Debbie Hagen

How can I set project-wide colors for my metrics?

Blog Post created by Debbie Hagen Employee on Dec 30, 2015


As TBMAs we need to create reports that effectively use color to convey information.  For example, we may use tables that display negative currency values in red or we may use arrows colored green or red to specify whether the direction the arrow is pointing is desirable or not.  Additionally, we frequently use charts to display information graphically.


In this blogpost, I'm going to explain how to change the colors of your charts at the project level.   For each chart component you add to your report,  there is a Color Spec property.  You set this value to tell the Apptio application how to display the metrics in your charts, you can access it by right-clicking on a chart component or selecting the actions menu and choosing Properties.

However, there are some cases where you wouldn't want to have to set the metric colors on a component by component basis. Suppose for example that your company has specific rules about which colors should be used in your dashboards and certain designated colors for specific metrics.  In this case, you'd want to set a project specific color set.   Keep in mind that project color specs can be overwritten at the component level, so if you think you'll be changing colors at the component level, I don't recommend setting a default project color scheme.


To set a default project level color scheme, you'll open your project and from the Project drop-down or Actions menu select Edit Project Settings.


In the Project Settings dialog, you can set values for various metrics in your projects. When you do this, any chart that contains the color defined metric will display that metric in the specified color unless overwritten at the component level.  Apptio recognizes a variety of colors by name, such as red, blue, green, light blue, etc.  For a complete list, look in Apptio Help under "Setting the default colors for projects".  the syntax is the "name of the metric"=color-spec separated by semicolons.

For example:



However you aren't limited to the color names that Apptio recognizes. If your organization has specific colors that you use for certain metrics, as long as you have the HEX codes for those colors, you can use them in place of the color names as in the following example.

Tier 1=#102F5E;Tier 2=#224477;Tier 3=#5473A1;Tier 4=#839CC3


Syntax notes:

You can use wild cards and exclusions in your syntax.  For example you can use an asterisk (*) as a wild card to cover multiple metrics containing the same value,   *Storage would affect all metrics that end with the value Storage. 


You can put "flat" in front of any of the colors to get a non-gradient version of the color, for example flatgreen, and you can choose flat colors such as black, gray, darkgray and white"transparent" is also supported.


Finally you can use an exclamation point in front of the color to tell apptio never to use that color in the chart.


For example:

NAS=blue;DAS=green;SAN=red;!orange  indicates which colors to use for each of the values specified but don't ever us orange if more metrics become available.


I hope you find this helpful.  Thanks for learning with Apptio University!

debbie hagen

Debbie Hagen