ODI 12c's Mapping Designer - Combining Flow Based and Expression Based Mapping

post by David Allan

ODI is renowned for its declarative designer and minimal expression based paradigm. The new ODI 12c release has extended this even further to provide an extended declarative mapping designer. The ODI 12c mapper is a fusion of ODI's new declarative designer with the familiar flow based designer while retaining ODI’s key differentiators of:

  • Minimal expression based definition,
  • The ability to incrementally design an interface and to extract/load data from any combination of sources, and most importantly
  • Backed by ODI’s extensible knowledge module framework.

The declarative nature of the product has been extended to include an extensible library of common components that can be used to easily build simple to complex data integration solutions. Big usability improvements through consistent interactions of components and concepts all constructed around the familiar knowledge module framework provide the utmost flexibility.

Here is a little taster:

So what is a mapping? A mapping comprises of a logical design and at least one physical design, it may have many. A mapping can have many targets, of any technology and can be arbitrarily complex. You can build reusable mappings and use them in other mappings or other reusable mappings.

In the example below all of the information from an Oracle bonus table and a bonus file are joined with an Oracle employees table before being written to a target. Some things that are cool include the one-click expression cross referencing so you can easily see what's used where within the design.

The logical design in a mapping describes what you want to accomplish  (see the animated GIF here illustrating how the above mapping was designed) . The physical design lets you configure how it is to be accomplished. So you could have one logical design that is realized as an initial load in one physical design and as an incremental load in another. In the physical design below we can customize how the mapping is accomplished by picking Knowledge Modules, in ODI 12c you can pick multiple nodes (on logical or physical) and see common properties. This is useful as we can quickly compare property values across objects - below we can see knowledge modules settings on the access points between execution units side by side, in the example one table is retrieved via database links and the other is an external table.


In the logical design I had selected an append mode for the integration type, so by default the IKM on the target will choose the most suitable/default IKM - which in this case is an in-built Oracle Insert IKM (see image below). This supports insert and select hints for the Oracle database (the ANSI SQL Insert IKM does not support these), so by default you will get direct path inserts with Oracle on this statement.

In ODI 12c, the mapper is just that, a mapper. Design your mapping, write to multiple targets, the targets can be in the same data server, in different data servers or in totally different technologies - it does not matter. ODI 12c will derive and generate a plan that you can use or customize with knowledge modules. Some of the use cases which are greatly simplified include multiple heterogeneous targets, multi target inserts for Oracle and writing of XML.

Let's switch it up now and look at a slightly different example to illustrate expression reuse. In ODI you can define reusable expressions using user functions. These can be reused across mappings and the implementations specialized per technology. So you can have common expressions across Oracle, SQL Server, Hive etc. shielding the design from the physical aspects of the generated language. Another way to reuse is within a mapping itself. In ODI 12c expressions can be defined and reused within a mapping. Rather than replicating the expression text in larger expressions you can decompose into smaller snippets, below you can see UNIT_TAX AMOUNT has been defined and is used in two downstream target columns - its used in the TOTAL_TAX_AMOUNT plus its used in the UNIT_TAX_AMOUNT (a recording of the calculation). 

You can see the columns that the expressions depend on (upstream) and the columns the expression is used in (downstream) highlighted within the mapper. Also multi selecting attributes is a convenient way to see what's being used where, below I have selected the TOTAL_TAX_AMOUNT in the target datastore and the UNIT_TAX_AMOUNT in UNIT_CALC.

You can now see many expressions at once now and understand much more at the once time without needlessly clicking around and memorizing information.

Our mantra during development was to keep it simple and make the tool more powerful and do even more for the user. The development team was a fusion of many teams from Oracle Warehouse Builder, Sunopsis and BEA Aqualogic, debating and perfecting the mapper in ODI 12c. This was quite a project from supporting the capabilities of ODI in 11g to building the flow based mapping tool to support the future.

I hope this was a useful insight, there is so much more to come on this topic, this is just a preview of much more that you will see of the mapper in ODI 12c.

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