Contribute to Open Source Hyperion Utilities and Ideas

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Would you like to contribute to open source Hyperion utilities, or maybe just provide ideas for some? There is a small but growing number of third-party tools and utilities available in the Hyperion ecosystem. The most well known is probably the Outline Extractor.

But there are several others Hyperion tools – many written by yours truly. Many of these tools you can find under the Projects section of this website. These include such fun items as a way to generate test data for a cube, a hack for loading Essbase data without a load rule (even from any JDBC source!)a method for generating substitution variables based on time and date, summarizing rejected records from a reject file, and more.

At the moment, all of these tools are written in Java. It’s the language I am strongest with and fits very well within typical enterprise architectures. I am even working on a few more goodies that will be released in the upcoming weeks and months. Generally speaking, most of the utilities I have written are cleaned up versions of tools that I have created during the course of my work that I thought someone else might benefit from.

Once again, I have returned from another awesome Kscope armed with dozens of other ideas for utilities that the greater Hyperion community can benefit from. Many of these ideas are driven by other people expressing a pain point they have or starting off a sentence with something like, “Wouldn’t it be nice if…?”

That all being said, I just wanted to throw out there to the Hyperion technical community and world at large that if you are interested in helping create these kinds of things to benefit the community, please let me know! If you have your own ideas, I’d love to hear about them. You don’t even have to be a programmer! In fact, if you are a business person (who happens to read this geeky blog), but have an idea for some utility that would benefit Hyperion users and administrators, get that idea out there. There are many ways to help open source projects – testing, documentation, support, marketing, and so on.

Work comes first, of course. Generally speaking these tools and utilities get my attention on an “as possible” basis, so projects, such as they are, are released when they can be. I just want to get a feel for who is out there in the community and interesting in hacking on a few things.



Thoughts on my Kscope Session ‘Practical Essbase Web Services’

My session went alright. I asked the audience to please be gentle on account of my first time presenting the deck and the material. They were quite gentle. I’d like to give a big huge shout out to my favoritest Essbase peeps in the world on Team Kroger for all coming and cheering me on.

My big takeaway from the audience was that a demo would have been helpful. Duly noted. I didn’t think there’d be time but the session actually came in a bit under time so there’s definitely a way to retool it and include a demo with real code and a real working example. So if I run this deck again I’ll be sure to incorporate that.

Many people were also very thankful for my apparent candor about the technology. I start off with a high-level overview of the available technologies for practically getting data out of of Essbase and come to the conclusion that while Essbase Web Services have a use case, it’s not one that I will personally be likely to use. This is largely due to my large investment in the infrastructure for Saxbi Server, which is based on the Essbase Java API.

One of my more recent thoughts about EWS is that it’s probably something that is largely intended to be used internally by Oracle and was something they knew they could clean up a bit and toss over the fence for other people to leverage. As I mentioned in the presentation, I hit some bumps in my research and will hope to see them cleaned up in future releases. Now that I have names with faces of a few more Oracle folks from the conference I’ll be looking forward to providing actual feedback to them instead of just bitching writing about it on my blog.

Anyway, as promised, here is the presentation for those of you that want to skim it. The bullets might be too high-level to be incredibly insightful but if you have any questions please feel free to mail me! I am happy to help and for extensive development needs I am available to consult through my firm.  I have some related code I will clean up and get into a GitHun repository as time permits.

Kscope 13 Day 1 – Deep Thoughts, part 2 of 2

I thought I’d be having a little more time to write things during the conference, and yet here I am sitting at the airport after a long and eventful week. Well, I had good intentions, at least. For those interested, I had a few other thoughts to go along with part 1 of my recap of the first day.

Cross-pollination of ODTUG sessions as an indicator of broader convergence in the Oracle space

Although I didn’t have a chance to attend them, this year at ODTUG featured some cross pollination sessions where an EPM guy could see what it’s like on the other side and an Oracle guy could see what it’s like on the EPM side. I thought this was a really cool idea but also sort of interpreted it in another way. More so than any other ODTUG I’ve been to, there were sessions available that were not ostensibly in the EPM track that appealed to me. And this isn’t necessarily because the scope of my interest has miraculously increased, either: it’s simply due to the fact that Essbase is being leveraged as the heart of other tools and the way that our tools work and we provide solutions to customers are converging. My prediction (one that is hardly insightful) is that the convergence continues to the point where the line between the different camps is almost non-existant.

Vanilla Essbase Shops Seem on the Decline

I was in a session where the presenter asked for a show of hands regarding who had Essbase, Planning, and other tools. One of the questions was “Who has just Essbase and nothing else?”  and given the sizable crowd, just a few hands went up. I can’t say I was surprised but I can say that I was… disappointed. I’ve been pretty vocal (though not on this blog I suppose) about my qualms with the way Oracle bundles and sells Essbase and other products. To be succinct, I find it regrettable that we are operating in a context where Essbase is arbitrarily bundled with other products in such a way so as to benefit Oracle’s bottom line first and its customers needs second. This is not to say that Essbase exists in a vacuum and that there are no other tools to go with it, just that I would challenge Oracle to explain that the current way of doing things is the best or even a good way.

WaMu is a Hyperion Customer

At some point during one of the presentations I was in I saw a slide with a list of dozens of company logos including one for the now defunct Washington Mutual. I had a brief conversation in my head with a fictitious Oracle marketing person about whether it makes sense or not to leave this logo on a customer slide. In any case, it’s just mildly amusing to think about.

“Finance is Still Stuck in Spreadsheets”

I hear this at some point. This is true, but I don’t believe the negative connotation is necessary. My real takeaway is this: spreadsheets are ubiquitous and useful. Many of them evolve into complex tools with mazes of VLOOKUps and byzantine logic. One wonders how much better these organizations might fare if they recognized their homegrown spreadsheet mazes evolving into something complex and unwieldy and then had a tool to use that had lower barriers to entry than, say, Planning, but with less onerous administrative requirements and an economic model that makes sense for less than 25 users or so.

Closing Thoughts

These are just some of my high-level thoughts to go with part 1 that I have taken from my notes. This rounds out my summary of things from the first day. As time permits I’ll post some thoughts on specific sessions and even my own session!

A lot of you – an incredibly and surprisingly high number of you – came up to me and said that you read my blog. I really appreciate the kind comments. As I’ve mentioned before I just find this to be an increasingly quasi-therapeutic place to post my inane thoughts on whatever, which is reason enough to do it. The fact that some of you out there enjoy this is just icing on the cake. Please don’t be a stranger in the comments section.

Kscope 13 Day 1 – Deep Thoughts, part 1 of 2

My previous post contained general thoughts on the conference so far, but nothing about the content so far. So I’ll now share some high-level thoughts on the content of what is going on. Oracle has respectfully requested that we not divulge some of the sensitive particulars and roadmappy stuff, so I’ll gloss over that a bit and just say that maybe you should just come to these things if you want to be in the cool kids club, but I digress.

Essbase is in good hands

My first thought of the day was that anyone who thought that when Oracle bought Hyperion they would take Essbase out back and shoot it had nothing to worry about. Oracle is quite clearly putting tremendous resources into seemingly all facets of the product. Furthermore, it wouldn’t have been a bad strategy (but definitely not a good strategy) to put Hyperion on cruise control, throw a few resources at it to keep the lights on and then some, and keep it there. But Oracle quite obviously has some big thinkers and perhaps more importantly, big thinkers that Get Shit Done that zoomed out and strategized how they could effectively leverage, break down, take apart, and combine the good technology they bought into a comprehensive suite of tools.

Predictive Analytics & Exalytics

Years ago, a light bulb went off for me when I started to think of Essbase and multidimensional tools as not merely a way of seeing how an organization performed, but rather to predict how it would perform. To that end, Essbase is recognized as a critical tool for organizations to look aheadFor Oracle’s part, they recognize this and are acting accordingly. Despite my interest and recent exposure to big data and cloud computing I haven’t had a chance to touch the likes of Exalytics yet, and I haven’t gone out of my way to get involved with it. But after hearing more about all that is going on with it and where it is headed, I am going to move it up on my priority list. Despite the title of this section, I’m not saying that anything to do with predictive analytics is automatically correlated to Exalytics. I am saying, however, that if you want to model the future with many variables and dimensions, you need something that can crunch a crapload of data.

ADF Love

ADF is getting a ton of love. I am more of an Eclipse guy and the tooling for ADF in Eclipse has left me wanting in the past, and furthermore I have tended to stick with other technology stacks (even within the Java ecosystem), but as a developer that does a lot in the Oracle world I am going to give ADF a much, much stronger look in the upcoming year. There are some very interesting things going on with ADF Mobile that I was previously unaware of that are worth a look.I have a bias towards native apps as they seem to fit more into my view of apps being crafted with precision, fluidity that at present HTML5 can’t quite seem to beat. However, it is very compelling to be able to easily deploy to multiple disparate platforms with one code base. I have some colleagues, though, that lament the need to write once and fix everywhere, almost as if they reliving the initial and somewhat dishonest promise of early JVMs (“write once, crash everywhere” or thereabouts).

Modules Everywhere – There’s a module for that!

There’s no shortage of Oracle developing modules for this and that. Planning modules, modules for other things, and so on. These modules tend to be quite specific in nature, such as for dealing with workforce, capex, tax management, and so on. Architecturally, it’s good that these are modules because from a design standpoint you don’t want a huge monolithic product that tries to be all things to all people. Modules aren’t a bad thing. I just find the juxtaposition between a generic platform and domain specific modules on top of it to be amusing for technical and geeky reasons.

For example, think of a normal relational database server that only has the notion of numbers, strings, references to other columns, and so on. This generic database has no notion of taxes, employees, and whatnot. Those things can all be modeled within the technology itself, of course, and the database will happily comply. It’s within the purview of the developer to utilize the technology to solve the problems and provide for the needs of the business – the database or the cube become the blank slate upon which we paint the solution, adding semantics to abstract concepts. Like I said, it’s not a bad thing, I just find it a little amusing since I’m a geek. You’ve undoubtedly heard of “There’s an app for that.” – in my mind I picture the Oracle folks saying, “There’s a module for that!”


What used to be a vengeful, impossible-to-please digital bag of spite has evolved into an essential tool in the toolbox. So, yeah. Yay Oracle.

Onward to Part 2

I am absolutely spent. I have a few more thoughts that I’ll wrap up tomorrow. If you read this and are at the conference, please say hi!

Kscope13 Day 1 – General Thoughts

Kscope13 Day 1 is in the books, or at least, almost in the books. I am positively beat after attending sessions, eating great food, networking, tweeting, and so on. My style for these Kscope recaps has been to focus less on summarizing the the content of them and instead try to think about the content with respect to how I see it fitting into a broader context.

But before all that I just want to shill for thank and recognize ODTUG for a moment. This is actually only my third ODTUG: I came in 2008 (also in New Orleans). I have been absent for several of the intervening ODTUGs, owing to various reasons – but it feels very, very good to be back. These people seriously know how to put on a conference and they just simply get better each year. This conference is incredibly well organized, well executed, and relevant. If you’ve ever been to an event where everything felt like a cluster, you didn’t know where to go, and there was mass confusion, then imagine the opposite of that.

Additionally, ODTUG has a well earned and well deserved reputation for having good food. We are only one day in and I am not disappointed in the least. I am not much of a sweets person but I couldn’t resist the giant, soft, delicious cookies that showed up after lunch. I am going to have to find some time to workout so I don’t come back heavier than when I left. My only complaint about the whole trip so far is that I couldn’t find a direct flight here from Seattle.

The Hyperion/Essbase content at Kscope has grown tremendously. What started out as a sidetrack of sessions that felt bolted on has blossomed into a vibrant and sizable content track. Hyperion is also quite well represented in the exhibitors hall.

I have, surprisingly, bumped into a fair number of people that admit to reading my blog. My typical retort is “So, you’re the one!” What started out as me just wanting to document some of my own issues (for my own future reference, and others if Google turned it up for them) has turned into a somewhat whimsical and almost therapeutic outlet. I seem to be a little feast or famine with the articles, depending on how heads down I am on mobile development and other goodies, but I’m on a good run right now and having some fun with it. So hang around and you might read something useful one of these days. *wink*

Kscope is off to an awesome start. Check back shortly for my thoughts on the actual content.