Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Updated Reporting Capabilities

One of the most powerful tools at a Tooling U Administrator's disposal is the Group Report. Group Reports provide Administrators with the ability to track student usage, progress, and performance within Tooling U; and for the Site Administrator there exist additional reports to review usage and progress for the entire organization.

Current Tooling U Administrators enjoy several “canned” reports (reports available to all Administrators) and the ability to create custom reports to meet their specific needs. Following the launch of the sixth version of Tooling U, one of the areas the Application Development team monitored and reviewed was the Group Reports section and identified several areas of improvement, which led to the development of several enhancements:

  • The Amount of Data – Large amounts of data can be accumulated throughout years of use and several reports were generated using an organization’s entire history resulting in extremely large sets of data. To prevent this, many reports now feature several search parameters to allow the Administrator to narrow the amount of data returned in the report.

  • Data Filtering – Custom reports are great when an Administrator has a specific report format they need to run on a regular basis; but they can become a bother when one of the canned reports retrieves the data the Administrator wants but requires the Administrator to page through too many results. To address this issue column filters have been added to almost all of the reports, allowing the Administrator to search for a subset of the results based on the column being filtered. For example, in the Comprehensive Report an Administrator can enter in “Smith” (last name) and modify the results to only display students with “Smith” in their last name. One filter per column can be used, allowing for a flexible and powerful method of filtering and sorting data.

  • Data Sorting – Launched with the release of version six of Tooling U, many Administrators may not be aware the column titles (when applicable) allow the Administrator to sort the entire report by the data in the selected column. A single click sorts the data in an ascending order (a, b, c, d … etc.), a second click sorts the data in a descending order (z, y, x, w … etc.), while a third click will reset the report to its default display.

  • Exporting Data – Many of the reports provide the capability the export their results directly to an Excel file. All of these Excel exports feature some enhanced features which went live with the release of Tooling U Version 6. However, after monitoring exceptionally large data exports it was discovered that the file size grew exponentially in size, creating difficulties downloading the report. Eventually, it would be possible to reach the limit of what Excel could handle. To compensate for this, all reports to Excel have now been capped to a specific level, which once reached will then switch the export format to CSV (a flat text file) reducing the size of the file while allowing more data to be exported.
While they are currently in the testing phase, these Group Reports enhancements will launch at the end of June.

If you are a current Tooling U Administrator and have some ideas of your own regarding the Group Reports feature please visit the Tooling U Idea Exchange at http://www.toolingu.com/community to share your idea’s with us and help us improve your Tooling U experience.

Web Developer

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kick Down the Door!

Cindy Bernosky & Gretchen Schultz of the Government & Education Group here at Tooling U headed to Minnesota earlier this month to participate in the “Kick Down the Door: Building Bridges to Connection” conference organized by the MPMA (Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association).

The conference, held April 29th through May 1st, provided a forum to understand the needs & concerns of everyone involved in the manufacturing industry. Cindy said the meeting was really productive, stating that “the group just wants what is best for the industry overall. It was great to have secondary and post-secondary educators with industry in the same room.”

The overall goal of the conference was to find ways to improve technical education throughout the state of Minnesota. Some of those improvements include getting educators and industry on the same page, and understanding the needs of students, employers and instructors. The conference included break-out sessions to discuss these needs, and what should happen as the manufacturing industry moves into the future.

Rumor has it the casino night of the conference was also quite a good time. Reportedly, Cindy was the highest bidder for a bottle of wine, but we haven’t seen the bottle around the office, so we don’t know where it ended up.

Government & Education Specialist
Photo Courtesy The Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association