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 11.1.1.6 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:

http://tdexter-lap/xmlpserver

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;
fi

# 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:

AFJSMARG="%s_afjsmarg%"
AFJCPARG="%s_afjcparg%"

[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.

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/bi-publisher/downloads/index.html

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.

Tuesday May 01, 2012

Fusion Middleware Innovation Awards 2012

Is your organization using Oracle BI  to deliver unique business value? If so, submit a nomination today for the Oracle Fusion Middleware Innovation Awards. These awards honor customers for their cutting-edge solutions using Oracle Fusion Middleware. Winners are selected based on the uniqueness of their business case, business benefits, level of impact relative to the size of the organization, complexity and magnitude of implementation, and the originality of architecture. The awards will be presented during Oracle OpenWorld 2012 (September 30-October 4) in San Francisco.

Thats the official blurb out of the way, I know you are out there.. I have seen and heard about some very cool uses of Oracle BI. I'm not limiting things to BI Publisher here, nor even just Oracle BI but any use of Oracle middleware. Maybe you have integrated BIP into your ERP solution, or are allowing users to run reports via web center or retrieve BIP documents from a content management system. Maybe, you have built a kick ass billing system that integrates with BIP for invoice generation and OBIEE to do the ad-hoc reporting on payments, debtors, etc.

Anything qualifies, just get yourself over to the Awards site and fill out an application. You have until July 17th 2012 to get your solution into the spotlight. Good luck!

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