Last month, there was a blog post by Kevin Donovan (Program Manager for PerformancePoint Services) describing new features coming in SP1 for PerformancePoint Services. PerformancePoint Services are a part of SharePoint Server 2010.
The most exciting feature introduced in his post is “Cascading Filters”. Since this functionality hasn’t been described yet, I created a “PerformancePoint 2010 Cascading Filters” blog post that describes how I thought “Cascading Filters” should work. Cascading filters are the number one enhancement request for the Text Search Filter for PerformancePoint.
I thought it would be interesting to put together a quick example of how “Cascading Filters” should work. This example shows how to find a location by narrowing down the choices in each successive drop down list. For example, the user can explore cities in the USA by narrowing their choices by State, County, and City.
A quick geography lesson will help cement the concept. Our goal is to find Fergus Falls, Minnesota (in Otter Tail county).
If you had to find a single city in the USA, it would be difficult for a user to select the correct city from a drop down list. The drop down list would contain a very large number of cities. Cities in multiple states could have the same name. You would have to combine state, county, and city in the drop down for the user to select the appropriate city. A more efficient approach is to have the user select several items that work together and provide a series of smaller lists to help limit their choices.
Cascading Filters is a concept that allows you to take the selection of the first filter and use it to limit the choices in the second filter. The second filter would only have items populated in it based on the selection from the first filter. Filters then cascade until finally the output is used for a report. Basically, this is a guided drill down process.
For this example, let’s start by selecting “Minnesota” from the drop down that contains a list of all 50 states. See the diagram below.
The second filter (County) would contain a list of only the counties from the state that was selected in the first filter. Since we selected “Minnesota” in this example, only the 87 counties for Minnesota would be in the second filter. Without cascading filters, the second filter would contain a list of all counties in all 50 states. We would select “Otter Tail” county for our example. See the diagram below.
Continuing our geographic example, the city drop down would only contain the 22 cities in Otter Tail county. We then select Fergus Falls. Notice that only the 22 cities in Otter Tail county were in the final filter and not every city in the USA.
Cascading filters allowed us to create a series of drop downs with a manageable amount of selections in each filter. A user can select from simple lists of less than 100 items to obtain the proper criteria.
Now that we have narrowed our search to the selected city, the output of the last filter can then be linked to a report(s) on a dashboard. More complex combinations of filters could also be configured. An overview of cascading filter combinations can be seen in the blog post “PerformancePoint 2010 Cascading Filters“.
Cascading Filters make it easier for users to see just the information that they need and select the appropriate filtering criteria.