m-Power Gets Pivot Tables
May 18, 2010 Alex Woodie
Pivot tables, a popular way to quickly sort specific rows and columns in a spreadsheet, are now available in applications built using mrc‘s m-Power Web application development tool, the vendor announced at the recent COMMON conference in Orlando, Florida. The new pivot report template is expected to give m-Power users a powerful new way to work with and visualize DB2/400 data from the comfort of a Web browser.
Lotus developer Pito Salas is credited with coming up with the concept of the pivot table while working on a new Lotus product in 1991. Salas reportedly realized that a tool that could help users quickly spot patterns in data could be used to build data models more quickly, and thereby lead users to glean more insight from the data in a shorter amount of time.
Since then, nearly all spreadsheet makers have added pivot tables to their products, and the concept has rocketed to popularity. Once they grasp the concept, users get a lot of benefit by being able to quickly twist, or pivot, a selection of rows and columns around a third selected variable, and thereby add an extra layer of depth to the spreadsheet (giving it elements of a multidimensional database, but without the complexity).
Pivot tables are particularly useful when working with large spreadsheets that track a large number of disparate types of measurements across lots of columns. The technique lets users quickly sort and summarize only the selected columns and rows while browsing the spreadsheet as a whole.
The developers at mrc think they have improved on the classic Excel pivot table (or PivotTable in Microsoft‘s patented parlance) with a Web-based pivot table that they claim is easier and more intuitive to use, as well as more accurate and more secure.
For starters, creating a pivot table within the m-Power environment can be done by simply dragging and dropping elements of an existing m-Power report from a Web browser. This eliminates the need to manually define a pivot table sorting functions in Excel, for example.
And because the m-Power pivot table lives on the Web, it can be accessed by others. Users no longer must e-mail or FTP the Excel spreadsheet so others can see it. Storing the data centrally also helps to ensure that the data is as up-to-date as possible. It also bolsters security.
“I can’t imagine why anyone would willingly choose an Excel-based pivot table over a Web-based pivot table,” says Brian Crowley, director of development for mrc. “The benefits provided by a Web-based approach are superior on every level.”
m-Power applications run on the System i server and its Apache Web server, or any server that can run a Java-based Web application server.