Art of BI: OBIEE Delivers/IBots – Custom link in an Email

By default hiearchy drill-down links are removed when an OBIEE Delivers IBot notification is sent out via email.  The report becomes for the most part static in the email whereas if you viewed the report in the interactive Dashboard or in Answers you would by default have the link action associated with it.

The main reason that the drill-down hieararchy link is disabled in an email notification is because OBIEE uses relative paths to know which report to link to or which path to drill-down on.  With the addition of JavaScript, especially for the drill-down capability, it just cause errors when a user click on this time of linkage from an email.  Relative paths are only viable when they are on the same web root as the page launching the link.  Clearly an link in an email falls outside of that scope.  It would be like someone sending you a link to a product the found on Amazon but the only link they sent you in an email is “/product/hasbro-gi-joe-tunnel-rat”  instead of http://www.amazon.com/product/hasbro-gi-joe-tunnel-rat.  For more information on Relative Paths, click here.

OBIEE Delivers Email Inbox
Here is the default behavior of a simple answers report. The left-most column is modeled with a hiearchy and drill-down is enabled when viewed in Answers/Dashboard.
[simage=22,512,y,center]

Here is what we want to provide to our users in an email notification. As you can see, in the Outlook Express status bar, this link is pointing to a Google™ search and we have actually pulled in the column value into the URL that the user will click and be able to navigate.
[simage=28,512,y,center]

Let’s Put It Together

1. Once you have your report built, we will need to modify the column properties of the column you want your link to be on.  This needs to be a text/character column from my testing in order to get it to work correctly and have the override functionality that you need.  Click on the column properties “hand” icon to get started.
[simage=27,160,y,center]

2. Click the “Data Format” tab.  Click the “Override Default Data Format” checkbox so that it is checked.  Change “Treat Text As” dropdown to “Custom Text Format”.  Now paste in the “Custom Text Format” field the code below. Or, modify the code below to fit your custom link needs, and paste it in.

[sourcecode language=”html”]

@[html]”“@”

[/sourcecode]

Your final Data Format window should look like this:
[simage=25,512,y,center]

3. Click “OK” to close the column properties box. Save your Answers request/view. You are done.

[simage=26,400,y,center]

What’s so Cool About This? How the Hell do I Link to an Answers Report?
Well, I’ve shown you the basics, but I did take you outside of the world of OBIEE/Answers when I sent you over to Google. If you need the email report link to send you back into Answers you will need to know what the URL of your Answers/Dashboard web server is and also the relative path to tha report report (i.e.: http://corpintranet.net:9704/analytics/saw.dll?Go&nquser=Administrator&nqpassword=Administrator&Path=/shared/Paint%20Demo/Sales%20Summaries/Regional%20Analysis/Forecast%20Variance).

You can even exclude the nquser and nqpassword if you want the user to log-in if they are opening the report on the network or if you have it externally faciing. Venkat has a great article on the topic of using the GO attribute of the saw.dll URL to open reports also.  Another great descriptive post is here.

Let me know if you’ve got any questions or something cool to add to this.  I look forward to your comments.

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Christian Screen
Christian is an innovator in analytics and data warehousing design, best practices, and delivery. With more than fifteenyears of decision support and data warehousing with key experiences at Office Depot HQ, Sierra-Cedar, and Capgemini, he oversees the Oracle Analytics Practice which includes the technical development and delivery of Oracle BI collaboration software, data warehouse solutions, Oracle BI/EPM projects, and packaged analytics solutions at Datavail.

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