Drillbridge 1.3.0 available!

Drillbridge 1.3.0 was quietly released last week, actually, and YOU’D KNOW ALREADY if you were on the Saxifrage Systems LLC Tools mailing list and got to be part of the cool kids club already (seriously, it’s non-spammy. Please take a second to add your email address).

This release contains new features and fixes, including new smart formatting features, result paging, custom stylesheets, enhanced security options, better error handling/messages, easier deployments, and more. In fact, this software is so awesome now that I’m going to use it for a webinar in just two short months where your humble blogger/programmer/cube nerd will install, configure, and deploy Drillbridge in 10 minutes or less (!).

Oh, and did I mention that the reference guide is now a 40-page beautifully typeset PDF full of detailed information and examples? Well, it is.

As always, Drillbridge can be found in the Saxifrage Systems download section. If you need support, please email or better yet, head over to the support forums. I monitor those like a hawk so it’s just as good as email.

Speaking of support, there are still a couple of little issues I am addressing and polishing up, so version 1.3.1 is underway. If you instill 1.3.0, however, 1.3.1 will be a drop-in upgrade, so don’t let that hold you back. Overall the Drillbridge codebase has really settled down and is holding up very, very well. I don’t anticipate any major new features for a bit which means that further releases are just going to be polish and small enhancements (gotta get things dialed in for the webinar on October 28th!).

You’re going to love this.

I don’t usually talk about things I’m planning on doing or haven’t done yet, but I’m going to make an exception. I’m putting together a webinar for ODTUG (you are a member, right?) that I’ll be presenting in late October (October 28th to be exact, MARK YOUR CALENDARS!). The webinar will be on – you guessed it – Drillbridge (maybe I need to change this to Jason’s Drillbridge Blog…).

Thankfully, this won’t be my first presentation or webinar. Your humble author has presented on all manner of topics, including load rule optimization, Oracle Data Integrator tips and tricks, Dodeca, Essbase Web Services, and a few other things for good measure. I am delighted to report that this will be my first webinar on a piece of software I have created, though, so I’m pulling out all the stops and designing what I’m tentatively calling the Drillbridge WOW demo.

The overall webinar will be about an hour long, but what I want to do is have a section or segment where I kind of race to deploy drill-through functionality to a cube and show off how powerful the Drillbridge features and expression language can be.

So here’s what I’d like to do, all in one fell swoop: download and install it, configure a datasource, define a report, deploy the definition to a cube, AND use complex mappings/features, namely that the report itself will feature drill to bottom where the lowest level of the dimension needs to be mapped (such as from Jan to ’01’ or similar) and the other dimensions need some sort of similar mapping such as removing a prefix or otherwise altering the member from the point of view. On top of that, we’ll then flip on Smart Formatting with a different locale (French, anyone?), re-run the report, then download it to Excel. And to top it all off, I’ll do this all in 10 minutes or less.

That’s right – 10 minutes (or less!). That’s crazy. To think, I once spent hundreds of hours achieving this same result using different tools.

Sound good? Sound crazy? Well, the good news, as I said, is that this functionality all exists already and is ready to go in 1.3.0. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m just cleaning things up and testing them to ensure that Drillbridge is as robust as possible before releasing this major release.

I’m pretty excited, but more importantly I am excited to be able to help the larger Hyperion community provide drill-through to its users in an evolutionary and incremental way with this great little tool. Stay tuned for more.

Upcoming Drillbridge features, part 2: Custom Formatting

One of the requests I got from an earlier version of Drillbridge was to put less space between rows. Fair enough – we all have different stylistic tastes. I could have just changed the spacing and called it a day. But what about other formatting, colors and tweaks? I decided, ya know what would be cool? Styling things however you want.

To that end, there are now a handful of styling options that can be used to achieve any result you want:

  1. Global CSS
  2. Report-specific CSS
  3. Report header
  4. Report footer

These should be pretty straightforward, but there’s a couple of nuances I want to point out.

Global CSS

Global CSS is a server-wide setting that allows you to define your own Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) that will be included in every single report. This is a good place to set some global spacing, fonts, colors, and perhaps some settings inspired by your company colors.

Report-specific CSS

Individual reports can have their own CSS. This useful, for example, if you want/need to adjust things (perhaps a column width or two) for a specific report but not all reports. You might even want to customize settings for different divisions that have different styles (the possibilities are endless!). Additionally, for ease of use reports now have certain CSS classes appended to the data table, rows, and each column, so you can easily apply settings to the 1st, 2nd, 10th, or whatever column specifically. You might want to align some text to the right (text-align: right), for example.

Report Header & Footer

Reports can each have a custom header and footer that is your own custom HTML enclosed within a particular <div> tag at the top and bottom of a report. I thought about making this a global setting but decided against it. You might want to point to some company logo or otherwise include some standard company text or links. There is no limit to what you can put in these areas.

That’s it for these new features – fairly straightforward – but should provide exactly the kind of flexibility that people want, without having to resort to one-off changes in each version of the software.

Upcoming Drillbridge features, part 1: relational paging

As of Drillbridge 1.3.0, paging is now supported. More specifically, tokens
that help write paging queries in SQL are provided – paging is not done
automatically. The reason that automatic paging is not supported is that while
this approach ostenisbly means writing a bit of SQL code to perform the paging, it’s
the most flexible and most performant.

If paging is turned on for a given report, then when that report is built, in
addition to the normal Point-of-View parameters that are made available to the
query, there will be three additional parameters:

  • PAGE

Drillbridge will start the PAGE variable off with 1. This token can be used like any other token. The ROWS_PER_PAGE variable can also be used like any other token and can be configured on the report itself. Typical values might be 20, 50, 100, 500, or 1,000.

The OFFSET variable is not specified in the report request, it is calculated as a convenience variable to be used in queries. OFFSET is provided since in some SQL dialects, the total number of rows to skip is needed rather than a page or other option. The formula for OFFSET is:

(page - 1) * rowsPerPage

For example, if a report is meant to page on every 20 rows, meaning that page 1 is rows 1-20, page 2 is rows 21-40, and so on, the following would be true on page 2:

  • PAGE = 2
  • ROWS_PER_PAGE = 20
  • OFFSET = (2 – 1) * 20 = 20

If your data source was a MySQL database for example, then a paging query to this technology might be this:

SELECT column FROM table LIMIT 10 OFFSET 10

As you can see, we will want to plug in the ROWS_PER_PAGE for the 10 after LIMIT, and then the OFFSET for the 10 after the OFFSET keyword. Different SQL technologies have different ways of paging data (some are more complex than others…) but this one is straightforward, thankfully.

Just plug in the given variables like any other, turn on paging in the report, and presto, instant paging – with good performance.

Next week I’ll talk about some of the other cool features coming soon…

Good things coming in Drillbridge 1.3.0

I had originally been planning just a few fixes and tweaks for the next point release of Drillbridge which was to be 1.0.3. But after adding quite a handful of new and improved features, I have decided to bump the version more significantly. I’m happy to say that everything I’m about to describe is fully implemented and just undergoing some documentation and testing on my part. It’s going to be a super cool release, hence bumping the version up a bit more.

Of particular note, the following features have gone in:

  1. Paging and results per page settings
  2. Faster Essbase outline queries and a new outline caching mechanism
  3. Smart Formatting option for locale-specific formatting of dates and numbers (French, German, and Russian users rejoice!)
  4. Row limit and query timeout settings available on reports
  5. Global CSS formatting, report-specific CSS, header, and footer
  6. Documentation improvements and more examples
  7. Tons and tons of small improvements and fixes (too many to enumerate here but full notes will be in the changelog)

I’m going to try and get 1.3.0 wrapped up in the next couple of weeks. If you’d like to try it early, let me know and I’ll send a build your way. After this release there’s just one major feature left that I think this product needs, then it should be a matter of bug fixes and minor improvements from there will I pivot to my next big project.

Over the coming days prior to an official release, I’ll be posting a series on some of the new features that are coming up, so please feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments and I’ll be sure to address it in the blog!