All in all, I had great expectations for the 3 day implementation workshop, and I wasn't disappointed!
The last session on Thursday, Dashboards and AJAX, was crammed full of great technical information. The most important info that I can give you all is that the current JSP based dashboards are going away, in exchange for dashboards built upon Pentaho AJAX components, currently under development. Of course, we all were very excited to hear about the new AJAX component architecture, and happy to hear that we can get to the code. The ETA for GA delivery is somewhere in the 3rd or 4th quarter of this year (with milestone builds available earlier most certainly), but always stomping on that hairy edge, I can't wait to dive into the code and contribute to implementation (in my spare time, ha ha! ).
James Dixon, Chief Geek for Pentaho, also went into a bit of the history of Pentaho Dashboards, which was really helpful in gaining perspective on why Dashboards require so much coding today. The philosophy and design goals for Dashboards (really for the platform, in general) is to remain delivery agnostic - meaning we want the platform output to be delivered via the client's choice of technology, not our own. So if you are a JSF shop, .NET shop, or Java applet guru, it won't matter to us, since we deliver the content from the platform in XML. You can take it from there, and transform that XML any way you wish. Well, that design goal is tough to stick to when you are implementing a Dashboard architecture, since Dashboards are heavy on UI, usually containing reports, charts, dials, gauges and numerous other widgets, in some portal type fashion specific to the user's point of view. So we went about component-izing all of the above mentioned widgets, and used a simple JSP (or not so simple JBoss Portal) to demonstrate what COULD be done. The response from our community has been to make Dashboards easier to build, and fortunately, AJAX has conme along (or been there, depending on how you look at AJAX) so that we can deliver that ease of implementation.
I haven't had a chance to say much about the group that attended the class with me. I was tickled to finally meet some folks that I have been chatting with via email, some for more than a year now! Nice, intelligent, talented and truly passionate about BI - I could spend alot more time with these folks, we share so many traits and interests (I know, I think very highly of me ;))! The attendees came from Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, France and the US, which speaks for the demand that our training generates, as well as the global presence that Pentaho has earned in a short 2.5 years. I can't believe sometimes that I am a part of something this big, and this bold! On a day to day basis, it feels like we are just a bunch of guys doing what we have done best for a long time - building BI. But when you gather your community, partners and teammates in a room like we did last week, it sure feels a whole lot bigger, a lot more significant. And so, I can someday explain to my daughter why my job makes me proud :)