TIBCO Spotfire offers us crisp and clean reporting across various business performance metrics (not to mention the fairly faster filtering powered by its in-memory capability, or on-demand for that matter). Yet, there are some unavoidable situations where the user must navigate across a long list of filters to make a selection to the report. Imagine a scenario where the user must scroll two or three pages all the way down to the bottom of the filter panel just to make one single selection in every filter component.

This is mainly because we do not have dropdown boxunder filtering options so that we have one thin slice of a component just at one click and move on to the other selections, saving a lot of dashboard real estate let alone the hassle of scrolling for the users.

What’s the alternative for this? Property control feature.

Why? It has the dropdown box component making it a better alternative to the regular filters for a handful of reasons.

Property Control

Regular Filter

Drop down box is availableNot available
Better UI with minimal selectors. Minimum usage of real estate.Relatively busier and crowded real estate.
Can be placed anywhere on the screen thus improving the flexibilityCan be placed only on the right/left ends (like a lengthy window)
Flexibility to control and set the axes of a visualizationNot available
  • Let’s see how we can achieve cascading filters with property controls placed within a Text Area
  • Say we have three columns (Continent, Country, State) and we need to build a set of hierarchical filters using native drop-down property control. This means we choose to see only those necessary items within the filter components instead of an entire list of dimension items (All countries, states etc.)
  • We achieve this by creating new property controls and calculated columns by following the below steps.

Insert a TEXT AREA from Toolbar
10 Easy steps - Filtering in TIBCO Spotfire - simpler UI, sharper UX - 1
 
Within the Text Area toolbar, select property control
10 Easy steps - Filtering in TIBCO Spotfire - simpler UI, sharper UX - 2
 
In the property control window, create a new document property. Name: NewContinent
 
10 Easy steps - Filtering in TIBCO Spotfire - simpler UI, sharper UX - 3
 
Select first column and click on OK and save the Text Area.
 
10 Easy steps - Filtering in TIBCO Spotfire - simpler UI, sharper UX - 4
 
Press ESC key. Voila!
 

DropDown sample

Sample dropdown box using property controls


 
Let’s create the next level filter (Country). First we create a custom column followed by a document property.
 
10 Easy steps - Filtering in TIBCO Spotfire - simpler UI, sharper UX - 6
 
Type the below formula, name the column NewCountry, click on OK
 

 
Repeat steps 1 through 3. Just like step 4 create new property and assign the newly created Calculated Column to it.
 
10 Easy steps - Filtering in TIBCO Spotfire - simpler UI, sharper UX - 8
 
Save the text area (step 6). Press ESC key.

We now have…
 
DropDown sample
 
With the below formula for calculated column, replicate this for State level and you will now have Continent > Country > State hierarchical cascading property-control-based filter setup.
 
10 Easy steps - Filtering in TIBCO Spotfire - simpler UI, sharper UX - 10
 
A comparison between regular filter setup and ours.
 
Final Output
 
The Cascading filters using property controls is ideal for single selection scenarios like-

  • Year > Quarter > Month > Date (or) Sales Executive > Product Group > Product etc.
  • Comparison between two sales executives from two different sales regions etc.

Though we will not be able to do reverse cascading with this method, it is one of the most efficient and user-friendly methods to apply filters to your report.

Got questions? Click here to get in touch.

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