Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Hefty Job of Internationalization

7 comments
When I worked in the purely commercial software world, internationalization of a product was a critical, magical event that happened somewhere offsite in the hands of contracted translation companies. Having your software translated into as many different languages as possible is just as important in the open source arena. Arguably, open source projects NEED translations MORE to grow into a global presence. The PROCESS of translating software and documentation for an open source project is an entirely different experience from the commercial event depicted above, as I have learned over my last two years with Pentaho.

This topic is at the forefront of my writings today because I have been tasked with figuring out how to manage localizing the Pentaho documentation in a wiki that has no feature support for internationalization of content! Did I mention that Pentaho is moving all of their documentation to a wiki? Well, there it is. The cat's out of the bag. As of our 1.2 GA release, the documentation will be maintained, by community and development team, in a Confluence wiki.

Confluence is a great tool and has lots of integration points with our case tracking system, JIRA. That said, it seems that Atlassian (the company behind Confluence and JIRA) is a little behind in the internationalization game. Confluence only recently started to support language packs for translation of the wiki itself, and has no support for content translation.

So here we are, and I need to figure out a solution to satisfy three very important groups. The first group are the translators of our documentation. They are community members who contribute those translations to our projects. We need to set up the internationalization in the wiki so that it is easy for these folks to do the initial translation, and also have a mechanism for notifying them when the master language version of the doc has changed. The second group is the users of the documentation. It should be easy for me, if I am French, to find the French documentation, but also be able to peruse the English documentation. And the third group is the poor guys in house that have to maintain the organization of this documentation. When you consider we have over 10 projects, translated (so far) into 8 languages, that get a new revision of documentation for every version of the project released... well, that's alot to manage.

So my initial attempt at a design for this conglomeration that we need to support was to try to stuff all of the languages in the same document in the wiki using DIV type tags and such for separation. I'd then use some custom code to hide the other translations based on the user's language setting in the browser. This would make my translators happy initially, because they can do the initial translation almost inline with the master language version. My users would be happy because our wiki respects their browser's language settings, and if a particular piece of content hasn't been translated to the user's language of choice, we would default to the master language version. Of course, this solution does not address the translator notification of master language changes, and well, it would be a bit of a pain to determine whether it was an master language version change or a translation change, with all that content in the same document. Also, this only addresses translation of the content. What about the document titles? Since the navigation of a wiki (by definition) is based on document name, we have a big problem to solve there. And the largest point of failure in my grand plan is the fact that the merging capabilities are not so hot in our wiki of choice, so the translators would have to line up and take turns translating. Ick, in a word.

So the next path we steer down is that path that takes us to completely separate repositories (called Spaces in Confluence) for the different languages. This gives us autonomy for the purposes of editing and not having the language content intermingled, but at a pretty large synchronization and maintenance cost. We now need to figure out, do we populate the French repository with all of the English documentation, to assist our translators in translating? Well, then we have up to eight copies of the doc, that is changing realtime, and is sure to get out of sync. So, perhaps we should let the translators populate their language wiki from scratch, organically? This isn't very accommodating to our translators, and documents will surely be placed out of order with the master language wiki, making it confusing for the users.

Yikes. It's at this point, having discussed the plethora of less-than-stellar options with a few clever guys on our team, that I decided to step back and write to the community. In my mental gymnastics over this problem, I made many assumptions about what our users and translators really want.

For the translators in our community, have you worked at translating in a wiki before? What did you like about it? What did you hate? Is it easier for you to translate everything in your format of choice, or do you like the idea that once you translate it it would be available, without having to wait for the Pentaho team to publish it? Of the two scenarios I detailed above, which is the lesser of two evils for you?

And for all of the rest our community that must USE and update our documentation - would it be more frustrating for you to work with translations inline in the wiki (in edit mode only) or to have to go hunt around someplace else to find those translations?

And, of course, for any other open source project that holds the silver bullet to this problem - feel free to share your solution here!! Heck, I'd even take well intentioned guesses and good ideas :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Google Maps Demo, Check It Out

4 comments
You really need to check out our demo of Pentaho's Google Maps integration, put together courtesy of Jake Cornelius, Product Manager for Pentaho Dashboards.

I like this demo for alot of reasons, but first for it's content quality. I will be the first to admit, I have a short attention span for any type of sales or marketing related collateral. Unless it's funny or can incorporate a bit of irony, I tend to hear the adults in Charles Schulz's Peanuts cartoons - wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.

Jake's demo is a great, get-to-the-point example of location intelligence - solving a problem that has a geographical component in the equation. Jake takes you through a common case where a business executive takes a trip to the East Coast, and wants to know who are the key customers by sales volume he should visit during his travels. They need to be big spenders and - that geographic component - should be located relatively close to one another so he can maximize the number of customers he can visit.

The solution was simple with Pentaho BI and Google Maps. Check it out - you will be impressed.

From a developer's point of view, I liked the demo because I know I can download this solution in the Pre-Configured Install, and not only do I have a great example Pentaho Dashboard that I can pick apart, but I also get to see AJAX and the Google Maps API in action. For the hands-on learner like myself, this demo is a nice introduction to some very cool tools I can now put in my BI toolbox.

So go get it. Download it, listen to it (it's less than 8 minutes long) and come back and tell me what you think. Not your typical demo, right?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Whole Lot of Community Goin' On...

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I haven't had the chance to get back to blogging lately. This really is a quandry - there is so much going on at Pentaho and around the Pentaho community, I have so much to blog about... but there is so much going on at Pentaho, I haven't found the time to blog! :) So today's a fun day, because I get to catch you all up on so many great things that are happening to and for the Pentaho community.

SourceForge.net Project of the Month


Let's start with Pentaho being honored as the SourceForge Project of the Month. If you have worked with open source for even a short while, you have heard of SourceForge.net. It is THE place to go to download open source software and source code. I have heard the number of projects hosted on SourceForge.net to be somewhere around 130,000, so to be chosen and highlighted as the project of the month for October, well, we take that as a very big deal.

This is a huge win for us the community because this showcase should draw alot of attention from savvy developers who are looking for an interesting and well-architected project to work on. I just can't convey all the great possibilities that could come out of this highlight. We are very excited! I will keep you up to date on the happenings around this win, as they unfold :)

New Web Sites for Mondrian, JFreeReport and Kettle


The next great community move is the new web sites for Mondrian, JFreeReport and Kettle. We have built new sites for the projects and the web team will be maintaining them and providing the TLC that the sites deserve.

This a big plus for the leads of the projects, since that takes the maintenance burden off of them and they get to concentrate on doing what they love - implementing the vision for their projects! The content for the sites is roughly the same, mostly just the look and feel, and the URLs have changed. Content changes will come slowly over time, when it makes sense to update and re-organize it for each team. The new URLS for the sites are listed below:

Mondrian: http://mondrian.pentaho.org
JFreeReport: http://jfreereport.pentaho.org
Kettle: http://kettle.pentaho.org

Pentaho and MySQL Webinars


We have had an awesome series of webinars running with the MySQL team. Since MySQL requests in the community seem to dominate, this series has proven very valuable to both the Pentaho community and the MySQL community. If you haven't viewed them, you can watch the replays here:

Business Intelligence with MySQL and Pentaho

ETL for MySQL using Pentaho Kettle

And coming up October 24, you can register for the latest webinar, OLAP for MySQL using Pentaho Mondrian.

Contributor Update


As always, we have recieved numerous contributions from different corners of the world over the past few months. I would like to share a few of them, just to demonstrate what is POSSIBLE for any community member, and what is being accomplished today.

A few weeks back, I recieved an email from Marc pointing me to a forum thread where Steve sent an example of his solution, which contains .NET consumption of Pentaho web services, producing an ADO dataset. Hoowah! I still need to contact Steve and see if he would write us a a nice technical article on his solution, but you know, so many hours in a day:)

Radek, a regular contributor, sent us the code for outputting multiple reports into different worksheets of the same Excel workbook. If your interested in that feature, you can track progress on it here.

By far our biggest avenue for contributing is in the translation of the platform. Last week alone, I recieved updates to 4 different language translations, 3 new Brazilian Portuguese documentation translations (thanks Fabrizio!), and a request to start an Italian translation of the project!

Thanks to the Pentaho Community!



At the end of the day, we know that our success is attributed to the the hard work of the Pentaho team, and the dedication and commitment of our community. We would like to say thanks again for the support. Running an open source project is a great experiment in trusting teams to provide resources for a common goal. It's with pleasure that we participate in this process, and see people at their best, making things work to achieve a common benefit.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Check Out Pentaho Training

2 comments
I recently sat in a meeting with our new Product Manager, Jake Cornelius, listening to some great feedback on a Pentaho training session he recently attended.

I worked with Jake back in my Hyperion days, so I can confidently say that Jake is pretty great guy who isn't one to blow wind up your shorts for heck-all's sake. He's a strong leader and has deep insight into BI, having worked in the industry for umpteen (a great figure when you don't have a precise number, but it's been pretty much forever) years.

I asked Jake to send me his thoughts on the session, so I could share them with my ever growing blog-base :) So here's the review, and I hope this helps anyone on the fence about investing in Pentaho training come on over.

Jake:

We recently rolled out our new training series on Building Analytic Solutions using the Pentaho BI Platform. The 4-day event, held September 18-22 in Orlando, was a huge success and confirmed Pentaho’s position as the global leader in Open Source Business Intelligence. Attendees from Japan, Columbia, Canada and around the US were present to learn how Pentaho’s BI Platform will help their organizations unleash the valuable information currently held hostage in proprietary data stores and transactional systems. The course was facilitated by Dave Reinke and Brian Senseman of OpenBI. In four short days, Dave and Brian lead attendees through an end-to-end BI implementation example from ETL using Pentaho Data Integration Services, to reporting with Pentaho Reporting Services and the BI Platform, to interactive analysis using Pentaho Analysis Services. Unlike conventional product training courses we’ve all sat through that focus on “this feature does x, and that feature does y”, OpenBI leveraged real world examples and best practices from their years in BI consulting to teach the class how to build enterprise-class solutions using Pentaho. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, here are just a few of the comments we received from the attendees:

“Great class!”

“Thanks for the course. There were a lot of interesting ideas talked about.”

“This has been a great class and I have learned quite a bit. Perhaps more importantly, I have gained confidence in both the quality of the software and my ability to use it efficiently.”

If you are currently investigating Pentaho for an upcoming BI project, I strongly recommend you consider attending one of our upcoming training courses. A current list of planned training courses can be found on our website at http://www.pentaho.com/services/training/ .

Jake Cornelius
Product Manager


Hopefully we'll here more from Jake in the near future, as he will be a key player in helping Pentaho deliver project roadmaps out to the community. The entire team (me especially:) is insanely excited about that endeavor, so you can imagine how happy we are to have Jake on board!

Of course, COMMUNITY voices are heard the loudest, so I invite the Pentaho Nation to comment here, email me at communityconnection@pentaho.org, or post in our forums what it is that YOU need on those roadmaps!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

BlogOrlando Un-conference: Just a Fantastic Friday

2 comments
You couldn't ask for a better Friday.

I started out early driving in to Winter Park, Florida, about 60 miles from home, to attend the first BlogOrlando Un-conference at Rollins College. I'm not saying starting my day with a 60 mile commute is all that fantastic, but it does give me time to catch the news on the radio, enjoy my favorite cup of coffee (7-11, if you haven't tried it, you don't know what you're missing!!), and we are experiencing unseasonally mild, sunshine filled weather right now, so the drive isn't even a consideration anymore :)

The BlogOrlando event was hosted on Rollins Campus, and drew a mix of PR professionals, marketing gurus, technical entrepreneurs and various other business folk. I was pleasantly surprised and interested to chat with such a diverse group, especially since landing in this role that has me straddling the fence between marketing and the development groups at Pentaho.

The first session I attended was on Corporate Blogging. Dave Coustan, the corporate blogger for Earthlink.net, facilitated the session and had some very interesting lessons learned and success stories to share about his journey building the very popular Earthlink.net corporate blog. While Dave made many points, the advice I liked the best was "Write so that any smart 14 year old can understand it". This helped me in numerous ways - I no longer feel embarrassed that I am incapable of writing pretty prose, and many of my Pentaho co-workers refuse to claim a birthday past their 14th. So you can see how this advice works so well for me:)

Some other interesting and valid bits from Dave on running a successful corporate blog:

  • Find an angle for boring stuff
  • Draw a crowd, figure out the content to draw it
  • Advises to separate blogs for personal and corporate
  • Get the umbrella knowledge of what is happening in the company - be your own "beat cop"
  • Research and fact-check your work!!!
  • Regularly perform outreach and follow ups
  • Capitalize on the ability to handle anything that falls out of traditional channels - edge cases


Some helpful points that were made regarding those who are just trying to convince their companies that corporate blogging is a net plus:

  • Cheaper, more trusted, lasts longer than ads
  • Start a dialogue with your customers
  • Valuable content for search
  • Rapid publishing
  • Gives press something to link to
  • Ear to the ground feedback loop
  • Safety valve for customer service/pr/media
  • Free syndication


The next session was "PR and Blogging", where there was much discussion around bloggers versus journalists. Is there a difference? Are journalists held to a higher standard than bloggers? And, of course the accountability of bloggers was introduced here and carried over in detail in the Legal session. Most of the conversation was speculative, and it seems that the PR folks who blog know the by-laws of good journalism, and use them whether they are blogging or running a corporate campaign. This of course is not always the case, especially for the casual blogger. I think the most useful point for me that was discussed in this session was the fact that the amount of blogger traffic you generate is only one measure of a blog's success, and will peak and valley. The true strength of your blog is in internet indexing. The indexing of a blog entry is much farther reaching than the direct audience of the blog.

The last session I was able to attend was "Blogging and Legal Issues", facilitated by Andrea Weckerle, a vibrant and very well-presented attorney and PR professional. I was very impressed with Andrea and wish I had a chance to connect with her to talk more about the specifics, but lack of time prevented me from introducing myself. I will have to stop by her blog. The legal issues that we discussed covered things like libel, slander (spoken and slander both start with "s", hence the difference:), copyright law and privacy issues. I was not surprised that the law covers these issues in much the same way for blogging as for written content. Regarding copyrights specifically, it seems the consensus is that in blogging, alot more violations happen, and alot less action is taken (think splogging).

I had to leave Rollins around 2:30, but if you want to read more about the afternoon sessions and wrap up, you can find all sorts of blogs and details at www.blogorlando.com, or google for BlogOrlando.

Thanks to Josh at Hyku for putting on such a nice event, in such a nice place. It made my Friday:)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Analytics For Bugzilla

0 comments
If you are a Bugzilla user, you really should check this out. My friend Nick Goodman came up with a Pentaho solution that takes Bugzilla data, ETL's it into palatable OLAP format, and uses the rest of the Pentaho Open BI Suite to provide analytics and reporting - that you could NEVER get out of Bugzilla alone.

For example, how about historical based analysis, such as running total net open bugs by product, year over year, with the capability to drill into details? Or current issues, by status and product? These are the reports that product managers, project managers, development managers and software engineers need to manage the timeline, scope and releases for a software project.

Let Bugzilla do what it does best - track your bugs. Let Software Quality Reporting for Bugzilla unlock the information captured in your bug tracking. To try it out, go to the SourceForge project at http://sourceforge.net/projects/qareports/, and download the solution and the Getting Started Guide. It takes about 15 minutes to set up, and the demo is up and running. Another 30 minutes or so and you can have the solution hooked up to your Bugzilla data!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Get Your Open Source Here...

Talk about a really great resource - a site that provides open source alternatives to the most popular commercial software packages. And very nicely put together I might add, which in my opinion DOES contribute to its net usefulness:)

The site is osalt.com, "Open Source as an Alternative" and can be found at http://www.osalt.com/. The premise behind the site is a listing of the most popular proprietary software matched to their open source alternative offerings. Just type in Cognos in the search engine, and osalt.com brings you Pentaho! Niiiccce:)

Of course, this site is useful in so many ways - I can now get the top listed open source alternatives for my photo editing software, my HTML wysiwyg editor, my mapping software, oh the list goes on.

Working in open source, I forget what it was like, being a newbie in the open source world, and trying to figure out what project does what. But I can bet that osalt.com makes it a bit nicer for open source novices to get a grip... which from all we hear, there are droves of new open source adoptees everyday.

By the way, I can't take all the credit for finding osalt.com - my co-worker Brian forwarded it to me, thanks a bunch Brian!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dynamically Generating a Cross Tab Report, Part 2

So, I thought it would take me a week or two to finish up this article from Nic Guzaldo, a strong supporter of the Pentaho platform. It ended up taking almost a month, which tells me I am long overdue for updating my calendar and planner.

With many apologies for the delay, I present to the Pentaho community the long-awaited second half to "Dynamically Generating a Cross Tab Report". In Part 2, we pick up where we left off and use the query that we derived in the first article to feed into a Pentaho report template. Actually, we will use several mini templates that demonstrate template re-use and assembling with parameters, very cool stuff. Our template will have several replaceable parameters that will accommodate our variable number of columns, a dynamically generated report title, and a nice name for any output files we generate, should the user choose to output their report to a format such as Excel, RTF, PDF, etc.

This exercise is a giant hand up for Pentaho users who really need to see it all come together - JNDI, dynamic queries, parameter passing, report templates, variable output formats, and much more! Great luck and please do send me some feedback! I'd love to know if these articles are helpful, and what topics you would like to see in future articles:)

all the best,
Gretch

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Designing Reports in Pentaho: Save As versus Publish

22 comments
As part of my job at Pentaho, I occasionally get to help build solutions using the Pentaho BI platform and the solution building toolset, Design Studio, Report Wizard and Designer. I really enjoy that time, in part because I miss my developer days, but also because using the software we build makes me feel like I can connect and relate more to our community. The end product is I can do my job better, because I know the project and the software better.

I recently started creating some reports against our case tracking data, which lives in a JIRA database. JIRA is a phenomenal issue tracker, but I just can't get the reports and data analysis out of it that I really need. And that's OK, that's what we have the Pentaho platform for. One thing I came across that I thought would be good to explain a bit is the difference between "Save As" and "Publish" in our report designing tools.

Both the Report Designer and the Report Design Wizard have a "Save As" option and a "Publish" option. The "Save As" option is pretty straight forward, and "Publish" is a very powerful feature, if you know how to use it:) I have to warn you at this point that these options do produce slightly different results when you are in Report Design Wizard than when you are using Report Designer, and I will spell out what those differences are in a moment. If you are wondering WHY this is the case, read my previous blog post:)

Let's start by talking about what Save As and Publish do in Report Design Wizard.

If you choose the Save As option in the Report Design Wizard, you are saving the entire state of the wizard session you are in. The file will have a .xreportspec extension, which is the file extension that the Report Design Wizard expects when you select the File | Open option in the wizard. It may not seem intuitive at first to "save" the state of a wizard. However the wizard allows you to set so many options for your report, that you may want to go back to your wizard session and tweak a few report features. This makes less sense when you have the Report Designer, which gives you much more powerful report tweaking capabilities. The Save As option in the Report Design Wizard was built at a time when Pentaho didn't have a Report Designer, and so, as the two tools become more tightly integrated, I would hazard a guess that this Save As feature may go away.

The real power of the wizard is in its Publish feature. When you choose the Publish option from the Report Design Wizard, you get a number of files that amount to everything you need to run that report in the Pentaho BI platform. Here is a list of the files that would be generated with a Publish, and what they are for:


  • JFreeReport-WizardReport.xreportspec - the saved wizard session. This is the same file you would have if you chose the Save As option.

  • JFreeReport-WizardReport.xml - this is the JFreeReport report definition.

  • JFreeReport-WizardReport.xaction - this file is the action sequence built to run this report in the platform. If you are not familiar with action sequences, you can get a great overview from the Pentaho Creating Solutions Guide.

  • JFreeReport-WizardReport.properties - this is the resource file, used for holding the action sequence's extracted strings. This file facilitates internationalization of your action sequence.

  • PentahoReporting.png - a sample image, referenced in the action sequence, that can be used in to represent this report in your solution's UI.


The Report Designer's Save As and Publish functions serve the same purposes, but result in slightly different outputs.

When you select the Save As option in Report Designer, you are saving the designer session you are working in. The file will have a .report extension, which is the type of file that the Designer expects on opening of a file.

When you choose Publish with the Report Designer, there are fewer files than what the Report Designer produces, but the same end goal is achieved. Here are the files produced by the Report Designer and what they are for:

  • Report.xml - this is the JFreeReport report definition.

  • Report.xaction - this file is the action sequence built to run this report in the platform.



Why, you might ask, does the Report Designer generate less files, but accomplish the same task? There are few differences between the outputs that I should note:


  1. First, the Report Design Wizard still gives you the wizard session (.xreportspec), even when you Publish, whereas the Report Designer does not give you the designer session (.report) on Publish.

  2. The Report Design Wizard extracts strings from the action sequence file for translations into a .properties file, whereas the Report Designer does not.

  3. The Report Design Wizard generates a sample icon for the action sequence where the Designer does not.

  4. Another difference worth noting, that is not apparent by examining just the list of output files, is where the query for the report lives when either tool publishes. The Report Design Wizard will put the query in the action sequence file, which is the best practice. The Report Designer embeds the query in the JFreeReport definition.



These differences constitute minor inconsistencies in implementation that I'm sure will be addressed very soon. That is everything I had hoped to cover.

I hope that this helps a few people get up and running with Pentaho Reporting, because it really is quite an extraordinary set of tools, and just keeps getting better (not that I'm biased or anything :).

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pentaho Report Designer versus Pentaho Report Design Wizard

6 comments
The Pentaho Reporting client toolset can look a bit confusing at first glance. We have the Pentaho Report Designer, and then we have the Pentaho Report Design Wizard. Two products that perform seemingly very similar functions, but are separate tools. What's THAT all about??

Well, first, I'm here to tell you it won't be this way for very long:) And second, these two tools are powerful and unique, and compliment each other very well. Our vision for Reporting in the Pentaho BI Suite is well, sweet. With a little history, it's easier to understand how we got where we are, what should be used when, and where we are going with all this.

So how did we get here? Well, we really loved JFreeReport. JFreeReport provides a robust, full-featured reporting foundation for the Pentaho BI platform. However, at the time that we brought JFreeReport on board the Pentaho ship, the available open source report-building UIs for JFreeReport were lacking. So, that provoked our captain (Mr. Dick Daley) to hail the crew and shout "Go forth yee and build a Report Design Wizard!". Aargghhh. And thus the Report Design Wizard was born (thanks to the mighty efforts of one rather savvy shipmate, Mike D'Amour).

<Insert A.D.D. tangent here>
If at this point, you all are wondering about the sea-faring dialog, my husband often describes the thoughts in his head as a scene from Moulan Rouge. Mine are a bit more Pirates of the Carribean:)
</Insert A.D.D. tangent here>

At this point in the story, we are very excited about the Report Design Wizard, when we are introduced to a company out of Germany that has built a JFreeReport Report Designer. This tool is pretty spiffy and approaches report design a bit differently than the wizard, so Pentaho purchased the Report Designer, and donated it to the world as open source. And that is how we ended up with two tools, that initially look the same.

In reality, the only similarities that the Report Designer and the Report Design Wizard are their names, and their end goal, being to generate a JFreeReport to use in the Pentaho Open BI Suite. These tools actually bring unique sets of features together to provide a complimentary toolset, that will in the near future be much more tightly coupled. Let's take a look at each tool on it's own.

The Report Design Wizard was designed with to be just that - a wizard. A tool to get you from a dataset to a report in the shortest number of steps possible, easing the startup time for building JFreeReport reports. This makes the Report Design wizard inherently focused on the data. You start building your report by telling the wizard where your data is and what query you wish to perform. The next steps allow you to tweak numerous report features, as well as incorporate charts into your final product.

The Report Designer on the other hand, while it can be dataset-centric, provides more power in allowing you to define your report without specific data, as well as giving you the abillity to customize every feature and aspect of your report. The Report Designer supports the vast majority of JFreeReport features, and can render them through it's UI. It shields the user from the JFreeReport XML, almost completely.

My favorite way to use these tools is to start my report creation with the Report Design Wizard ( I can't think in terms as abstract as a report layout without data - too many years as a programmer, I guess), building up as many report features as I can. If I still need to tweak the report, I import it into the Report Designer and polish it there.

And where is all of this going? In the future, we envision the Report Design Wizard as a feature of the Report Designer, as well as our Pentaho Design Studio. Definitely an integration that makes sense, and will make for a nice experience building Pentaho solutions and reports. As the Pentaho Community leader, it's my job to know what's important to you, our community. I'd love to hear about your experiences using these tools, what you think of our plan, and what great ideas you have for the toolset. Please comment, or feel free to email me at communityconnection@pentaho.org :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Blogging on Pentaho, a Favorite

1 comments
The Pentaho team spans several countries, and it's not always easy to keep up with the mountainous amount of activity among our projects and people. This has spurred a number of team members to begin blogging.

Here is a short list of Pentaho bloggers, some new, some not so new. These are definitely a few of the people who can tell you where Pentaho is and where we are going:

http://www.nicholasgoodman.com
Nick Goodman is Pentaho Director of Solutions, and just an a
all around knowledgable guy when it comes to open source AND business intelligence.

http://www.ibridge.be/
Matt Casters is the founder of Kettle, the Pentaho Data Integration piece and Chief Architect of Data Integration for Pentaho. In a past life, Matt was an independent BI consultant for many years and implemented numerous data warehouses and BI solutions for large companies.

http://julianhyde.blogspot.com
Julian Hyde is the founder of Mondrian, THE open source OLAP server, and the OLAP server component of Pentaho. Julian brings his expertise to Pentaho as Chief Architect of OLAP Technologies.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dynamically Generating a Pentaho Cross Tab Report, Part 1

3 comments
We recently received a monster (in a great way!!) of a tech tip from Nic Guzaldo, a self-taught Pentaho expert and supporter. I spent a day or so getting my head around what Nic had accomplished (with many exclamations of "wow, I didn't know we could do THAT!"), and figured I should break it up into a series of articles for easier consumption.

This first article of the series focuses on creating a query that will not only demonstrate setting up regular data for a cross tab report, but also use user input to determine the number of columns in the query.

In the second half of this solution, we will continue with Nic's example and use the generated resultset as input to a dynamically generated report spec, to create a Pentaho report that allows a variable number of columns, dynamically generated report name, nice output names for external files and other goodies!

Start test driving this jam-packed solution at here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Moving Pentaho Sample Data to MySQL

5 comments
MySQL has been one of the most popular databases amongst the Pentaho community. We receive questions and comments regularly about setting up and writing solutions for Pentaho on MySQL, which tells me people are putting MySQL to work in the business intelligence space. These questions were the catalyst for our Tech Tips, a collection of very useful how-to's for the Pentaho platform and Pentaho tools.

Today, I published a short tech tip regarding how to move the Pentaho sample data from HSQLDb to MySQL. Not rocket science, yet definitely made much easier with a Kettle transformation donated by Nic Guzaldo - thanks again Nic! Check it out, it's a good example of moving data with Kettle and also is a great utility tool to stick in your Pentaho toolbox. That one transformation can be tweaked to move the Pentaho sample data to just about any JDBC compliant database.

Nic's full contribution is actually a complete reporting solution that comprehensively covers a plethora of Pentaho features - secure filters, parameters, variable replacements, more MySQL 5.0 tricks just to name a few. In my next posts I'll talk more about the "Guzaldo mini-series", look for it!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

As Good a Time As Any...

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So, it's time to participate in this blogging rage. I lead the community for open source business intelligence, the Pentaho Nation, and I am always looking for new ways to get "the message" out.

Of course, today is the day before I leave to tour the Nova Scotia area of Canada for ten days, so blogging on business intelligence may have to take the backseat to the review of my Canada experience. We are looking forward to whales and puffins, amazing state parks, lots of natural beauty and some well-earned downtime. Yes, I will be taking my laptop. A day in the life of a start-up engineer:)

When I get back, look forward to a series of experiments with the Pentaho BI Platform I intend to take on. Mostly involving better intelligence for the Pentaho community. Things like, how does the community help steer the Pentaho roadmap? How many steps from Kevin Bacon are some other open source communities? Where are the specific projects that the Pentaho community can run with?