshing the Data

Once you load in the data, you can manipulate the data like any other Spotfire data table. Merge it, visualize it, or even calculate new columns on it.

If you check out the Data Table Properties, you’ll notice there’s some added properties on the table that keep track of where the SharePoint list is stored. This is used for the Refresh option. If you turn on the SharePoint Refresh (in Tools > SharePoint), then every 60 seconds a background thread will check for new items on the SharePoint list. If there are new items, it will force a refresh.

Using the SharePoint Visualization

Now let’s add the SharePoint visualization. Pop it in to the page. If you only have one SharePoint table it will auto-select it. Otherwise, you can go into the options and select the underlying table. It will pull in those data table properties to configure the visualization.

How to add the SharePoint visualization

Depending on your authentication scheme, you may be prompted or it could support pass-through. Usually once you log in to the visualization, it will keep that session cached.

Once you have the visualization configured, if you mark in a Spotfire visualization, then the corresponding records will show in the SharePoint visualization. You can edit them in the visualization, and if you have Refresh on, it will update the table automatically. You can also just hit the refresh button to reload the SharePoint table.

Because marking cascades in Spotfire if you’ve related the data tables, then the SharePoint visualization will visualize related items. This is a powerful technique if you have shared keys.

Adding or Removing Data from SharePoint using Spotfire

You can also use the SharePoint visualization to install data functions that allow you to remove marked items and add marked rows from another data table into SharePoint. This latter function is a useful way to populate SharePoint from data inside Spotfire. For instance, you could generate data using a TERR function then send the result to SharePoint.

Bringing in SharePoint to Spotfire is not only easy with the RAI SharePoint Data Source, but brings a lot of additional capability that isn’t available in out-of-the-box Spotfire.

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