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Level 8

Reporting Best Practices


I'm want to understand if there are any best practices, hits & tips or advice the community has for building reports. In particular, are there any verification processes you use to make sure your report shows what you need it to?

We have an issue where some of our reports are quite large, and it is hard to know we have everything we need in it.

Many thanks.

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If you have a large report and you want to see if it works, the best thing I do is to put in one piece at a time and then preview it on the next section.  If it works, I go back and add another piece and keep going that way.  

Doing it like that is a little annoying, but you will be able what statement is causing issues in the report instantly and not guessing. 

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You kind of hinted at a big issue right away, some of the reports are quite large so you don't know if it contains the data you need.  What that tells me is there is too much fluff and distraction in the report.  For example with my bandwidth utilization reports I have them filtered to only show me interfaces that match my criteria for an issue.  Don't show me anything where uptime was 100% or utilization was less than 70% or whatever else, I only want to see the broken things or else I'm going to end up with 20 pages of data and can't find what I actually need.

I've had to learn a lot of SQL trickery to make it happen, but i don't send raw data to anyone anymore. I figure out what the problem we are looking for is, write my SQL to isolate that kind of issue, and then send a much smaller report with only the relevant info and often with case logic embedded into the report with troubleshooting or remediation instructions built right in.  


If necessary I will also summarize certain things to provide quick ways to eyeball the high level contents, like a count of the unique sites in the report so if they spin up a new site and somehow it isn't being captured in my report then they will let me know, "Hey Marc I saw that the report only shows the same 257 sites as we had last month, but there should have been 3 new sites added, can you check it out?"

- Marc Netterfield, Github