Every now and then we get users asking: what do I have to do to use my own excel spreadsheets to create dashboards with ReportPlus? The answer to this question is that there are a number of ways to do it, and we will cover them all in this article.
Send the file from another application
The first option I’d like to describe is that which allows you to import data without leaving the device. The iOS platform allows for file sharing between apps through an option called Open In. One good example of this is the email client app that if you tap and hold attachment files displays this option. The email client varies somewhat between iOS5, and iOS6 but the idea is the same. If you tap and hold an email attachment in iOS 5 you get a dialog with an Open In button, while in iOS 6 the popover displays all the apps that registered support for that type of file.
This option enables some key business scenarios, such as:
- Using in ReportPlus spreadsheets you may have received by email.
- Creating spreadsheets in the device, in any third party application such as Numbers, or Documents To Go, and then sending that file to ReportPlus to use to build a dashboard. Sending a spreadsheet from Numbers, in iOS6, can be achieved with the Share and Print>Open in Another app> Excel>Choose App>ReportPlus option.
Files received in this way are stored in the Local Files folder of ReportPlus, if the file already exists the user may choose to overwrite it.
iTunes File Sharing
iTunes provides a File Sharing feature, available for those apps that support it. It allows to copy files to and from each application’s sandboxed file storage. For a more detailed explanation of iTunes File Sharing you should check this article (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4094).
Since ReportPlus supports iTunes File Sharing, if you have files in your desktop that you want to load into ReportPlus, one easy way to do it, is to plug the device, go to the apps section, and to the File Sharing dialog at the bottom of that screen. Files copied in this way will appear available in the Local Files folder of ReportPlus.
Connecting to a shared file
When possible it’s best to configure a connection to a shared file content repository, such as SharePoint or Dropbox, and drag the file from there. It also works getting the file as a Web Resource, if available in the Internet anonymously.
The clear upside of this scenario is data refresh. If the content update process honors the name and location of the file, a dashboard created with this reference will always stay up to date.
It’s also worth pointing out that since ReportPlus supports caching you will be able to access the dashboard no matter what the network environment is like.
If for whatever reason, you want to carry this file with you, for future offline analysis, there’s always the option to copy the file from the content repository to Local Files, by dragging the file to the disk icon, in the bottom bar of the data sources pane.