New Drillbridge Plus feature: fetch attributes!

Drillbridge Plus has recently gained a new feature at the request of a customer. This one is kind of interesting and required a bit of deep thinking in terms of the best way to architect it. Here’s the deal: Smart View will let you drill-through on a data value where your grid is using attribute dimensions, but it won’t pass the attribute associations as part of the request. And as it turns out, there are instances where it’d be useful to have that attribute member so you can use it to dial in the SQL query that Drillbridge creates and executes.

What to do? Ask Drillbridge to go fetch those attribute member values for you anyway! In this post I’m going to walk through a use-case showing off the new feature, how to set it up, and I’m also going to show off some recent debugging enhancements that are really useful and have been around for awhile.

Let’s start. First, consider a normal Drillbridge report definition with a simple query:

A normal Drillbridge report definition (before adding attributes)

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Dodeca: Create and use a new Essbase MDX Selector List

The most recent version of Dodeca brought several exciting enhancements for MDX-related functionality. One of these is a new selector list based on a reusable MDX script object. Although MDX queries are probably most often associated with queries that return numerical data from a cube, they also have incredibly useful metadata capabilities that can be employed for various purposes. In Dodeca, it’s common to use a report script or member query specification to return members from an outline. For example, you might want to provide your users with a selector such that they can choose a particular product (or products) from your Product dimension in order to customize a report that they will build dynamically.

I see MDX scripts as being a natural, clean, and flexible way to populate these selectors, and moving forward I will recommend them whenever possible over the more arcane report scripts that have been around for years.

That all said, what I want to show today is the following: I’m going to edit an existing Dodeca view so as to replace one of its existing selector lists with a new list based on an MDX query.

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New MDX Examples Page

MDX has been around for many years, but it seems to be enjoying something of a renaissance right now. I think there are various reasons for this. Dodeca has supported MDX in various ways for quite some time, and even dramatically enhances MDX support in its latest 7.3 release, including an MDX editor with advanced syntax highlighting and autocomplete (!), support for member lists generated from MDX queries, and more. I really prefer MDX over report scripts especially when it comes to generating member lists. The equivalent MDX queries always seem a little cleaner and succinct.

To that end, I thought I would start collecting various MDX examples that process dimensions/members in certain ways put them up on a page. There are examples for the Sample/Basic database that show fetching members from a dimension at various levels, with a UDA, sorted forwards/backwards, removing duplicates, and more. It’s nothing earth shattering (considering the super complex things that MDX can achieve) but in the future I foresee MDX being used even more for things like this.

Essterm: Terminal-based ad hoc client for Essbase

Remember the last time you thought, “You know, Excel is just a little too modern, I wish I could do multi-dimensional analysis using my keyboard, in a terminal, the way the Pilgrims did it.”

Me neither.

Yet, here we are.

I was going to originally throw this over the fence release this as a bit of an April Fool’s joke, but I didn’t have quite enough time. I actually showed this off to the fine folks at my Collaborate session last month, and believe it or not, some of the people there thought it had some interesting use-cases. Continue Reading…

My Top 10 Favorite Drillbridge Features

Drillbridge is a tool with an ostensibly narrow focus – drill from Essbase/Hyperion data to somewhere else. Typically that “somewhere else” is the relational data that has been summarized to load into the cube. While the concept of drill-through is very simple in principle, Drillbridge has been extensively engineered to make take this simple process and augment it with dozens of features that enhance its usefulness.

That said, in no particular order, I thought it might be fun to point out my ten favorite Drillbridge features. Continue Reading…

Jazz Up Those Static Dodeca Views With Advanced Essbase Features

Oftentimes when I am demonstrating or teaching aspects of Dodeca to people, they are amazed at the sheer number of options and configurations that are available on a view. Fortunately, I am able to tell them that yes, there are many, many options – and they are there if you need or want them, but they won’t get in your way. The defaults are very sensible and getting a basic Essbase-based Dodeca view running is incredibly easy.

Another thing to keep in mind is that for the most part, the extreme amount of options and flexibility we have on a single view is often available to us in lieu of code. So, tasks that typically required some non-trivial amount of VBA code are now completely code free. When we need some advanced functionality that isn’t available out of the box, we can use Workbook Scripts, which is an event-driven scripting technology that is particularly well suited to working with spreadsheets and the data contained in them.

That all said, today I want to walk through a bit of a cross-functional example that starts with a very typical Dodeca view based on an Essbase retrieve range, then enhance it to give our users the ability to zoom in on the different time periods in the view without having to rebuild the view. So we’re going to blur the line a bit between static and dynamic reports, and our users are going to enjoy some additional flexibility and convenience with regard to their reporting (and keeping users happy is always a good thing, right?).

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Hacking the Essbase Java API to run Application Calcs

This post might alternately be titled, “So you’re really stubborn and wasted a couple of hours messing with the Essbase Java API”, or something. I was in a discussion the other day and asked about the ability to run an application-level calc script.

Well, back up, actually. Did you know that calc scripts can exist at the application level in Essbase? For a very long time, Essbase has had this notion of applications and databases (with databases often just being called cubes), such that there is usually one database/cube inside of an application, but there can technically be more (at least in the case of BSO). It’s almost always the best practice to have just one cube to an application. This is largely for technical reasons.

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Showing off the power of Drillbridge query translation

Lately I have been working on new materials and demo ware to help show off the power, flexibility, and sophistication of both the Dodeca Spreadsheet Management System and Drillbridge/Drillbridge Plus. I came across a really great Drillbridge mapping example today that I hadn’t specifically solved before, but with a little creativity I was able to write the proper Drillbridge query and get exactly what I wanted.

Consider an Essbase cube with the following dimensions:

  • Years: FY15, FY16, etc
  • Periods: Periods/Quarters/Months
  • Scenario: Actual, Budget
  • Departments: balanced hierarchy with four levels
  • Location: Total/Division/Store
  • Measures: Ragged hierarchy with accounts at level-0

For this post I am going to design a Drillbridge query that maps from this cube back to its related relational data, with the additional wrinkle that we want upper-level drill in several dimensions, including one where the dimension in the cube is represented by two different columns in the source data.

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Hyperion Parent Inferrer Updated (after four years!)

I had a need for the Hyperion Parent Inferrer functionality for an internal project I am working on. It didn’t quite do what I needed out of the box so I updated things a bit. As quick background, the Hyperion Parent Inferrer is a simple one-off Java program/library I developed (apparently four years ago, wow) to parse indented data into an explicit parent/child file.

There are a few (apparently rare) cases where this is useful. In my case, I was modeling some hierarchical data and I find the indented format to be much easier on the eyes. Like so:

Time
 Q1
  January
  February
  March
 Q2
  April
  May
  June
 Q3
  July
  August
  September
 Q4
  October
  November
  December

But when it comes time to load in to Essbase, clearly we need something more explicit. The Hyperion Parent Inferrer takes that preceding as input and then outputs something like the following:

,Time
Time,Q1
Q1,January
Q1,February
Q1,March
Time,Q2
Q2,April
Q2,May
Q2,June
Time,Q3
Q3,July
Q3,August
Q3,September
Time,Q4
Q4,October
Q4,November
Q4,December

The program has been enhanced to allow for a custom indentation character (such as tabs), to be able to specify the text rendered when there is no parent (instead of null), and a couple other little cleanups.

Hyperion Parent Inferrer is free, open source (Apache Software License version 2), and can be run as a standalone command-line Java program or as a Java library that can be incorporated into a typical Java program. The updated code is available at the Hyperion Parent Inferrer GitHub page.

Essbase Renegade Members Revisited

For some reason the other day I was thinking “Whatever happened to that renegade members feature?” So I did some digging.

Renegade members, by the way, refers to this concept where instead of a data record being rejected, you can map it to some other member. Other names for this feature might have been “shovel members”, but renegade members sounds cooler. That said, it’s a feature with a cool name but an apparently terrible publicist.

Renegade members were blogged about as early as a few years ago, such as on Cameron’s blog (during the 2013 OpenWorld), in Russian (apparently), and even over at Rittman Mead’s blog (before Mark spent his days trying to get tea kettles to work with the internet, but I digress).

But there’s a a curious lack of information on renegade members since then. There is, however, just enough information on the internet to piece this together. There’s a little documentation about renegade members over on the official documentation. Just as important (for my purposes), there are two methods relating to renegade members that are in the Essbase JAPI Javadoc.

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