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Cognos Portal Customization

A little branding goes a long way

Do you remember how tedious it was to custom skin Cognos in the 10.x portal?  If you wanted to make global changes in the portal only, you had XML changes to make…but if you wanted to make global changes to the viewer or to studios, you had to edit CSS as well.  Lots of components that you had to find and update in several different files.  Then, you had to manage these new or modified files and directories, making sure to not overwrite them on upgrades.   Cool functionality that proved invaluable no doubt, but it wasn’t an easy process to build or manage.  Fortunately, in the new and more extensible version of Cognos Analytics, much of that process of customizing your environment is now much easier to implement and maintain.


Custom Skin Cognos Analytics

In Cognos Analytics, we now have the ability to upload customizations directly through the Cognos Analytics user interface.  Customization files vary, depending on what you want to change, but at the core of each is a simple spec.json file that defines it and the files (images, for example) that the .json references.  Themes are used to change the Cognos Analytics user interface to reflect your organization’s branding.  It’s really very easy to change color schemes, logos, and portal verbiage.   The standard samples have several examples of modified themes that you can use as starting points.  Extensions are used to add or remove buttons, shapes, menus, etc…in order to extend the standard user interface.  If you wanted to emulate the portal pages feature from previous versions, for example, you could create an extension to add buttons (in lieu of tabs) to the navigation bar.  Views are used to combine extensions (as described previously) and modified views of application screens like the sign-in, authoring, dashboard, or modeling panes.  Best of all, you can combine these features with role customization to enable only for certain user types, rather than globally applying, if desired.  The practical applications here are endless.


Easy as 1,2,3

Below, we have a graphic of the components that you can easily modify within a theme.  Simply find the user interface component you’d like to modify on the graphic below, change the value for the corresponding key in the spec.json file, compress the spec.json file, then upload and apply it.  It really is that easy to custom brand your Cognos Analytics environment according to your own corporate branding standards.


User interface reference JSON description Definition
1 brandText Brand text. Enter an empty string to leave this entry blank.
2 brandTextSmall Small brand text. if omitted, brandText is used. Enter an empty string to leave this entry blank.
3 brandIcon Brand icon
4 brandIconSmall Small brand icon
5 appbarBackground Application bar background color
5 appbarForeground Application bar foreground color
5 appbarSelectLine Application bar selection line color
5 appbarPushButtonBackground Application bar push-button background color
6 navbarBackground Navigation bar background color
6 navbarForeground Navigation bar foreground color
6 navbarSelectLine Navigation bar selection line color
6 navbarPushButtonBackground Navigation bar push-button background color
  favicon Icon to display in web browser tab.



Cognos Analytics brings a lot of sleek new presentation and portal changes in both form and function.  It would be a shame to not take a tiny step further by incorporating your company’s own custom branding.  Now it’s easier than ever to custom skin Cognos to fit your brand standards.  We hear time and time again, ‘a little branding goes a long way.’  For help implementing custom branding within your Cognos solution or other support around your analytics initiatives, contact one of our solutions architects at contact@pmsquare.com.




If you would like PMsquare to help with your analytics solution, please reach out to at:

United States Australia Singapore, Philipines, Thailand
PMsquare LLC Cornerstone PMsquare | A Cornerstone Company
P: 708-575-2092
E: Chris Loechel
P:+61 1300 840 048
E: Piers Wilson
P:+65 6635 1700
E: Carsten Brandt

Blog post shared courtesy of PMsquare LLC

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