Report Filters: An In Depth Look

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Applies to: Starter, Pro, Plus, & Enterprise Plans

Absorb's Report Interface provides Admins with Report Filters which are an essential requirement for refining the data contained in the LMS, so that it can be made more informative and usable.

With this Admins can isolate and/or summarize the data set contained in their Report, and then use the desired output to carry out various administrative tasks.


LMS Design

Absorb's Report Filters have been designed to provide the Admin with the ability to pose highly focused informational requests of their LMS portal's data, through the use of database queries, which allow for a great degree of control over Report content.

Design Considerations

Report Filtering Needs

Regardless of the depth and breadth of data contained in a client's Learning Management System, every organization (with its group of portal administrators) faces the same challenges in dealing with all of the information they are using:

  • What do with all the information that needs to be collectively managed.
  • How to turn large quantities of information into something relevant to the work at hand.

From this predicament, Admins will regularly encounter the situation where they cannot effectively move forward in their work, until they distill their Report's data set into a form that is both manageable and relevant to the next administrative activity that awaits them.

For any database system like an LMS, this type of screening activity is done by applying a 'database query'. In the particular case of the Absorb LMS, where the program's database information is communicated via the portal's Reports, this same outcome is achieved through the use of the product's Report Filtering.

Report Filtering Methodology

Absorb Report Filtering is performed by assembling a logical sequence of one (or more) Admin-defined conditions, that once triggered by the LMS, will determine if the query being asked of the database can actually be matched to one (or more) entries contained in the program's data set.

In short, search and return only those items contained in the Report that precisely match the conditions of what the Admin is looking for.

At its most basic level, Report Filtering employs a particular data Value that the Admin is looking to include (or intentionally exclude) as the basis of the Filter. This same data Value will in turn be keyed to the group of data contained in one of the Report's Columns (i.e. an LMS database field, possessing a shared class of data Values).

Once engaged, the LMS will directly compare the Admin's desired data Value against the ones contained in the database Column (database field) - in each one of the Report's individual Report entries (database records) - in order to find those unique records that have (or intentionally do not have) the desired Value.

(Constructing a Report Filter can be decidedly more complex than just achieving a match with a particular database record, but at this point in this topic, this is simplest explanation of the kind of querying capabilities that the LMS is capable of.)

Report Filtering Results

The workings of a database query are relatively simple, but extremely effective; especially, when more than one queries are used in combination (and which is further detailed in the Report Filter & Multi-Filter Application article).

In the case of Absorb, this process is further enhanced by the large array of data Columns contained in the LMS's numerous Reports, all of which can be used by the Admin as Filters.

Many of these individual Report Columns also possess fairly unique attributes and/or data types, all of which can also be taken advantage of, in order to construct highly effective database queries, as well.

By putting all of these concepts together, Absorb's Report Filtering allows the Admin to fully refine their LMS data set with ever increasing complexity and precision, until they are only left with the Report information that they want.

Report Data Attributes

The starting point for applying any Report Filter in Absorb, is to first select the required Column to be used as the source of the query.

It is this initial selection, with the data attributes of the chosen Report Column, that will be the biggest determining factor as to what kind of Filtering is available to the Admin - and how their query will need to be assembled.

Based on the Report Column selected by the Admin there will be two Filter-relevant data attributes to consider, both of which are directly connected to one another.

Report Data Types

The first attribute originating from the Report Column selection, will be the type of data that the Admin will be using as the basis of the Filter.

  • Text based data Values (i.e. alphabetic, numerical and a combination of both).
  • Date based data Values (i.e. calendar date and time).
  • Global Unique Identifier or GUID based data Values (i.e. complex and unique alphanumeric combination, used for identifying individual LMS objects).

Report Data Inputs

The second attribute arising from the Report Column selection, will be in how the Admin inputs their desired data Value, to be used as the basis of the Filter (and which will be directly determined via the data type above).

  • Selectable Input - a group of predetermined selections, accessible via a drop down menu.
  • Direct Input - a blank form field, allowing the entry of any information by the Admin.

(Readers should be advised that these two terms are not actually part of Absorb's official terminology, but are solely provided here to make explaining the construction of Report Filters easier for new LMS users to understand.)

Report Filters

As described above, the actual filtering mechanisms that Absorb makes available to the Admin in the LMS, are directly tied to the specific attributes the chosen Report Column (with each Report Column being capable of one style of Filtering only).

Consequently, the LMS will always automatically direct the Admin to the Filter mechanism that is specifically relevant to the data contained in the Report Column that they have chosen.

For example, a Report filtered by a Column that contains date information, allows a query to be built that will target Report data at a specific point in time. Similarly, a Column containing a GUID can potentially be used to reduce a large data set down to a single item.

Report Filter Types

Once the Admin makes their Report Column selection, the Absorb LMS will immediately load their query using one of the following Filter types:

  • Binary - Report Filter based on an 'either / or' choice.
  • Boolean - Report Filter based on a 'yes / no' choice.
  • Conditional - Report Filter based on a logical expression.
  • Date - Report Filter based on chronological information.
  • Match - Report Filter based on finding the exact information.
  • Relational - Report Filter based on a mathematical expression.
  • Required - Report Filter based on a mandatory choice.
  • Selection - Report Filter based on an optional choice.
  • Subset - Report Filter based on a primary or secondary choice.

(The actual structure and functioning of each of these query types is fully described in the Report Filter Types located below.)

Report Filter Operators

Each Report Filter Type offered in Absorb also comes equipped with a dedicated set of selectable Filter Operators that the Admin can choose from while building their query.

These particular Operators are essentially a series of 'lenses' that better focus the Admin's query, by precisely defining the logical condition that needs to be satisfied by the Filter's final results.

Through the use of a Filter Operator a significant proportion of wanted (or unwanted) Report data potentially stands to included (or excluded) in the final result.

Absorb's Relational Filter from the list above is the most recognizable example of how these Operators work. In this instance the Filter Operators are exactly the same as in a basic mathematical statement: Equals (=), Greater Than (>)and Lesser Than (<).

Report Filter Types

Absorb's set of Report Filters are made up of the following, customizable database queries:

Element Image Description
Binary Filter

This Filter type is used for those Report Columns that contain an 'Either / Or' choice between two different Filter Values (e.g. User's Status is 'Active' or 'Inactive').

Boolean Filter

This Filter type is used for those Report Columns that can contain either a 'Yes' or 'No' choice - exclusively (e.g. User's Login attempt Was Successful).

Conditional Filter

This Filter type is used for those Report Columns that can contain alphanumeric Filter Values which can be used to satisfy a logical condition (e.g. User's Last Name Starts With 'Smi').

Date Filter

This Filter type is used for those Report Columns that can contain chronological Filter Values (e.g. '2016-02-10 01:00 PM').

Match Filter

This Filter type is used for those Report Columns that can contain alphanumeric Filter Values which can only be filtered to return an exact match (e.g. Login ID: '63fcc098-e352-405f-821a-707ed8713bf4').

Relational Filter

This Filter type is used for those Report Columns that can contain numeric Filter Values that can be used to satisfy a numerical condition (e.g. Enrollments Equals '17').

Required Filter

This Filter type is used for a select number of Reports in Absorb, that are only populated by the LMS once the Admin first makes a selection from the Report Column's available Filter Values (e.g. Course Activity Report requires that the Admin select one of the authored Courses in their portal).

Selection Filter

This Filter type is used for those Report Columns that can contain a collection of Filter Values that the Admin can make one or more choices from (e.g. Competencies: 'First Aid - Beginner', 'First Aid - Intermediate', 'First Aid - Advanced').

Subset Filter

This Filter type is used for a select number of Reports in Absorb that feature either a Department and/or a Category Column, each of which will also contain a second set of Filter Values that allows for filtering to be carried out on more than one level (e.g. Department And Sub-Departments of 'Finance').


Report Filters

Applying any of Absorb's Report Filters requires an Admin's selection of: the appropriate Column; the Operator that will refine their Filter; and finally, the Value that will define what is being searched for in the Report.

To accomplish this, the LMS provides a number of Action choices the Admin can use in creating, editing and removing their Report Filters. Using these capabilities, multiple Filters can be engaged by the Admin to increasingly narrow the scope of their Report, as needed.

Actions

When working with Report Filters the Actions available for use by the Admin are:

Element Image Description
Add Filter (Initiate) This button will open a dialog box to allow the Admin to select and create the Filter they want to apply.
Add Filter (Execute) This button will execute the Report Filter that the Admin has constructed and generate the required Report.
Update Filter (Initiate) This button will reopen the dialog box to allow the Admin to update and reapply an existing Filter and generate a revised Report.
Update Filter (Execute) This button will regenerate the updated Report based on the changes the Admin has made to one of their existing Filters.
Calendar This button will open a monthly timetable where the Admin can select one or more days for their Date Filter.
Clock This button will open a chronometer where the Admin can select one or more times for their Date Filter.
Cancel This button will close the dialog box for any new or existing Filter in the current Report without saving it in the LMS (which the Admin will not be prompted to confirm) and return the Admin back to the Report page.
Remove This button will erase the selected Filter in the current Report (which the Admin will not be prompted to confirm) and regenerate the Report based on whatever Filter conditions remain. Any Filter(s) deleted here is permanently removed from the LMS and cannot be recovered.
Remove All Filters This button will erase all Filters in the current Report (which the Admin will not be prompted to confirm) and regenerate the default Report without any filtering applied. Any Filter(s) deleted here is permanently removed from the LMS and cannot be recovered.
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