Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Discoverer 10g Handbook - page 803

In the discussion about enabling web cache for Discoverer Viewer, in the first paragraph on the top of page 803, I state "This is why Oracle explains you must cache only Discoverer Viewer content delivered through a Discoverer Public connection".

This needs to be qualified because you can ONLY enable web cache for Discoverer Viewer when delivering content through a Discoverer Public connection. This is stated quite plainly in the latest documentation. However, the documentation did not say this and you might be fooled, as I was at first, into thinking that there had been a change of functionality in the latest release. Happily, this is not the case because even in you must be using Public connections, and therefore an Infrastructure database, in order to cache Viewer content.

What this means in plain talk is that if your company installs only the stand-alone version of Discoverer Viewer you cannot use web cache for caching frequently used pages. Now I know some of you will say that even in a stand-alone version of Discoverer you can turn web cache on using OEM. This is true. However, Discoverer will ignore this setting until it detects that Public connections are in use. It makes sense really when you think about it because you don't want private data being cached and inadvertently displayed to someone who should not see it.

I hope this explanation helps.

Discoverer 10g Handbook - page 802

As promised, here is the first of many postings that add additional information or make corrections to the text of Oracle Discoverer 10g Handbook. All corrections will be posted in red while additional information will be posted in blue.

The first bullet on page 802 should read as follows:
In the URL Expression field, enter /discoverer/app

The first letter of the word discoverer should be in lower case, not upper case as printed in the book.

Discoverer - No data displayed

During a recent training class that we gave, one of our students called us to his PC and said that he could not see the data. When we went to investigate, this is what we saw:

Our interest arisen, we wondered why this machine would decide not to display the data. After wasting about 10 minutes trying to figure it out we thought, let's take a look at the format for one of these headings. Perhaps that will give us a clue. So, right-clicking on the Profit, this is what we saw:

Then we realised what the user had done. Have you guessed it yet?

Take a look at the Format Data dialog box:

Now do you see the mistake? Yes, by accident the user had set the background and text colors to be the same. So if you ever see Discoverer displaying strange behavior such as not displaying your data, take a look at the formats you have chosen for your background and text colors and make sure they are not the same.

With a different color selected for the font, the user's screen now displayed correctly:

By the way, setting the background and text colors to be the same is a trick I employ a lot when displaying the results of analytic functions. More on this in future postings.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Oracle Business Intelligence and Discoverer

I guess I cannot let this week go by without commenting on Oracle's BI announcement and statement of direction that was given at a press conference on March 22 in New York. Like many of you, I listened intently as Charles Phillips, President of Oracle, and Thomas Kurian, Senior Vice President of Oracle Fusion Middleware Development, outlined Oracle’s business intelligence platform and expanded portfolio of analytic applications, including the integration of Siebel Business Analytics. I was delighted to hear that Oracle intend on keeping, and extending Discoverer.

I can let you into a secret and tell you that I had personally emailed Thomas throwing my full backing behind Discoverer. I have helped more than 750 organizations with Discoverer in the three years since my wife and I started Armstrong-Smith Consulting so have first hand knowledge of how widespread the use of Discoverer really is. I am absolutely delighted that it is the reporting tool for the Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Standard Edition. In my opinion, Oracle have got it right and I am certainly looking forward with excitement at the new offerings that will come our way in the not-too-distant future. Whilst keeping abreast of Discoverer enhancements, my company will also be working with Siebel Analytics to find out the best way to integrate it with Discoverer's EUL.

I won't make much in the way of in-deph analysis of the announcement because my fellow bloggers Abhinav Agarwal and Mark Rittman have both done an excellent job. If you haven't had a chance to read their comments, take a look.

Upcoming Postings

Now that my book is done and dusted, I have seen a couple of mentions on other blogs regarding a hope that I will offer some more expert Discoverer advice on this blog. Well that's exactly what I have planned. Over the coming months I will be submitting a series of postings dedicated to Discoverer preferences. I intend to try and cover as many of the settings from pref.txt as I can, complete with commentary and before and after screenshots. I will also be publishing additional info that did not make it into my book. If you have any ideas for information or tips that you would like see posted please drop me a line and let me know.
With regards to the Oracle Discoverer 10g Handbook I was delighted to see that last week it received a 5-star writeup on from Dan Gerena. I have also been keeping an eye on the rankings and during the past week it has risen from 54th on March 17 to 24th on March 26 on the list of current bestselling Oracle books. Not bad considering that it has only been on general release for about a week. Will it make the top 10? That's a good question. I would like to think so. I would also like to see it make the top 1,000 of all books being sold on Amazon but I guess that's a tall order. If it makes the top 5,000 I will be pleased. After all, at any moment in time, Amazon have over 2 million books for sale.
By the way, are you coming to Collaborate '06 in Nashville? If so why not come and join me for an all-day advanced Discoverer workshop on Sunday April 23rd.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Collaborate '06 - an introduction

I got home on Friday evening and the first thing I did was go and open my copy of the new Oracle Discoverer 10g Handbook. My co-author is Darlene, my wife and best friend. She is also the president of Armstrong-Smith Consulting and constantly keeps me on my toes! Fresh from the printers, including the index, the new book is 1027 pages long. Wow, did we really write all of that? I think this shows you what we were doing last summer, fall and winter. Our contributing authors were Mark Rittman, who wrote the chapter on OLAP, and Chris DeYoung who wrote most of the configuration chapter and contributed a lot of additional material to the appendix on functions. Thanks to all who contributed, this new book is more comprehensive than the original handbook. I will mention more about those who contributed in future postings but for now all I hope is that you get as much fun reading it as we got writing it.

Well not long to go now until one of the biggest Oracle user group conferences you could hope to find. This conference, if you don't already know, is a joint bash between IOUG, OAUG, and Quest, and is being held at the Gaylord Opry Land hotel, one of THE hotels in all of America. If you like country music then not only is Nashville the home of country music but right next door to the hotel is the Grand Old Opry. If you get a chance to stay a couple of extra days then don't miss out on getting tickets for Friday or Saturday evening. The other thing you will like about Tennessee is the weather. This is my home state and the weather in April is fantastic.

I'm looking forward to this conference for several reasons. First of all because I am presenting. On the Sunday of the conference, in association with OAUG, I will be giving an all-day workshop on the best of the new Discoverer 10.1.2. This workshop is an additonal cost and if you want to enroll click here. Then, a couple of days later, on Tuesday 26th April, between 3:30 pm and 5:45 pm I will be presenting a training session on how to build an effective EUL. This two-hour session, with a small refreshment break in the middle, will then be followed by a book signing for my new Discoverer 10g Handbook. I think this will take place in the conference bookstore but am not 100% sure. As soon as I find out I will let you know. Don't have a copy of the book? If you attend either my workshop or training session I will be giving away a copy as a door prize at each event. Just make sure you drop your business card in the box. The drawing will take place at the end of each session, although you must be present to win.

Another reason for my attendance at this conference is the for the chance to meet up with colleagues and friends. Just who will drop out of the woodwork is always an unknown but every year I am pleasantly surprised. This year I am looking forward to meeting up with Mark Rittman who contributed the OLAP chapter for the new book. I was hoping that my technical editor from Oracle, Abhinav Agarwal, would be there but it seems that this will have to wait for another day. Other folks I look forward to seeing are Faun deHenry, David Fuston, Dan Vlamis, Mike Ault and Don Burleson. Along with Faun and David, I was one of the original DW / BI SIG members, having at one time been its secretary. I have worked on projects with both Mike Ault and Don Burleson. I also always like to make a point of dropping in on the TUSC stand to meet up with old friends that I have there too. So you see, I will have lots of things to do and lots of people to meet. If you know me, pop along to one of my presentations and say hello. If you buy a copy of my new Discoverer book from the conference bookstore, catch me and I will sign it for you.

Finally, do you want some Discoverer training? If you do, my company is offering our famous Nashville training at the Hampton Inn and Suites by the Nashville airport the week prior to the conference. We will give you a discount of 10% if you are attending the conference, so why not combine the conference with training for the price of the same air fare.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

At last the new book is out

I am working in Nashville this week, which is pretty fortunate for me because my home is only 75 miles away. Nevertheless, because of the distance I am staying in a hotel. Mind you, it is a fantastic hotel. If you have never been here, it's called the Union Station and is located right in the heart of Nashville. My room also overlooks the railway line which for me is heaven sent because all I ever wanted to do when I was a boy was to drive a train.

Anyway, earlier this week I was informed by McGraw-Hill, our publishers, that our new book was about to hit the shelves and that our personal copies were about to be shipped. You can imagine the smile that came over my face when Darlene, my wife and co-author, called me today to let me know that our copies had arrived. She said the book looks great. I hope so because it took almost one year of effort to put it together. The image below is the front page.