Customer focus

Dear Readers,

We’ve dedicated those past days on answering to an important Request for Proposal, and this is one of the reason why we did not published any news about our platforms. In fact, we had to test whether or not our functions suits to the customer’s requests, and arrange some minor modifications to be as compliant as possible with their detailed questions. Result is OK : we have so many functions in our software that we had standard answer to nearly all their questions.

This was an important and interesting exercice to see how our integration & development teams have worked together and invested time to test, write document and correct FreeMetrics and FreeDashBoard platforms. This lead us to consistent versions of Platforms, with more documentation, more internal knowledge, and put the focus on customer’s needs.

This bring us back to our objectives : supplying software that answer to customer’s requests … and this is something development team may have forgot other the last past weeks (they were focused to delivere powerfull Designer for developers). In terms of “team building”, this was an important step for us, and we passed it successfully. Now, this is time for us to think how to bundle our Platforms … but this is another subject …

Have Fun,

Patrick

Software Innovation

Dear Readers,

I have read a post on http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080105140107.htm
that tells us pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development !

This article reminds me about the Goldman & Sachs study on marketing investment Cognos, BO and Hyperion have done from 2000 until 2005 compares to their R&D investments. During this 6 years period, leading BI software companies spent all the money they get from licences in marketing and commercial events. In the BI market, this lack in innovation lead to a fast merging mechanism : when there are no innovation anymore, the only way to gain market share is to buy competitors. And when the market has chosen its “top 3” winners, those companies are bought by largest organisations.

All in one : when there is no innovation anymore, it opens the door for candidate to copy the products. In the pharmaceutical market, this is called generic companies, and they have grown a lot other the last past years. In this industry, we can see that generic companies are now buying other generic companies to increase their market share, but also to get new distribution channels.
What about the Open Source BI market ? Well, we can see that some companies are quickly moving from “functional copy” to innovation, by putting together the best of bread products available on the market and adding values to their platform. Other companies have chosen another way : raising funds in order to get a stronger position on the market, which may lead those companies to buy others or to be bought by established companies.

Don’t forget : by giving your source code, the only way to keep your position is to make regular innovations to your software and to answer to features requests.

Have Fun !
Patrick

Developer Adoption & Community

Dear Readers,

Saving times and providing wizards are key subjects that makes the life of developer better. We had numerous nice feedbacks with FreeAnalysis Schema Designer and FreeDashBoard Designer : those packages are user friendly and provide many features to help developers in their daily job. And we are happy with those feedbacks from the community, that encourage us to go further and faster.

At the beginning, most of those developers were using Pentaho platform, and had heavy requierement for better design tools. Finally, they came to us to get our Design Studios that generate 100% Pentaho compliant documents. But as time goes by, we can see more and more developers not using Pentaho platform, and having important self-running Olap or DashBoard projects.

Some decision-maker always tell that Open Source package are too technical, not enough user friendly (for both users and developers). We have addressed this subject and supply the right answer to those people : our package get strong recognition and rapid adoption from the developer community.

Today, we released FreeDashboard Designer 0.36, which contains a new wizard to generate FusionChart graph. This kind of component will get the immediate adoption from users, then validate the job of the DashBoard developer. We want to go further, and we will also embed Chronoscope chart engine in an upcoming release.
Next version of FreeAnalysis Schema Designer will ease the process of aggregate tables. I’m certain – with our new wizard – nobody will suffer anymore when addressing the aggregate subject. Idea behind is to facilitate the adoption of Olap technology at Enterprise level.

If you have any idea or feature request in the Olap or DashBoard areas, don’t hesitate to tell it to me, and I can promise that we will evaluate it !

Have Fun,

Patrick

FreeDashBoard, new Features and new supported Components

Dear Readers,

We are just about to release version 1.00 RC2 of the FreeDashBoard platform, and there are so much to tell on this subject. First of all, I would like to thank the numerous developers who send us their so-good feedback on the package.

In fact, a Dashboard (JSP technology) without any open xml storage was hard to build and difficult to maintain. With FreeDashBoard, you can develop a Dashboard in an couple of hours, instead of many days before … and I am the real tester, as I don’t have any JSP knowledge and I’m abble to build my own DashBoards using FreeDashBoard Designer …

New version of FreeDashBoard contains key features :

  • Native support for new component : JasperReport, Birt Report and FusionChart (FusionChart representation are really a must when dealing with DashBoards)
  • New features such as duplication of BI Documents, export of dictionary, PDF and XML documentation, I18N compliance (French and English version available)
  • Multi folders DashBoard management that generate complex Web DashBoard …this is a so efficient function that generate a subset of JSP pages
  • New publish option to flip row/column layout (could be easy if you have to switch your layout)

Sample 1 : from the development studio – multi chart engines support (JFreeChart and Fusion Chart)

FreeDasboard Development Studio

Sample 2 : Web Dashboard result

FreeDasboard Web Result

Sample 3 : Multi Folders DashBoard

FreeDashBoard - Multi Tabulation

Have Fun,

Patrick

New FreeAnalysis Web – Preview based on GWT

Dear Readers,

Good technologies have to rely on strong technologies. And there are some new releases of software that automatically turn the previous version into a “so old version”. This is exactly what happened to me today when I received first screen shots of FreeAnalysis Web, GWT version (see bellow). 2 months ago, we took some risks, by stopping the heavy and costly development of FreeAnalysisWeb, Dojo version, to start a new development based on GWT.

Development using Dojo framework was hard to maintain, and it requiered java and javascript knowledge. Thanks to GWT, this is now “the past”.

There are so many new things in this preview of FreeAnalysis : it’s based on the FreeOlap API (thanks to Emmanuel), it is I18N compliant, we have used our experience from the first “dojo” web interface to enhanced the usability … and the result is there : when I received this screen shot (thanks to Gaël), I simply asked : “is this java or Web interface” …

First public release is forecast in 2 or 3 weeks, with the 1.1 release of the full platform … stay connected !

New login interface

FreeAnalysis Login
new User interface

FreeAnalysis User Web Interface

Have Fun !

Patrick

FreeMetrics – Geolocalisation Feature

Dear Readers,

I have always been impressed by presentation such as Pentaho / GoogleMap integration, not from a technical side, but from a user perspective : this is usefull for any user to see results on a map.

First time I’ve seen this kind of representation, it was a Cognos KPI Web interface (an historical version, before cognos moved to Metrics Manager) where it was possible to highlight some points on a map using color (green, orange, yellow or red) based on the metrics value. It was 7 years ago, an ‘IT century ago’. Cognos KPI had a nice repository to manage various metrics and theirs properties. But it was so difficult to move from the demo : no SVG editor to assign metrics on a map, no real standard to send data to any map engine …

Coming back in 2007, Pentaho introduced an Ajax framework to provide smoother methods to draw ‘map interface’. But Pentaho do not provide any smooth mechanism or database to manage metrics. All the “metrics like” displayed on a map are coming from any SQL statment or xaction dataflow. This is powerfull for a single map presentation, but difficult to maintain at the enterprise level.

Finally, the FreeMetrics project is now merging the best of both world : using our proven Open Source database structure that manage metrics and their properties, we added some key components

– FreeMetrics is now “dimension aware”, meaning you can define dimensions and members in a specific repository

– FreeMetrics provide a “dimension wizard” to generate metrics based on the cartesian product between dimension members and external metrics definition. Really helpfull to manage “dimensional metrics”

– Each object : Metrics and Dimension Members can be geolocalised meaning we can link each object to an address table that contain geolocalisation informations

– Finally, we have delivered a “map” object (currently a GoogleMap interface) to display any metrics values for a set of dimension’s members, or all the metrics for a specific dimension member.

With this new objects, it becomes easy to link data and map, for any kind of representation or subject, and not only for metrics management. All is not perfect, and the package is not yet ready to be published (should be available in a couple of weeks). Alain and Jean-Noël are working on this topic, and I’m certain it will help anyone who want to have an easy to use interface to publish geolocalized data (see image bellow : FreeMetrics/GoogleMap integration)

FreeMetrics Google Map integration

Have Fun !

Patrick

SpagoBI choose FreeAnalysis as its Olap Platform

Dear Readers,

SpagoBI project has decided to embed FreeAnalysis in their next release of the Open Source BI Platform. This is an important recognition for all the work we have done other the past 2 years to ease the development and deploiment of Olap cubes. Thanks to Grazia Cazzin, SpagoBI project manager, the cooperation between the 2 dev’s team will soon provide this nice result. Thansk also to allthe Freeanalysis Dev’s Team, and especially Emmanuel, Ludovic and Gaël.

Well, we have waited a long time for Pentaho to take the same decision, but it seems SpagoBI want to invest more and faster on the Olap area. Strange configuration where Pentaho developers are still using Cube Designer / JPivot to design and deploy their olap views. Confusing situation also.

Along with this announcement, we have released FreeAnalysis Schema Designer 0.62 that contains a new Wizard to create and generate aggregate tables to improve the manipulation of Mondrian cubes. What else ? … more to come, but you will have to come back later …

Have Fun !

Patrick