Thursday, December 1, 2011

Classic Excel Add-in on 64-bit Windows 7

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post about getting the OlapUnderground Outline Extractor running on Essbase, the classic Excel add-in did not work on my laptop.   In my case, when I attempted to login to Essbase, the Essbase Login dialog did not display.  As a result, I could not connect to Essbase.  My laptop behaved like this for a number of months and, frankly, I didn't miss the add-in that much.  Dodeca has an add-in mode where I can do everything the classic add-in does and more.  Still, I wanted the classic add-in to run. I often use the classic add-in to create report templates for deployment in Dodeca.

Recently, when my QA team was working on support for the Outline Extractor in version, they discovered a new requirement for the PATH environment variable.  There is a new directory, the bin-32 directory installed under the EPM home directory, that is now required for the Essbase client API's to work.  This directory appears to contain dll's related to Oracle security.  The solution to get the classic add-in running on my machine was to add this new directory to the PATH environment variable.

I have an additional complication on my laptop as it also runs my Essbase server.  Needless to say, I am very careful when considering changes to environment variables.  I decided to create a command file to temporarily set the environment variables and then launch Excel.  Now, when I launch Excel using the following command script, the Essbase add-in works correctly.

set ARBORPATH=%EPMHOME%\common\ESSBAS~2\1112~1.0

set PATH=%ARBORPATH%\bin;%EPMHOME%\bin-32;%PATH%


start "C:\Progra~2\MIF5BA~1\Office11\EXCEL.EXE" %XLL_LOCATION%\bin\essexcln.xll

I find it more dependable to use the 8.3 filename format when creating command scripts.  Keep in mind that the 8.3 filenames may be different on your machine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Strange New(?) Error Message in Essbase API

I have been working with Essbase and am seeing an error message that I don't remember seeing in previous Essbase versions.  The new error message is:

Unknown Error: Not a valid entry

I saw this message a couple of times over the past couple of days when working with Essbase members.  On the first occasion, I was calling the IEssCubeOutline.getDimensions() method and saw this error:

Cannot get child member names. Essbase Error(1013383): Unknown Error: Not a valid entry

I traced this issue to code that inadvertently called IEssCube.clearActive() before calling the IEssCubeOutline.getDimensions() method.  The second instance happened when I called IEssMember.getRelatedMemberNames() on an IEssMember object that was obtained from an IEssMemberSelection object.  In this case, the error number was slightly different:

Cannot get related member names. Essbase Error(1013384): Unknown Error: Not a valid entry

I expected the second exception to occur.  The getRelatedMemberNames() method, which returns an array containing the parent, sibling and first child information, is not available unless you obtain the IEssMember object by querying an IEssCubeOutline object.  I was simply surprised that the error message was the same.

Of course, it is confusing that all member objects are not created equal in Essbase.  It will be a great day when Essbase returns a full IEssMember object regardless of the method used to obtain it.  That being said, I am not holding my breath.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

OLAPUnderground Outline Extractor on - Updated Path Requirements

We are starting to get OlapUnderground users who have installed and are seeing problems with the Outline Extractor.  We also had issues with this version of the Outline Extractor.  Some of the typical symptoms were that Essbase dialogs, such as the login dialog, did not work.  In fact, I saw this same behavior in the classic Excel add-in on my machine; it did not work.  My QA team went to work and found a couple of interesting things about Essbase API applications in

First, there is a new requirement for another directory in the path statement.  After a bit of searching, our QA guys found the following article on Oracle's MySupport site (Document ID 1322496.1):

Problem : Running a 32-bit VB API on a 64-bit Essbase Server Fails With "ERROR: Essbase Initialization Failed, StatusCode = 1030803

This document explains that the "environment has to use the bin-32 directory to get 32-bit VB API programs to run on the 64-bit server."

There is a new directory that must be in the PATH environment variable!  As I am running the 64-bit Essbase server on my machine, I didn't want to change the PATH of the operating system on the chance it would break the Essbase server.  Instead, I created a cmd file to set the appropriate environment variables and run the Outline Extractor.  Here is the complete command file:

@rem This command file uses the 8.3 filename format.  
@rem The 8.3 filename may vary between machines, so 
@rem be sure to check the paths carefully.  Use dir /x
@rem to find the filenames in the 8.3 format.


set ARBORPATH=%EPMHOME%\common\ESSBAS~2\1112~1.0

set ESSLANG=English_UnitedStates.Latin1@Binary

set PATH=%ARBORPATH%\bin;%EPMHOME%\bin-32;%PATH%


Note that I used 8.3 filename format.  I quickly tried using double-quotes around long filenames to these directories in an attempt to make it run without the 8.3 filenames.  I didn't get it right the first time and didn't put any more time into it; the script with 8.3 filenames worked the first time.

A second thing we noticed about the Essbase VB API is that the VB supporting files, most notably esb32.bas declarations file that defines the functions in the dll's, do not appear to be in the distribution.  We did find esb32.bas in the samples, but they were from Essbase 9.3

Finally, due to the missing esb32.bas, we have not yet shipped an official version of the Essbase Outline Extractor for  The likely case is that no declarations changed and we can just use the version with an updated ESB_API_VERSION variable.  Until we do that, when you run the Essbase Outline Extractor with Essbase, you will see a dialog that warns you are using the incorrect version of Essbase.

If you are using the Essbase Outline Extractor for, you can ignore this warning and the Extractor should still run successfully.

Note: I will follow up with a similar post on how I got the classic Excel add-in working on my machine.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We finally got out and did something here in the beautiful city of Sydney.  Yesterday, Darlene and I did the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb with Mark Rittman and Stuart Bryson from Rittman Mead along with Stuart's wife Pamela.  Here is a shot from the top of the bridge.

After the climb, we met up with Ash Beauman from Rittman Mead Australia for a few beers and even some late night clubbing around The Rocks area of Sydney.  Of course, we had plenty of time to discuss OBIEE and how Essbase fits into the picture; I guess we are all true geeks.

Later, I pulled an all-nighter to go on-line and watch my Michigan Wolverines play Iowa; I didn't like the result.  Today, it is off to Manly Beach to explore another part of Sydney.

Friday, November 4, 2011

NZOUG / ODTUG SP Sydney Wrapup

It is Friday afternoon and my busy week of speaking is over.   It started out in Auckland, New Zealand at the NZOUG conference.  It was a great conference and the special event, a dinner with an interactive mystery game, was excellent.  

Wednesday, we flew to Sydney for the ODTUG SP Conference.  The flight was on Qantas and, due to the airline shutdown earlier in the week, we had to check-in for the flight 2 hours ahead of time or risk losing our seats.  Qantas also enforces a weight limit of about 16 pounds per carry-on bag.  We didn't know that until we tried to go through security and we were sent back to check-in to check one of our carry-on bags.  Once airborne, however, the flight was great and I relaxed, watched the movie and enjoyed the meal service.  They even brought ice cream bars for dessert!  As we approached Sydney airport in the plane, we had a great view of the harbor, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the famous Sydney Opera House.

The SP Conference was well attended in both the BI and the EPM tracks.  I participated in the keynote where I got to tell everyone about the new version of Smart View.  I also had the honor of introducing the Oracle Fusion Accounting Hub.  This new product shows Oracle's deep commitment to Essbase and I will be doing a blog post with more details in the near future.   

My first session in Sydney covered Essbase techniques in Excel.  This session first discussed the new version of Smart View and I threw in some live demos.  The new Smart View brings near-parity to the classic Excel add-in and thus makes available a number of techniques that did not work with the older Smart View versions.  I also covered how Essbase 'Query-by-Example' grid layouts work and, based on the applause at the end, the session was very well received (or the attendees where very polite).

My final session was this afternoon and focused on Essbase API tips and tricks.  The SP conference is now complete and it is time to relax for a while.  I have been in Australia for 48 hours and haven't seen the famous Sydney Opera House yet.  It is only 2 or 3 blocks from our hotel, but I haven't really been outside at all.  We are headed out for dinner tonight and will be staying in Australia until next Wednesday, so I am sure I will see it soon.  

Tomorrow morning, we are doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb with Mark Rittman and Stewart Bryson from Rittman Mead.  We will certainly see it then.

Speaking of Mark Rittman, he tweeted about the dangerous animals featured on the wall displays leading to customs in Sydney Airport.  At lunch yesterday, he pulled up a 'Top 10' list of Australia's most deadly animals.  I guess there are some nasty creatures here; the Great White Shark is only the 9th most deadly animal on the list!   I will be sure not to let down my guard.

Monday, October 31, 2011


New Zealand is a beautiful country and we had a wonderful time on the weekend visiting the Coromandel Peninsula.  I am now at the NZOUG conference, but I am outraged and need to let you know one thing in case you ever come here to visit.  Leave your internet devices at home and don't plan to communicate unless you are prepared to empty your pocket. 

I am staying at the conference hotel, The Pullman, where internet connectivity is $28.50/day/device.   I was told I could upgrade to have access to the 'The Club' level for $40/person/day and that I would have unlimited internet.  Given the fact that Darlene and I have 3 devices between us, and for the free snacks and drinks in the Club level, I decided I would upgrade us.  

When I connected, it seemed strange that I was being prompted to login and agree to the $28.50/day even though I had the 'Club' status, so I went to the front desk.   I was getting charged for both the club and the daily rate.  What?  Apparently, the clerk at check-in told me about the free internet in the 'Club' level but failed to mention that the internet was free only when you were on their computers in the 'Club'.  So, with my devices *and* the 'Club', I was being charged $165/day for internet access.  That is actually more than I paid for the room!  On top of that, I had paid an extra $300 this month just to have phone/3G service on my iPhone in New Zealand.   The hotel manager did agree to cancel my 'cCub' level access and remove those charges which was a nice gesture, the the idea that we are still paying nearly $90/day for internet access that drops when you move from room to room has left a bad taste in my mouth.

On a side note, on our first day in New Zealand, we stayed next door at The Quadrant hotel.   I liked the rooms better and they had free internet.  Next time, I will stay there the entire time. 

OK..  I feel better now..   Besides, Edward Roske is here with his wife; he told me they have 4 devices!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Limits of SSPROCROWLIMIT are History

At Open World, in light of the announcement of Exalytics, I suggested during a panel discussion that the limit for SSROWPROCLIMIT be raised.  In case you are not familiar with the setting, let me tell you about it and its implications.   SSPROCROWLIMIT is an Essbase config file setting that controls the maximum number of spreadsheet rows Essbase processes on a Spreadsheet Add-in request. It is used only when suppress missing rows is turned on.  The rows subject to the limit are counted before suppression.

The problem with this setting is the small number of rows allowed, as the default value is 250,000 and the maximum value is 500,000.  That probably wasn't a bad limit when this setting was introduced in the very early days of Essbase.  At that time, I was running a fast Pentium machine with 1 Mb of RAM and 2 1Gb SCSI drives.  At that time, 500,000 rows was huge.   Now, with Exalytics and 1 TB of RAM which is, if I did the math correctly, more that a million times more memory than my old Pentium, the same 500,000 row limit seems quite confining.  At the same time, Essbase outlines keep growing.  I have a customer who has 380,000 members in one dimension in a BSO database!  If they tried to zoom in, suppress missing, on this and any other dimension, Essbase would need an SSPROCROWLIMIT of 760,000 rows if the second dimension had only 2 members.   Further, the row limit enforced by this setting considers the number of rows before suppression. This means that it doesn't matter whether the query actually returns more than 500,000 rows or just a single row after suppression, the limit is used internally during the suppress missing processing.

I sent a quick email to the Essbase program manager after Open World and, like magic, he let me know that the latest Essbase version,, has removed the upper limit.  Sure enough, I checked the readme.html for the new patch and here it is:

The Essbase.cfg setting SSPROCROWLIMIT no longer has a maximum value of 500,000. The maximum number of spreadsheet rows Essbase processes on a request can now be set to 16,384 or higher. It is not recommended to use a limit higher than 500,000.

I haven't tried it yet, but I am sure I will in the near future.   I know a number of customers who will be excited about this change.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Blog Entry for ODTUG

I have written a guest blog entry about my upcoming trip to speak at Oracle conferences in New Zealand and Australia.  In the post, I discuss a couple of my plans for the trip and talk a bit about the sessions I am going to present.  The blog entry now posted at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dodeca 6 is Here!

We have been working very hard over the past year and are pleased to announce we are ready to release Dodeca, version 6.  In past major releases of Dodeca, we have focused on a theme and this release is no different.  The theme for Dodeca 6 is high performance.

The performance enhancements encompass changes to both the Dodeca server and the Dodeca client.  The server changes include a major refactoring of both the Dodeca and the Dodeca-Essbase server components.  The changes to both servers include:
  • Implementation of a new, object-oriented framework that makes it easier for us to add new functionality in the future.  It also makes it easier for customers and partners to extend the server functionalities of Dodeca.
  • Significantly improved performance reading and writing the xml used to communicate with the client.  In fact, in the case of large documents, xml read/write performance has been improved by more than 2000%.
  • A new logging infrastructure that allows customers to better understand the internal operations of the servers.  Each server has both a timed log and an untimed log.  The timed log allows customers to see internal timings in the server which can be very useful for performance tuning.
Additionally, to both improve performance and to add flexibility for dynamically generated Essbase templates, we have also added relational caching of the Essbase outline.  Though this capability is optional, we think it is a nice new functionality.

The client also has some impressive performance enhancements.  These enhancements include:
  • Significantly improved performance reading and writing the xml used to communicate with the Dodeca-Essbase service.
  • The new Accelerator that can improve the overall performance of our .NET client by up to 400%.
  • We have also added some new functionality that we think users will love.  For example, Dodeca now features:
    • Multi-level Essbase undo/redo.
    • An Essbase Unknown Members explorer
    • Customizable Excel AutoCalculate to display sums, averages, etc of a selected range in the status bar.
    • New options for inserting/deleting rows, columns and worksheets.
    • Over 10 new workbook script methods and functions.  The new functions and methods enable Dodeca workbook scripts to call a custom web service, to execute custom code on the Dodeca-Essbase server, to get the dimension name represented at a given member cell and to obtain a GUID from the operating system, among other features.
The performance we are seeing in Dodeca is quite astonishing.  We have a number of customers who have the desire to retrieve large amounts of data from the Essbase server.  Oracle, with its new ultra-fast Exalytics hardware, validates this customer requirement by producing hardware to support large and fast Essbase operations.  Yesterday, I did a zoom-in during a webcast demo that returned nearly 190,000 cells of data; it was about 9,500 rows by 20 columns.  The operation completed in about 2 seconds.  The means Dodeca was able to make a request to Essbase, Essbase retrieved the data, and the data was returned into the spreadsheet, at a rate of approximately 95,000 cells per second.

I also was doing some stress testing a few months ago and did a large zoom-in operation.  Here is a screenshot of the spreadsheet after the zoom.

This retrieve, where the grid size was 803,530 rows by 9 columns, processed through our server in just over 42 seconds.  How do I know that?   I could see it in the Dodeca logs:

The items circled in the log indicate the grid size before the zoom-in, the grid size after the zoom-in and the milliseconds to complete the entire transaction.  Since this screenshot was taken, we have done further work on the logs to separate items that have sizes/times associated with them and things that don’t have associated times.  Further, the default formatting for the timed logs use pipe-delimiters between the fields so the log can be imported directly into a relational database, or even into Excel, for further analysis.

I have covered a bunch of things in this blog entry but there are a bunch of new things in Dodeca 6.  When we began work on the servers, I put in many, many 80+ hour weeks researching and working on conceptual designs for the server.  I was telling someone recently about my experiences during that time.  Basically, I didn’t shower for days at a time and my hair gets greasy after 1 day, so I wore a toque (or stocking hat).  I wore one of my many hooded sweatshirts, kept my headsets on and was generally anti-social.  My family barely got a word in and most of my friends at Starbucks didn’t even recognize me.  The person to whom I was telling this was another programmer and familiar with the concept.  He said to me, “So, you went into Unabomber mode!”  I guess you could call it that.  For everyone who reads my blog on a regular basis, perhaps you can see why my posts have become a bit scarce over the last year.

In summary, this post talks about a few of the key aspects of Dodeca 6.  I will delve into some of these topics deeper as time goes by, but for now, I will leave this post with a bit of a puzzler for you.  Below is a screenshot of one of the new samples created using the out-of-the-box functionality of Dodeca 6.   This sample view features write-back to Essbase, but it breaks the rules of Essbase a bit.   Tell me, what are at least 3 of the normal Essbase rules we broke and how did we do it?  I will send a free Dodeca T-Shirt to the first 5 correct answers posted in the comments below.

Note that I have to approve the comments before they show up in the comments, so I will know who the first 5 people are.  For those of you who have already seen this demonstrated, you are ineligible to win but, then again, you probably already have a bunch of Dodeca T-Shirts.  Winners need to send me email once you have been identified as a winner and include your name/address/size so I can mail the shirt.  Also, if you want to win a shirt, use your real name when you post the comment as I don’t want to try to manage sorting out who the real ‘anonymous’ is.

So, how did we make this work?

Using the Java API to Logout Users From a Server

There was a question on the Network54 board today regarding the Java API and logging off all users from a given application.   I quickly wrote up a quick (but untested) bit of Java API code as an example, but decided to post it here as Network54 mangles the formatting of code examples.   Without further ado, here is the code in a more readable format:

void disconnectUsersOfApplication(IEssOlapServer server, String applicationName) throws EssException {
    // get the connections to the server
    IEssIterator connections = server.getConnections();

    // loop the connections
    for (int i = 0; i < connections.getCount(); i++) {
        // cast to a connection info object
        IEssOlapServer.IEssOlapConnectionInfo connection = 

        // if the connection is to the target app
        if (connection.getConnectedApplicationName()
         .equalsIgnoreCase(applicationName)) {
            // log them off

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Essbase Strategic to Oracle Fusion

We have been hearing that Essbase is a core technology in the Oracle Fusion strategy, but what is Fusion and how does Essbase fit?

In general, Fusion is the next generation set of applications from Oracle. Oracle has acquired a number of companies over the past several years and each company, like Hyperion, brought compelling functionality to the Oracle family.  Each product they acquired, however, presented significantly different user experiences.  Under the covers, the acquired products were also significantly different as they were built on a variety of technical frameworks.

In Fusion applications, Oracle is bringing together the world class applications they have acquired into a single suite.  Fusion is not simply a marketing slogan nor is it simply a creative packaging of the acquired products.  Instead, Fusion is a completely new product line that takes the best ideas from the acquired products and incorporates them into a single, rationalized product.  These products have been rewritten from scratch using a single UI platform, the Oracle Application Development Framework ("ADF") which is an industry standard Java technology that runs on Oracle Middleware.  Oracle ADF delivers a standard set of components which are available to customers and partners and when customers want, or need, to extend the Fusion applications, the extension will be written in the same ADF Framework that Oracle uses to build the products.

So, how does Essbase fit in?  I had previously heard that Essbase will be incorporated into the Fusion Financials General Ledger as the standard allocation engine.  I was thrilled to hear this week that the Fusion Financials General Ledger will also automatically spin off Essbase analytic cubes.  This is great news for all of us that love Essbase as it places Essbase into *every* Oracle customer.  With all of the love Oracle has given Essbase this year, this has been the best Oracle Open World ever!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oracle Annouces the Exalytics Business Intelligence Machine

Larry Ellisom opened Open World with a keynote on the theme of Extreme performance and focused on how the Oracle Exadata and Exalogic servers have hardware and software engineered together for performance.

The Exa* line feature both parallel hardware and software.  That means the servers, network, storage, vm's, OS, database and middleware all run parallel with no single point of failure.  The Exa* line uses a Hybrid Columnar Compression algorithm to compress the data in memory.  The computers also use Infiniband network connectivity within the machine which provides a 10x performance increase over TCP/IP.  Combining the compression with the network performance gains, Oracle is claiming 100x performance increases.

Likewise, the Exa* line has massive amounts of RAM inside the machine.  How much?  You guessed it.  10x more.  Combining the 10x compressed memory with the 10x more RAM means 100x more data in memory.

In summary, the Exa* line is fast.  Oracle cited results from customers including BNP Paribas where the data warehouse ran 17x faster with no other changes.

So, what does this have to do with Essbase?  Larry Ellison also announced the new Exalytics Intelligence Machine.  The marketing bulletpoints on this announcement included extreme in-memory analytics, speed of thought analysis, and instantaneous business intelligence.   As many of you remember, Speed of Thought Analysis was one of the Arbor or Hyperion marketing slogans; it is great to see it back!

The details of the machine, though, are really cool.  The hardware features include:

  1 Tb of RAM (which could contain 5 to 10 Tb of compressed data)
  40 cores (4 x 10 Core Intel Xeon CPUs)
  Disk read rates of up to 200 Gb/sec
  40 Gbps Infiniband internal network
  1-10 GBps ethernet external network

Exalytics isn't just hardware.  It comes pre-installed with software as well:

  BI Foundation Suite: OBIEE
  In-memory parallel Analytics
  In-memory parallel Essbase
  In-Memory Parallel TimesTen

So, what the heck is In-memory parallel Essbase?   The short answer is that it is Essbase tuned to work with in-memory data.  So, what does that mean?  They have implemented an adaptive in-memory cache that decides what get stored in memory.  The algorithm adapts to change to the workload and can auto-tune or be tuned by administrators.

What I have learned talking with my sources is that the Essbase server engine has a number of new optimizations that enables it to better utilize large amounts of memory.  Apparently, these optimizations will also be in the upcoming version of Essbase regardless of whether Essbase is running on the Exalytics hardware.  In other words, the improvements will benefit all Essbase customers but the improvements can be more fully leveraged on the Exalytics hardware.

Thomas Kurian, who is the Executive Vice President of Product Development at Oracle, introduced the details of Exalytics in his keynote.  At the ACE Directors meeting last week, we were honored to have Thomas speak to our group where we were briefed on Exalytics.  I have heard Thomas speak a number of times since the Hyperion acquisition and, in my opinion, I think Thomas is truly one of the smartest people in the world.  He is responsibile for hundreds of products yet, last week, I heard Thomas answer a question about support on a specific virtual machine.  Not only did he have the answer, but he referenced a specific device driver file. Wow!

Oracle had an Exalytics machine on display outside the keynote.  Here is a picture of the Exalytics machine (in the foreground; that is an Exadata database machine in the background). 

So, yes, I actually got to touch the new machine.  Oracle didn't announce availability or pricing on the machine.  Of course, I am sure your friendly neighborhood Oracle sales rep would be happy to answer those questions for you.

On the screen in the background, Oracle was displaying the new OBIEE running against Essbase.  It appears they have implemented much of the same type of functionality that was previously available in the Hyperion Visual Explorer add-in for Excel.  This type of visualization is very helpful for spotting patterns in large datasets and I expect it will be very popular.

I look forward to working on an Exalytics based system soon.  I know a number of customers who look forward to having one of these systems. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oracle Support Events at Open World 2011

I was recently on the Oracle support site and saw some interesting information about the Oracle Support presence at Open World 2011.  When I first attended Open World years ago, my impression was that it was the big Oracle sales party.  Since that time, however, I have found more technical content in both the JavaOne and Develop tracks.  One thing I was pleased to see this year, however, is the Support Stars Bar.

The Support Stars Bar is a place where you can meet, in person, with Oracle support people.  I think this is a great step by Oracle as, once a sale is complete, Oracle Support really is the face of Oracle for the customer.  Many times, however, support people are just voices on the phone.  I really like speaking with people I have met in person and, if you like that as well, this is your chance to meet some of the support people.

I found out through the grapevine that at least 3 Hyperion support people will be there:

  • Kevin Lawrence - Senior Manager in charge of Essbase support
  • David Nguyen - Manager in charge of Essbase support
  • Majeed Malik - Senior Tech Support Analyst for BI+ (formerly Brio) 
The Support Stars Bar will be located in the Moscone West, Level 2 Lobby Sunday through Thursday.  

Oracle Support also has an interesting session scheduled for Tuesday.

Best Practices: Supporting Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Applications
Session Number 14910
Tuesday, Oct 4th: 1:15pm-2:15pm
Westin St. Francis, Elizabeth CD – Floor 2

You chose Oracle's enterprise performance management products to help your organization deliver superior results. Now learn how to take full advantage of your software with all the great tools, resources, and product updates you're entitled to through Oracle Support. In this session, Oracle product experts provide proven best practices to help you work more efficiently, plan and prepare for upgrades more effectively, and manage risk. Topics include My Oracle Support best practices, remote diagnostic tools, the My Oracle Support Community, and lifecycle framework reviews. New users and experts alike will leave with fresh ideas and practical, easy-to-implement next steps for successfully supporting Oracle and Oracle Hyperion solutions.

Finally, there is an Oracle Support Community Meetup (Note: Call it a party) on Monday night.  The event is free, but you do have to stop by the Support Stars Bar on either Sunday or Monday to pickup a pass.  The pass will tell you the location of the party (which sounds like it may be at a microbrewery).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Smart View Webcast

As you may have heard on other blogs, the new version of Smart View has been released and it has some pretty cool features.  What that means is, after having been available since Essbase 7X, Smart View is finally good enough, in many cases, to be a replacement for the classic Excel add-in.

Some of the new features include:
  • POV Toggle
  • Formula Preservation
  • Formula Fill on Zoom Operations
  • Sheet level Options
  • Member Name and Alias on Rows
  • Resolve Alias Name
  • Zoom Options
  • Submit without Refresh
  • Duplicate Member Name
  • Member Information
  • Range-Based operations
  • Multi-cell based operations
  • Use Excel Formatting
  • Butterfly Report
  • Substitution Variable Support
  • Linked Reporting Objects
The Smart View team is hosting a webcast this coming Friday THURSDAY morning to show off their new product.  You can sign up for the webcast at on the Oracle support site under document id 1356368.1.   Note that you must have a (free) Oracle account to sign up for the webcast.  My team and I participated on the beta and, despite the fact that I will be at Oracle headquarters that day and the webcast is scheduled for 6 am Pacific time, I will be there.

A few people have asked me about Smart View vs Dodeca and asked if the products compete in the market.  To some degree, Dodeca does compete against Smart View, but it is more of a co-opetition.   We know the Smart View team and have worked closely with them for many years.  In fact, when I was briefed on the functionality, my comment was that Smart View would finally be a decent environment for creating Dodeca templates.  Congratulations to the Smart View team for finally reaching that milestone!

Speaking of Dodeca, we are on the verge of announcing a major new version.  Watch this space over the next few days as we start to show off our work!

Friday, September 23, 2011

OTN Asia Pacific Tour / ODTUG EPM/BI SP Conference in Sydney

I am hitting the road soon as I have been invited to speak in Auckland, New Zealand as part of the OTN Asia Pacific Tour and in Sydney, Australia at the ODTUG Seriously Practical Conference.  Both of these conferences are scheduled for the week of October 31.  Due to commitments at my company, I was unable to speak at other OTN Tour stops in Bangkok, Thailand, Beijing, China and Manila, The Philippines but don't worry.  My friend Edward Roske will be speaking at all locations.

The trip will start in New Zealand with 2 presentations at the NZOUG Conference 2011 on October 31 and November 1.  The presentations, and related abstracts, I am scheduled to do in Auckland are:

Find Meaning in Your General Ledger Using Oracle Essbase

Oracle owns several General Ledger applications and, with the addition Oracle Essbase, now has a world class analytic engine. However, many Oracle general ledger users may not know that Essbase exists or know how it can help them. Attend this session and learn what Essbase and learn how
companies are leveraging Essbase to analyze the data in their General Ledger.

What is Oracle Essbase and How Is It Different From the Oracle Database?

Since the acquisition of the Hyperion suite of products, including the Essbase analytic server, many Oracle professionals have wondered "What is this piece of software called Essbase, how is it different than the Oracle database, and why would I need it?" Attend this session to see Essbase and
the Oracle Database compared and contrasted from both the technological and the business perspectives and to see opportunities for Oracle customers to leverage these technologies.

The first session is completely new content that I need to generate before I leave for Auckland.  My assumption for this presentation is that the audience will be from the Oracle GL user audience and I want to introduce them to Essbase.  I also plan to discuss the Oracle products that link together Essbase and the GL such as ERPi and FDM, but I don't yet have any good videos showing how it works.  Does anyone out there have any cool FDM type of videos you could share?  And, of course, I will also talk about Essbase Studio drillthough and Dodeca.

The second session in Auckland is a session that closely parallels the article I wrote for this quarters ODTUG Technical Journal.

The schedule calls for us to fly from Auckland to Sydney, Australia on Wednesday, November 2 for the ODTUG EPM/BI Seriously Practical ("SP") Conference.   I am doing two different sessions in Sydney on November 3 and 4:

Unleashing the Power of Essbase in Excel

Excel was the original user interface for Essbase and remains the most popular user interface for Essbase data. Attend this session by Tim Tow, Oracle ACE Director, and learn techniques, tips and tricks to make Essbase spreadsheets easier to create, easier to maintain and more performant using both the classic Excel Essbase add-in and Smart View. Tim, who was also one of five charter Microsoft Excel MVPs worldwide, has 16 years of Essbase spreadsheet experience, wrote some of the original Excel/Essbase demoware, and has helped thousands of users over the years.

Best Practices for Expanding Essbase with the API’s

The Essbase API is what elevates Essbase beyond being just a product and turns it, instead, into a platform. Customers can leverage the Essbase APIs to finely tailor their Essbase experiences and can range from simple automations to full applications. Join one of the world’s most experienced Essbase API developers, Oracle ACE Director Tim Tow, and learn best practices for using both the Essbase VB API and the Essbase Java API.

These two sessions will be, for the most part, new content but it is content that comes from what I do *everyday*.  I am excited about the SP Conference as maybe ODTUG can put on SP Conferences in other parts of the world.  Where would you like ODTUG to do a Seriously Practical Conference?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oracle Executive Webcast - Oracle Database Appliance

The Oracle Executive Webcast announced the new Oracle Database Appliance.  Oracle ventured into the hardware space in just the last few years with the introduction of their Exadata database machine.  The Exadata, however, is a very large box intended for very large companies with very large applications (and has a price to match).  The new Oracle Database Appliance is somewhat of an Exadata-lite intended for the SMB and departmental applications.

The appliance itself is a self contained unit with 24 processing cores, 192 Gb of RAM and 12 Tb of storage.  It also has Oracle Database 11g, Oracle Real Application Clusters, Oracle Enterprise Manager and other management pre-installed on Oracle Linux and configured in a dual server configuration.  It also has what Oracle is calling a 'phone-home' feature that can automatically, and proactively, contact Oracle support even before the customer realizes they have an issue.

Software licensing is what Oracle is calling 'Pay-as-you-grow' licensing which means that you can buy the appliance with as little as 2 of the cores enabled and, as needs grow, can upgrade the license to more cores that take little more than a system reboot to enable.   You can also transfer existing licenses to the appliance.

Obviously, one of the advantages of this appliance is the ability to essentially buy the system, plug it in, connect a network cable and turn it on and thus eliminate a bunch of pain acquiring hardware and downloading, installing and configuring software.  One of the quotes in the webcast that stood out for me was that the statement that Oracle is looking for other opportunities to deliver products on an appliance.  Note to Oracle: I think both an Oracle EPM appliance and an Essbase appliance, preconfigured with an Oracle database as the repository, would be very popular!

The appliance is available now.  More information is available on the Oracle website at

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oracle Executives on Oracle Database Webcast

I found out about an Oracle Executive webcast tomorrow, Wednesday September 21, at 1 pm US Eastern Time / 10 am US Pacific Time.  The webcast is focused on the Oracle Database and features Oracle executives

  • Mark Hurd, President;
  • Andy Mendelsohn, Senior Vice President, Database Server Technologies; and 
  • Judson Althoff, Senior Vice President, Worldwide A&C and Embedded Sales

The thing that intrigued me about this webcast is the statement on the registration page that 'Oracle executives will share plans for a new product that will offer customers and partners a faster path to take advantage of the world’s #1 database.'

I am going to try to catch the webcast so I can find out what new product is..  You can register for the webcast at  Note that you must have an Oracle account to register for this webcast.

Oracle Executive Webcast: Oracle Database Product Update

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Consulting and 9/11

This week, I read an interesting blog entry on the effect that 9/11 had on another consultant (  I, too, was affected heavily by 9/11; this is my experience.

Starting in late 1994, I worked primarily as a consultant.  At first, I was doing Excel consulting.  After all, I had co-authored some Excel books and was one of the original five Microsoft Excel Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) in the world.  In early 1995, Dave Farnsworth from Solutions Experts and Ron Moore from Marketing Technologies Group showed me Essbase when we were all working at Smith Kline Beecham in Philadelphia; I was highly impressed.  Shortly afterward, the small consulting firm I worked for was contracted by Microsoft to write some demoware showing Excel as a frontend to Arbor Essbase.  That job changed my life.

Soon afterward, I was on the road every week doing Excel / Essbase consulting all around the country.  I spent tons of time in both California and New York while my wife held down the fort at home.  By 1998, I had ideas for a product, but my colleagues at the consulting firm wanted to continue consulting.  Many of them were not doing the heavy travel at the time, so I decided to leave and founded Applied OLAP.
I spent the first nine months of Applied OLAP doing consulting and spent most of that time in the New York area.  In fact, I spent something like 150 nights that first year at the Newark Airport Hilton; I was on a first name basis with the room service people there.   That initial travel did provide the capital to write a product and our original ActiveOLAP for Essbase product was born.   Having a product, though, led to even more travel.  I took 35 trips to San Francisco in one year!

ActiveOLAP also caused me to write the world’s first web services for Essbase.  Hyperion was highly interested in these web services; they eventually became the Hyperion Application Builder for .NET product and directly affected the architecture of Smart View.  Hyperion also told me they wanted to acquire the technology and invited me to join XML for Analysis Advisory Council.  Interesting story, right?  But what does this have to do with 9/11?

My meeting with Hyperion was on 9/6/2001 and the inaugural XML/A Advisory Council meeting was on Tuesday, 9/11/2001.  I flew to Seattle for this one day meeting and was due to fly home late that evening.   I will never forget the events of that morning; probably no American alive that morning could ever forget.  And although nobody from my family or any of my friends in New York were injured or killed, I still can’t think about what happened without choking up in tears.

I was in a hotel just off the Microsoft campus in Redmond when, early in the morning, my wife called and was upset.  An airplane had hit the World Trade Center and, at that time, it was thought to be a smaller plane.  As we had been flying a lot of trips in our Cessna 210, she asked me “How could that happen?  Didn’t they have GPS?  Could a GPS be off that much?”   I assured her that it wasn’t a GPS problem as I reached to turn on the TV.  Before the TV turned on, my wife screamed as the second plane hit.  That is when I knew this wasn’t a navigation issue.

The XML/A meeting was held that day, but I was the only Hyperion-related representative.  The Hyperion team was on a plane that was forced to land somewhere between San Francisco and Seattle.  There were representatives from many companies including Microsoft, Cognos, Microstrategy and Temtec.  We managed to get some work done that day, but there were some side conversations about how we would all get home.  A number of guys who attended the meeting set off the next morning driving eastbound to Toronto and beyond.  When I was younger, I made the drive a couple of times from my native Michigan to the west coast, so I really wasn’t interested in driving back to Alabama.

That night and the next day, I watched, along with most of the nation, as the search continued for possible survivors in the rubble.  I had worked with some companies in the World Trade Center and been there many, many times.  I remember walking through the mall under the World Trade Center at 3 am during the blizzard of ’96; it was absolutely silent and it seemed as though I was on the only person in the building.  When I traveled to New York, I normally took the PATH train into the World Trade Center from Newark.
Another day passed and I finally decided to get away from the TV for a while.  It hurt not being with my wife and family during this national crisis.  I thought about going to Mt Rainier; it was something grand and beautiful and strong and seemed untouchable for terrorists, but it would require several hours of driving to get there and back.  Instead, I headed to downtown Seattle and ended up at the Experience Music Project, a museum dedicated to guitars.  I saw the guitar played by my guitar hero, Eric Clapton, on the song ‘Layla’ and forgot about New York for a while.

Due to the airline groundings and with people trying to get home any way they could, rental cars where in short supply.  People were renting moving vans to drive themselves home.  I was reluctant to give up my rental car in case I needed to drive across the country, so I engineered a plan to keep my rental car until I knew I had an airline seat.  I parked my rental car at the home of a friend in Seattle and he drove me to the airport.  He generously volunteered to return the rental car after I finally left Seattle.

As I was traveling so much during that time, I had Delta Airlines Platinum status.  That certainly helped me on Friday, 9/14, as I waited 20 minutes in the Platinum line instead of waiting in the ¼ mile long line of those without airline status.  It took only a few minutes to get through the newly rigorous security and into the Delta Crown Room.   A couple of hours later, I settled into a first class seat and, as the plane lifted off, came close to breaking out spontaneously in the ‘Star Spangled Banner’.
In the weeks, months, and even years that followed, I heard from friends I knew to be in or near the World Trade Center.  One friend, a well-known Essbase consultant, was supposed to be in towers but was saved when his boss called a company meeting that morning.  Another friend, who worked at Deutsche Bank, told me he felt jolts but didn’t know what had happened.   He was evacuated a short time later through the basement but still was unaware what had happened.  When he came to the door at the surface, the first responder told him to ‘run and don’t look back’.   Only then did he know the scope of the tragedy.  He ran for his life as office furniture, and people jumping from the towers, fell to the ground all around him.

My wife had been urging me to spend more time at home and it was an easy decision to cut back on my travel.  Travel was fun at first, but I realized after a while that cubicles look the same in every city in the country.  I am happy to report that I have not had Platinum status since that year and, in fact, have probably not been in first class either.  And when I do have to travel, my wife often travels with me which makes exploring cities much more fun.

As a guy watching 9/11 on a TV in a hotel room in Seattle, the events had, and still have, an effect on me.  I can’t start to imagine the effect that the attacks of 9/11 had on the thousands that lost a loved one that day, but I will always keep them in my thoughts.  I am thankful I was nowhere near New York that day.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kscope11: Java API Tips/Tricks Slides

I have been quite busy working on getting Dodeca version 6.0 ready to ship, thus the long delay in getting these slides posted.  I wanted to get these posted, however, as they are unfinished business before I can really start writing about Dodeca 6.  So, without further delay, here are the slides..

BTW, the slides contain the abbreviation 'WWEAD'..   This stands for 'What Would the Essbase Addin Do?'

I also have uploaded some sample code that shows two different variations of signing on to the server, several different ways of getting member information and some examples of grid operations.  The member information example was very interesting as I added a speed test that shows how one particular method is much faster than another.   The code is available for download here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quick Essbase 32-bit on Win7 64-bit Installation Tip

I don't remember if I posted about it, but I have been using 64-bit Essbase on Win7 64-bit system for about 9 months now and have not encountered any significant issues.  Remember, this installation is on my laptop and is used only for my development purposes.   The 64-bit installation was very easy but, when I had my team testing installations on Win7 64-bit, they didn't have very much luck installing Essbase 32-bit in this environment.

This weekend, a blog reader reached out to me for help on installing 32-bit Essbase on Win7 64-bit but, unfortunately, I wasn't able to help him.  He emailed me today and told me he had found a solution!  The trick, apparently, is to run the installer from a 32-bit command prompt (which I didn't even know existed).  I did a quick search and found this tip/trick for running a 32-bit command prompt along with an explanation of how it works differently:

I haven't tried this approach yet but thought I would share it..  Thanks to reader Kevin Tate for this tip!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Got the Plane Back

My plane was in for its annual inspection and I got it back on Tuesday.  Here are a couple of shots leaving Jackson, TN on the flight home.  Thanks to Paul New, who is one of the world experts on the maintenance of Cessna 210's, for these shots.

I was doing about 150 mph has I hit the end of the runway and turned off towards home!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kscope 11 Opening Session: Behind the Scenes

Frankly, most opening sessions at software conferences, with a few exceptions, are pretty forgettable.  I will never forget the Kscope11 opening session.  This is my backstage story.

The ODTUG Board of Directors, myself included, had no idea what we were getting into when Edward Roske was named the Conference Chairman.  I knew Edward had a flair for the dramatic; does anyone else remember the Solutions session from his company that was structured as a musical?   So, what did Edward have in mind for us?  Well, instead of announcing the location of Kscope12 with a slide or two, Edward wrote a 'screenplay' spoofing reality shows starring, you guessed it, the ODTUG Board of Directors!  Yes, we all had plenty of opportunities of make fools of ourselves in public!   As we were so close to LA, we had a professional film crew put together these spoofs!  We filmed all of these videos over about a 7 hour stretch on Saturday, one day before the conference started.   I was in the first four of the videos.  The first reality show?  Survivor!

As people were dismissed from each reality show, they were introduced as the next speaker.  Edward was dismissed in Survivor, via unanimous vote no less, and went on stage to welcome attendees to the conference.  Next up?  American Idol.  Keep in mind as you watch this video that we all selected our own songs and tried to make them very funny.  Further, the panel, comprised of interRel employees Terrance Walker and Danielle White, joined by ODTUG Board Member Mark Rittman (who played a spot-on Simon Cowell), had no idea what songs we were planning to sing, so you get to see their real reactions.

I picked the my song, 'Thank God I'm a Country Boy', as I thought it would crack up the panel, especially if I dressed up in some nice threads for the gig.  Actually, I did grow up on a farm in Michigan, so I really am a bit of a country boy..  Karen Cannell, the ODTUG Journal editor, cracked me up with her song.  She had actually never heard the song before and had to learn it out in the hall just before her performance.   Trivia note: Karen is wearing my Michigan hat that I got a the 2008 Citrus Bowl when my Michigan Wolverines beat the Florida Gators.

Next up was Big Brother.  We filmed all of these videos on Saturday afternoon and I was exhausted after the board meeting all day on Friday and the Saturday Community Service Project (where I restored 3 foosball tables at a Boys and Girls Club).  I was actually sleeping on the floor during portions of filming of this spoof.

There was a scene cut from Big Brother due to the lack of time.  I was supposed to do a 'surprised coming out of the shower scene' as they feature on Big Brother.  Unfortunately, due to my utter exhaustion, I didn't think of a really funny ending for the next spoof, The Bachelorette., until the next day.  More on that after the video.

Yes, Cameron and I, the EPM guys, both met our demise in The Bachelorette  We thought Danielle would certainly give us a rose as she is also a good EPM citizen, but we were sadly mistaken.   By the way, the drama after the dismissal, with Cameron refusing the hug and me having to give her an 'uncomfortably long' hug were both late script changes, but they were actually planned.  Of course, I didn't mind doing my part for ODTUG.     

OK, back to the cut Big Brother scene..  I woke up the next morning and realized we had missed an opportunity for a big laugh..  My thought is that the shower scene should be at the end of 'The Bachelorette' and after I had been dismissed.  I would be surprised coming out of the shower and would exit stage left while the camera stay focused on the shower door.  After about 5 or 6 seconds, Danielle would peek out, look both ways and then sneak away..  I think it would have been a huge laugh!

Cameron and I were then introduced and our job, on-stage, was to introduce the keynote speaker, Joey Asher.  Joey is an author and the founder of a company called SpeechWorks that helps companies communicate better.  The thing is, we introduced a fake version of Joey; it was actually geek comedian Don McMillen.  Don was extremely funny.  Here is a video posted to YouTube by someone in the audience.

After Don McMillen and the real Joey Asher spoke, the next spoof was 'So You Think You Can Dance'.  Board Members David Schleis and Month Latiolais absolutely cracked me up in this video which, by the way, I didn't see until just before the opening session.

Finally, the last spoof was 'The Amazing Race'.  Most of the race was held on Segway's through the sidewalks of Long Beach.  Actually, the entire ODTUG Board did a Segway tour of the facilities on the Thursday before the conference.  It was fun and only a couple of us fell off our Segway during the tour (Hello Edward and Fred).

The race ended on-stage with ODTUG President Mike Riley edging out Board Member John King by a nose.  Mike then had the honor of announcing that KScope12 is coming to San Antonio, Texas!  Next year, we will be at the JW Marriott Hill Country which features 2 TPC golf courses, a spa, an on-site 6 acre waterpark and an on-site, 100-acre nature preserve.  Plan to bring your family to enjoy the facilities while you learn the latest from the experts in the Essbase, Planning, HFM, OBIEE, APEX, PL/SQL, Database Development and Fusion Middleware.

The Kscope12 website is now open.  You can register for the conference, book a room, or even submit an abstract to be a speaker at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kscope11 Lunch and Learn Session - EPM

Here is a link to the EPM Lunch and Learn session which was a panel discussion with a number of us Oracle ACE Directors.  This was one of my favorite sessions of the week though I am bias as I am on the panel.  I was so exhausted by this time of the week, I was just hoping I could put together my sentences without stumbling or degrading into gibberish.

One of my favorite sections of this session was my debate with OBIEE expert, fellow Oracle ACE Director and fellow ODTUG Board of Directors member Mark Rittman.  The debate starts somewhere around the 22:30 mark and, though Mark makes some good points about OBIEE and Essbase and OBIEE itself has some magic in flattening Essbase so data can be mixed/matched with relational data in a SQL query, I stand by my contention that Oracle doesn't get the magic that users see in Excel when they retrieve data from Essbase.

By the way, Mark and I get along quite well despite our debates over technology.

In any case, here is a link to the video:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kscope11 Hyperion Midnight Madness

I can't believe it has already been a couple of weeks since Kscope11; time just flies when you are having fun.  In my case, I managed to get a couple of days of summer skiing in at Mammoth Mountain before heading home to the heat of Alabama.  Since that time, I have been heads down catching up (and working hard on Dodeca 6).  I need to make a few posts to summarize some of the fun things that happened at Kscope11 and, within a few days, to post my slides/sample code from my Java API session.

First, I thought I would talk about one of the unique networking events we have at Kscope, the annual Midnight Madness networking event.  For the past couple of years, this event has featured a game show format and this year, it was Family Feud.   Fellow Oracle ACE Director Glenn Schwartzberg acted as the master of ceremonies and played brilliantly the Richard Dawson game show host character.  The funniest thing happened on one of the questions where Glenn totally lost it and literally couldn't get the words out because he was laughing so hard..

Another very funny thing happened during Family Feud.   The survey question was "Name an Oracle ACE or Oracle ACE Director in the EPM/BI Space".  Yes, I know, boring, right?  Guess who was the top answer?  Book author/Kscope Conference Chairman Edward Roske?  Nope.  He finished second to yours truly..  By the way, the screenshot below was sent to me by Edward..

So, in summary, my career is now officially a trivia answer!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Strange ASO Update Behavior

We recently had a customer report an issue when writing back to an ASO database through Dodeca.  The issue involved writing back #Missing to cells that previously had a value.  Whenever the data was retrieved, the cell did not have a missing value, but rather the cell returned 0.   They also reported that updating the same cells using the classic Excel add-in behaved exactly the same way.   As it misbehaved in the classic add-in as well, we recommended to the customer that they file a service request with Oracle.

Today we heard the result from Oracle Tech Support:

“This is the expected behavior when you load #Missing cells through Excel Add-In or SmartView into an ASO application. The load operations through Excel Add-In loads data into an incremental slice using override mode. In this mode when you load #Missing values into cells that already have a non-missing value, they will be replaced with 0 values.“

Not many companies are writing back to ASO at this time and I wasn't yet aware of this behavior, but now we now another one of the limitations of ASO writeback.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

ODTUG Hyperion SIG Nominations Close Today

If you are interested in building the Hyperion user community, the ODTUG Hyperion Special Interest Group is a great place to start.  The Hyperion SIG Board did some great work over the past year to create the great KScope conference last week in Long Beach and will, I am sure, work hard to create an even better conference next June in San Antonio, TX.  Nominations are open through tomorrow (sorry for the late notice).  This is the info posted on Network 54 about a month ago:

The ODTUG Hyperion SIG is currently seeking nominations for its board. There are three (3) open seats. 1 of these seats can be filled by a vendor/partner.

The board’s responsibilities are:

  • Enable communication with Oracle Corp on direction and strategy
  • Share information and experiences among Oracle Hyperion developers and database administrators
  • Facilitate training and education among the Oracle Hyperion developers and database administrators (DBAs)
  • Provide representation for the Hyperion SIG at Kaleidoscope and Oracle Open World
  • Develop the Hyperion tracks at Kaleidoscope
  • Maintain Hyperion SIG’s web page on with relevant and informative content to the development community

Board member requirements include: current paid member of ODTUG; regular participation in board conference calls; coordinating/contributing to meetings and conferences including ODTUG Kaleidoscope and Oracle Open World.

As a board member, one needs to support and promote the Hyperion SIG goals by taking an enthusiastic role in the activities that help continually provide value to the technical community. Giving a presentation at ODTUG’s annual conferences, assisting with membership and awareness campaigns, mentoring new members and encouraging other developers/DBAs to participate in the Hyperion SIG are just a few ways that board members can display leadership and contribute to the SIG's growth and success.

If you would like to help shape the future direction of the Hyperion SIG by joining the board, please submit the following information to

Phone Number
Head Shot (Photo)
Four to five sentence bio

Please be aware of the following rules/guidelines:
  • Candidates must be a current paid member of the Oracle Development Tools Users Group (ODTUG).
  • Elections are for individual volunteers, not the companies that employ them. The person elected will be a board member. It is recommended that individuals seek approval to run before submission as a candidate.
  • Board will consist of nine members with no more than 50% from employees of Oracle Vendors (50% vendor rule).
  • A board member’s term will last three years. At the end of their term, former members may choose to run for re-election after one year.
  • On any given year, there will be 3 open positions on the board.
  • If positions become open on the board during the year, board members may appoint members at their discretion as long as it does not violate the 50% vendor rule.
  • Nominations will be open now until July 8th.
  • Voting will be from July 11-25th on the ODTUG website.
  • Results will be published July 29th.
Volunteer and get involved!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Essbase Java API - Group Names When Using Shared Services

One of our Dodeca customers had a question about support for Essbase group names when using Shared Services security.  We did a bit of testing and found some interesting results to share.

One of the configuration settings in Dodeca allows Dodeca administrators to limit the sets of views/reports a user can see based on their assigned roles.   The roles can be sourced from a number of places including the Essbase group names.  That being said, with the advent of Shared Services, there is some confusion with the availability, to the Essbase Java API, of certain pieces of security information.  Dodeca uses the following Essbase Java API code to get the group names:

// get the olap user object
IEssOlapUser user = olapServer.getOlapUser(username);

// get the groups for the user
IEssIterator groups = user.getGroups();

// loop the groups
for (int i = 0; i < groups.getCount(); i++) {
  // get the group
  IEssOlapGroup group = (IEssOlapGroup)groups.getAt(i);

  // serialization code removed...

In testing this code in 11.1.2, we found that the group names are returned, but also have an '@' sign and the directory appended as well.  Of course, Dodeca communicates via web services, so the XML stream we saw coming out of Dodeca looked like this:

So, the information is available to the Essbase Java API with the caveat that the group name is postpended with the directory (which makes sense).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dodeca KScope Session - Extending Analytics Beyond Essbase at Wells Fargo with Dodeca

If you are at KScope, make sure you attend our 'vendor session' Tuesday at 9:45 am in Room 101A.  Wells Fargo has a large investment in Essbase and other Oracle technologies with a 14,000+ user community. Attend this session and learn how Wells Fargo turned financial data into integrated business processes using Dodeca.

The presenter, Jeff Barnes, is manager of the Essbase Development Group at Wells Fargo.  Jeff and his team utilize a wide array of Oracle/Hyperion tools including, DRM, Essbase, and Financial Reporting as well as Applied OLAP’s Dodeca to meet the accounting and management reporting needs of the bank.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

KScope Super Ambassadors

If you are attending KScope and want an easy way to volunteer, sign up to be a Super Ambassador.  Here is what a Super Ambassador does:
  • Commit to being present in the same presentation room for a half day (either morning or afternoon). You can pick the room where the sessions you were already planning on attending will be held. 
  • Ambassador Shirt
  • Assist the speaker, if needed, remind the participants to fill out session evaluations, and complete the session information form for each session.
  • Report any problems/concerns to the conference staff.
  • Ask the presenter if the slides he/she is using are the same as what is loaded on the Web site. If not, copy them on to the Super Ambassador flash drive. If the presenter has not loaded the slides, copy them on to the flash drive and tell him/her that we will load the slides.
Login to the Attendee Portal to sign up as a Super Ambassador.  As a reward for your hard work, you will receive a special T-shirt denoting your VIP status, will be invited to volunteer parties and receptions, and will have VIP access at the Grand Event on the Queen Mary.

If you are not registered for KScope, not only will you not be able to volunteer as a Super Ambassador, but you will also miss out on the most intensive Hyperion/Essbase technical gathering of the year.  You can still sign up at

Friday, May 27, 2011

KScope Session Featuring Dodeca: Calix Networks

Tony Banta, from Calix Networks, will discuss how Calix, an industry leader in providing cutting-edge telecommunications equipment and management software, wanted to expand their leadership in the supply chain by more effectively managing both strategic and day-to-day aspects of manufacturing operations. This week, Tony sent me his slides to review and they look really cool! The slides talk about how the company moved from a spreadsheet-based, labor-intensive system to a new, state-of-the-art performance management and cost modeling system. The new system combines a number of technologies including an Oracle database, Oracle Data Integrator (ODI), Oracle Essbase and Dodeca and compares/contrasts several Dodeca grids and charts with their OBIEE versions.
By the way, Tony is senior vice president of manufacturing operations for Calix with responsibility for all aspects of worldwide manufacturing and supply chain operations and will be a very animated and entertaining speaker. He is also a former test pilot, astronaut, and now a warbird pilot.

In fact, Tony gave me a ride in his P-51 Mustang before Open World last year.  I blogged about it here: Here is another video of the same flyover from another perspective; this was shot by my son Logan:

The week before my ride, he was out on a photo shoot in the Mustang. The photographer must not be the flying type:

Finally, if you can't see videos at your place of business, here is a picture of me getting my pre-flight briefing before getting into the Mustang.

Early registration for KScope ends soon, so if you haven't registered yet, register today at

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Essbase Installation Notes

I now have the Essbase stack, including Essbase/Foundation Services/Provider Services/EAS/EIS on my new 64-bit Windows 7 laptop. My youngest son actually did the installation and, if I remember correctly, he only needed to configure the loopback adapter and turn off the UAC (User Access Control) in order for the components to install. He did run the install using the right mouse click 'Run as Administrator' option. The relational datastore on my machine is SQL Server.

I wanted to setup EIS on this new machine and build the sample cubes for our internal testing. A couple of months ago, I posted an article about a problem creating the EIS Sample database from the EIS menu. The same problem, which appears to be an XML parsing issue, still exists in For my new laptop, however, I cheated and copied the TBC and TBC_MD relational databases from my old laptop. I was able to build sample cubes successfully.

My new laptop is a Dell Latitude 6520 with the fastest quad core chip currently offered by Dell. It has the maximum of 8 Gb of RAM and I opted for the 256 Gb SSD drive. This is a fast system and it really rocks! To give you an example, EAS launches in 4 seconds on this machine and Dodeca launches in about 1.5 seconds.

My QA team has also been pounding very hard recently. They have setup a number of VMs internally and noted a couple of interesting things:
  1. When installing with Oracle database as your relational repository, the installation requires the Oracle database to use the UTF-8 character set. I had the QA team search the installation readme's and they found a reference to this in the 11.1.2 readme files. Apparently, the UTF-8 character set was not enforced during 11.1.2 installs.
  2. It appears that relational repository names can no longer contain underscores.  Correction: A reader commented that they had used underscores in both Oracle and SQL Server; I found my laptop also has an underscore in the repository name (in SQL Server).
I haven't personally seen these issues yet, but I thought I would alert everyone out there what my team is seeing you can prepare accordingly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Essbase API - Ephemeral Port Issues/Resources

One of the most popular posts on my blog has been the post where I showed how to open up the number of ports available to Essbase. This is necessary as the Essbase API is quite chatty and, when combined with the small number of available dynamic ports and the long default timeout on these ports in Windows, running out of ports has become an issue.  Most users see this when running many, many repetitive API calls against Essbase. 

One example is when users run the Essbase Outline Extractor against a large database.   Back in the old days when the Essbase API was designed, it probably wasn’t much of a consideration.  These days, however, with million member outlines and really fast computers, it is very easy to run out of ports.

We are currently testing some new Dodeca functionality we plan to introduce this summer that optionally performs some intensive caching of the Essbase outline.  Of course, we ran into the port issue very quickly and, in the course of looking at how the ports have changed in the new versions of Windows, found a couple of interesting links to pass along.

First, I found a nice link that explains how dynamic ports work.  Better yet, this link covers dynamic ports on non-Windows operating systems.  You can see this link at   This link also talks about the new, larger default dynamic port range in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 which now feature a default range of 16,384 ports.

I also found a link to a Microsoft KnowledgeBase article that talks about the new defaults and shows ways to both display, and dynamically increase, the range of ports.  The KnowledgeBase article is located at   I ran the commands listed there on my Windows 7 laptop:

C:\Users\timt>netsh int ipv4 show dynamicport tcp
Protocol tcp Dynamic Port Range
Start Port      : 49152
Number of Ports : 16384

I then increased the number of ports dynamically:

C:\Users\timt>netsh int ipv4 set dynamic tcp start=5000 num=60536

C:\Users\timt>netsh int ipv4 show dynamicport tcp
Protocol tcp Dynamic Port Range
Start Port      : 5000
Number of Ports : 60536

The changes appear to permanent.  I rebooted my machine and found the new configuration remained.