Exporting Flash Dashboards to PDF

Since the introduction of Flash Dashboards in 8.1, the only method of exporting them has been MHT.  This format is a container for a web page that keeps all of the files necessary for playing the animation (including the data to feed the dashboard).  The problem is that it’s only supported by Internet Explorer for reading, causes lots of security warnings or could even be completely blocked depending on your environment.  Fortunately, Adobe finally added support for running Flash animations in PDFs with Acrobat 9.1 and MicroStrategy added support in their export engine with 9.0.2.

In MicroStrategy 9.0.2, you can go into the Project Configuration and find the option to export to Flash PDF at the bottom of the Export settings section (This requires a web server restart).  It’s an all or nothing setting for the project, though honestly, I don’t see why you would ever want MHT again unless you’ve built some convoluted extraction method to host them as web pages, in which case you have my sympathy.

Now, whenever you export a Flash Dashboard either from Web or Subscription, it will come in a handy little PDF file which is easy to distribute and still retains full functionality.

Limitations
Unfortunately, this support is not to be confused with the standard PDF export option, which still does not support Flash.  This only replaces MHT as the file format and exports a fully Flash Dashboard to fully Flash PDF.  This means if you have Flash enabled widgets in your DHTML dashboards, those will NOT export (they’ll come out as the underlying data grids).  That, unfortunately, is still an outstanding enhancement request.

Also, in case you missed it in the opening, Adobe Acrobat 9.1 is required to use the PDF.  Users of lower versions will either receive an error, or sometimes worse, a blank PDF.

Custom Visualizations
You can export your own custom visualizations, but you have to perform a few extra tasks.

1) Local Content Updater – Due to Adobe security restrictions, you have to switch off the networking settings on a copy of your SWF.  You can download the command line utility here, and the syntax is:

LocalContentUpdater.exe -x *.swf

2) You have to place your modified SWF on the IServer machine under the VisFramework folder.  If you have weird file permissions, make sure the MicroStrategy account running the IServer has access to that file.

3) You have to restart the IServer every time you update that SWF and make a change to it.  No way around it unless you want to be brave and kill MJMulPrc_32 processes (Windows, I don’t know what they’re called on Linux, probably the same thing).  Killing the right one that has your SWF cached will allow you to skip the reboot.  Killing the wrong one could kill any executing reports and/or your IServer instance.  Be safe, reboot.

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