Mastering Render Variables in Cognos Report Studio: A Step-by-Step Guide


Render variables are a powerful feature of IBM Cognos TM1, and they can greatly enhance your reporting capabilities by allowing you to dynamically reference data and calculations. In this article, we will explore the basics of render variables and provide step-by-step guidance on how to use them in Cognos Report Studio. We will also touch on some best practices and common mistakes to avoid when working with render variables.

What are Render Variables?

Render variables are a way to reference data and calculations in your reports, allowing you to create dynamic content that can be updated automatically based on changes in your data model. For example, you could use a render variable to display the total revenue for a specific time period, or to show the difference between budgeted and actual costs for a particular expense category.

To create a render variable, you first need to identify the data source that you want to reference. This could be a table in your data model, a calculated field, or even an external data source. Once you have identified the data source, you can then use Cognos Report Studio’s rendering engine to create the variable and reference it in your report.

Getting Started with Render Variables

Here are the basic steps for creating a render variable in Cognos Report Studio:

  1. Open your report in Cognos Report Studio, and select the object that you want to add the render variable to (e.g., a table or chart).
  2. Right-click on the object, and select "Add" from the context menu.
  3. From the list of available objects, select "Render Variable".
  4. In the Render Variable dialog box that appears, select the data source that you want to reference (e.g., a table or calculated field).
  5. Choose the calculation that you want to use for the render variable (e.g., SUM, AVERAGE, etc.).
  6. Specify any additional options for the render variable (e.g., formatting, aggregation, etc.).
  7. Click "OK" to create the render variable.

Once you have created a render variable, you can then use it in your report by referencing it using the syntax {RENDERVARIABLE} (e.g., {RENDERVARIABLE:RevenueTotal}). This will display the value of the render variable in your report.

Best Practices and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when working with render variables:

  1. Keep your render variables simple and focused on a single calculation or data source. Complex expressions or references to multiple data sources can be difficult to manage and update.
  2. Use meaningful names for your render variables, so that they are easy to understand and reference later on.
  3. Test your render variables thoroughly to ensure that they are working as expected, particularly when making changes to your data model or calculations.
  4. Avoid using render variables in places where they may be difficult to update or maintain (e.g., in complex formulas or calculations).
  5. Be mindful of performance implications when using render variables, especially if you have a large number of them or are referencing data from external sources.


Render variables are a powerful tool for creating dynamic and flexible reports in IBM Cognos TM1. By following the steps outlined above and keeping best practices in mind, you can use render variables to enhance your reporting capabilities and create more engaging and informative content for your users.