Tab Solution That’s Easy to Maintain Without Code – Guest Post

“How corrupting boredom is, everyone recognizes also with regard to children. As long as children are having a good time, they are always good. This can be said in the strictest sense, for if they at times become unmanageable even while playing, it is really because they are beginning to be bored[…]Adam was bored alone; then Adam and Eve were bored en famille. After that, the population of the world increased and the nations were bored en masse. To amuse themselves, they hit upon the notion of building a tower so high that it would reach the sky. This notion is just as boring as the tower was high and is a terrible demonstration of how boredom had gained the upper hand. Then they were dispersed around the world, just as people now travel abroad, but they continued to be bored” (S. Keirkegaard, the Rotation of Crops).

I like writing nifty solutions for Cognos, which look good, work well, and add a necessary functionality. Tabs for Cognos reports (Not Active Reports, where tabs exist out of box) are a great demonstration for such functionality: It’s a necessary functionality, and when done properly, they make a report look wonderful.

However, I get bored doing the same thing over and over. When writing a tabbing solution, the principal is always the same: There are the tabs themselves, which are essentially links to be clicked on, and when clicked, there are the contents which need to be either hidden or shown based on the tab that was clicked.

Every now and again a developer who may not be very well versed in HTML, JavaScript and/or CSS would ask me to add, remove or change a tab, or change the style of a tabbed menu, or any such thing. To me, this is boring, and as Kierkegaard noted, boredom is corrupting – indeed, it is the root of all evil.

What needed to be done, then, was to come up with a tabbing solution that allows developers to add, remove and edit tab contents and tab styles without needing to write a single letter of code. The scripted solution needed to be generalized so that developers would be able to use Cognos built-in features to control all aspects of tabs. In other words, I needed to write a tabbing solution that would be a piece of cake to maintain, leaving me with more free time to get bored productively in Cognoise forums.

POCT (=Piece of Cake Tabs) is just that solution. It requires no coding to add, remove, or edit the content a tab. It allows the user to style the tabs using nothing but Cognos built in features. Basically, once you set the solution up, you never have to open an HTML item again.

Let’s look at the page structure:


Under “Tab Headers” HTML Item, one would simply drop in text items one after the other, each containing the name of the tab (The text that would be written in the tab).

Under “Tab Content” HTML Item, one would create a block for each tab, and drop in the necessary objects for each tab. The uppermost block is the content for the leftmost tab header, and so on – tab headers from left to right, content blocks from top to bottom.

Under “Style” HTML Item there are 3 table cells. One can style them as one wish. The leftmost cell represents how a selected tab would look. The middle one represents the styling of a tab which isn’t currently selected. The rightmost cell controls how a tab looks on mouse over. You can also control the look of the entire tab row, by highlighting the blue table cell where the tab headers are and changing its design to modify the design of the tab row.

And that’s it.

Want to add a tab? Add a text item and a block accordingly. Want to change the content of a tab? Just change the content of a block. Want to remove a tab? Remove the header text item and the corresponding block. And styling is truly piece of cake.

Report XML (10.1) – you can either use that as base or copy the main block and anything in it to any report. This was tested on all Cognos 10.x versions, and should work fine on 8.4.x.

POCT-XML-101.txt (1384 downloads)

Nimrod (Rod) Avissar is a BI Front-End Specialist, with a penchant for specialized UX solutions (LinkedIn).

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