Vanilla 4.4

Dear Readers,

Vanilla 4.4 is now available, on a key date today 26th october (today is also the birthday of 2 members of our team : Lynn and Heidi !)

Vanilla 4.4 provides new features such as :

  • Hadoop & NoSql support (Etl and Bi modules) : Cassandra, Hbase and MongoDb
  • Support for Birt 4.3 Engine and Birt 4.3 Report Designer
  • Support for Java 7 / Tomcat 7
  • New engines for Workflow and Scheduler
  • New smartphone app to design report directly on your Tablets / Support for disconnected mode for Tablets
  • Support of the latest databases like MySql (version 5.6), MariaDb (10), Oracle (version 12), PostgreSql (version 9.3) and Microsoft SqlServer2008 / SqlServer2012(including AnalysisServices2012)
  • More than 100 new features in different studios : FreeAnalysisSchemaDesigner, FreeDashboard, BiGateWay, Biworkflow, Enterprise Services, Architect …

You can access the new features document

Don’t hesitate to download Vanilla 4.4

We work hard to deliver best quality software on time, don’t hesitate to turn to the only true honest open source business intelligence platform that meet user, admin and developer expectation !

Have Fun !

Patrick

Announcing Vanilla 4.2

Dear Readers,

Last friday, I got the rc6 of Vanilla 4.2, and I’m pretty happy with it (it’s the first rc that comes with Birt 4.2 engine at server side !). Since June (initial rc1), we have taken time to make version 4.2 an “out of the box / ready for production” platform. In fact, things have changed a lot with version 4 (already 1 year ago) : we have more than triple our base of customers, and we have been empaneled as Bi platform in important enterprises and government offices.

This said, time has gone for Open Source Bi platform to be released before beeing “production ready”, especially if you compete with commercial Bi platforms, commercial Etl platform or any document management platform. So, we took more time to test & release the platform (apologize again to some partners who are waiting for 2 or 3 months their localized platform, as Vanilla comes now with more than 10 languages) … but we are about to achieve our objectives : an initial public release before end of this year, and the official version in january 2013.

Version 4.2 will come with at least 16 new key subjects (user side, developer side, architecture side). So, you can expect from me a post every 3 or 4 days until the end of this year (wow … what a change after 7 months of silence … gloups !) … starting this week with first post about our new portal interface.

Have Fun !

Patrick

From Business Intelligence to Information Management (part 7) – Wms Support

Dear Readers,

Something that is not to forget, especially those days while some are making a lot of noise about nothing, just to hide their lack of visualisation methods, is the possibility to make data easy to understand by the mass. What is Bi, if your report, dashboard or cubes are not easy to understand ? Just try to separate the legal documents (like reports production), the presentation side (Dashboards, Maps) and the analysis part (like Cubes).

Maps visualisation on Android

Maps visualisation is a must when it comes to display data using a geo dimension. Along with colors, you can easilly design a map that display Kpi (assuming you have a Kpi database and also a Map interface for Maps definition)

Going to Enterprise deployment, on Maps subject, most of our customers have already a Map Server … and communication between any Map Server and any user interface is easy once your interface is Wms compliant. Using Vanilla and our PlugIn (available in Birt and FreeDashboard), it’s very easy to design an interface that will use data from our Kpi database and communicate with a Map Server to get the Map result.

Dont confuse Wms standard (which is a communication protocol) with geolocalisation definition file like Kml (used to define Google Map) … the way you store your Map defintion has nothing to do with how you get the Map itself, and how you display the Map & make it interactive (on this subject, we have an OpenLayer support).

Respect of standard is one of the key subject to speed up adoption – some standard are stable (Sql to exchange with Sql Server …) … some standard may be in danger (Xmla to exchange with Olap Server) … some standard are moving to new version (Html, Css) … but they are still standard, this remain the most important.

Have Fun !

Patrick

From Business Intelligence to Information Management (part 6) – Solr/Lucene integration

Dear Readers,

Information Management is a subject in itself. Dealing with so many different kind of information can turn your day very difficult, so you need methods and tools to manage all the information flow. It’s common to read that most valuable piece of information are no more in reports, but rather in video, in post, in mail … all that information is difficult, nearly impossible, to manage with standard Bi platform, where limitation is sometimes at report level, sometimes at document level.

Vanilla embed Lucene as a search engine, which allow us to run keyword indexation on external documents and on created reports, like Birt reports. This feature – along with a powerfull Web search interface available in Vanilla portal – allow user to unlock their search strategy on document. It’s already a great feature, that can save user with hours when searching for an information in a pregenarted report. As an additional feature we provide the possibility to run an alert on specific keywords (shortly : you receive an alert when a report that contain a specific Sku is created, for example).

In parallel, as some of our customers are starting to evaluate or deploy Apache Solr/Lucene platform, we recently tried to combine the index (Vanilla/Lucene index and Solr/Lucene index), and result, thanks to Marc, is pretty interesting, as Vanilla is able to use an external Solr/Lucene instance as its search engine, making Vanilla compliant with any Solr/Lucene installation.

Based on those results, we can let Solr/Lucene do its job like indexing information everywhere, and we can easilly configure Vanilla to use the enterprise Solr/Lucene platform as its default search engine / index repository. Open Source in action … !!!

Feel free to join us at LuceneRevolution May 9-10, where we will introduce the Vanilla/Solr integration … a new amazing challenge for the Vanilla integration team !

Have Fun !

Patrick

From Business Intelligence to Information Management (part 5)

Dear Readers,

In a previous Post (April 3, 2011), I already wrote about BiWorkflow as a development studio to manage agregate of files (Pdf, Excel), which takes part of a set of specific features that help developer to create global documents and manage it (just imagine you have a bundle of Pdf documents to release, BiWorkflow provides an out-of-box feature to aggregate all those Pdf !)

BiWorkflow is easy to understand, easy to use, and workflow documents are easy to deploy. BiWorkflow studio is not tied to Bigateway (Etl), it stands as a single piece of software for all the Vanilla components (such as Burst Report). There are many situation where developers have to manage exceptions such as “is a specific file available”,  “is server available” or subjects such as getting files from any server,  sending documents using a mail gateway, publishing any document on Vanilla portal or on any external portal (Vanilla compliant) or uploading document on any ftp/http server … BiWorkflow provides all you need to design your workflow document

BiWorkFlow Interface

How can you imagine a Bi platform without a powerfull workflow engine & workflow designer ? BiWorkflow document can be scheduled and manage by our ProcessManager or any external scheduler, making it easy to deploy complex workflow that manage documents … just rethink your way to approach any Business intelligence or Document Management application, and turn to Vanilla, it’s time to go !

Have Fun !

Patrick

From Business Intelligence to Information Management (part 4)

Dear Readers,

The Vanilla platform provides tools to manage various kind of document : any “standard documents” (office, pdf, xml) , media-oriented documents such as image or video and geo documents (such as geo data and various map formats : Flash maps, kml info, wms geo server …).

To manage those different documents, we provide different studio, which can make complex the first approach of Vanilla when dealing with “more than Bi” :

  • BiGateWay (just refer to previous post of this serie), is able to manage kml document to load maps info into our maps repository (tables)
  • BiWorkflow, provide feature to manage external documents in bulk such as loading/uploading all the documents from a network folder, a (s)ftp or any http(s) server … very convenient to build complex operation … an embeded workflow inside a bi platform !!!
  • Norparena package that take care of any other subjects, such as maps definition, address & building design, but also features to manage document indexation (remember : Vanilla embed Lucene as indeaxtion/search engine)
  • FreeMetrics package, that provides interface to geolocalise Kpi … finally any Bi developer can enjoy a studio to push kpi value on any kind of map, using a visual interface !
  • Eclipse PlugIns are available to make Maps & Kpi available in any Birt reports (flash or html maps) … no need to turn to any commercial package to enjoy maps integration inside your reports !

Maps Visualisation of a set of member measure, from an Olap View

Valuable Information not only stands in reports or database anymore. Blog, Mail, Video, external docs and maps contain rich information that are not yet leverage enough. But managing Information is not only pushing a search engine, intelligent maps, ocr recognition or any data mining process, it’s a global approach that should complies with company objectives. As a platform editor, we have to offer the largest set of integrated tools to help developer to achieve their project.

All those subjects – maps, video, indexation, geo-kpi – go beyond the simple “bi” features. In the next post of the serie, I will explain all thoses features, and how we use it to build complex data visualisation interface, using Vanilla portal, FreeDashboard, Birt, FreeWebReport & FreeAnalysis to display the documents and the data,

Have Fun !

Patrick

Another note about BiGateWay

Dear Readers,

I received questions about how to use an Olap Structure as a Data Source in a BiGateWay transformation. So this Video, to provide more than simple screenshot this time. In this video, you can see how to define the Data Source (Olap), how to create a simple transformation that take some Olap member item and load them into a new Sql table (its so easy to do !) … and best of bread, how to deploy the transformation and run it from Vanilla portal.

You can access the video from here : BiGateWay Transformation using an Olap Data Source

Don’t confuse : it’s easy to do, but it requieres knowledge or assistance (about Olap & Etl in general, with a focus on Vanilla technologies & modules). Too many times over the past few weeks, I received mail from potential users asking for ponctual assistance … on the final step. Before running 100m in 10 to 12 seconds, people have to learn how to walk, no ?

Have Fun !

Patrick

From Business Intelligence to Information Management (part 3)

Dear Readers,

Like a mirror with the part 2 of this serie of posts about Vanilla Information Management features, I just post now some screenshots to show how developers can use our BiGateWay module to push data back in Vanilla structures, such as cubes (fact table) or Kpi database, or to create a FreeMetadata document that map a sql database insert into a table.

Just imagine how easy it is – using BiGateWay – to manage data (extraction & load) from various database structure … in a way, you dont have to care anymore of the database structure itself, you just use the related box to read or write your data

FreeMetadata document to be create while loading data into a sql table

Data to be loaded into FreeAnalysis Cube structure (fact table)

Data to be loaded into FreeMetrics Kpi database

There is so much to tell about out Data Service module, and more to come soon (such as dimension table management inside a transformation, internationalisation management …) … just keep connect …

Have Fun !

Patrick

A note about BiGateWay

Dear Readers,

BiGateWay, our Data Service module (aka ETL) is getting strong recognition as an integrated piece of software (INTEGRATED is a KEYWORD !). Far away from pure players, both side (Etl & Bi), that try to separate Bi & Etl platforms for commercial reasons, Vanilla is providing an INTEGRATED platform that facilitate development & deployment of “data aware applications”.

Recently, I was delighted to see a complex Etl development where transformation take data coming from various database and load our Kpi database, FreeMetrics. The screenshot below are worth thousand words … BiGateWay is easy to use, easy to start with,

Rh Kpi Measure Integration

Just look at details : loopup, calculation, aggregate, exception handler, surrogate key … all that developer need to build complex data transformation with a visual studio. As part of Vanilla platform, security, database definition, workflow process, scheduler : BiGateWay can use all the Vanilla resources, so you save time in development & deployment setup … and more in production admin !

Have Fun !

Patrick

From Business Intelligence to Information Management (part 2)

Dear Readers,

Full features Business Intelligence Platforms like Vanilla (I dont focus on our Open Source initiative, I focus more on feature completion & consistency) manipulate, create & expose a lot of valuable informations, through Metadata documents (for security & business presention), through Kpi database or cube structures (I put aside the debate about Rolap or Molap architecture).

All those new data structures (either virtual or physical structure) contains informations that need to be accessed, unlocked & exposed to any other platforms (applications, database), like external messaging system, monitoring or exception system, data hub, … Vanilla provides a Data Service component – BiGateWay – (some people will call in an Etl, but our BiGateWay component brings more than simple Etl features) to access & expose those information structure.

The screenshot below – putting in front BiGateWay Data Input PlugIn – show how to use Cube, Kpi or Metadata structure as datasource in any kind of transformation. Each data structure has a custom interface to set appropriate properties

FreeMetadata document as a datasource

FreeAnalysis cube as a datasource

FreeMetrics database as a datasource

This is a very first solution – easy to setup, easy te develop, easy to deploy – to link Bi & Etl component : “Bi as datasource for Etl, inside Vanilla” … next post will go further : using Etl to load data into Bi data structures.

Have Fun !

Patrick