Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Goodbye Reports, Hello BI Publisher and Logica’s BIP booklet!

Did you ever had to revise custom reports? DId you ever try to move the address a few millimetres to the right because off the introduction of new corporate stationery? Did you ever get headaches because the reporting tool Oracle Reports Developer was crashing once more destroying your recent modifications?

There is a new kid in (reporting) town…

With the introduction of the reporting tool BI Publisher (formerly XML Publisher) these problems are history. Using the tool introduced by Oracle in 2004 as XML Publisher the main disadvantages of the classic reporting environment become outdated:

1. No open standard
2. Not a user-friendly interface
3. No automatic report translations
4. No support for all formats
5. Extraction of data from a non-Oracle DB is problematic
6. Extensive tool training
7. High development costs
8. ‘Eternal’ maintenance
9. High upgrade costs

Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher makes a strict distinction between data extraction, layout and user interface, which dramatically reduces the costs of development and maintenance. Data can be delivered in many forms and from many sources (i.e. DB (query), XML Data template, Webservice…) making development and maintenance more flexible. The layout can be designed using familiar Desktop tools like Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, Excel; making layout maintenance an easier job. The formatting engine of BI Publisher blends the Data source and the Layout into the actual Report output. This output can have different formats: Adobe PDF, Word, Excel or XML files. In addition, BI Publisher can use an XML-standard for translations (XLIFF) enabling reports to be translated in different languages.

BIP picture-2

Integration with Oracle’s Applications

And the good news is there is an out-of-the-box integration with Oracle Applications E-Business Suite. Integration is also possible with Siebel, PeopleSoft Enterprise and JD Edwards. Even though lots of info is available at Oracle’s BI Homepage there was no real practical hands-on booklet about BI Publisher for Oracle Applications.

Logica’s BIP hands-on Booklet

When designing custom BIP reports for use in Oracle E-Business Suite we concluded that the relevant information was quite scattered over different sources (Oracle sites, Blogs, Developer’s Guide). It lacked a practical hands-on guide on the subject. Therefore we gathered our experiences in a booklet. If you are interested in a hard copy (sorry, only in Dutch), please contact us.

Available now: Goodby Reports, Hello BI Publisher

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Category: General / Technical
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5 Responses (last comment shown first)

September 28, 2010
Phil Woods
Phil Woods

“want to do something on the first page of a repeating group”

Only way i’ve found to fix this is:

I haven’t mastered the templating properly yet so i’ve have to duplicate everything from then on.

[Reply to this comment]

June 10, 2010

Surprisingly, I am never able to find anyone complaining about the disadvantages of BI Publisher. As someone who’s primary job responsibility is creating reports, I can tell yo that BI/XML Publisher has some big problems. And it seems that being able to make templates in MS Word blinds everyone to these major problems.

I do indeed use XML Publisher, and I find it very useful in some cases. The one case in which I find it useful is where there is a data set, and different people want to view different sub-sets of the data, or view it summed or grouped in different ways. In this case, if the users want simple output, then XML Publisher works great.

Where one starts to run into problems is when you want to make professional looking documents. Specifically ones that appear as though they were printed on pre-printed stationary. There are indeed examples of how to do this, but this is ONLY if your details line height will never change, and not only that, but it is quite complicated.

The next case where you run into problems, is when you want to do something on the first page of a repeating group. Now, I know about the beginning and end sections of the entire report, and I am not referring to this. What I am referring to is when you have a for-each, and one iteration will span multiple pages, and you want one thing to print on the first page of that iteration, and something else on the rest of the pages of that group iteration. I have not found a solution to this yet, but if there is a solution, it is not as simple as adding a single setting or tag.

Both of the examples I gave are mind blowingly simple in Oracle Reports. And these are not the only cases where something extremely simple in Oracle Reports is either impossible or extremely difficult in XML Publisher.

I disagree with some of the disadvantages listed for, what I assume is, Oracle Reports:

2. Not a user-friendly interface

I find Oracle Reports to be quite user friendly. The XML Publisher interface in MS Word, in my opinion, is friendly if you only use the wizard, and don’t want to do anything complex. If you do, you have to use obscure tags, many of which are not well explained in the developer’s manual, or are not there at all.

6. Extensive tool training

I agree with this point, but again, only if someone is using the wizard in MS Word. If you are going to do something very, very simple, such as displaying tabular data, you can do all of this with the wizard, and training is almost nil. But, if you want to do much work in the medium to advanced level, this is where Oracle Reports really excels. One can be trained to work at this level very easy in Oracle Reports, but training someone to make XML Publisher reports at this level would be quite difficult.

7. High development costs

See above.

Certainly I don’t want to say that BI/XML Publisher is worthless. It absolutely has cases where it is great, but a complete replacement for Oracle Reports it is not. As I said before, so many simple features of Oracle Reports are either missing or difficult. Someday, as they continue to develop the tool, it may be able to replace Oracle Reports, but that day is not today, and I don’t see that happening for quite some time to come.

[Reply to this comment]

July 26, 2009
Jim Brandemuehl
Jim Brandemuehl

How do I down load a soft copy

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Administrator Reply:

I’m afread we have only hardcopies (in Dutch only) available…

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March 25, 2009

Hi Klasien,

Is it also possible to download a digital version of this book?

Thanks for the great post and book.

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