Vanilla 5 – New Features 1 – Vanilla Kpi

Dear Readers,

Let’s start exploring Vanilla 5 with a new feature which is not really a new feature as it’s more a reborn of a module : Vanilla Kpi.

Our module FreeMetrics, first available in 2008 and deployed since that time, has been rewritted to give birth to Vanilla Kpi (amazing I found on my blog some post from 2008 on FreeMetrics), a comprehensive module to design, manage and deploy Kpi at enterprise level.

Concept is still the same : managing KPI, using dictionary, axis, measures and objectives (sorry for some other Bi platform, that don’t even have a Kpi repository & dictionary … how can you claim to have Kpi module ?). Using our experience of Kpi projects (since 2008 with FreeMetrics !), we rewrote Vanilla Kpi to match with the latest concepts of Kpi platforms, together with supporting Vanilla key features : dimension, secure metadata, integration with dashboard, reporting and cubes, OSM maps integration.

From our WebSite, you can find some information on Vanilla Kpi. You will be surprised to see that Kpi application, which takes hundred of days to develop and deploy with “non Kpi BI platforms” can take only 20 to 30 days to be in production, using Vanilla Kpi. Productivity and integration are the key words : you need to get your application up & running in a couple of months, not years !

Vanilla Kpi

Vanilla Kpi

If you need to build your own reports and dashboards on your kpi data, Vanilla Kpi database structure is available through either an open API, or directly using our Vanilla Dashboard, Report or Cube packages … integration of secured data and development studios lead to more productivity : you can deploy a complex dashboard that will support custom security for hundred of groups in a few days.

Vanilla Kpi empowers your datawarehouse architecture, by setting direct connection with your datamarts, taking advantage of the existing star schema with their dimension, level and measures capacities. Best of the bread : you can manage your dimensions & measures directly from our Vanilla for Excel Add-Ins … just as simple as using Excel !

Vanilla for Excel, KPI Add-ins

Vanilla for Excel, KPI Add-ins

Have Fun !


Vanilla v4 (Post 3 on 10) – WebKpi Module

Dear Readers,

With version 4, we provide an update of our Kpi module, that leverage new features of Vanilla such as Maps support. The FreeMetrics Kpi module has been deploy as a Vanilla module since the early beginning, in 2006 (at that time, Vanilla was not yet a platform) and has been widely deployed in large projects, such as “observatories projects” that deal with collection of data & report on various indicators.

FreeMetrics Kpi module is a dual Java (Admin/Designer / Loader / User) and Web (Loader / User) module. This post just focus on the 2 Web modules : FmLoader, used to enter data & comment, and FmUser, used to display data into various representation, such as graph & Maps localisation. Those modules have been updated to reflect look&feel evolution, as well as taking advantage of the Maps support.

Kpi Web Loader – data entry

Using the Web interface, user with according rights can manage value for Kpi, for Kpi period

Kpi Web Loader – data evolution & comment

While managing Kpi values, User can see Kpi evolution and add comments

Kpi Web User – List of Kpi for selection of Kpi

In the User module, we provide a multi-criteria filter to select a list of Kpi

Kpi Web User – Graph for a Kpi

For each Kpi of the list, user can access a gauge / graph wisualisation, for the selected period & date

Kpi Web User – Kpi on Maps

For each Kpi of the list, user can access a map visualisation, for the selected period & date

Have Fun !


Strategic Maps for FreeMetrics

Dear Readers,

Thanks to Alain, we are pleased to announce that using FreeMetrics, our Balanced & Business Score Card platform, developpers can now design & deploy strategic maps at enterprise level. Strategic Maps are related to Kaplan’s maps, which allow different key performance indicators to be grouped in different manner, for different analysis objectives.

For FreeMetrics, Strategic maps are the visual representation of our ‘Themes’ grouping strategy

Sample Strategic Map with Geo datas

Geo Data

Sample Strategic Map in Design Mode

FreeMetrics - Strategic Maps

Have Fun !


FreeMetrics joined our GWT set of platforms

Dear Readers,

After FreeAnalysis and FreeDashBoard, we finally closed the migration of FreeMetrics Web using GWT Framework. Previous version of FreeMetrics Web was based on Struts-Shale (summer 06). This ‘Shale’ version was nice (let’s say : Struts is very powefull), but we have decided to standardize all our Web platform on GWT.

In FreeMetrics Web, we have also embeded a chronoscope chart engine (so powerfull to display time values) and some other graphs technology (dynamic SVG to display relation between metrics, Gauge to display metric’s value)

Global interface

FreeMetrics Web GWT interface
Dynamic menu

FreeMetrics Web GWT tabulation interface

Chronoscope chart

FreeMetrics Web GWT Chronoscope
Gauge for metric’s value

FreeMetrics Web GWT tabulation Gauge

We hope you will enjoy this Web package

Have Fun !


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 !


Next Level : FreeDashboard Embeded into LifeRay

Dear Readers,

We did it ! We have embeded a FreeDashboard document (both static and dynamic) into Liferay ! And its running well.

We are now in position to offer a Dashboard service that put together Pentaho xaction (basically reports and charts), FreeMetrics Alerts, FreeMetrics KPIs, FreeAnalysis Olap reports and any kind of label / picture / text into a consistent FreeDashboard document, with dynamic filter on top of it. This document can then be managed using Liferay document management services (PDF management, workflow of publication …)

All in one, you can now take benefit of the top features of each platform and provide any kind of layout to publish your results, then design high quality content to be published against your Liferay portail. Just think of this : for those of you who know Liferay ease of use and powerfull features, having a BI system embeded into Liferay, especially a Dashboard Management System, is the best things that could have happen to both world : BI and portails.

FreeDashboard document embeded into Liferay

Stay connected, this is just the beginning …

Have Fun !


Some News of FreeMetrics

Dear Readers,

It’s been a while since I didn’t gave you some news of the FreeMetrics platform ! Well, we didn’t advertise this platform a lot, as Balanced & Business ScoreCarding is not a common request when addressing BI Subjects, but it remains a “must to have”, and sometimes a mandatory piece of software when addressing migration projects, especially projects that manage KPI or any Alert system. But this is true : we have focused our resources on FreeAnalysis and FreeDashboard, with significant success over the last past weeks.

FreeMetrics continue to gain recognition from the community and customers, and we have added many new features in the platform, including a new “loader” package, dimensional-aware KPI, many new properties for each objects to allow statistical classifications, and better integration with our FreeMetadataServices platform (which manage dimension, measures, data suppliers and data consumer, dataprovider and metadata definition outside of specific platform).

In parallel, we have also started to rewrite the Web user interface using GWT Toolkit, with also some interesting success in terms of development cycle, stability, performance and Look & Feel forthe interface (see bellow).

FreeMetrics Web GWT interface

We are now targetting FreeMetrics 1.1 platform to be available by the end of january. This is also a challenge for us, and this 1.1 release will be an important step before the integration of the platform on top of our new repository component (I’ll write later on this subject)

Have Fun !


Good News : We are late !

Dear Readers,

We originally forecasted to delivere new versions of our Platforms FreeAnalysis and FreeDashboard by the end of november 2007. Well … we are late … again ! But this comes along with good news :

– FreeAnalysis (especially Designer and Java client) have so many new features (we cover now 100% of Mondrian’s properties), and our new API (coming soon after the 1.0 GA release) has already entered a test period, coming along with some key features such as Palo connectivity support (see screenshot), more stable and flexible code (complete rewrite of the API). Key subject is the Web interface … but we are pretty confident on this subject, everyone will be surprised ! Today, we issued a Release Candidate 4, and we forecast to go in GA by mid-december. I’d like to thank all the early testers (RC1, RC2 and RC3) : your tests were sol helpfull, everyone can imagine the workload we have covered all together … and this is just the beginning.

Palo connectivity

– FreeDashBoard … well : I can develop my own Dashboard and publish it on a Pentaho server ! This is a success. Most of the funny behaviours of the interface have gone, package is stable and usable. But the package itself – FreeDashBoard Designer – needs more documentation, especially on the “building your own bi component” part. We are working on this subject … always expecting to have it available this week … Milestone 1 is just in front of us (ok, with 2 weeks of delay …). Roadmap for new version is also nearly completed – we have large ambitions on this roadmap, always to answer to customer’s requests.

Bellow 2 simples screen shot from our Designer, and the result on a Pentaho server :

DashBoard DesignerDashboard on a Pentaho Server

Our development team is working hard to close ‘nearly on time’ those releases, we are running test drive, writting documentation, packaging, fixing bugs, … this is an exciting period, with some pressure upon our shoulders … we hope you will enjoy playing with our software !

Have Fun !


2 BI Platforms available

It appears that over the last 5 weeks, we’ve done so many things around our platforms FreeAnalysis and FreeMetrics that I just forget to post on my blog !

This concerns both – our development & organisation, but also our deployment strategy. For deployment, we have left the Sourceforge server, for reasons that I shall explain in a later blog. This lead us to have a specific FTP server were we have stored the FreeAnalysis platform, and arrange some “funny and time consuming” mail system to provide access to this server. This situation will change soon, as we will move to another more professional Forge, always in Open Source.

On development & organisation, it was time now for us to go for Release Candidate. And we succeed, nearly in time. But 2 weeks of delay is nothing compare to what we did, and what we provide now. Thanks to Alain, Emmanuel, Ludovic, Ronan and Emilien for their job : they made FreeAnalysis and FreeMetrics a reality. There is no return back ! Over the last 4 weeks, we have seen 4 important companies testing and taking FreeAnalysis & FreeMetrics for their Olap and Balanced ScoreCard projects. As always : when a business project meets a technical teams, some new kind of software can be turn into real usefull products. And if a product is usefull, success will be their !

2 platforms instead of 1 ! Is this time for us for sharing beers and have extra funny time ? No … we just entered into a new challenging project that can definitly change the way OpenSource BI is seen by commercial organisation. Just let me 2 or 3 weeks, and I’m certain some of our developers will provide the comunity with new magic pieces of software …

Have Fun,