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Monday, April 19, 2010

BI Publisher - Webservices update to10g

BI Publisher 10g provides an update to its webservices from previous releases with the patch 9546699. All you have to do is (with OC4J and BI Publisher 10g running) to open the following URL:


Where: mybipserver is the machine's name where OC4J is installed and where BI Publisher has been deployed. Save this file locally.

Once you get the WSDL file you can immediately test the services using SOAP UI (a webservices tester).

Start loading BI Publisher's WSDL into SoapUI and create a new project:

So for example, we can find out which Security mode is being used in a BIP installation. Simply invoke the service "getSecurityModel". This service does not require any parameter, therefore just click on the green button "play" .

This returns the security model employed in BI Publisher's environment: "BI_SERVER", which means the security model used is based and controlled by BIEE Server.

The next example will employ BI Publisher's web services which require parameter values: "login" and "getFolderContentsInSession". Invoke "login" and enter "Administrator" as user and password:

This returns the session string, known as BIP's session token:

Next, invoke the "getFolderContentsInSession" service and enter the string just obtained in previous step plus the folder path to find out its content: "/HR Manager".

Finally, click on Run (the green arrow button on the upper left hand side of the window) to obtain a list for reports and folders:

With this you now get a flavor of all the things you can do using BI Publisher's webservices. Of course you can start developing your web application using JDeveloper and BIP WSDL, but that will be the topic for new post soon.

Note: Based on BI Publisher's PM comments I have updated our post's original title.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BI Publisher (build 1145)- latest patch - 9546699 (April 1st 2010)

More than a week ago Oracle BI Publisher PM team released a new patch 9546699 (on March 31st, but published in Metalink April 1st), which brings many bug fixes and product enhancements.

There is a long list of updates you can read in the readme file that comes in the patch. But for those of you interested in getting this patch applied in your environment I have compiled a step by step screenshot sequence (for Windows environment) which I hope can help you in this process. Here is how it goes:

I) Upgrade of BI Publisher Server

1. First, take a backup copy of $ORACLE_HOME/oc4j_bi/j2ee/home/applications/xmlpserver/xmlpserver/WEB-INF/xmlp-server-config.xml , where as usual $ORACLE_HOME refers to the location of your base directory for BI Publisher server installation.

2. Second, take a back up of BI Publisher's repository. Default location usually is /xmlp/XMLP:

3. In case BI Publisher's Scheduling feature has been enabled and configured ==> Also take a back up of such schema in the database used. Although as the upgrade will be performed on the application server side then there is no really need to perform this step, it is just as precaution.

4. You can now use Enterprise Manager for the rest of the steps : uninstall of the current version and the installation of the new version. Notice the port number is 9704 since the original installation of BI Publisher was part of BIEE installation and that is the default port number. Thus, invoke Enterprise Manager as follows : http://server_name:9704/em

Normally, the password is "oc4jadmin" but it could be something different. This password is defined during the first install of BI Publisher, so you need to get this value from whoever performed the first installation. Otherwise, if the password is not known then use google to obtain a process on how to reset the OC4J administrator's password. Here is a link from Mike Lehmann's : Reset OC4J admin password

4.1 Shut down BI Publisher.
4.2 Undeploy the BI Publisher application ("xmlpserver") from your J2EE application server. Here a screenshot from Enterprise Manager for OC4J:
4.3 Deploy the (patch 9546699 ) xmlpserver.ear or xmlpserver.war to your application server. If you are using OC4J then here is the sequence of screenshots:

- Click on "Deploy"
- Select the EAR or WAR file to deploy:
-Enter the deploy application attributes:

In the third step simply accept defaults and Apply and Deploy. You get finally this:

4.4 Stop BI Publisher application (repeat as in step 4.1). This step is required as you will restore the backup files taken in step 1. and 2.
5. Copy the saved backup copy of the xmlp-server-config.xml file from step 1 to the newly created BI Publisher: $ORACLE_HOME/oc4j_bi/j2ee/home/applications/xmlpserver/xmlpserver/WEB-INF/ directory

6. Copy the repository (the complete XMLP directory and subdirectories from the back up folder, see step 2.) into $ORACLE_HOME/xmlp/

7. If your environment is (03-April-2009, Patch 8398277) or earlier then perform the following two steps, Otherwise continue with step 8.
  • Copy this file: ssodefaults.xml and place it in the following directory: $ORACLE_HOME/xmlp/XMLP/Admin/Security. Default values for properties can be updated depending on your configuration if SSO is implemented.
  • Copy database-config.xml to the following directory: \XMLP\Admin\Scheduler. This file stores information about the database which will be used to store BI Publisher Scheduler's metadata tables.
8. Restart xmlpserver application or Application Server

9. Finally you can test your new patch by going to: http://server_name:9704/xmlpserver

Notice, down on the right hand side the BI Publisher's version (build 1145). To see this version your application must be in DEBUG mode though. Alternatively, to see the build number from the login page you can view the page source (IE View --> Source) and Notepad will come up. You will see this line:

<meta name="Generator" content="Oracle BI Publisher (build# 1145 on Fri Apr 09 16:26:02 GMT-05:00 2010)"/>

This indicates that the patch has been applied and now BI Publisher's version is build 1145.

II) Upgrade of BI Publisher Desktop

Finally, there is one more upgrade to make. The BI Publisher's desktop should also be upgraded with the new which, is shipped with the new patch. To apply it follow the next steps:

1. Using the just deployed new patch, get a copy of this file:


2. Take a backup of the the following existing xdocore.jar files:

a)C:\Program Files\Oracle\BI Publisher\BI Publisher Desktop\TemplateViewer\lib\xdocore.jar
b)C:\Program Files\Oracle\BI Publisher\BI Publisher Desktop\Template Builder for Word\jlib\xdocore.jar

3. Paste the xdocore.jar file copied in step 1., into the following directories:

a)C:\Program Files\Oracle\BI Publisher\BI Publisher Desktop\TemplateViewer\lib\
b)C:\Program Files\Oracle\BI Publisher\BI Publisher Desktop\Template Builder for Word\jlib\

After this, BI Publisher Desktop has been upgraded and is in sync with the patch 9546699 just applied.

OBEE's... the official sub shop of Oracle BI?

There is a sandwich shop down the road from our headquarters that is frequented by the staff at BICG. Up until today, I never realized why the name of their establishment looked so familiar. They simply forgot to put an "I" in their name...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Identifying Business Processes:

Ralph Kimball in his newest book, “The Kimball Group Reader”, is a compilation of the articles that the Kimball Group has published since the original article in 1995. They have spent over 15 years working and gaining experience with Business Intelligence / Data Warehouse Courses. I selected one of his articles in his book to summarize because it is the heart of gathering requirements for a Business Intelligence / Data Warehouse Project.

The requirements for many Business Intelligence / Data Warehousing Projects are gathered by interviewing the business user and looking at his existing reports or his transactional system. By looking at the existing reports or the current transactional system it leads many times to inadequate or incomplete business requirements. Many of the existing reports were developed and built by someone usually using at tool such as Microsoft Excel to report on the existing transactional system. Also in many cases the transactional system may be used by different departments that use the same system to run different but similar business processes.

The article says that the Dimensional Model for the Business Intelligence / Data Warehouse Project should be built on the business process and not on the different usage of the transactional system or the reports built from the transactional system. One of Kimball’s core concepts is to identify the business process for the dimensional data model. The article says that a business process is “an event or activity that generates or collects metrics. These metrics are performance measures for the organization. Business Analytics inevitably want to scrutinize and evaluate these metrics by a seemingly limitless combination of filters and constraints. As dimensional modelers, it is our job to present these metrics in an easy-to-understand structure that responds quickly to unpredictable inquiries.”

The article points our common characteristics and patterns when identifying the business process for dimensional modeling. They are:

1.) Business processes are usually supported by an operational system.
2.) Business processes generate or collect unique measurements with unique granularity and dimensionality used to gauge organizational performance. Sometimes the metrics are a direct result from the business process. Other times, the measures are derivations.
3.) Business processes are frequently expressed as action verbs with their associated dimensions as nouns describing who, what, where, when, why, and how associated with the process.
4.) Business processes are usually triggered by an input and result in an output that needs to be monitored.
5.) Analysts sometimes want to drill across business processes, looking at the results of one process along the results of another. Drilling across is certainly viable if the dimensions to both processes are conformed.

Some of the major conclusions of the article are:

1.) Determining the core business processes is critical to establishing your overall framework of the dimensional models.
2.) The easiest way to determine these processes is by listing to the business users
3.) A dashboard is not a business process; it presents the results of numerous individual business processes.
4.) Technical considerations are very important for a Business Intelligence / Data Warehousing Project, but if the proper business requirements are not captured and modeled the success rate for the project is very low.