Essbase is often described as getting its start in finance departments. It was finance’s secret weapon. There are a number of ways that Essbase tends to have evolved organically from this foothold. One common evolution is for the tool to gain critical importance to a company, and need to be more robustly managed by the IT department (in theory, anyway, I’ll save my thoughts on this common tragedy for another time).
One of the other common developments for Essbase in the finance department is that certain books/sheets evolve more and more functionality over time. They get augmented with automation, macros, VBA code modules, and more. This is all often on top of complicated formula references across sheets, and sometimes even across different books.
The PBJ library has been getting a lot of attention lately from various developers using it to integrate with their own software and projects. Francisco Amores did a great blog post about using PBJ to help with data loading in an FDMEE project. Probably the coolest thing about his efforts is that it’s use-case I never imagined: using PBJ in Jython to access PBCS.
One of the things that has been so great about collaborating with Francisco is getting targeted, useful, and practical comments on how he’s using the library and how it can be made better. And I have found time to make various improvements, enhancements, and fix bugs to address his feedback. This is one of the greatest things about open source software.
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…
I have recently gotten quite a bit of feedback from people using the PBJ library to consume and work with the PBCS REST API. This has resulted in a few fixes and improvements. First of all, file uploads and downloads are now working. The code has been in for awhile but wasn’t merged to the master branch.
Second, I have been working with the very talented Francisco Amores to help integrate the PBJ library with FDMEE so that it can be used there in various integration scenarios. So this is a really cool usage of PBJ where the library is being dropped in to FDMEE/ODI and utilized with a very simple Jython script.
To help with this scenario, I added a new compile option to PBJ that allows it to be packaged up into a single “uber JAR” – meaning a Java JAR file that contains all of its dependencies rolled into a single library. This makes it a little easier to integrate and drop-in to other systems, instead of having to worry out additional JAR files.
We had to make a couple of other tweaks to the way the library is packaged in order to make it specifically work in FDMEE/ODI, due to a conflicting underlying library. This is kind of a classic Java class loader problem, because what happens is that the two different versions of the class are both available to be loaded, and the older version of the class gets loaded but that class doesn’t have a required method, so a “no such method found” exception is thrown. But by renaming the package/method when it’s compiled, we can get around it and make it really simple. The PBJ GitHub page has some more info on how to compile this.
I think in the near future Fransisco will be blogging out this really interesting integration scenario, so stay tuned!
I kind of posted this on the down-low earlier this week but got outed by my auto-tweet feature, where it got picked up by Oracle EPM Blogs and a few others, so I thought I should just write about this for real.
Earlier this week, the new documentation for the Dodeca Workbook Script functionality went online. In case you’re not familiar, Workbook Scripts are part of Dodeca Spreadsheet Management System’s event-driven extensibility model. You can kind of think of it as an elegant blend of the best aspects of Microsoft Access macros and Visual Basic, but designed from day 1 to make it easy to facilitate really sophisticated functionality in views that contain Essbase, SQL, or MDX data (or all three on the same sheet!)
The documentation contains a full index, all methods/overloads, events, and functions. It represents one of the first major steps towards my goal of making incredibly high quality documentation and online resources available for people that are developing with Dodeca. In the future I am hoping to get even more documentation online with samples and other resources that make developing even better.
Lots of exciting things going on right now – I’ll be in Las Vegas next week for the Collaborate 2017 conference. Originally I was just giving one presentation, but now I have three (yay!). I am going to be presenting on the PBCS REST API and in particular how to use it via the high-quality, open source PBCS REST API Java client, PBJ. I am also going too be presenting on “Essbase Tools & Toys” – a whirlwind overview of some of the free tools that make Essbase better that I have created over the years (including Drillbridge, Cubedata, Vess, Camshaft, Thriller, and more), and on the Dodeca Spreadsheet Management System.
Additionally, Applied OLAP will have a booth in the Hyperion section of the exhibit hall, which is where I’ll ostensibly be when I’m not doing presentations. Please swing by and say hello!
I’m putting together a simple Dodeca view that shows information from Dodeca’s data audit log tables. One of Dodeca’s really nice Essbase-specific functionalities is that it logs all user inputted changes to Essbase data. This comes in handy for many organizations so they are able to tell when something changed, what changed, who changed it, and what the old value is. Because the same tables are used for every single cube in the system and every cube can have different dimensionality, Dodeca uses a flexible table structure to record all of the dimension names and members that changed. A naive query against these tables will give you multiple rows for the same data point (one for each member in the POV), but I wanted something quick and easy to consolidate to a single row per data item changed.
Most of my own Dodeca servers use MySQL for the repository database (although it’s common to use SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, and others). I discovered a really great MySQL-specific function called
GROUP_CONCAT that is able to join fields from multiple rows, and it works great. Here’s my Data Audit Log query:
GROUP_CONCAT(DP.MEMBER SEPARATOR ', ') AS MEMBER_NAMES,
GROUP_CONCAT(DP.ALIAS SEPARATOR ', ') AS ALIASES,
IFNULL(ITEMS.OLD_VALUE, '#Missing') AS OLD_VALUE,
DP.AUDIT_LOG_ITEM_NUMBER = ITEMS.AUDIT_LOG_ITEM_NUMBER AND
ITEMS.AUDIT_LOG_RECORD_NUMBER = AUDITLOG.AUDIT_LOG_RECORD_NUMBER
And here’s a view from a SQL tool:
A query for viewing Dodeca’s data audit log tables for Essbase data
I went ahead and used the concatenation function twice – once for the regular member names, and again for the aliases. Not every member of every intersection has an alias, but fortunately the function handles it just fine. So now I have everything on one line exactly like I wanted.
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?).
Have you ever wondered what the difference between a JDBC and a JNDI connection is? If you’re familiar with at least one of these, it’s likely that you’re familiar with JDBC (but probably not JNDI).
JDBC connections come up often in the Oracle world (for good reason). It’s a standard model/framework for designing drivers that interact with relational databases. As it pertains to us in the Hyperion, Dodeca (and even Drillbridge!) world is that we often define connections in terms of specifying JDBC parameters. This typically means a driver class name (like com.mysql.jdbc.Driver for a MySQL driver), a JDBC URL (a URL specifying a server and optionally a database/schema and other parameters), and credentials (username/password). So if you’ve poked around in your infrastructure much at all, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across a JDBC connection.
You may have even come across something called JNDI and even vaguely known it was sort of an alternate way to configure a connection but never really had to bother with it. I’ll spare you the acronym details, but think of JNDI as a way of organizing database connections (and other objects actually, but we don’t need to worry about that at the moment) such that instead of our app/system having to know the server name and credentials, it just asks “Hello, can I have the resource that was defined for me with name XYZ?”
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.