Monday, April 20, 2009

The Continuation of the Unmatched Power and Flexibility of Pentaho

Continuing my blog post in regards to the Unmatched Power and Flexibility of the Pentaho BI Suite, I wanted to share another powerful component that I have been working on. I know you might be thinking this is a shameful attempt of Pentaho publicity, but sincerely it isn't. I am truly passionate about my job and I love to share what is possible so others can benefit from it. The Pentaho BI Suite allows a level of flexibility and customization that surpasses many BI frameworks simply because of its Action Sequence architecture. The Pentaho BI Platform architecture allows easy integration with many 3rd party components and frameworks. It allows you to step outside of the box while still utilizing open standards and common skill sets, something that may be hard to achieve with proprietary BI software.

Please note that this is one possible way of how something can be represented.

There are a few ways you can visualize change of data over time, but most commonly used for this is the Line Graph. A Line Graph can be described as a visual representation of connecting data points or sets of data points that have been collected over a period of time. The most useful benefits to a Line Graph are recognizing trends over time as well as observing the rate of change (slope) more clearly. Whether you are plotting sales figures or unique page views, what a Line Graph can tell you depends on the individual reading it. However, when wanting to view this data over long periods of time there are some creative ways that it can be represented.

I have chosen to represent large amounts of data over time by integrating the LGPL 2.1 Chronoscope Timepedia widget into the Pentaho BI Platform. I created a reusable, customizable component that can be easily added to Pentaho Dashboards by non-technical users. This dynamic widget can visually represent metrics over large periods of time in an interactive, browser only, Time Series Line Graph.

The idea was introduced to me by a colleague, Zachary Zeus from Sydney Australia. Originally it was structured as a JSP page which would execute a Pentaho Action Sequence and generate a JSON data string to feed the Timepedia Chronoscope Widget. This was a great idea, but I needed to enhance the capability to make it easy to use, include and modify.

Utilizing the flexible nature of the Pentaho architecture, I was able to reconstruct the example to be completely self contained in the Pentaho Solution Repository. This eliminated the need to setup a separate web application path, JSPs and any external web references needed by the component. It can be easily executed from the Pentaho User Console and added as a component to the Pentaho Dashboard Designer with full parametrization. With the added parametrization capability in the Pentaho Dashboard Designer, all filters and metric variables can be exposed so a non-technical user can customize the component to meet their need.

Because this component is utilizing the Pentaho architecture, my data can be retrieved from almost any data source. I could use a SQL query, RDBMS stored procedure, Pentaho Metadata Query, Mondrian Analysis MDX statement, XQuery, or even a call to Pentaho Data Integration (ETL) with no changes to my underlying application.

Here is a short list of the Value and Benefits to this component -
  • LGPL 2.1
  • No software licensing fees (had to get that in there)
  • Can be added to a Pentaho Dashboard
  • Can be executed from the Pentaho Solution Browser
  • Completely Pentaho Solution Repository based
  • Reusable
  • Easily customizable
  • Provides Parametrization for changing metrics, date range filters, vertical and horizontal ranges

For information about the TimePedia Chronoscope Widget itself see the links below:

Please note that I am working with Pentaho Product Management to get all the samples I create included in to the Pentaho BI Platform. If you are interested in becoming a Pentaho Subscription customer, or just want to know about what is possible with Pentaho, please feel free to contact me.

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