My First BI Project

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If you are new to Contour Business Intelligence, you might be thinking to yourself: “Where do I start”?

The answer is: you should start by creating a BI project. A BI project is created with Contour Reporter and then used by different Contour BI platform products. Basically, Contour Reporter opens a BI project and shows reports.

BI projects are then published in the Contour BI Portal. The Contour BI Portal is a web application for publishing interactive reports.

You can find more information about our Contour Business Intelligence products on our website.

In this article we describe the necessary steps to create your first local Contour BI project. We also display this project in the BI Portal.


In this example we create a local BI project with one OLAP report. To do so we use the Northwind Public Database (downloaded from here) and the report will display the ordered products for the years 1994 to 1996.


First, you start Contour Reporter.

From the main menu click on Create Local Project.

In general, to create a simple BI project we need to follow four steps:

  1. Create a Database Connection – to create OLAP reports, it is necessary to access source data, for which a database connection is needed. Select the source type from the available list. Contour BI supports many relational databases with their SQL dialects, some files types, like CSV and MS Excel, many information systems providing data and metadata together; generic connection types ODBC and ADO are also available.

    For the Northwind database, we select Microsoft Access Database from the Type dropdown list.

  2. Create a Schema (optional) - Contour Reporter has the option of creating a relation between tables in designer mode. That means the user sees the Tables and Fields diagram and sets the field relation by right clicking the mouse over the field of one table with another. By default, an Equal relation is set between two fields.

    Expert users can write the SQL query directly and thus avoid this step.

    In our example, we create a Schema relating the tables Categories, Products, Order Details, and Orders. Here is the schema relation for two tables:

  3. Create a Query.  Once a connection to source data has been established, it is necessary to query tables to retrieve specific data.

    To retrieve data, queries can be manually written, automatically generated, or edited after automatic creation.

    In our example, we create a new Query object. We then select Source Type = Schema and select our newly created Schema from the list. The SQL statement is automatically generated.

    However, we change the editor to manual query generation because we want to edit the query statement:

    We edit the query text for half of the resulting records:

  4. Create an OLAP report – Once we've created the Query, we can create the OLAP report. The Report properties dialog is displayed.  Here we define the structure of the report and specify which fields will be dimensions and which facts.

    In this dialog, we first select the Query from the list to retrieve the field’s names – the Query created in step 3.

    In this example, we set Category Name, Product Name, and Order Date as dimensions. UnitPrice and Quantity as facts.

    After pressing the Ok button, we create date periods, Year and Month for OrderDate. To do this, select the dimension OrderDate under the Dimensions folder, for the Cube object. Then from the toolbar, click on Add date periods:

    Then click over the report object and click Edit report. The report window displays the report window. Set the dimensions in the axis areas by means of drag & drop.

    Below the Grid with our settings:

    We also create a Pie chart to compare the ordered quantity for the three years in question:

Displaying the Project in the BI Portal

Now that we have created our first BI project, we can publish it on the web.

To do so, we need the Contour BI Portal.
After installing and licensing the BI Portal, we can display our project by writing the URL, calling the web server (localhost in our example) and the project path:


Below, the result after writing the url in Chrome browser:


Technically you can create and publish your BI Project on the web in a matter of just a few minutes, after which highly interactive, richly visualized dashboards can be viewed on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. In real life, however, the process usually requires many hours of thinking, designing calculation algorithms and visualization forms, and discussing them with colleagues and users.