Simultaneous Document Development Tricks

Sometimes project timelines or resource availability means we have to have multiple developers working on a single Report or Document.  While simultaneous Report development isn’t too hard, since the most time consuming steps are building the metrics and finding the right settings and filters.  Those can be developed separately and easily merged in the end.  But what about working on a major Dashboard where the most time consuming part is the formatting.  Unfortunately, Documents don’t support direct copy and paste between each other, so having multiple developers working on a Document/Dashboard isn’t currently possible.  Or is it?  Today I’ll show you a little trick to make it as easy as Reports.

Today’s trick is another magical power of Layouts.  The original intention of this feature is to create “Dashboard Books”, which MicroStrategy envisions as the ability to consolidate what used to be several unrelated Dashboards into a single Dashboard with tabs across the top.  While it seems to me that if I wanted them all in one, I would have developed it that way to begin with, there is a pretty cool side effect from this design.

Say that you have a big Dashboard to develop, and you divvy up the work between me and you.  I’ll build the layout and add the images/text formatting, and you format the graphs and grids.  What we can do is develop our portions in two separate documents.  Once complete, I can add a new Layout tab in my Document, and import yours.  Once I’ve imported your Document as a second Layout, I can now freely copy/paste objects between the tabs.  Once I’m finished with the merge, I can delete the second Layout.

For some reason, it appears that the option to import an existing Document is only available in Web.  In Desktop, the two tabs that give you the Layout options are templates for new Documents and Dashboards, but in Web, one is a template tab and the other is a folder browser to import an existing Document.

I used this trick recently in a project where two developers were able to crank out modifications to a large Document much faster than a single person would, and without any wasted effort.  Hopefully this will help you shave precious time off of a future project when you’re under a time crunch.

Have any other tips?  Feel free to drop them in the comments!

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