Introducing PBJ: The PBCS Java Client Project

I’d like to introduce the forthcoming availability of a new open source project called PBJ (or PB&J if you want): A Java client for PBCS (Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service) that serves as a clean, robust, and rapid way to work with the PBCS REST API in Java.

The PBCS REST API provides similar functionality to the EPM Automate tool and can perform such actions as exporting data, adding members to an outline, running business rules, and more. The REST API is an exciting development as Planning continues its march to the cloud, because it will allow integration from many languages and tools.

Consuming a REST API isn’t necessarily hard, but there are a lot of moving parts – connecting, managing credentials, invoking the right method, parsing the output, and then deciding what to do with it. Most of this is pretty boilerplate code that can get verbose pretty quickly.

Therefore, I thought it would be nice if there were a high-quality library that could easily be used and reused. This is where the PBCS Java Client – PBJ – comes in: it is a freely available library that is released under the Apache Software License. The ASL is a very generous license that essentially means you can do anything you want with the code. My hope is that this library becomes the de facto client for using Java to work with the PBCS API.

As an example of how PBJ makes things simple, consider the following example of connecting to a server and running a business rule:

PbcsClient client = new PbcsClientImpl(server, identityDomain, username, password);
PbcsApplication app = client.getApplication("Vision");

Here’s a small example of checking the status of a job:

PbcsClient client = new PbcsClientImpl(server, identityDomain, username, password);
PbcsApplication app = client.getApplication(appName);
PbcsJobStatus jobStatus = app.getJobStatus(558);
System.out.println("Job status: " + jobStatus);

Three lines of code and we have connected to our PBCS server, grabbed a particular application, and then invoked a business rule on it. At the moment the API supports running business rules, exporting data, refreshing cubes, downloading files, and more.

PBJ is under active development and will be released in the near future. Contributions from others are entirely welcome. Not every PBCS feature will be supported on day one. Please let me know if you’d like to contribute to or test out the API.

Book Review: Developing Essbase Applications – Hybrid Techniques and Practices

I am very pleased to be able to review Developing Essbase Applications: Hybrid Techniques and Practices for you today. I can’t believe it has already been over three years since my review of the first Developing Essbase Applications book. As with before, this book is a collection of in-depth chapters on various subjects, written by some of the best and brightest out there in the Essbase community. The author list is pared down slightly from before and contains some new, but familiar names.

Again leading the cat herding editing efforts is the venerable Cameron Lackpour, along with John Booth, Tim German, William Hodges, Mike Nader, Martin Neuliep, and Glenn Schwartzberg. Those of you that frequent OTN, the Network54 Essbase Forum, or conferences such as Kscope will recognize these names quite easily. I am quite honored to consider these authors my friends and colleagues.

The DEA reader will be treated to several compelling chapters on incredibly contemporary Essbase topics, including the following:

  1. Exalytics
  2. Hybrid Essbase
  3. Young Person’s Guide to Essbase Cube Design
  4. Essbase Performance and Load Testing
  5. Utilizing SQL to Enhance Essbase
  6. Integrating OBIEE and Essbase
  7. Managing Spreadsheets with Dodeca
  8. Smart View

Essentially, the book takes a divide and conquer approach where each author tackles one or more of the chapters. Now, when it comes to programming books, of which I am a fairly avid reader, I am not a fan of the “cookbook” approach – wherein the book is a collection of disparate topics. In the programming book realm these books tend to read like a bunch of polished up blog posts. For this Essbase book, I think the approach works wonderfully. I have to say that none of the chapters feels like a glorified blog post. They are incredibly densely packed with useful information, and perhaps more usefully, they are packed with an incredible amount of insight and pointers that are derived from countless hours of efforts on the part of the respective authors.

I remember talking to Cameron when the first book came out and I told him that it was a good book, but I wasn’t sure that it was a great book (in retrospect I think I was being overly critical). And I remember that he told me that if you can learn just one or two things from the book, it’d be worth it. And that notion really resonated with me.

Along those lines, the chapters on Hybrid Essbase, Performance and Load Testing, and Smart View are worth the price of admission on their own. The other chapters are also quite compelling but your particular skill set will affect how much you get out of a chapter. For instance, I have done my fair share of SQL work, so I found Glenn’s chapter on Utilizing SQL to be an interesting treatise on Essbase and SQL but I didn’t happen to personally get a lot of it. That said, while I take familiarity with SQL for granted, I now know that SQL isn’t in every Essbase developer’s wheelhouse (but it should be!).

So, does this book pass the “did you learn one or two things from it?” test?


If you are at all serious about being an Essbase developer, I can easily and whole-heartedly recommend that you add this book to your collection. This is a no-brainer if you are a developer or a consultant. This is content from people at the top of their games that have put in countless hours to compile and write this content on incredibly useful topics. If you gain one insight on Exalytics, Hybrid Essbase, Smart View, OBIEE, SQL, cube design, performance testing, or learn something about the awesome Dodeca software, it will have been easily worth it.

If it were me, I might have spiced this book by adding in a Jason Jones chapter on ODI and Hyperion or some other interesting things, but I can’t fault them for that (next time, Lackpour, next time).

Nice job, guys. Now go buy this book.