Tuesday Oct 30, 2012

OpenWorld Presentations and Anatomy of an RTF Template w/ files

For those who missed it ... or those who made it and couldn't get enough, check out the presentations delivered at OpenWorld:

Overview and Roadmap

The Reporting Platform for Oracle Applications

Best Practices

and even though it wasn't presented at OpenWorld an updated version of

Anatomy of an RTF Template

to include documented example files  (RTF template, Sub-Template and sample XML data) so you can re-use and play with the code directly. 

Huge thanks to Tim and Hok-Min who did all the hard, original work on this example loaded with tips and tricks.


Friday Sep 28, 2012

BI Publisher at OpenWorld 2012

For those going to OpenWorld, hope you can join us for any of the following Sessions, Hands On Labs or just stop by and visit us in the DEMOgrounds:

Moscone South S-262

Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher Overview, What’s New, and What’s Planned

Monday, 1-Oct 13:45 - 14:45
Moscone South - 305
Mike Donohue - Oracle
with Ed Farler - CSC

Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher: Reporting for Oracle Applications

Wednesday, 3-Oct 11:45 - 12:45
Palace Hotel - Rose
Mike Donohue - Oracle
Note: new room to accommodate everyone who pre-registered

Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher Best Practices: Be a Reporting Superstar

Wednesday, 3-Oct 15:30 - 16:30
Moscone South - 305
Nikos Psomas & Klaus Fabian - Oracle

Two sessions of the Hands on Lab: 

Tuesday 2-Oct 17:00 - 18:00
Thursday 4-Oct 11:15 - 12:15
Marriott Marquis - Salon 5/6
Nikos Psomas, Klaus Fabian & Kasturi Shekar -- Oracle

You can also download the Focus on BI Publisher sheet that lists all Publisher related Sessions, Labs and DEMOground stations.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday Sep 27, 2012

Quick Quips on QR Codes

Yes, I'm an alliterating all-star; I missed my calling as a newspaper headline writer.
I have recently received questions from several folks on support for QR codes. You know them they are everywhere you look, even here!

How does Publisher handle QR codes then? In theory, exactly the same way we handle any other 2D barcode font. We need the font file, a mapping entry and an encoding class. With those three pieces we can embed QR codes into any output.

To test the theory, I went off to IDAutomation, I have worked with them and many customers over the years and their fonts and encoders have worked great and have been very reliable.
They kindly provide demo fonts which has made my life so much easier to be able to write posts like this. Their QR font and encoder is a little tough to find. I started here and then hit the Demo Now button. On the next page I hit the right hand Demo Now button. In the resulting zip file you'll need two files:
 AdditionalFonts.zip >> Automation2DFonts >> TrueType >> IDAutomation2D.ttf
 Java Class Encoder >> IDAutomation_JavaFontEncoder_QRCode.jar - the QRBarcodeExample.java is useful to see how to call the encoder.

The font file needs to be installed into the windows/fonts directory, just copy and paste it in using file explorer and windows will install it for you. Remember, we are using the demo font here and you'll see if you get your phones decoder to looks a the font above there is a fixed string 'DEMO' at the beginning. You want that removed? Go buy the font from the IDAutomation folks.

The Encoder

Next you need to create your encoding wrapper class. Publisher does ship a class but its compiled and I do not recommend trying to modify it, you can just build your own. I have loaded up my class here. You do not need to be a java guru, its pretty straightforward. I'd recommend a java IDE like JDeveloper from a convenience point of view. I have annotated my class and added a main method to it so you can test your encoders from JDeveloper without having to deploy them first. You can load up the project form the zip file straight into JDeveloper.

Next, take a look at IDAutomation's example java class and you'll see:

QRCodeEncoder qre=new QRCodeEncoder();
 String DataToEncode = "IDAutmation Inc.";
 boolean ApplyTilde = false;
 int EncodingMode = 0;
 int Version = 0;
 int ErrorCorrectionLevel = 0;
 System.out.println( qre.FontEncode(DataToEncode, ApplyTilde,
                        EncodingMode, Version, ErrorCorrectionLevel) );

You'll need to check what settings you need to set for the ApplyTilde, EncodingMode, Version and ErrorCorrectionLevel. They are covered in the user guide from IDAutomation here. If you do not want to hard code the values in the encoder then you can quite easily externalize them and read the values from a text file. I have not covered that scenario here, I'm going with IDAutomation's defaults and my phone app is reading the fonts no problem.

Now you know how to call the encoder, you need to incorporate it into your encoder wrapper class. From my sample class:

      Class[] clazz = new Class[] { "".getClass() };  
      ENCODERS.put("code128a",mUtility.getClass().getMethod("code128a", clazz));
      ENCODERS.put("code128b",mUtility.getClass().getMethod("code128b", clazz));
      ENCODERS.put("code128c",mUtility.getClass().getMethod("code128c", clazz));
      ENCODERS.put("qrcode",mUtility.getClass().getMethod("qrcode", clazz));

I just added a new entry to register the encoder method 'qrcode' (in red). Then I created a new method inside the class to call the IDAutomation encoder.

/** Call to IDAutomations QR Code encoder. Passing the data to encode
     Returning the encoded string to the template for formatting **/
public static final String qrcode (String DataToEncode)
  QRCodeEncoder qre=new QRCodeEncoder();
   boolean ApplyTilde = false;
   int EncodingMode = 0;
   int Version = 0;
   int ErrorCorrectionLevel = 0;
  return qre.FontEncode(DataToEncode, ApplyTilde, EncodingMode, Version, ErrorCorrectionLevel);

Almost the exact same code in their sample class. The DataToEncode string is passed in rather than hardcoded of course.

With the class done you can now compile it, but you need to ensure that the IDAutomation_JavaFontEncoder_QRCode.jar is in the classpath.
In JDeveloper, open the project properties >> Libraries and Classpaths and then add the jar to the list. You'll need the publisher jars too. You can find those in the jlib directory in your Template Builder for Word directory.

Note! In my class, I have used

package oracle.psbi.barcode;

As my package spec, yours will be different but you need to note it for later.

Once you have it compiling without errors you will need to generate a jar file to keep it in.
In JDeveloper highlight your project node >> New >> Deployment Profile >> JAR file. Once you have created the descriptor, just take the defaults. It will tell you where the jar is located. Go get it and then its time to copy it and the IDAutomation jar into the Template Builder for Word directory structure.

Deploying the jars

On your windows machine locate the jlib directory under the Template Builder for Word install directory. On my machine its here, F:\Program Files\Oracle\BI Publisher\BI Publisher Desktop\Template Builder for Word\jlib. Copy both of the jar files into the directory.

The next step is to get the jars into the classpath for the Word plugin so that Publisher can find your wrapper class and it can then find the IDAutomation encoder. The most consistent way I have found so far, is to open up the RTF2PDF.jar in the same directory and make some mods.

First make a backup of the jar file then open it using winzip or 7zip or similar and get into the META-INF directory. In there is a file, MANIFEST.MF. This contains the classpath for the plugin, open it in an editor and add the jars to the end of the classpath list. In mine I have:

Manifest-Version: 1.0
Class-Path: ./activation.jar ./mail.jar ./xdochartstyles.jar ./bicmn.jar ./jewt4.jar 
./share.jar ./bipres.jar ./xdoparser.jar ./xdocore.jar ./xmlparserv2.jar 
./xmlparserv2-904.jar  ./i18nAPI_v3.jar ./versioninfo.jar 
./barcodejar.jar ./IDAutomation_JavaFontEncoder_QRCode.jar
Main-Class: RTF2PDF

I have put in carriage returns above to make the Class-Path: entry more readable, make sure yours is all on one line. Be sure to use the ./ as a prefix to the jar name. Ensure the file is saved inside the jar file 7zip and winzip both have popups asking if you want to update the file in the jar file.
Now you have the jars on the classpath, the Publisher plugin will be able to find our classes at run time.

Referencing the Font

The next step is to reference the font location so that the rendering engine can find it and embed a subset into the PDF output. Remember the other output formats rely on the font being present on the machine that is opening the document. The PDF is the only truly portable format.

Inside the config directory under the Template Builder for Word install directory, mine is here,
F:\Program Files\Oracle\BI Publisher\BI Publisher Desktop\Template Builder for Word\config.
You'll find the file, 'xdo example.cfg'. Rename it to xdo.cfg and open it in a text editor.
In the fonts section, create a new entry:

       <font family="IDAutomation2D" style="normal" weight="normal">
             <truetype path="C:\windows\fonts\IDAutomation2D.ttf" /> 

Note, 'IDAutomation2D' (in red) is the same name as you can see when you open MSWord and look for the QRCode font. This must match exactly. When Publisher looks at the fonts in the RTF template at runtime it will see 'IDAutomation2D' it will then look at its font mapping entries to find where that font file resides on the disk. If the names do not match or the font is not present then the font will not get used and it will fall back on Helvetica.

Building the Template

Now you have the data encoder and the font in place and mapped; you can use it in the template. The two commands you will need to have present are:

<?register-barcode-vendor:'ENCODER WRAPPER CLASS'; 'ENCODER NAME'?> 

for my encoder I have:

<?register-barcode-vendor:'oracle.psbi.barcode.BarcodeUtil'; 'MyBarcodeEncoder'?>

Notice the two parameters for the command.
The first provides the package 'path' and class name (remember I said you need to remember that above.)
The second is the name of the encoder, in my case 'MyBarcodeEncoder'. Check my full encoder class in the zip linked below to see where I named it. You can change it to something else, no problem.
This command needs to be near the top of the template.

The second command is the encoding command:


for my command I have

DATATEXT is the XML element that contains the text to be encoded. If you want to hard code a piece of text just surround it with single quotes.

qrcode is the name of my encoder method that calls the IDAutomation encoder. Remember this.
MyBarcodeEncoder is the name of my encoder. Repetition? Yes but its needed again.

Both of these commands are put inside their own form fields.

Do not apply the QRCode font to the second field just yet. Lets make sure the encoder is working. Run you template with some data and you should get something like this for your encoded data:


Grooovy huh? If you do not get the encoded text then go back and check that your jars are in the right spot and that you have the MANIFEST.MF file updated correctly.
Once you do get the encoded text, highlight the field and apply the IDAutomation2D font to it. Then re-run the report and you will hopefully see the QR code in your output. If not, go back and check the xdo.cfg entry and make sure its in the right place and the font location is correct.

That's it, you now have QR codes in Publisher outputs. Everything I have written above, has been tested with the 5.6.3, codelines. I'll be testing the 11g code in the next day or two and will update you with any changes.

One thing I have not covered yet and will do in the next few days is how to deploy all of this to your server. Look out for a follow up post.

One note on the apparent white lines in the font (see the image above). Once printed they disappear and even viewing the code on a screen with the white lines, my phone app is still able to read and interpret the contents no problem.

I have zipped up my encoder wrapper class as a JDeveloper project here. Just dig into the src directories to find the BarcodeUtil.java file if you just want the code. I have put comments into the file to hopefully help the novice java programmer out.

Happy QR'ing!

Thursday Sep 20, 2012

Barcodes and Bugs

A great mail from Mike at Browning last week. He has been through the ringer getting his BIP barcoding sorted out but he's now out of the woods. Here's the final result.

By way of explanation, an excerpt from Mike's email:  

This is an example of the GS1_128 carton shipping labels we are now producing with BIP in our web application for our vendors who drop ship products to our dealers.
It produces 4 labels per printed page, in PDF format, on peel & stick label paper. Each label has a unique carton number, and a unique carton serial number in the SSCC-18 barcode.
This example is for Cabelas (each customer has slightly different GS1-128 label format requirements – custom template for each - a pain!).
I am using custom java encoders I wrote for the UPC and SSCC-18 barcodes, and a standard encoder (code128b) for the ShipTo zip barcode.

 Is there any way yet to get around that SUPER ANNOYING bug when opening the rtf template in MS Word, and it replaces my xsl code text in the barcode fields with gibberish???
Every time I open it I have to re-enter all the xsl code. Not only to be able to read & edit it, but also to get it to work in BIP (BIP doesn’t like the gibberish if I upload the template that has it).

Mike's last point, regarding the annoying bug in the template builder, is one that I have experienced occasionally. The development team have looked at it and found it to be an issue with MSWord and not a plugin problem. That's all well and good but how can you get around it?

Well, you can take advantage of the font mapping that BIP offers to get the barcodes into the PDF output. As many of you know, getting a barcode font to appear in the PDF output, you need employ the use of the xdo.cfg file in the template builder config directory.
You would normally have an entry such as this:


      <font family="Code 128" style="normal" weight="normal">
       <truetype path="C:\windows\fonts\128R00.TTF" /> 

to map a barcode font to get it to render in the PDF output when testing from the template builder plugin.


Mike's issue is only present when the formfield is highlighted with a barcode font. The other fields in the template are OK.
What you can do to get around the issue is to bend the config entry to get around having to use the barcode font in the template at all. Changing the entry to something like:


      <font family="Calibri" style="normal" weight="normal">
       <truetype path="C:\windows\fonts\128R00.TTF" /> 


Note that we are mapping the Calibri; a humanly readable and non 'erroring' font in the template, to the code 128 barcode font. Where you used to highlight the field with the barcode in MSWord, you now use the Calibri font instead. At run time, BIP will go look for the Calibri font mapping and will drop in the Code128 font. Of course, Calibri is an example; you need to pick a font that you are not going to use any where else in the layout.

Tuesday Sep 18, 2012

Ubiquitous BIP

The last number I heard from Mike and the PM team was that BIP is now embedded in more than 40 oracle products. That's a lot of products to keep track of and to help out with new releases, etc.
Its interesting to see how internal Oracle product groups have integrated BIP into their products. Just as you might integrate BIP they have had to make a choice about how to integrate.

1. Library level - BIP is a pure java app and at the bottom of the architecture are a group of java libraries that expose APIs that you can use. they fall into three main areas, data extraction, template processing and formatting and delivery. There are post processing capabilities but those APIs are embedded withing the template processing libraries.

Taking this integration route you are going to need to manage templates, data extraction and processing. You'll have your own UI to allow users to control all of this for themselves. Ultimate control but some effort to build and maintain. I have been trawling some of the products during a coffee break. I found a great post on the reporting capabilities provided by BIP in the records management product within WebCenter Content 11g. This integration falls into the first category, content manager looks after the report artifacts itself and provides you the UI to manage and run the reports.

2. Web Service level - further up in the stack is the web service layer. This is sitting on the BI Publisher server as a set of services, runReport and scheduleReport are the main protagonists. However, you can also manage the reports and users (locally managed) on the server and the catalog itself via the services layer.

Taking this route, you still need to provide the user interface to choose reports and run them but the creation and management of the reports is all handled by the Publisher server. I have worked with a few customer on this approach. The web services provide the ability to retrieve a list of reports the user can access; then the parameters and LOVs for the selected report and finally a service to submit the report on the server.

3. Embedded BIP server UI- the final level is not so well supported yet. You can currently embed a report and its various levels of surrounding  'chrome' inside another html based application using a URL. Check the docs here. The look and feel can be customized but again, not easy, nor documented. I have messed with running the server pages inside an IFRAME, not bad, but not great.

Taking this path should present the least amount of effort on your part to get BIP integrated but there are a few gotchas you need to get around.

So a reasonable amount of choices with varying amounts of effort involved. There is another option coming soon for all you ADF developers out there, the ability to drop a BIP report into your application pages. But that's for another post.

Monday Sep 17, 2012

Linking to BIP reports from BIEE Analyses

Bryan found a great blog post from Fiston over on the OBIEEStuff blog. It covers the ability to link to a BIP report from a BIEE analyses report with the ability to pass parameters to it. I have doubled checked and you need to be on OBIEE to see the 'Shared Report Link' mentioned in Fiston's post when you open a BIP report from the /analytics side of the house. Enjoy!

OBIEE to BIP trick

Thursday Sep 13, 2012

Dynamic Bursting ... no really!

If any of you have seen me or my colleagues present BI Publisher to you then we have hopefully mentioned 'bursting.' You may have even seen a demo where we talk about being able to take a batch of data, say invoices. Then split them by some criteria, say customer id; format them with a template; generate the output and then deliver the documents to the recipients with a click. We and especially I, always say this can be completely dynamic! By this I mean, that you could store customer preferences in a database. What layout would each customer like; what output format they would like and how they would like the document delivered. We (I) talk a good talk, but typically don't do the walk in a demo. We hard code everything in the bursting query or bursting control file to get the concept across. But no more peeps! I have finally put together a dynamic bursting demo! Its been minutes in the making but its been tough to find those minutes! Read on ...

It's nothing amazing in terms of making the burst dynamic. I created a CUSTOMER_PREFS table with some simple UI in an APEX application so that I can maintain their requirements. In EBS you have descriptive flexfields that could do the same thing or probably even 'contact' fields to store most of the info.

Here's my table structure:

Name                           Type
------------------------------ -------- 
CUSTOMER_ID                    NUMBER(6)
TEMPLATE_TYPE                  VARCHAR2(20)
TEMPLATE_NAME                  VARCHAR2(120)
OUTPUT_FORMAT                  VARCHAR2(20)
EMAIL                          VARCHAR2(255)
FAX                            VARCHAR2(20)
ATTACH                         VARCHAR2(20)
FILE_LOC                       VARCHAR2(255)

Simple enough right? Just need CUSTOMER_ID as the key for the bursting engine to join it to the customer data at burst time. I have not covered the full delivery options, just email, fax and file location. Remember, its a demo people :0) However the principal is exactly the same for each delivery type. They each have a set of attributes that need to be provided and you will need to handle that in your bursting query. On a side note, in EBS, you use a bursting control file, you can apply the same principals that I'm laying out here you just need to get the customer bursting info into the XML data stream so that you can refer to it in the control file using XPATH expressions.

Next, we need to look up what attributes or parameters are required for each delivery method. that can be found in the documentation here.

 Now we know the combinations of parameters and delivery methods we can construct the query using a series a decode statements:

select distinct cp.customer_id "KEY",
     cp.template_name TEMPLATE,
     cp.template_type TEMPLATE_FORMAT,
     'en-US' LOCALE,
     cp.output_format OUTPUT_FORMAT,
     'false' SAVE_FORMAT,
     cp.delivery_channel DEL_CHANNEL,
     decode(cp.delivery_channel,'FILE', cp.file_loc 
      , 'EMAIL', cp.email
      , 'FAX', cp.fax) PARAMETER1,
     decode(cp.delivery_channel,'FILE', c.cust_last_name||'_orders.pdf'
      ,'FAX', 'faxserver.com') PARAMETER2,
      ,'FAX', null) PARAMETER3,
      ,'EMAIL','Your current orders'
      ,'FAX',NULL)    PARAMETER4,
      ,'EMAIL','Please find attached a copy of your current orders with BI Publisher, Inc'
from cust_prefs cp, 
customers c,
orders_view ov
where cp.customer_id = c.customer_id
and cp.customer_id = ov.customer_id
order by  cp.customer_id

Pretty straightforward, just need to test, test, test, the query and ensure it's bringing back the correct data based on each customers preferences. Notice the NULL values for parameters that are not relevant for a given delivery channel.

You should end up with bursting control data that the bursting engine can use:

 Now, your users can run the burst and documents will be formatted, generated and delivered based on the customer prefs.

If you're interested in the example, I have used the sample OE schema data for the base report. The report files and CUST_PREFS table are zipped up here. The zip contains the data model (.xdmz), the report and templates (.xdoz) and the sql scripts to create and load data to the CUST_PREFS table.  Once you load the report into the catalog, you'll need to create the OE data connection and point the data model at it. You'll probably need to re-point the report to the data model too.

Happy Bursting!

Tuesday Sep 11, 2012

Hey, Wheres your field?

I have finally been getting back to playing with Publisher this past week and actually building demos!
I came across a nice feature in the online template builder. I had been tweaking the data model of an already built report including an existing online template.

I finished my data model changes and re-opened the online template to make changes and got this:

Nice! It recognized that some of the fields were now missing from the data model and was asking me to map new fields into the template. Once I had mapped them it then opened the template for editing. Very neat!

Monday Sep 10, 2012

"Automation Error Unspecified Error" ... err Error

One the best error messages I have seen in a long time and I've seen some doozies! 

There have been a fare few internal emails flying over the past week about issues with the template builder for MSWord not working. The issue has been found, so if you are hitting some behaviour similar to this:

I have installed BI Publisher Desktop for 32 bit. I have to load the data from XML to RTF Template. As per instruction when I click on tab Sample XML nothing happen.

When I click on any other tab from BI Publisher menu, I am getting one error in pop-up menu “Automation Error Unspecified Error.

I am unable to open any of the tab of BI Publisher menu including help.

Have no fear, it's for once, not a BIP issue but a Microsoft one! Check here for what you need to do to resolve the error.

Wednesday Sep 05, 2012

Trigger Happy

Its been a while, I know, we’ll say no more OK? I’ll just write …

In the latest BIP release and if I’m really honest; the release before this (we'll call it dot 5 for brevity.) The boys and gals in the engine room have been real busy enhancing BIP with some new functionality. Those of you that use the scheduling engine in OBIEE may already know and use the ‘conditional scheduling’ feature. This allows you to be more intelligent about what reports get run and sent to folks on a scheduled basis. You create a ‘trigger’ analysis (answer) that is executed at schedule time prior to the main report. When the schedule rolls around, the trigger is run, if it returns rows, then the main report is run and delivered. If there are no rows returned, then the main report is not run.
Useful right? Your users are not bombarded with 20 reports in their inbox every week that they need to wade throu. They get a handful that they know they need to look at. If you ensure you use conditional formatting in the report then they can find the anomalous data in the reports very quickly and move on to the rest of their day more quickly. You could even think of OBIEE as a virtual team member, scouring the data on your behalf 24/7 and letting you know when its found an issue.

BI Publisher, wanting the team t-shirt and the khaki pants, has followed suit. You can now set up ‘triggers’ for it to execute before it runs the main report. Just like its big brother, if the scheduled report trigger returns rows of data; it then executes the main report. Otherwise, the report is skipped until the next schedule time rolls around. Sound familiar?

BIP differs a little, in that you only need to construct a query to act as the trigger rather than a complete report. Let assume we have a monthly wage by department report on a schedule. We only want to send the report to managers if their departmental wages reach and/or exceed a certain amount.

The toughest part about this is coming up with the SQL to test the business rule you want to implement. For my example, its not that tough:

select d.department_name, sum(e.salary) as wage_total
from employees e,
departments d
where d.department_id = e.department_id
group by d.department_name
having sum(e.salary) > 230000

We're looking for departments where the wage cost is greater than 230,000 Dexter Dollars! With a bit of messing I found out you can parametrize the query. Users can then set a value at schedule time if they need to.

To create the trigger is straightforward enough.

You can create multiple triggers for users to select at schedule time. Notice I also used a parameter in the query, :wamount. Note the matching parameter in the tree on the left. You also dont need to return multiple columns, one is fine, the key is if there are rows returned. You can build the rest of your report as usual.

At scheduling time the Schedule tab has a bit more on it. If your users want to set the trigger, they check the Use Trigger box. The page will then pop fields to pick the appropriate trigger they want to use, even a trigger on another data model if needed.

Note it will also ask for the parameter value associated with the trigger.

At this point you should note that the data model does not make a distinction between trigger and data model (extract) parameters. So users will see the parameters on the General and Schedule tabs. If per chance you do need to just have a trigger parameters. You can just hide them from the report using the Parameters popup in the report designer, just un-check the 'Show' box

I have tested the opposite case where you do not want main report parameters seen in the trigger section. BIP handles that for you!

Once the report hits its allotted schedule time, the trigger is executed. Based on the results the report will either run or be 'skipped.'

Now, you have a smarter scheduler that will only deliver reports when folks need to see them and take action on the contents.

More official info here for developers and here for users.

Tuesday Sep 04, 2012


Its been a while, I know :( I have posts in the pipe just gotta smoke em out!

The latest update for BIP was released last week. A bunch of defects have been addressed as you can see below.


This patch is just for BI Publisher standalone installs. For those of you using BIP within the wider BIEE suite there is the BP1 patchset. More details on that here.

Wednesday Jun 13, 2012

EBS Customers Please Read

There's an urgent update from Steven Chan over on the EBS Apps blog that you need to check out!

URGENT BULLETIN: Disable JRE Auto-Update for All E-Business Suite End-Users

Friday May 18, 2012

Secrets Revealed to Advanced Charting

We get a lot of emails and questions here at Publisher Tower concerning charts and how to do X. I write about some of the solutions here if I think they could be useful to a wider audience but its tough to document everything for everyone's specific features.

The chart dialog in the template builder gets you so far but there are cases where you are going to have to get into the code to make things work the way you want them to. I have documented a bunch which I have pulled together as links below. But if you do venture into the chart code, where do you start?

I have re-documented the location of the chart DTD document recently as it disappeared from OTN and having bugged a few people about it, its still not there, c'est la vie. But those of you with the Template Builder for Word (TB) have your own copy you can refer to. Just dig into your TB install directory and look for the dvt-jclient.jar (11g) or bipres.jar (10g) files open them with a zip utility a dig down through the directories to oracle\dss\graph\.
There you will find the fabled and rare, graph.dtd ... this is the golden fleece of the BIP charting world. In it, you will find secrets beyond your imagination, treasures beyond compare ...  OK, its not that exciting but there is a lot of charting info to be gleaned. There is not much in the way of comments but you can at least look up features and then see what attributes they will need to achieve your needs.

Just remember, Word has almost unlimited undo's, just get stuck in a try stuff out you are not going to break anything!

Some blogged chart solutions via google.

Tuesday May 15, 2012

Collaborate 2012 wrap up - A Few Presentations Worth a Second Look

It's been a few weeks and hopefully everyone is fully recovered.  Here are a few presentations that really stood out.  No offense to any not mentioned, there were too many to attend and describe here.

Adam Crigger of Preferred Strategies presented "Using Oracle BI Publisher for JD Edwards Operations and Financial Reporting" He unveiled some fabulous layouts he built using BI Publisher on top of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne data.

John Peters of JRP JR, Inc showed us some very useful tips when modifying data templates in E-Business Suite in his presentation, "Adding Data Elements to BI Publisher Documents" He outlined very clearly the different types of data sources and best practices for updating the seeded E-Business Suite data extracts.

In her presentation, "Using Oracle BI Publisher to E-mail Customer ACH Payment Confirmations" Kristina Boone of MediaNews Group went over the step-by-step procedure she followed to create custom payment confirmations using an RTF template in BI Publisher. She then showed how to configure her JD Edwards EnterpriseOne system to run it. Great Stuff!

Glen T. Ryen, from Prisio Technologies presented "Oracle Payments in Release 12 – Take It To the Bank!" on Thursday to a nearly SRO crowd - impressive for get away day.  Those who stayed for this presentation were well rewarded.  Perfect balance between Functional and Technical and it gave enough detail and pointers to go deeper.  Several of the attendees around me commented that it was exactly what they were looking for.

I see that the Collaborate site is no longer hosting the presentations and white papers - bummer.  I'm told that the user groups - OAUG, Quest and IOUG will be making those available to members on their sites in a few weeks.  Please check with your user group or the presenter if you're interested in the material.

Friday May 11, 2012

Beyond the Conditional Dialog

Interesting question today, asking how to conditionally underline and align text in an RTF template?

Your first thought, the conditional dialog box in the Template Builder for Word right?
Mine too, but I know that the dialog is limited to setting the background color, font color and font style. However, the XSLFO standard has a bunch of attributes that can be set. There is going to an intersect of what the standard offers and what BI Publisher has implemented. Ots also going to depend on what version of BIP you are running too as the boys and gals in the back room constantly add to the list of supported attributes for give objects.

If you're just getting to grips with the language and want to know what attributes are available, the W3c Schools site is a good place to start - http://www.w3schools.com/xslfo/xslfo_reference.asp.  There you can find the object you want to change and its attributes.

The easiest way to create the conditional code is to go ahead and create a condition using the dialog and choosing one of the supported attributes. Note that the dialog only works when you are inside a table. Thats jus tthe dilog box talking, you re not limited to changing attributes only inside tables. Just use the dialog to get the code.

All you then need to do is substitute in the attribute name and the value you want it to be into the code. So:

<?if:@Name='Tim'?><?attribute@incontext:color;'red'?><?end if?>


can then be changed to


<?if:@Name='Tim'?><?attribute@incontext:text-align;'right'?><?end if?>


and of course you have make multiple changes inside the 'if' statement.

One thing to note here, the @incontext might need to be changed to get the desired changes to be applied. Check the documentation for details on the various @ levels you can use. Don't be scared, play a little until it does what you want it to do. Its useful to export the RTF to XSL:FO and see where your code is being applied if the output is not what you were expecting.

Tuesday May 08, 2012

Port 80 Goodness for Publisher

Do you ever tire of remembering what port BIP is running on when you enter the URL? Ever wish you could just type:


and be done with it? Well its really not that hard to do. Its documented how to front the web logic server with a web server whether that be Microsoft's IIS or maybe Apache. Well with my success at getting BIP on to my Ubuntu laptop I thought I would give Apache a whirl being as I dont think IIS would run on my machine :)

I did start off with the docs but as usual Googling got me faster, more concise instructions with some help if things went awry. Of course, BIP has nothing to do with the configuration other than to tell Apache where the xmlpserver app is running and on what port. So its really just an exercise in installing Apache and then configuring it.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, check out Vikas' blog post here - http://vikashazrati.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/apache-weblogic-ubuntu/.  Yes, its specific to Ubuntu but can be applied to any flavor of Linux in this case. For you 'windowers' out there, this will get you on the road to non port typing bliss, http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E21764_01/web.1111/e14395/toc.htm.

For linux folks, just follow Vikas' excellent post and just replace the references to the 'medrec' application with 'xmlpserver' and change the port from 7011 to 7001. You can of course add the /console app to the list as well.

I have covered web logic server installs ie 11.x. If you re running earlier versions on OC4J the Oracle AS documentation is pretty good on how to get BIP on port 80.

In no time you'll have forgotten that BIP even runs on a specific port.

Monday May 07, 2012

Running BIP on Ubuntu!

I am a complete Ubuntu (Linux) convert ... my work laptop runs 64 bit Ubuntu and Im very happy with it. Yes I do still need windblows for a few things and for testing but I would say 80-90% of my time is spent in Ubuntu. Not so good is Oracle's support for Ubuntu, some of that I guess, is around Ubuntu being seen primarily for the desktop and not for servers and also Ubuntu's interesting at times, implementation of Linux.

Case in point, the recent release of the BI Publisher Trial Edition (see here) we state support for Linux but to be fair, we narrow that down to Oracle Linux Redhat and SLES. OK, but as its so lightweight it would be great to be able to fire it up on my laptop without the need for a winddoze VM. Trying the installer or more appropriately the 'configurer' it falls at the first hurdle complaining about the script.
Thats easily fixed, the pain point in question is the -s switch for the password entry for the admin user you create. Just open the configure.sh and remove the -s references (x2).

read -s -p "Enter a password for the Administrator user: " WLS_ADMIN_PWD
echo ""
read -s -p "Confirm password: " WLS_ADMIN_PWD2

Rerunning and it falls over a little further into the configuration.
At this point I want to thank Juergen in Germany for digging into the sub scripts and figuring out what to do. I have to admit, I had put the investigation on to the back burner while I have been traveling. Juergen found the problem in the ../server/wls/configure.sh file. It checks for the MW_HOME and JAVA_HOME environment variables and even if you have set them it still complains. The easiest fix is to just comment out the checks for the variables.

# Users must set $MW_HOME variable
if [[ -z "$MW_HOME" || ! -d $MW_HOME ||  ! "$(ls -A $MW_HOME)" ]]; then
  echo "ERROR: You must set MW_HOME and it must point to a directory".
  echo "       where an installation of WebLogic exists. Ensure you point"
  echo "       this variable to the extract location of the zip distribution."
  exit 1;

# Users must set $JAVA_HOME variable if [[ -z $JAVA_HOME || ! -d "${JAVA_HOME}/bin" ]]; then   echo "ERROR: You must set JAVA_HOME and point it to a valid location"   echo "       of where your JDK has been installed"   exit 1; fi

Just comment out the red text with a # at the beginning of the line.

Now when you run the main configureBIP script it completes and successfully starts the WLS server and consequently BIP. Its real fast to start and fast to run and best of all I have another reason I can avoid windblows!

Yes I have boring windows colors but what the heck, its not windows!

Thursday May 03, 2012

Conversion Experience

On the heels of the great new, lightweight Trial Edition we are also happy to help you get to a better reporting experience.

Please visit our Conversion Center where you can find loads of good information on how to convert from Crystal, Actuate or Oracle Reports to BI Publisher.  You'll find planning guidance, tools, best practices and pointers to Oracle Consulting and Partners if you want a personal guide to a higher reporting plane.

Proxy Images in EBS

Gareth Roberts, founder of Virtuate, a consulting outfit based in New Zealand, came up with a doh! moment for me this week. He has been working with Publisher and trying to get images into his reports that are sitting behind a proxy server. This is all inside E Business Suite so no means to use the JVM proxy settings when the concurrent manager starts up. The support folks found the solution that I had completely forgotten about ... I have been away from EBS too long :(

When the concurrent manager (CM) starts a java based job (concurrent program) such as a Publisher one. It fires up a new JVM instance for it. In their wisdom the CM development folks left an 'options' field on the concurrent program definition where you can add JVM start up parameters.

So to allow Publisher to reach the proxied images adding the following to the options field:

-Dhttp.proxyHost=<proxyhost> -Dhttp.proxyPort=<proxyport>

did the trick. Why a Doh! moment? Because we also used the same field when we knew a report was going to be BIG and wanted to increase the memory heap available to that particular report at runtime i.e. -Xmx, -Xmn, etc. You can catch Gareth over on his blog waxing lyrical about all things EBS.

Pieter from support pointed out that if the application requires a proxy server then it can be done at a more global level, that is via the context file using these CP context variables:


[vispb12@pbreugel4 ~]$ grep s_afjsmarg $CONTEXT_FILE
            <AFJSMARG oa_var="s_afjsmarg" osd="Linux">-server -Xmx384m -XX:NewRatio=2 -XX:+UseSerialGC -Doracle.apps.fnd.common.Pool.leak.mode=stderr:off -verbose:gc</AFJSMARG>
[vispb12@pbreugel4 ~]$ grep s_afjcparg $CONTEXT_FILE
            <AFJCPARG oa_var="s_afjcparg" osd="Linux">-client</AFJCPARG>

More on that approach here - 

Wednesday May 02, 2012

BI Publisher has hit the gym

As Pieter reminded me this morning a sleek, slim, new installer is available for BIP 11g. The Oracle BI Publisher 11g Trial Edition has been released on OTN. In comparison to the fatty monster that is, OBIEE Suite, tipping the scales at more than 7Gb; BIP Trial Ed is a svelte, muscular beauty a tad under 600 Mb. A fully functional, free server provided for evaluation purposes. It is not intended for production deployments thou. For that you have to go start the BIEE download and go for a cup of joe.

The installer includes the Derby database and BIP is configured out of the box with a bunch of new demos and samples so just download, unpack, run the config script and you're ready to roll. You can of course hook it up to your own data sources and get building. Check the links below.


BI Publisher Trial Edition 11g for Windows 64 bit (587 MB)

BI Publisher Trial Edition 11g for Windows 32 bit (582 MB)

Windows installers include Java SE 6 Runtime Environment

BI Publisher Trial Edition 11g for Linux 32 and 64 bit
(533 MB)

Linux installer requires Java SE 6 Runtime Environment (download)

Install Guide | Quick Start Guide | Getting Started Tutorial

BIG NOTICE ... right here, read this!

BI Publisher Trial Edition is not supported for production deployments. 
You can save any reports developed on the Trial Edition and upload to your production environment.


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