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.

Google’s Caffeinated Cloud

Google just announced Java support for their App Engine, the first 10,000 developers can register now for the alpha release.  App Engine has been live for a year, and already has 150,000+ registered developers working in Python.  I wonder how many more developers will flock over to write caffeinated cloud code.  Once I get in, I hope to see what will be necessary to get the suite of Pentaho software running.  Stay tuned…

Pentaho Reporting for Java Developers

Over the past few months, I’ve been working in my spare time on Pentaho Reporting for Java Developers.  Working on the book has been a lot of fun, I’ve learned a  great deal about Pentaho Reporting in the process, and I’ve enjoyed working with Thomas and the Report Designer sprint team here in Orlando.  Right now I’m wrapping up the final chapter, and will be doing a lot of work updating earlier chapters based on the great work that the team has done with the Report Designer.

Over on Packt’s website, there is a much more detailed description of the book.  Check it out, and order your copy today!


I’ve just checked in Nick Goodman’s OpenFlashChartComponent into the bi-platform code base.  I’ve worked with Nick and Tom over the past week, adding support for many of the standard pentaho chart types.  Here is a list of supported charts:

BarChart - Horiztonal, Sketch, 3D, Glass, Stacked

You can grab the source, or wait until our next release is out, which should be real soon.  Here’s our standard bar chart example rendered in flash:

We used OFC4J, and DZ’s patched Open Flash Chart 2. We’re now working on adding documentation and examples. Enjoy!

SQLstream 2.0 is out…

As Julian and Nick have already pointed out, SQLstream 2.0 was released earlier this week.  Kudos go out to the team at SQLstream.  It’s exciting to see the progress companies can make using open source as a foundation for their development!  SQLstream’s approach to extending something we all know very well, SQL, should make real time business intelligence a real possibility.

Community Dashboard Framework Components

I had fun over the holidays working with Pedro Alves on the Community Dashboard Framework. I wrote some code in the Dashboards.js javascript file to allow new widgets to be plugged in to the framework. If you’d like to implement your own widget, all you need to do is extend the BaseComponent javascript class, and add a simple update() method which sets the html for the component as such:
var MyComponent = BaseComponent.extend({
update : function() {
$('#'+this.htmlObject).html("This is my component!");
See the CoreComponents.js file for many examples of existing components. Right now the code is available under the 3.0-RC1-Lisbon branch over at CDF’s google code project and works with the 2.0 BI Server. Thanks go to Pedro for making sure I didn’t break anything with this new functionality!

Aggregate Table Naming in Aggregation Designer

This week, Nick Goodman and I worked together on Aggregation Designer’s approach to naming aggregate tables and their columns.    The team’s initial approach to table naming was to use Mondrian’s AggName convention, where you must explicitly define aggregate tables in Mondrian’s schema.  Our decision was made to guarantee that the tables would be recognized.

After working with Agg Designer in the wild, Nick created PAD-22, a feature request asking for a change in naming aggregate tables to match Mondrian’s default recognition rules.

When developing Agg Designer originally, we used Spring, which makes this type of change very easy to implement and configure.  To implement this change, we first started off by implementing an AggregateNamingService thatnames the tables to match Mondrian’s default pattern, agg_.+_${fact_table_name}.  We then implemented an OutputFactory which generates the appropriate names for the Aggregate Table columns.  These classes are now checked in to the core and ui projects, named RuleBasedAggregateTableOutputFactory and RuleBasedAggregateNamingServiceImpl.  To configure Agg Designer to use these classes, simply modify the Spring applicationContext.xml and the plugin.xml files.

I’ve provided compiled versions of these classes and instructions in the feature request, until we release a new version of Pentaho Aggregation Designer.  Thanks Nick for the help, hopefully this will make it easier to use the Aggregation Designer to increase Mondrian performance!

Sarasota Java User Group Presentation

This week, I’ll be giving a talk on Business Intelligence using Pentaho at Sarasota’s Java User Group.  I’m excited to show off some of our new open source projects, including the new Pentaho User Console and the Aggregation Designer.  I’ll also be giving demos of all of Pentaho’s pillars and how they work together to form Pentaho’s BI Suite.  If you are in Sarasota Wednesday night, stop by!  For directions and more details, visit the following link:

« Previous PageNext Page »