Release of cubedata 1.0.0

Continuing in the same spirit as the release of Jessub, I am happy to announce the release of another open source tool meant to benefit Hyperion Essbase administrators: cubedata. cubedata is a simple tool that makes it easy to generate a text file that can be loaded to a cube. Well, of course, there’s nothing too special about this. The real purpose of the tool is to be able to generate huge text files based on the permutations of data that you specify. For example, let’s look at a simple data definition:


So we just have a really simple definition in a configuration file. We run cubedata and tell it to use this file to generate some data for us. Out comes 48 rows of data: 2 time periods x 2 scenarios x 3 locations x 4 departments = 48 combinations. The generated data file looks like this:

.. more rows ..

The configuration file lets you specify a few other options such as the column delimiter (default is comma), the numerical range of fact values to generate, and a few other things such as the “load factor” (what percentage of data combinations will have data).

cubedata, like Jessub, is licensed under the Apache Software License 2.0, a very permissive license that basically says you can do whatever you want to the code. The project is shared at GitHub in one of my public repositories.

I haven’t done extensive testing on the program but it does do a reasonable job of telling you if the configuration in incomplete or otherwise incorrect. I have tested it with quite a few dimensions and members and was able to generate a file with many millions of records quite easily. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t support generating absolutely massive amounts of data. It’s programmed in such a way as to iterate over the dataset, rather than try to keep it all in memory at once, meaning that there shouldn’t be any memory issues with regard to generating massive data sets.

So, there you have it. Another simple tool that might make developing and testing a little easier for you, particularly if you hate generating dummy data by hand and/or you don’t have a system to source data from that is ready or convenient.

As always, please feel free to let me know any suggestions or comments you may have and I will be happy to look in to improving the program. If you end up downloading the code and making tweaks please share them back if they would be useful to more people.

Book review: Oracle Essbase 11 Development Cookbook

I was recently given the opportunity to review another Essbase book from Packt: Oracle Essbase 11 Development Cookbook by Jose Ruiz. Overall I would say I am pleased with the book. It covers a lot of ground and a lot of disparate tools, many of which are scantily documented elsewhere.

Before I really get into the review, I must say that I have never been a big fan of the approach that technology cookbooks take. I’m also not a huge fan of having a book for a specific version of software. Of course, in order for the cookbook approach to work you don’t have a choice but to tie to a version of software. This is because the recipes are sequential and very explicit — as with cooking  a recipe in real life — and rely on the exact version of the software in order for the detailed steps of the recipe to work. I’ve grown up with software, and am a cross between a visual and a kinesthetic learner, so my preference is to have concepts and goals explained to me, then to go exploring on my own. To this end, I find technology/recipe books to be tedious as they laboriously lay out the steps: click this, then click that, enter this text in, and 15 steps later you have a result.

So, my personal preference for book styles aside, this book largely succeeds for what it is: specific, methodical ways to perform a certain task. You won’t get a lot of explanation on why you might do something a certain way. In this regard, the book is useful as a complement to your Essbase literature rather that the place you would go to understand why you might want to accomplish some task.

Okay, now that I have beat up on that horse enough.

As I said, I enjoyed the breadth of content in the book. There are detailed recipes for setting up your relational data store to load a cube with EIS and Essbase Studio, building load rules and loading data to BSO/ASO cubes, writing calc scripts, working with Star Analytics, using EAS, HFR, writing MaxL scripts, and provisioning security. It even covers working with the revered Outline Extractor tool.

All of this content was really nice to see in book form. One of the upsides to the recipe format book is that it won’t spend a lot of time laboring over what a cube is and your first steps retrieving data with Excel. In fact, the book even says it’s not for beginners. It just jumps right in. I think this book can be a very handy reference for someone that needs something a little more guided than the technical reference (and less heavy).

On my arbitrary rating system, I would give this book a four out of five star rating. And again, that’s me trying to be fair to the book even though I’m not in love with this format, but it largely accomplishes what it sets out to do. I’d say it’s a great addition to the pragmatic Essbase developer’s library, but certainly not the only book in it.