Lego Skill Crane: The Claw

Over the weekend I completed my latest project, a Lego skill crane, including a video and instructions on how to build it yourself. The idea spawned from my 4 year old’s interest in Toy Story. The project has been featured on many blogs, including Ubergizmo, Make: Blog, Hack A Day, Neatorama, The NXT STEP, and Fascinating Lego Model of the Day.

Using the ICacheManager in Pentaho’s BI Server

Caching objects is a core capability of any server architecture. Within Pentaho’s BI Server, we have a simple API for defining caches that any plugin or component can use easily.  In a Java environment, the simplest cache is a java.util.Map.  This is used often and unfortunately it has some major drawbacks, the primary one being that you can run out of memory if you’re not careful.  Why invent your own caching solution when there is one that can easily be used?

Pentaho defines a simple org.pentaho.platform.api.engine.ICacheManager interface, and the default implementation, org.pentaho.platform.plugin.services.cache.CacheManager, uses Hibernate’s Cache.  Here is a simple code example that demonstrates using Pentaho’s ICacheManager:

// get a reference to ICacheManager
ICacheManager cacheMgr = PentahoSystem.getCacheManager(pentahoSession);

// create a cache region if necessary
if(!cacheMgr.cacheEnabled("my_plugin_cache")) {
cacheMgr.addCacheRegion("my_plugin_cache");
}

// store an object into the cache
cacheMgr.putInRegionCache("my_plugin_cache", "url_1", "http://www.pentaho.com");

// now retrieve the item from the cache
String url = (String)cacheMgr.getFromRegionCache("my_plugin_cache", "url_1");

// now clear the cache
cacheMgr.clearRegionCache("my_plugin_cache");

That’s it!  To learn more about how to use the ICacheManager, check out our BI Server documentation at http://wiki.pentaho.com/display/ServerDoc2x/Using+PentahoSystem+ICacheManager.

Agile BI Update

Since we announced Agile BI back in 2009, we’ve been busy developing the initial set of features that demonstrate how a BI developer can quickly build models and analyze data within our ETL product, Pentaho Data Integration.  This past week, Jake Cornelius, our Director of Product Management, demonstrated Agile BI at the TDWI Bake-Off.  The audience was impressed, voting for Pentaho in the “Cool Stuff” category.  The team is now executing on its final feature sprint, and we’re aiming to release RC1 of the product around the end of March.  Check out the most recent milestones over on Agile BI’s community website!

Agile BI Milestone 1 is now available

We’ve been working hard at Pentaho to deliver the first milestone of Agile BI.  A little over a month ago, James Dixon, our CTO, presented to the community the initial concept, which includes integrating dimensional modeling and visualization within Spoon, our ETL environment.  Since that time, James and the engineering team at Pentaho have been sprinting towards this release, making the source code available in the open, along with adding additional capabilities including the ability to persist models and visualizations.

You can download the first milestone and begin experimenting with the beginnings of what we are considering phase 1 of the Agile BI initiative, which includes the ability to quickly model and visualize a single fact table metadata and olap model.  Feedback is always welcome, check out the Agile BI forum for more discussion.

JavaRanch Book Promotion

Want to try and win a free copy of Pentaho Reporting 3.5 for Java Developers?  Go visit JavaRanch.com and ask a question about the book in the Other Open Source Projects forum between now and the 16th of October, and you’ll be eligible to win one of the four books being given away.  I want to thank JavaRanch for promoting the book, they have over 100,000 Java Developers on their mailing list and a very active forum community.

More than just Analyzer

There has been a lot of buzz recently about Pentaho’s acquisition of LucidEra’s ClearView technology, now known as Pentaho Analyzer Enterprise Edition, including this detailed writeup by Julian Hyde. But one
important aspect of this acquisition that has gone unmentioned, which I am most excited about, is the addition of Benny Chow to the Pentaho engineering team.

At LucidEra, Benny was the Director of Engineering and was responsible for the development of ClearView. In his short time here at Pentaho, he’s already had a great impact on our engineering efforts especially with the integration work necessary to make Analyzer an integral part of Pentaho’s User Console. Let me be the first to publicly welcome Benny to the Pentaho team!

A Busy Week with Matt

This week, Matt Casters spent the week here in Orlando, working with engineering and product management on our next big project.  I’m very excited about the work he’s been doing with Kettle 4.0.  Also this week, the engineering team is working towards delivering BI Platform 3.5 RC2.  I’ve found myself working in a lot of different projects, primarily Mondrian and Pentaho Metadata.

Also this week, we released 3.5 RC1 of Pentaho Reporting and BI Platform.  If you haven’t already, I recommend downloading Pentaho Report Designer and BI Server 3.5 RC1 and giving it a whirl.  It includes a lot of goodness, including Mondrian 3.1.1, Kettle 3.2.1, and of course Pentaho Reporting 3.5 RC1, which includes major enhancements including side-by-side sub-reports.  Your feedback will help us release a very solid stable version.  Thanks!

Pentaho at Google I/O

I just got back from a great trip to San Francisco, where Mike D. and I represented Pentaho at the Google I/O Sandbox.  In addition to getting my free Android phone and playing some serious air hockey, I also got the chance to meet a lot of great people.  Mike and I got to meet a many of the folks on the Google Web Toolkit team, and I know they were very happy that they can now talk about the Wave project and their participation in it.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about Wave, and also how excited I am for the future of GWT and HTML 5.0.

There are so many great things happening within GWT at the moment, that Mike and I will probably get GWT trunk building so we can start playing with it.  This includes dynamic script loading, better hosted mode support, along with fantastic reports to help optimize your GWT compile sizes.

Another surreal moment for me at the conference was when Steven Canvin of Lego showed off the WiigoBot, one of my many Lego robots, on stage during the second key note right before Wave came on.  I’m a big fan of lego, so much so that I created the first ever Lego bar chart and presented it during the Sandbox event:

You can find instructions to build your own out on the Pentaho’s Wiki, including having it work with the Pentaho BI Platform!

BarCamp Orlando 2009

This weekend a few of us from Pentaho attended BarCampOrlando 3.  Aaron Phillips gave a great intro to Hudson, demoing how easy it is to install and configure your apps for continuous integration.  Nick Baker gave a talk on project Shandor, Pentaho’s new name for our Java XUL UI Framework.  I gave a live demo of the new Pentaho Report Designer, showing off some of the new features that the guys on the reporting team are working so hard on.

I also got to attend some interesting talks, learning more about Django from Joshua Blount, as well as learning more about Adobe’s raw image support.   I also attended Robert Dempsey’s talk Transparency In Agile, and learned more about his hosted scrum solution Scrumd.

Data Access

Over the next few weeks, part of the engineering team at Pentaho will be working towards making it easier to get access to your data.  The two use cases we’re addressing in the short term include accessing your SQL data, along with uploading a flat file (CSV, Excel) to drive a report or chart from within Pentaho’s user console.  Our general approach for both of these scenarios is to use Pentaho’s Metadata layer to abstract the querying of data sources.  This allows us to use a common interface and common widgets in our client apps.  To do this, we’ll be extending Pentaho Metadata to include new physical model implementations.  The team has started to prototype some of these capabilities.  We’ve added a web services layer to Pentaho Metadata, and also have started work on the physical models as well as our common widgets, which use our Java / GWT XUL UI framework.

We’re also spending a lot of time thinking about the long term direction of our metadata layer.  I’ve created a community project page for the Metadata project, with links to documentation, binaries and source to make it easier to get involved in the project. Doug will be hosting a live community webex in the next couple of weeks to have a general conversation about where we should take the metadata layer.  We want to make it as easy as possible for folks to start using Pentaho, and we’re going to make that possible through our rich and easy to use metadata layer.

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