What are the new features of ODI12c?

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The new release of Oracle Data Integrator (ODI 12c) is now available. Let´s find out what the new features of ODI12c are that this version includes.

First, is there anything fancy in the installation process?

Just one note here: to be able to use ODI Studio, the enterprise installation needs to be selected (instead of the Standalone option) while launching the ODI installation program.

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For the configuration part, creating a new login to ODI repository you are requested to specify a new wallet password. ODI12c provides you with a possibility to store your credentials in a wallet that is protected by a password. How much it helps to protect and manage your credentials with a single password!

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Goodbye Interfaces, Welcome Mappings

First of all, we do not deal with interfaces anymore; mappings are offered to the developers instead. On this background let´s talk about common features and functions across various ETL tools, like Informatica Powercenter, which has many advantages. As the previous version of ODI and Powercenter are totally different technologies, there is no tool to convert the flow automatically. Either you need to use the Powercenter workflow manager to build a new ODI package, or you can use a Powercenter mapping to create a new ODI interface, keeping in mind all the constraints that ODI11g may have, including its inability to load multiple targets. What changes now? Source and target data tables can now be dragged and dropped to the same canvas, which was not the case for the previous version.

Example canvas with components panel:

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Moreover, all objects have IN and OUT connectors. There is also a possibility to use multiple targets within the same mapping as the OUT connector can be mapped to many IN connectors. The split component may be used to direct rows to the desired destination based on particular conditions. And speaking of the split option - a new components panel has been added, containing operations like join, filter, lookup or split to simplify mapping creation (see picture above). The star icon (distinct component), enables selecting particular rows.  Finally you can take advantage of the reusability of mappings, which can be applied across various projects by simply connecting to other components.

All these changes made Oracle Data Integrator more like Informatica Powercenter (or other ETL tools) when it comes to the creation of the transformation mappings. However, it’s good to remember that their main paradigm continues to be different, as ODI is still considered an ELT tool while Powercenter is a traditional ETL tool. Of course there will be supporters of both and the choice may depend on budget or functionality.

More Nice Features

We also found some other features that make our lives easier. One of them is the auto completion and syntax highlighting in expression fields. Another one is that when one column is selected all the related columns are highlighted across the mapping. The entire path for transformations is perfectly visible. Nice, isn’t it? I prefer that much more than checking every single box to track all modifications.

Undoubtedly, adding a debugger was long awaited. It provides you with options to set breakpoints, inspect the values of variables, debug sessions or data. Step by step, you can easily review your work.

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We also enjoyed the enhanced security model. Security is assigned to a role and the same level of security is shared by all users belonging to that role. Additionally,  ODI standalone agents are managed by WebLogic Management Framework, which gives us the benefit of centralized management. You are offered a wizard to carry out the configuration:

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Agents can be controlled by Node Manager.

Any drawbacks?

As always, there is a discussion around new releases on which features are useful and which are not. Some changes, like the layout, can be considered both as an advantage and a disadvantage. In 12c this is the case for the complexity. You are now able to see more objects at the same time, providing you with some new options like the components panel, but on the other hand it makes everything less transparent and a decent screen size is needed.

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Even if this can be considered a small disadvantage, it is not a real problem. More troublesome may be that some operations are not that obvious to implement. Calculations as simple as a sum that used to require building an expression with a SUM function in the target, now obliges you to use the aggregate component prior to calculating the sum.

ODI and Oracle Warehouse Builder (OWB)

As announced, at a later stage there will be a possibility to migrate Oracle Warehouse Builders objects to ODI.  Currently all OWB jobs can be run in ODI using the OdiStartOwbJob tool and the OWB repository is a data server that can be accessed from Topology.

Summary

Expectations for this release were high. Surely the changes from the previous version are noticeable and the overall reception is good. The roadmap for ODI12c in the Oracle stack is looking very promising, acquiring a key role as default ELT tool of the new Oracle BI Applications. We are very excited to start working with ODI 12c in our projects.

Which features of ODI 12c do you find the most useful? We would be glad to receive your comments on this topic so let us know your experience.

Top 5 new features for OBIEE 11.1.1.7.1

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OBIEE’s 11.1.1.7 release has enhanced the server’s experience.  Some of the new features have been long-time awaited before finally coming into light.

At Clearpeaks we found some new features really worth-noting, especially when casually most of those are actually not caught at first sight. Following we present our top 5 new features with a short explanation and some screenshots.

5th: New parameters for dashboard prompted links

This release includes a bunch of new parameters to customize prompted links on dashboards such as:

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Figure 5: New parameters for dashboard prompted links

  • $Action=[Navigate/Print/Download] ->  New actions to take by prompted link.
  • &var#= -> Identifies the variable used in a variable prompt or that is set by a column prompt.
  • &val[grp,sv,eval,sql]#= -> Sets the value of a prompt to a custom [group's catalog path/server variable/presentation variable/logical SQL statement].
  • &formulause#= -> Identifies whether a prompt value is a code value or a display value (in a repository that is configured for the double column feature). If you do not use this parameter, it is assumed that the value is a display value.

Required for prompts that use hierarchical columns

  • &hierid#= -> Identifies the hierarchy ID.
  • &dimid#= -> Identifies the dimension ID.
  • &tblnm#= -> Identifies the table name.

Optional

  • &cov#= -> Sets the variable of a column prompt that also sets a variable.
  • &psa#= -> Identifies a primary subject area for a prompt.

Detailed documentation on params: Oracle website

4th: Prompt constraints can now be set to be limited by more than one column

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Figure 4.1: Prompts constraints limited by more than one column

This function allows related prompts to be filtered according to others in cascade. In the following example, month is limited by year, and week by month and year. The value shown is limited by multiple constraints, but we still have the option to view other unrelated date prompts. The feature of multi-selecting constraints is especially useful for viewing values defined by cascade dimensions.

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Figure 4.2: Prompt constraints by cascade dimensions

3rd: Null Row/Columns suppression

Either at analysis or at viewer level (which overrides the previous one), null suppression options can now be indicated, affecting views such as: (pivot) table, (advanced) trellis, graph, gauge and funnel views, when an entire row or column contains null values.  They are simply hidden from the view. Be aware that after this change null rows and columns will be hidden by default, so you need to explicitly ask for them (slight change of logic).

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Figure 3.1: Null Row/Columns suppression

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Figure 3.2: Null Row/Columns suppression at analysis level

2nd: Freeze Column Option

The Column properties entry now allows you to anchor a column (or more) at any edge of a dashboard layout.

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 Figure 2.1: Freeze Column Option

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 Figure 2.2: Freezed Column

1st(our winner) Better Excel Integration

A lof of effort has been put in improving Excel integration in OBIEE. Aside from updating compatibility to recent Excel graph_new_3versions, a couple of add-ins have been designed for Excel to be used as a template designer and as a grapher, with direct connections to OBIEEs datasources.

  • Excel 2007+ Analysis exporting: The exporting facility is updated to the last version

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Figure 1.1: Excel 2007+ Analysis exporting                                                                       Figure 1.2: Download Links to multiple EPM tools from OBIEE Home page where 2 Excel related ones outshine (Hyperion Smart View and Template builder for Word which includes the Template Builder Add-In for Excel)

Template Builder Enhancements: Excel template Builder comes bundled alongside Template Builder for Word tool which can be downloaded from Home page, as part of the BI Desktop Tools. It automatically installs an Add-In to Excel. Given that it already includes a function for importing Excel Analyzer templates, it can only be installed after the removal of the later.  Once in Excel, you can connect directly from it to BI Publisher server to create new reports in the catalog, upload templates from your Excel session, and download sample XML data.

By doing this, two new features in Template Builder are enabled. Inserting fields provides us an automatic mapping by means of a treeview selection menu of the data structure of the sample so it saves us from manually assign defined names to cells. It also fills the new cell with data from the sample just for testing purposes. Repeating groups is another feature which allows us a similar thing, that is, defining a single XML structure from data and render it as many times as the sample contains this structure.

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Figure 1.3: Excel Template Builder new features

Additional info at the Oracle website and Oracle blog.

 Installing Smart View for Office: Hyperion Smart View add-in for MS Office provides an integrated interface designed for OBIEE and Oracle Enterprise Performance Management. For instance, you can create new analyses from scratch in an excel file and save them in the catalogue.  Old phased-out Oracle BI office is still available at install.

More info: OBIEE blog, Rittman&Mead

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Figures 1.4 and 1.5: Installing Smart View for office

Bonus track: MAD and its' custom plugins

Mobile Application Designer is one of the best features introduced in 11.1.1.7.1. It allows you to create mobile applications in a fast and simple way.

However, it often lacks a certain degree of flexibility to customize the look. What a lot of people do not know is that you can code JS plugins, and use them on the interface just by dropping them in <REPOSITORY>/Admin/Plugins folder.

Let´s take for instance the Youtube Plugin code to understand the structure of an expected plugin.

MyYoutubePlugin.js

{
 id: "com.oracle.xdo.youtube",
 component: {
 name: "Youtube Video",
 cssClass: "youtube",
 icon: "http://hostname.com/youtube_32x32.png",
 tooltip: "Insert Youtube Video"
 },
 properties: [
 {key: "width", label:"Width", type:"length", value:"450px"},
 {key: "height", label:"Height", type:"length", value:"370px"},
 {key: "videoid", label:"Video ID", type:"string", value:"TK7KYaCEGZU"}
 ],
 render: function(context, containerElem, rows, fields, props) {
 var videoid = props["videoid"];
 var width = props["width"];
 var height = props["height"];

var widthPx = xdo.api.getPixelValue(width);
 var heightPx = xdo.api.getPixelValue(height);

var iframe = '<iframe id="'+context.id+'_iframe" style="z-index: -1;" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/'+videoid+'?wmode=transparent" height="240" width="320"></iframe>';
 xdo.dom.DOMElement.set(containerElem, iframe);
 }
 }

Currently 2 available methods from the xdo.api are exposed uniquely in the MAD docs for their use in the main render function, xdo.api.handleClickEvent and xdo.api.getPixelValue .

There is another tag at the id/properties/render level, fields, which enables you using graphs' typical placeholder for dropping model fields.

fields: [
{name: "labelField", caption: "Drop Label Field Here", fieldType:"label", dataType:"string"},
{name: "dataField", caption: "Drop Data Field Here", fieldType:"measure", dataType: "number", formula: "summation"}
],

We hope you enjoyed the read and would be happy if you leave us a comment on which are you favourite new features of OBIEE 7.1.

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