Vanilla v4.2 – 13/16 – Continuous Integration

Dear Readers,

When it comes to Platform integration, there are differents approachs and results to achieve :

  • How the different components of the platform are connected or communicate between each other
  • How the Platform can be easilly integrated in an existing architecture :
  1. Vanilla component can be used as a service by the other
  2. Vanilla can integrate with standard resources, like Single Signon mechanism, Web Portal Integration, Scheduling or Workflow integration …
  • How the Platform can leverage existing services (externam engines) to make usage of it (as an exemple : Solr/Lucene integration with Vanilla)

Let’s focus on the first question : how components are making a global platform alltogether, a coherent and full feature Bi platform. Honest, I feel proud of what our dev team has done with Vanilla. Since early version, our Metadata has been the central piece for all that deal with secured business dataset manipulation, and we never stopped to think about what component can be integrated with any other component.

Integration is everywhere with Vanilla – from inside the development studio to the user interface but also with the different engines that manage the documents. Just let me give you some simple exemples, some are already available since Vanilla 3.0 or Vanilla 4.0, and we make it even more easy to use

  • (v4.2) Mdm/Etl integration for Developer : Any Mdm document is a datasource for Vanilla BiGateWay Etl. This makes the integration of external files much more easy to manage, and keep the database consistent. At user side, document registered in the Mdm (any new version of an existing document) can be upload from Vanilla Portal by authorized User … giving user the possibility to upload a file, and run the associated Etl from the portal … and we can even think they will run the report that display the uploaded data …
  • (V4.0) FaWeb/WebDashboard integration for User : when exploring a cube, its so easy with Vanilla FaWeb to save report snapshot of grids … then to turn all those olap grid into a single Dashboard with an associated filter page (when cube report have prompts). Just try it, you will find it so easy to manipulate, and so powerfull for later reuse or wide publication
  • (V3.0) Reporting/ Document Management & Document Indexation : when it comes to run a report, and decide to save it to Vanilla Document management repository (either user action through portal or inside a Workflow), just enjoy the automatic indexation of reports to find report using content search on keywords

There are so many other technical or functional cases inside Vanilla to show out of the box integration … just try it, you will be delighted ! I will focus in another post on the Kpi/Olap/Maps integration, it is worth a post in itself … stay connected !

Have Fun,

Patrick

Vanilla v4.2 – 12/16 – Vanilla Mobile Report Designer

Dear Readers,

With Vanilla 4, we released Apps for Ios and Android (tablet and Smaprtphone), which stand as an application to connect to Vanilla portail (Apps version, not Web version) and run a document (Report, Cube, Dashboard or Etl/Workflow). I personally use almost every day the Android Apps on my Htc smartphone (Android 2.4) … then on my S3 (Android 4). It’s running pretty well, and do what it’s expected to do : provide access to report in convenient way. For cube, it was already more than a simple browser : you can manipulate the dimensions and the measures, and navigate in your cube … you can even run maps …

First version of Vanilla for Android with Vanilla 4

Android_Vanilla_Birt_Flash

With the emergence of new Ios and Android version, we had more functions to move from a simple reader to a Report Designer, using the lastest technics and design conventions to facilitate acceptance from any users. The first version is available for Android 4, and it’s design to be used with Tablet rather (I mean, on a smartphone, screen is little to small)

Vanilla Mobile Report Designer is close from FreeWebReport (Wysiwyg) in terms or design and workspace layout : we are using a simple palette of widgets, providing access to Metadata as datasource and data resources (like filters and prompts), and user can either save their report on local or export/import their report on Vanilla repository, to run it later from our Web portal

Vanilla Mobile Report Designer – Palette and workspace

Screenshot_2012-12-27-14-53-43

 Vanilla Mobile Report Designer – Report Design with Metadata Resources

Screenshot_2012-12-27-14-52-48

Vanilla Mobile Report Designer – Report Preview

Screenshot_2012-12-27-14-51-07

Vanilla Mobile Report Designer – Export – Import Process

Screenshot_2012-12-27-14-54-44

In 2 weeks, you can enjoy a preview of Vanilla Mobile Report Designer … and it’s free of charges ! Just rethink how you access and consume your Bi documents, and how much you pay for simple access …

Have Fun !

Patrick

Vanilla v4.2 – 11/16 – Numerous Update of Dev & Admin package

Dear Readers,

While designing version 4.2, we reviewed some interfaces to make it easier to start with. This is particularly visible with our Portal, that get many enhancement and is still more easy to use (we tried to removed as much as possible right-click button to offer fast access icons on workspace), but it’s also valid for designer and admin interfaces.

Let’s have a look at the 3 major admin interface with a simple example for each one :

Enterprise Services

Enterprise Services is the package to manage security, packages deployment, cross references, document properties …. just have a look at the simplified user session manager … very convenient to see who is connected, on which server, running which object … it’s real time information !

Vanilla42BetaPublic_ESSessionManager

BiProcess Manager

BiProcessManager is the package to manage shceduling of task (report, etl, workflow). Just have a look at the simplified interface, where you can watch the task definition, the scheduled tasks, and the tasks that already executed (with status).

Vanilla42BetaPublic_BiProcessManagerSimplifiedInterface

Norparena

Norparena is the package to manage external objects like maps, forms and also documents. Norparena document manager has been simplified, with still same set of functions to manage report indexing, version of document, have a global view on documents, rebuild index …

Vanilla42BetaPublic_NorparenaDocManagement

Keeping interface easy to use is an everyday challenge, while providing more functions and informations. With version 4.2, we did a good balance between functions availability and clean interfaces … and we will review again if needed, to make it easier and easier

Have Fun !

Patrick

Vanilla v4.2 – 10/16 – Vanilla Apps Update

Dear Readers,

Started in december 2009, Vanilla Apps is now 3 years old, and every year in december, we provide new products or packages to the community, like Christmas gifts.

Vanilla_Apps

Vanilla Apps are application that don’t belong to the Core Vanilla platform, but can be installed or plug in addition. Except Hypervision (a Vanilla monitoring package), most Vanilla Apps are package build on a market application, where we provide Metadata, Reports, Dashboard and Cubes.

History baseline of Vanilla Apps will give you an overview of its content :

  • December 2009 : First version of Vanilla Apps, with 6 initials packages
  • December 2010 : First version of Hypervision, our package to setup and monitor a farm of Vanilla Servers
  • December 2011 : Our dev team delivered VanillaPlace, a Java & Web Application available from Enterprise Services to access and deploy Vanilla Apps packages (just go to this post to get details on Vanilla Place)
  • December 2012 : major update for Vanilla Apps, with 20 apps available and a global update in Vanilla 4.2 format

Vanilla Apps packages cover different business area, from e-commerce application to Pos application, through Crm, Held Desk, … This classification below can be discussed, as sometimes, Vanilla Apps package cover only a simple group of tables of a complete application (Vanilla Apps documentation can be found on our company WebSite)

  • CRM : VTiger, SugarCrm, OpenCrx
  • E-Commerce / Billing : Neobill, PrestaShop, Magento
  • Development Management : DotProject
  • Support and inventory : Glpi, RedMine, Mantis, Sit
  • University /High school : Cocktail,
  • Training Management : Moodle
  • HRM : OrangeHrm
  • Network Management : Nagios
  • ERP : OpenBravo, Dolibarr
  • Survey Management : LimeSurvey
  • ECM : Typo3
  • Site Stats : GoogleAnalytics

If you have a Vanilla instance, getting access and deploying Vanilla Apps is fast and easy … don’t hesitate to download and deploy it, and contribute by reversing your own development, like Dashboard and reports. If you have a need for a specific application to be available as a Vanilla Apps, don’t hesitate to drop me a mail, as we have now a dedicate team on Vanilla Apps, to speed up its adoption and provide support & development on it.

Have Fun,

Patrick

Vanilla v4.2 – Beta Version available

Dear Readers,

Just on time !  As today it was supposed to be the end of the world … or the end of a cycle at least ? Anyway, today is the start of a new era for Vanilla, as we make version 4.2 available in Beta in download. I’m little annoy, because I was so busy those past days, and i’m late closing the “New Features” document (should be done on time for January 13th) … but those who read my previous posts know already about 4.2 new features.

Vanilla 4.2 Beta Download Website

All the packages (development, Admin) and Server are available for download.The VirtualBox is also available, with an updated documentation for those who are new with VirtualBox. For any Feedback or Questions, dont hesitate to drop a mail to vanilla42@bpm-conseil.com … our support team will take care of your questions. For any technicals questions, please use our forum

We are 3 weeks before official launch of Vanilla 4.2 … just stay connected, and review your Bi strategy …

Have Fun !

Patrick

Vanilla v4.2 – 9/16 – Web Designers update

Dear Readers,

Vanilla 4.2 provides Web interfaces with new functions that “makes the difference” when decision makers are using Web Interface to manipulate data. Let’s take 2 simple examples in this post, with FreeAnalysis and FreeWebReport

FreeAnalysis

Web interface comes now with a Simulation/Forecast Feature, that allow user to develop “What If” Scenario or view cube data evolution based on time linear forecast.

Another crazy feature of FreeAnalysisWeb is the possibility to drill through to another document, like a Report or another cube, passing the current filter or member value as parameters. To drill between cubes, we are using dimension names association. To drill to reports, user just need to validate the parameter’s values. So simple !

Vanilla42Beta_FaWebDrill

FreeWebReport

More features in FreeWebReport, like crosstab (yes, in Web … just imagine other platform don’t even provide this feature with their report development studio !), Maps support (yes, to add Map in your Web Report and associate a dataset of value on the map !)

Vanilla42Beta_FwReport

This post could have been longer, if I wrote about enhanced FreeDashboardWeb and WebKpi, our Web Dashboard and KPI interfaces … just wait the final documentation, or better : download soon the 4.2 platform and start enjoying our clean Web interfaces

Have Fun,

Patrick

Vanilla v4.2 – 8/16 – Solr/Lucene Integration

Dear Readers,

Sometimes, when you chose some piece of software, you are lucky … or not. When we started our Web development, we took Struts/Shale (2006) … then we moved to Dojo (short experience in beginning 2007) … and in july 2007, we were lucky to turn to GWT. 5 years of GWT experience makes the difference, and result in version 4.2 is there : when I demo Vanilla v4.2, it’s always a pleasure to get customer recognition of our choice, in terms of interface and design.

Same thing happen with Lucene ! In late 2009, when we designed the architecture and components for version 3, we decided to embed an indexation engine. There was different software and Api available, and we chose Lucene. Some already know the story : in september 2010, we released Vanilla version 3 with an embeded Lucene to index our reports and a Search interface “Chrome alike”. Lucene was a lucky choice, because – with the ermegence of Apache Solr/Lucene – we are able to make Vanilla compliant with an existing Solr/Lucene infrastructure. I used to demo this at LuceneRevolution in may 2012 in Boston (finally a platform that makes usage of Solr/Lucene at worldwide level)

ApacheSolr

What is the advantage of Solr/Lucene with Vanilla ? We can empowered an existing infrastructure : supposed your Document Management platform is Solr/Lucene compliant … we can share the same Solr/Lucene server ! Solr/Lucene is the de facto standard for indexation, it’s like a “take it … or leave it, leave the indexation area”. Enterprises have more and more documents, and there is a need for simple document management platforms, powered by Solr/Lucene, that complies with standard JSR. Vanilla Document Management module – powered by Solr/Lucene – is a ready-to-deploy platform to manage Bi services and document management … just review post 5 of this serie for additional information.

Vanilla42SearchInterface

Have Fun !

Patrick

Vanilla v4.2 – 7/16 – FreeDashboard v4

Dear Readers,

FreeDashboard has always been a key component in our list of packages, as we considere the Dashboard as the master piece of software when in comes to agregation of component to build a complex interactive document.

About FreeDashboard timeline, shortly said,

  • Version 1 (2008) was a simple jsp builder where developer had to publish their dashboard to view the result (I remember the internal launch in october 2007 as the last presentation of our cutomer day in Lyon)
  • Version 2 (2009) has something great in addition : you can preview your result before publication (using a Jetty embeded server)
  • Version 3 (2010) added forms management and introduced Performance Dashboard (multi folder rendering).
  • Version 4 is a complete rewrite, available since june 2012 in our labs, that offers a refresh interface with numerous new features such as javascript support, html5 full support, support for new jdbc drivers like jdts 1.3 … and always more widgedts and components

For the layout side, we remove the constraint of grids/cells to offer total flexibility for developer to point and click their component on the workplan, and we simplified the folder management previously called performance dashboard (a dashboard with multi folders). Also, we provide a general filter area where your filters are applied to every folders and the possibility to drill from one folder to another one.

In addition, in terms of user interactivity, only the drilled components are now refreshed on the Web page (before, all the page was refreshed after each selection). For users, it’s a simple but so convenient enhancement when it comes to using smooth interfaces.

Vanilla42rc8_FreeDasboardWeb

For developers, FreeDashboard prodives support for FreeMetadata data source (and now FreeMetadata resources like filters), oda and jdbc datasource (so you can use our oda driver to build Dashboard against nosql database !) and leverage (agregate) numerous Vanilla components such as Report, Cube View, Maps or Kpi.

Building Dashboard using FreeDashboard has never been so easy … just rethink your Dashboard strategy and how much you are paying your current licences …

Have Fun !

Patrick

Vanilla v4.2 – 6/16 – MDM module

Dear Readers,

When it was time for Vanilla 4.2 to provide a package to manage business Metadata & Rules at Enterprise level, shortly called a Mdm platform, we studied what is available on the market, and asked questions like “how is it used”, “what is missing to those package to be used”. In parallel, we had discussion about how past experience in datawarehouse projects and exchanged about what can of piece of spftware we have missed for some projects.

To complete our study, a serious public project from Britain (West of France) lead us to add functions about “data supplier & data contract”, because there is always requests to manage external files from internal or external entities, with version for each files. Those orientations put on the table, we leverage the existing Vanilla modules to escape redundant functions :

  • MDM Module to manage entiry, rules and contract/files as ressources with version control
  • BiGateWay, our ETL, will provide all the transformations based on rules defined in the Mdm (conversion rules, validation rules)
  • Vanilla Document Managment will provide the services for files storage, file version control, file access rights
  • To bundle Rules & Files, we added new input box in BiGateWay to manage files loaded from Mdm interface and stored in our repository : no more external files that are left on hard drive with any management, files that contains important rules for business analysis (let’s think about an Excel file that contain every month the rules to split the basic expense between department, or file bought outside that contain statistical data at nation level)

Classic MDM Interface to define Rules & Entities

Vanilla42rc8_MDM_Rules_Entity

MDM interface to define external files

Vanilla42rc8_Mdm_Suppliers

BiGateWay Etl support for Rules definition and external Files as Datasource

Vanilla42rc8_MDM_FileInput_BiGateWay

Our MDM module is embebed inside Vanilla, and leverage existing components like ETL, Worklfow and document management, making it easy to build Bi & Document Management application that take care of external files

Have Fun,

Patrick

Vanilla v4.2 – 5/16 – Document Management

Dear Readers,

Those who stay connected with our dev team know already about document management features inside Vanilla. It all started with version 3 when we embeded Lucene to provide search feature on saved reports. Now, Vanilla 4.2 leverage the existing document management features available with version 4.0 and version 4.09 and brings new features to better manage documents :

  • Document versioning : available from portal (for uploaded documents (Pdf, Office document, …)) or from Vanilla Viewer (with Any document created with Vanilla Viewer like Reports) : Every document can have different versions, you just have to chose between creating a new version of the document or created a new version. This feature is combined with the Search Engine, and only the latest version of the document will be available through the Search Interface. For uploaded document, this feature is a CheckIn/CheckOut function.
  • Review before publication : Some user can have only upload grant, without beeing able to publish the document (ie : make it available from the portal). Then, a review process can be started that will allow admin person to validate the uploaded document (Task section of the portal). This is a basic workflow process available “out of the box”, with interfaces in Web Portal
  • Peremption Date : Any document has now a peremption date, which make the document not available any more from the portal after the said date.
  • Document autorisation : User can request grant access to any document they can find through the Search Interface but are not allowed to access. Owner of the document will receive the request, and can accept or reject it. We had big debate how this feature : is a user allowed to find documents through search interface if he is not allowed to access those documents ?
  • Indexation management : Using Enterprise Services and Norparena, any document can have its properties set to allow groups to access the document, edit the document (new version) or delete the document from portal. In parallel, an indexation workflow can be developped for

Document Management comes with Search Engine/Interface. As indicated in previous post, we have moved to Solr/Lucene and make our architecture compliant with a cluster of Solr/Lucene servers, opening the door to scalable infrastructure. With Vanilla, before creating a new document, you can first look in your set of existing documents if you find valuable informations. Bi Document repository is no more a black box invisible to users.

Document Management features can be powered by our Workflow module, to create complex rules when it comes to document validation. We encourage admin to review their document management strategy, whether or not their existing platform still meet its objectives, in comparison with daily usage … just simplify your IT architecture if your users have simple requests.

Have Fun !

Patrick