Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pentaho: Unmatched Power and Flexibility

With each passing day I am continually amazed at the power and flexibility of the Pentaho BI Suite and its architecture. With the Pentaho Dashboard Designer, found in the new Pentaho Enterprise Edition 3.0, I was able to add the capability for even the non-technical business user to utilize "dynamic" Google mapping mash-ups. "Dynamic" meaning that the map displayed and its points, are based off of what the user selects from the input screen. These dynamic Google Map objects can be created as parameterized templates for the business users to add, layout and interact with - in their own Pentaho Dashboards.

Google Maps has a powerful Geocoding service that Pentaho can seamlessly pass data to without any coding. I have always stated that one of the differentiators in our stack is the ability to easily integrate results from Pentaho Data Integration in to Pentaho Reporting, Analysis and Dashboards. This holds true even when using Google Maps. With Pentaho Data Integration and its HTTP transformation entry, I am able to pass user input such as address, city and state to the Google Maps Geocoder web service and return the appropriate coordinates to be mapped. This PDI transformation can be called from one of Pentaho's work-flow objects and pass back the results to another component without any coding. Now I am sure there maybe a number of ways that this can be achieved with other methods, but the differentiator here is that there wasn't any hard-coded complex coding involved. Due to the fact that our BI Platform is nicely integrated with Pentaho Data Integration, the approach is reusable for and callable from other applications and objects with little to no modifications per application. Using open standards is a key when creating any type of application. Another differentiator in the Pentaho architecture. I believe the founders of the Pentaho BI Platform and those of Data Integration (formerly Kettle) have much to be proud of when their decision to merge the two together came forth.

From just "one" parameterized Pentaho Action Sequence (a core Pentaho work-flow object) I am able to get the user's input, get the required data to be mapped (from almost any data source), send a call to the Geocoder service via PDI, and display the appropriate Google Maps center area along with the associated plotted data points. With Pentaho's service based architecture, I am able to easily change my data source and/or query on the fly without having to change any other layers in my application, which is a must when quickly deploying BI applications to the masses.

See the brief demonstration YouTube video here on the Pentaho YouTube channel that I created. YouTube's normal resolution can be a bit hard to see, so make sure to view the video in HD mode and select full screen to see the example fully. Just another example of many showing unmatched power and flexibility.

To learn more about Pentaho and see an "Introduction to the Pentaho Enterprise Edition" come see our new 5 minute introductory video on our home page at

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