Rittman Mead Consulting

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 or (888) 631 1410 (USA) E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Borkur Steingrimsson

OBIEE: Answers v. Publisher: Friends or Foes ?

UKOUG Scotland, Linlithgow, 2013

Rittman Mead Consulting

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Introduction

• Börkur Steingrimsson

• Consulting Manager at Rittman Mead Consulting

• Based in Brussels, Belgium

• Blog

‣ http://www.rittmanmead.com/blog/

• 15 years of dabbling in Oracle technology

‣ Discoverer

‣ DW

‣ OWB / ODI

‣ OBIEE

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 or (888) 631 1410 (USA) E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

About Rittman Mead

• Oracle BI and DW specialized partner

• World leading specialist partner for technical excellence, solutions delivery and innovation in Oracle BI

• 80+ consultants all expert in Oracle BI and DW

• Global organisation, local delivery teams

‣ Offices in UK, US, Europe, India, Australia

• Skills in broad range of supporting Oracle tools:

‣ OBIEE

‣ OBIA

‣ ODI

‣ OWB

‣ Essbase, Oracle OLAP

‣ GoldenGate

‣ Exadata

‣ Exalytics

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Why Answers vs. Publisher ?

• They started off quite different

• They seem somewhat similar today

• They have each their own strengths and weaknesses

‣ In comparison

‣ and on their own

• Home field advantage of Answers

‣ Answers is a part of OBIEE

‣ BIP, if standing on its own, misses out on the integration advantages it has when used within OBIEE

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Answers vs. Publisher

• History of Answers

• History of Publisher

• Feature Set of Answers

• Feature Set of Publisher

• Pros and Cons

• Visual Comparison

• Balancing the Score Card

• Conclusion

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A little bit of Answers history

• NQuire first introduced Answers

• Siebel acquired NQuire in 2002

• Oracle acquired Siebel in 2006

‣ DHTML to ADF DVT

‣ Prompts

‣ Reports

‣ Web catalog

‣ Delivers and iBots

‣ Dashboards

‣ Integration with 3rd party (JRS-168)

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Answers vs. Publisher

• History of Answers

• History of Publisher

• Feature Set of Answers

• Feature Set of Publisher

• Arm Wrestling Competition - Pros and Cons

• Visual Comparison

• Balancing the Score Card

• Conclusion

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A little bit of Publisher History

• XML Publisher was built by Oracle for reporting in EBS

• Integrated with OBIEE in 2007 and then named BI Publisher

‣ Full report and layout control

‣ Oracle Reports rival

‣ Data models and no real ‘Metadata layer’

‣ Reports against multitudes of data sources, including OBIEE

‣ All about rendering

‣ All XML under the hood

‣ Java application deployed in an Application Server (e.g. Weblogic)

• An application that can run ‘stand-alone’ and does not require OBIEE

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Answers vs. Publisher

• History of Answers

• History of Publisher

• Feature Set of Answers

• Feature Set of Publisher

• Pros and Cons

• Visual Comparison

• Balancing the Score Card

• Conclusion

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What is Answers Known For?

• Lots of different types of graphs

• Tables with sub/grand totals

• Pivot Tables

• Hierarchical Columns

• Selection Steps

• Saved Customizations

• Maps and Map Viewer

• Master-Detail linking

• Conditional Formatting

• Drilling and Interaction

• Column and View Selectors

• Variables

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

What is Answers Not So Known For?

• Printing reports

• Delivering reports to multiple channels

• Pixel Perfect design

• Reporting against any source

• PDF Output • Reporting for ‣ P&L ‣ Barcodes ‣ Invoices ‣ Customer letters • Anything else? Friday 14 June 13

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BI Answers - Formatting

• Formatting graphs and tables is very rich

‣ Fonts

‣ Backgrounds

‣ Images

‣ Conditional Formats

• Formatting plain text is somewhat limited but can be expanded by using HTML markup

• Each View in a report is pretty much fixed in layout

• Need to place on a Dashboard to control the layout and use empty sections to displace/fit to screen

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BI Answers - Prompts

• Dashboard Prompts pass user selection to one or more reports and dashboard pages

• The predicate is set on the Prompt and not the Report, allowing for clever reuse of reports for different effect

• Prompts are proper artifacts stored in the Web catalogue

• Prompt selections can be saved and shared with Customizations for a quick selection of preferred values

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BI Answers - Interactive Experience

• Along side with Dashboard Prompts, report interactions drive our analysis

‣ Drill to details

‣ Drill to another report

‣ Master-Detail linking

‣ Sliders, Page level items and zooming

‣ Legend based interaction

‣ Pivot table rearranged on the fly and saved as Customization

• Hierarchical columns

• Action Framework and Actionable Intelligence

• Maps integration

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BI Answers - Variables

• OBIEE variables equip the report developer with a ‘programatic’ approach to some inventive solutions

‣ Passing user selections to report calculations

‣ Dynamically swap out physical table names or connection strings

‣ Report prompt links to choose which report to display, from a dropbox

‣ Complex repository calculations based on user selections

‣ Headings of titles

‣ Conditional formatting

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BI Answers - Dashboard

• Answers reports are mostly consumed on dashboards

‣ There they can be viewed next to other reports

‣ Get Prompt values to filter data

‣ Interactive response and Master-Detail linking

• Answers reports are largely intended to be on a Dashboard, but can of course work fine on their own

• But do you often do that? I’d nearly go as far to say that Answers is almost useless without Dashboards

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Show Me The Money

• History of Answers

• History of Publisher

• Feature Set of Answers

• Feature Set of Publisher

• Pros and Cons

• Visual Comparison

• Balancing the Score Card

• Conclusion

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What is BIP Known For?

• Lots of different types of graphs

• Tables with sub/grand totals

• Pivot Tables

• Full control of layout

• Text Reporting

• Custom Forms and complicated layouts

• Pixel Perfect reporting

• Multiple report delivery channels

• PDF output

• Report against any JDBC data source

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

What is BIP Not So Known For?

• Interactive experience

‣ Master-Detail linking

• Dashboard integration

• Metadata layer that leverages a known business model (other than OBIEE RPD) and “Simple data model”

• Report reuse

‣ Data model now saved in the catalog and good for reuse

‣ List of Values to be re-created every time. “List Selector” components make that easier since 11.1.1.5

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BI Publisher - Formatting

• BIP reports are highly customizable in look and feel as well as layout

• Complete control of positioning items on your report

• Full range of text controls for that pixel perfect craving

• Rich online template builder or MS Word RTF template builder for perfect control of layout

• Acrobat PDF builder to compose complex PDFs

‣ Pay slips

‣ Tax declaration forms

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BI Publisher - Prompts

• BIP uses LOVs in the report definition to pass values to Parameters

• Parameters are passed to the physical query

‣ Query defines the predicate

‣ Query must take care of IN lists and NULL values

• LOVs are not recyclable

• LOVs can be cascading, if their SQL is built with that in mind

• List Selector Components make life a bit easier, but ...

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BI Publisher - Interactivity

• Components within the same report can be set to react to selections in other components. This makes for a kind of Master-Detail linking

• The Interactive View gives our users some limited analytical options

• The online analyzer, however, does extend that capability

• The new List Selector component also makes it quick and easy to change a report in to a Dashboard-like experience

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

BI Publisher - Variables

• BIP sets variables to pass user selections to the underlying data model and query

• The underlying query must then be capable of handling the content of the variable and cater for NULLS and list values

Select distinct cnms.cstname, cnms.cstid From (Select (cv.cust_last_name|| ' ' ||

cv.cust_first_name ) cstname, cv.customer_id cstid from customers_view cv, orders_view ov where cv.customer_id = ov.customer_id and cv.state_province in (:p_state) and cv.city in (:p_city)) cnms order by cnms.cstname

• You need to know your SQL

• Complex Data Templates also use variables to calculate and store aggregates

• “No manipulation” of the data source connection via the use of variables

‣ Still need to code your own Data Template to do that

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BI Publisher - Dashboards

• BIPublisher doesn’t have its own Dashboard environment

• Can be placed on a regular BI Dashboard and there it really complements the OBIEE offering

‣ Access to reports fit for publishing

‣ Passing OBIEE Prompt values to BIP reports, using Presentation Variables

• But the BIP interactive controls and Event handling can make one report, with multiple components feel like a dashboard

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Let the Fight Begin

• History of Answers

• History of Publisher

• Feature Set of Answers

• Feature Set of Publisher

• Pros and Cons

• Visual Comparison

• Balancing the Score Card

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Pros and Cons - BI Answers

• Intended for Interactive data consumption

‣ Prompts

‣ Master-Detail linking

‣ Drilling

‣ Actionable Intelligence

• Based on a Business Model that provides reusable and standard calculations

• Rich graphing engine

• Query Once - Display many times

‣ Separation of query (Criteria) and Views

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Pros and Cons - BI Answers

• BI Answers lacks more layout control

‣ But that’s why BIP is integrated to work with OBIEE

‣ Probably not a strategic goal to enhance much in this direction

• Can only report against the Presentation Service and underlying RPD

‣ Sure, there are ways to get physical SQL access, but hardly recommended

‣ Requires OBIEE expertise to build the “Star Schema”-like business model before building any sort of report to access data

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Pros and Cons - BI Answers

• BI Answers lacks more layout control

‣ But that’s why BIP is integrated to work with OBIEE

‣ Probably not a strategic goal to enhance much in this direction

• Can only report against the Presentation Service and underlying RPD

‣ Sure, there are ways to get physical SQL access, but hardly recommended

‣ Requires OBIEE expertise to build the “Star Schema”-like business model before building any sort of report to access data

• Does not run “on its own”

‣ It’s a part of the OBIEE stack - duhh!

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Pros and Cons - BI Publisher

• BI Publisher is very strong in what it’s intended to do

‣ Flexible and fully formatted reports

‣ Multiple output formats

‣ Multiple Delivery channels

‣ Massive report throughput/Bursting

• Reports against any JDBC data source

‣ Oracle DB

‣ DB2 / TeraData

‣ MSSQL/MySQL

‣ Oracle BI server/ Answers reports

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Pros and Cons - BI Publisher

• BI Publisher isn’t built for Data Analysis

‣ But it’s moving in to that space with added interactive features

‣ Online Analyzer gives some capabilities for ‘discovering your data’

• Doesn’t have a consistent ‘Metadata Layer’

‣ Requires some mad haxor SQL skillz

• Linking together multiple data sets can be complex

‣ Must construct an XML data set that ‘makes sense’

‣ New Data Model Editor makes this much easier in 11g though, but still not for the faint of heart

• Getting that Pixel Perfect report isn’t always quite as easy as it says on the box

‣ True for most such tools

‣ Seems to be a bit of a black art, at times

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Cat Fight on the Catwalk!

• History of Answers

• History of Publisher

• Feature Set of Answers

• Feature Set of Publisher

• Arm Wrestling Competition - Pros and Cons

• Visual Comparison

• Balancing the Score Card

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Visual Comparison

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

The Votes Are In

• History of Answers

• History of Publisher

• Feature Set of Answers

• Feature Set of Publisher

• Pros and Cons

• Visual Comparison

• Balancing the Score Card

• Conclusion

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Balancing The Scorecard

• Comparing Apples and Oranges will, at best, result in a Fruit Salad

• BI Answers wins a comparison like this, hands down, with the interactive capabilities

• But BI Answers loses a comparison like this on the lack of report layout control and pixel manipulation

‣ BI Answers isn’t trying (very hard) to ‘be that guy’

‣ BI Publisher is supposed to fill that role

• BI Answers and BI Publisher use the same graphical components for web rendering and Interactive controls

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

• History of Answers

• History of Publisher

• Feature Set of Answers

• Feature Set of Publisher

• Pros and Cons

• Visual Comparison

• Balancing the Score Card

• Conclusion

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Conclusion

• BI Answers is fantastic for guided and ad-hoc analysis

• BI Publisher is fantastic for published reporting

• BI Publisher is growing in the direction of some of Answers’ strong points

• BI Answers relies on BI Publisher to provide the report publishing it’s intended for

• Use BI Publisher for what it’s meant for and use BI Answers for what it’s made to do

• Friends or Foes? I’d say Friends with some healthy rival tendencies, like brothers playing football at Thanksgiving ...

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T : +44 (0) 8446 697 995 or (888) 631 1410 (USA) E : enquiries@rittmanmead.com W: www.rittmanmead.com

Borkur Steingrimsson

OBIEE: Answers v. Publisher: Friends or Foes ?

UKOUG Scotland, Linlithgow, 2013

Rittman Mead Consulting

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