Life Without Adobe Ad Hoc Analysis

Jim Glauner

Pour one out for Ad Hoc Analysis, an advanced Adobe Analytics reporting tool, because it will be retired as of March 1, 2021.

Ad Hoc Analysis (née Discover), an oft-misunderstood reporting interface, was beloved by some for its design, customizability, speed, and advanced capabilities. Its steep learning curve was sometimes a barrier to adoption, but some willing to learn its ways swore by it, as it was a far more powerful and flexible reporting tool than Reports & Analytics.

It died slowly; Adobe signaled its intent to kill it more than two years ago, so its impending obituary should not be a surprise. Adobe spent that time adding features to Workspace, an advanced reporting tool with comprehensive visualization components, giving Workspace relative functional parity with Ad Hoc Analysis. For example, Adobe now allows Workspace to export up to 50,000 dimension rows (the previous limit was 400), which matches Ad Hoc Analysis’ capabilities.

Those who still build reports in Ad Hoc Analysis or who send scheduled reports still have a chance to save their projects, which will not work as of March 1, 2021 (and Adobe says there will be no deadline extensions for any customers). Adobe offers an Ad Hoc-to-Workspace conversion tool that allows users to convert individual Ad Hoc Analysis reports to Workspace or transfer entire project lists with the click of a button. It really is that simple, though there are several caveats:

  • When report elements with minute granularity (reports broken down by minute) have breakdowns applied to them, they must be removed in Ad Hoc Analysis and reapplied in Workspace.
  • If a segment is applied to an Ad Hoc Analysis column in conjunction with a calculated metric, the internal calculated metrics must be removed before converting, then reapplied in Workspace.
  • The Site Analysis report, an Ad Hoc Analysis pathing report, is not available in Workspace.
  • Ad Hoc Analysis Pie Chart, Bubble Chart, Histogram and Conversion Funnel reports are converted to Workspace, respectively, as Donut, Scatterplot, Bar and freeform table visualizations.
  • Reports with “last x days” date ranges exclude the current day in Ad Hoc Analysis but include the current day in Workspace.
  • Flow visualizations include repeat instances of a flow step in Workspace.
  • Scheduled Ad Hoc Analysis reports will be ported to Workspace, but the scheduling itself (send frequency and email addresses) must be reapplied after converting.

Adobe also details other differences between the two tools.

Whether or not they still prefer Ad Hoc Analysis to Workspace, analysts should make the switch as soon as possible since Adobe has made it clear that Workspace is its analysis tool of choice. If analysts have not used Workspace extensively already, they will need practice to master it before Ad Hoc Analysis is sent to live on a farm with all the other “retired” data analysis tools.