Monthly Archives: June 2006

Reporting in 60 seconds with Oracle XE

Ok, well maybe not 60 seconds but more like 5 minutes.

Some great news today from Pentaho.  Pentaho has purchased proprietary software for visually building reports and donated it to the open source community.  The full text of the announcement is here:

 More on this in a later post… Let’s get to the bits.

Much of what I’ve been hearing in the marketplace is the perception that Open Source has hidden costs in terms of usability and the technical savvy needed of users. 

Let us try and challenge this assumption and see how "productive" we can be building a simple database driven report.

Download the Report Designer here and unzip it to a directory of your choosing.  There’s zero installation required (you’ll need Java on your computer, but that’s pretty prevalent these days).  Double click on the bat file (or .sh if you’re using linux).

When the product launches you’ll notice a panel that allows you drag and drop elements onto the canvas in an easy to use fashion.  I’m sure additional tutorials will come on this blog and but suffice to say, this is an interface which is easy enough to just "figure out" by playing with it.

The "RED" circle is our palette and the "BLUE" area is our canvas.

Let’s get going and start our report!

  1. Launch the Report Wizard
  2. Select the option that indicates that you will use your own dataset, a JDBC dataset
  3. Enter in the connection information and driver location for your database.  I keep the latest Oracle Express edition (a Free version of the Oracle database) around.
    Note:  You don’t have to do anything special with the JDBC driver (put it in a lib directory or anything).  All you have to do is show the wizard where the .jar file is.

    I’m using the HR schema which comes with the Oracle database for testing/sample purposes.
  4. Navigate to find the "EMPLOYEES" and "DEPARTMENT" tables.  Enter in a simple SQL query that contains the data of interest and use the very handy Preview Option to make sure you’re getting the results desired.

    Feel free to just copy and paste if you are using XE as well:
    d.department_name "Department Name",
    e.first_name "First Name",
    e.last_name "Last Name",
    e.phone_number "Phone Number"
    employees e, departments d
    order by d.department_name
  5. You can just click Next on the visible feilds screen:
  6. Highlight "Department Name" and add it to the grouping and hit "Finish"
  7. It should return you to the original canvas where you can see the design of your report.  From here you can start to add images, lines, change fonts, etc.  Have fun exploring the richness of the options available here.
  8. Let’s see what it looks like!  Click Preview and page through your report!

That’s it!  You’re done!  You’ve created a report that can be parameterized, hosted, bursted, distributed in just a few minutes.  In a follow on blog I’ll show you how to publish this into the Pentaho server (it’s only about 2 more steps).

Happy Trails!

Trying Qumana

I recently moved to WordPress as a blogging engine.  So far I’ve liked it very much, and the WYSIWYG editor in the web browser is pretty good.  Much better, in my opinion than the web based  Movable Type editor.

That being said, I reall do like being able to blog quickly and efficiently from my desktop.  Screen captures, text, copy and paste URLs, all make blogging feel much more like a treat; a thing you get into the rhythym of instead of taking time out of the day to get things "ready to go."

Now, if I ever decide to go Linux flat out I’ll have to do this all over again I suppose.  Until then, I think I rather like it.

One thing I think is missing from nearly all of these desktop blogging products is the ability to do real copy and paste.  Everything has to already be in a file.  For quick screen captures to blog I’d LOVE for a tool to just accept clipboard data and make it into a file.  Anyone know of any product that does that?