Pentaho: Open Source Business Intelligence

Reporting is the worst job in the world. Typically your expected to create reports (which by the way is "software")
- without any real requirements (napkins and voicemail don't count as requirements)
- with unrealistic timeframes
- with crummy tools

I've actualy had someone tell me that they "needed some reports". When I asked them what they wanted they said "I don't know". But that's a story for another day.

Sometime ago I stumbled upon Nicholas Goodman's Blog entry "Reporting in 60 seconds with Oracle XE".

Intrigued since I can't stand Crystal Reports and Actuate, I've been meaning to give this tool a test drive since Nicolas posted that entry. Well, since this week is a holiday week here in the USA and there are lots of folks out on vacation (and not bugging me), I decided to give it a try.

Some comments:
1) It took me a few trys, but I finally figured out which version of the reporting server software to install (I got working).
2) Installation woes: There was a process named alg.exe which was using port 1099 which was making the App server software unhappy during the install (it's not Tomcat, but some other free J2EE container). I followed this link and determined that it was OK to shut down alg.exe by shutting down the service.
3) The software runs in Windows as an open dos/command window. I need to figure out how to get it to run as a service so I don't have to have open dos/command windows running in my taskbar.
4) The demo comes with Hypersonic SQL database. Pretty interesting.

I followed the instructions in one of the pdf's to create my "first" report. It basically had me editing XML files which is always prone to error. Once I got that squared away I was wondering what happened to Nicolas' 60 seconds thing (time in my world seems to go much slower then Nicolas'). I then realized I had to install the report designer software which was easy enough.

Once the report designer software was installed, I confided another one of his links and figured out how to connect Pentaho to Oracle. Once all this plumbing was working, I was able to follow Nicolas' notes and yes, I create and preview my first report.

Unfortunatly, when I click on the "Create report..." icon (which is apparently needed to publish the report and not just preview it) I get a message
"Could not fetch the data or export report. Please verify your dataset definition.".

I posted this issue in their online forum at this link, let's see what happens.

So far it's really not much different then Crystal or Actuate. I've had to do lots of digging to try to get it to work, it's partially working, and I'm hoping to get it working soon. One major difference I suppose is that since it's open source, I can't pick up the phone and ask someone why I'm getting this error.

I'm excited to try out the data-mining and ETL functionality. I'm also excited to see how intuitive it is to our data analyst here on staff (I'll wait until I get the plumbing worked out though).

More details to follow: Until next time...Rich


vidya said…
Hi Rich,
Co-incidence, I almost went through all the steps and was struck at the same place where you had to stop.Hopefully we get the issue solved soon.
Keep posting.

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