An Oracle blog about BI Publisher

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.

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