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Advanced Concepts

This section describes a few concepts that are not typically used every day. However, it is important to understand that Flow can be used to achieve these things.

Filtering Detailed Data

For Retrieved Measures, some Flow Data Source types support the use of “Filter Tags”. Flow uses a filter tag and condition to filter out some of the detailed data when calculating a summary value for the measure.

  • Filter Tag – this is the tag Flow will use to compare against the filter condition to determine whether the detailed data should be used in the calculation or not.
  • Filter Comparator – this is the comparator part of the filter condition.
  • Filter Value – this is the value part of the filter condition.
  • Filter Default – this is used by Flow if all the detailed data is filtered out of a time period. Flow will use this default value for the measure value for that time period.

Multiple Connections for a Measure

For Retrieved Measures, Flow allows more than one Data Source connection to be added to its “Retrieval” properties.

In this example the measure has a connection to the “Historian” and to the “Planning System”. The “Historian” connection uses a specific tag to retrieve an average value. The “Planning System” connection may use a SQL query to collect a value from a validated data source.

But when would you use this? Open the “Context” section of a Retrieved Measure and select the “Properties” tab …

Where more than one connection has been linked to a Retrieved Measure, the Refresh Offset properties can be associated with a specific connection.

Let’s discuss a scenario where this would be useful. Let’s assume a manually validated number in the “Planning System” Data Source is only available at 09h00 every day (maybe it needs to be checked by a person first). However, the morning shift handover meeting happens at 06h00. You would like to provide an “initial” value from your “Historian” tag for the 06h00 meeting, and then when the “Planning System” data is available at 09h00, get that value for your measure. To do this, you would set the “60” second Refresh Offset to use the “Historian”, and create another Refresh Offset of “10800” seconds (3 hours) which uses the “Planning System”. If the value from the “Planning System” at 09h00 is different from the value retrieved from the “Historian” at 06h00, Flow will create a new version of the measure’s value and set it to “Preferred”, hence making it the value used in reports.

Relative Period Calculations

For Calculated Measures, Flow allows calculations to be configured based on a measure’s previous period’s value, or even a previous range of values.

Relative Period

When selecting a dependent measure in a measure calculation, select the “Properties” tab. Set the “Dependent” property to “Previous period” and the “Relative End” to -1.

Flow will now use the previous period of this measure in your calculation expression.

Relative Range

Set the “Dependent” property to “Previous range”, “Relative Start” to -30 and the “Relative End” to 0.

Flow will now use an array of values in your calculation expression. You will need to use this array in a Built-In or User Defined Function.

This Relative Range calculation is useful for “moving window” calculations (e.g. moving average, moving sum, etc.)

Customizing the Flow Report Server

You will most likely want to change the “look and feel” of the Flow Report Server. Here are a few properties you may want to change:

  • Logo – add your company logo file. Flow will use it in the header of the reports and dashboards.
  • Color 3 – this is the color Flow uses for the dashboard panel title bars. The default color is the Flow green, but it is recommended that this be changed to one of your company’s accent colors.
  • Port – this is the port used by the Flow Report Server. Port 80 is the default http value.

Understanding Flow System Modules

Many of the components of Flow, as described in the Flow Deployment Architecture section on page 18 are Flow “Modules”. Open “SYSTEM”, “Modules” from the main menu …

Your Flow System can be extended by adding new modules to it. Some of the components can be updated by importing the latest releases. Use the “Import” menu to add or update these modules. Why is this important to you? If Flow Software releases a new Data Source type in the future, you would be able to add that new module here and be able to use the new Data Source without needing to reinstall your Flow System.

Flow Database Views

If you are familiar with other visual analytics tools you would like to use on top of the Flow database (e.g. SSRS, Dream Report, WW Intelligence, Tableau, Qlikview, etc.), Flow exposes a number of views in the Flow database that may be useful:

  • vMeasure – measure definition.
  • vMeasureValue – all measure values.
  • vMeasureValueException – all measure value exceptions.
  • vReportGroupMeasure – time-based report definition.
  • vEventPeriod – all event periods created.
  • vEventPeriodValue – all measure values associated with event periods.
  • vEventPeriodAttributeValue – all attribute values collected for the event periods.
  • vReportGroupEventScheme – event-based report definition.

Integrating Flow information into other Systems

Flow Software can provide additional services relating to the integration of Flow information into other systems. For example, it may be useful for you to integrate your Flow information into your ERP system (i.e. actual production values). Please contact your Flow Distributor or Flow Support if you need to discuss the options available to you.

Flow Database Maintenance/Backups

The Flow System handles the standard periodic database maintenance (i.e. index re-building, etc.).  However, Flow does not manage any database backup procedures.  The Flow database should be backed up on a periodic basis as part of your disaster recovery policies.

Flow Directories

The Flow System uses a number of standard Operating System directories.  In general, these directories do not need to be accessed, but for information purposes, they are listed below:

Bootstrap

  • “ProgramData\Flow Software\Flow\Bootstrap” – this folder contains the necessary runtime files required for a deployed Flow Platform.

Config

  • “ProgramData\Flow Software\Flow\Config” – this folder contains the templates and packages required to create a new Flow System.
  • “Users\{username}\AppData\Roaming\Flow Software\Flow\Config” – this folder contains a configuration file that stores the “shortcut” information displayed in the “Connect” dialog box.

Client

  • “Users\{username}\AppData\Roaming\Flow Software\Flow\Client” – this folder contains a configuration file that stores the “shortcut” information displayed in the “Connect” dialog box.

Customizing the Flow Simulator

The Flow Simulator is provided as-is. It is a tool used for training and demonstration purposes only. Limited support can be provided if you want to customize the simulator.

The Flow Simulator is configured using an XML file. You will find this file in your “C:\ProgramData\Flow Software\Flow\Config\Simulator” folder. You can modify this file little by little until you are comfortable with how it works.

The following is a section of the default Simulator.xml file.

Once you have built your “Simulator.xml” file, you can add it to your Simulator connection by editing its “Definition” property and clicking “Save”…

 

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