About prompts

A prompt is a question the system presents to a user when a report is executed. How the user answers the question determines what data is displayed on the report when it is returned from your data source.  For an introduction to prompts, how prompts save the report designer time, and how prompts work with MicroStrategy security filters, see the Basic Reporting Guide.

A report designer can include one or more prompts in any report. Prompts are an effective tool to:

Allow each user who executes the report to request individualized sets of data from your data source when he answers the prompts and runs the report. Effectively, each user creates a filter for the report.
Allow the report designer to create a smaller number of reports overall, using more inclusive objects, rather than having to create numerous, more specific reports that are individualized to each analyst.
Allow the report designer to ensure that the objects on a report are the latest available objects in the project. This is possible using a search object in a prompt. When a user launches a prompt by running a report, the search object retrieves the latest objects that fit the search criteria the report designer defined. Thus, no matter when the prompt was created, each time a user executes the report, the user chooses prompt answers from a list of the most up-to-date objects available in the project, including objects that may not have existed when the prompt was created.
Allow users to keep the objects on their saved reports up-to-date. Users can save a prompted report so that the objects within the prompt remain connected to the original objects within the project that they were originally based on when the prompt was created. If objects are modified or deleted in the project, the report can reflect those changes the next time the prompted report is run.

Components of a prompt

The pieces that make up a prompt control how a prompt appears and how it functions. These components include the following:

Answer requirement: This component lets you determine whether users are required to answer the prompt or an answer is optional. If an answer is required, a report cannot be executed until an answer is provided.
Default prompt answers: This component lets you include a pre-selected answer for the prompt, which the user can then accept, replace with a different answer, or accept and add more answers.
Title and description: This component lets you provide a useful name and description for the prompt, which can significantly impact whether a user finds prompts to be simple or complex .
Style: This component determines the appearance of the prompt and the layout of how users select answers for the prompt.

Consider your users' needs and the purpose of the report and the objects on it when you decide on these options. If you plan to apply a schedule to a prompted report, the decisions you make about answer requirements and default answers will affect how the report is filtered when it is automatically executed on schedule. For a table showing how various combinations of these options affect how a scheduled report is filtered when executed, see the Advanced Reporting Guide.

For details and examples of each of these components and how they work together, see the Basic Reporting Guide. For steps to create a prompt, see the appropriate link under Related Topics listed at the end of this topic.

Stand-alone prompt vs. prompt as part of a report or filter

A stand-alone prompt is a prompt that is created as an independent MicroStrategy object. A stand-alone prompt can then be used on many different reports, as well as on filters, metrics, and other objects, and can be used by other report designers. A stand-alone prompt gives report designers flexibility.

In MicroStrategy Developer, prompts can also be created as an intrinsic part of a given report, filter, or custom group, at the same time the report, filter, or custom group itself is being created. Prompts created as part of another object are saved with the definition of that object. Therefore, a prompt created as part of another object cannot be used on any other object. For more information on creating a prompt as part of a report or filter, see the Building Query Objects and Queries, for Designers chapter in the Basic Reporting Guide. For more information on creating a prompt as part of a custom group, see the Advanced Reporting Guide.

Comparing a prompt and a filter

A prompt is similar to a filter because a prompt determines the specific data to be displayed on a report. The difference is that you create a filter for a report to provide a single, specific definition for the report. A filtered report then displays the same set of data to every user who executes that report. In contrast, a prompt dynamically modifies the contents of a report based on the user's answers when the user executes the report. With prompts, users can determine the objects (attributes, attribute elements, metrics, and so on) that they want to be part of, or excluded from, the report query that is sent to the data source. Therefore, a prompt can be seen as a way for each user to create his filter for a given report. For example:

Users can choose from several existing filters to determine exactly which filter screens the data on the report that they are about to execute. To achieve this, create an object prompt that contains existing filters and place that object prompt on a report. Then the user can choose which filter to apply to the report. For more details on object prompts, see Filtering data based on metrics, attributes, or other objects: Object prompt.
Prompts allow a report to have a dynamic report definition, which users can change each time that they submit the query by choosing different answers when prompted. If you create an attribute prompt containing the Year attribute, users are prompted to select the year for which they want the report results. The report can be run the first time by selecting 2005 and then a second time by selecting 2006.

Related topics

Types of prompts
Hierarchy Qualification prompt
Attribute Element List prompts
Attribute Qualification prompt
Metric Qualification prompt
Object prompt
Value prompt
Adding a prompt to a report
Determining whether a report uses default prompt answers when the report is run