Layout   and   Presentation     
          What will the users see?  






The first consideration when shortlisting a BI suite for a more detailed evaluation is what does the end result look like, “What will the users see?” – on the basis of which you will come up with either a “definitely not” or a “maybe”. To help answer this question in the case of Pentaho, we’ll examine a collection of sample screenshots.





Pentaho offers much the same range of prompts as OBIEE (from 11g onwards):


*  Multi-item LOVs (“Country”)

*  Radio Buttons (“Product Line”)

*  Check Boxes (“Job Title”)

*  Drop-Down LOVs (“Manager”)

*  Edit Boxes (“Portfolio”)

*  Dates (“Start Date”)


but with the addition of tick-box arrays, such as “Territory”, that can be arranged either horizontally or vertically (note that the distorted banding seen in the sample “Territory” prompt is an artefact of the screenshot):

      Figure 1: Pentaho - Sample Prompts


Some of these prompt types allow multiple values to be selected (as shown in the “Territory”, “Country”, and “Job Title” examples).


One prompt can be constrained by the value(s) of another (for example, the “Country” prompt is constrained by the two values selected for the “Territory” prompt).


Unlike the case with OBIEE, there is no need to click on an “Apply” button each time a prompt selection is changed; instead, the dependent reports and charts are updated immediately. Hence, a collection of tick-box style prompts, such as that used for “Territory”, can be combined together to create the QlikView-style displays much beloved by senior executives – typically, following each click on a selected item, the report or chart is updated within a second (as Pentaho uses an OLAP engine backed up by an in-memory data cache, report response times are usually much faster than those obtained with OBIEE, making Pentaho’s Analysis-style reports and charts ideal for intensive data discovery if all the data can be cached in memory).



Ad Hoc Analysis Reports


Ad Hoc Analysis-style reports are very similar to OBIEE A&D tables and pivot tables, with some additional functionality, such as the ability to specify the display for pivot table cells with missing measure values, and the ability to embed micro bar charts within each cell. As can be seen from the following example, the latter feature is particularly useful when it comes to making a quick visual determination of the vertical and horizontal trends in the pivot table cell values:

      Figure 2: Pentaho - Sample Ad Hoc Report



Ad Hoc Analysis Charts


Ad Hoc Analysis-style charts are very similar to OBIEE A&D charts, and include all the standard types:


*  Column

*  Stacked Column

*  100% Stacked Column

*  Column-Line Combo

*  Bar

*  Stacked Bar

*  100% Stacked Bar

*  Stacked Bar

*  Line

*  Area

*  Pie

*  Sunburst

*  Scatter

*  Heat Grid

*  Geo Map (using Google Maps)


for example:

      Figure 3: Pentaho - Sample Ad Hoc Chart



Ad Hoc Interactive Reports


Pentaho ad hoc interactive reports often look as though they have been created using a pixel-perfect reporting tool, like BI Publisher, but they are, in fact, created within a web browser in the same way as Pentaho Analysis reports and charts. This facility allows end users to create reports with a fine-degree of control over layouts features, such as font type and size; for example:

      Figure 4: Pentaho - Sample Interactive Report



Pixel-Perfect Reports


Just as OBIEE has a separate pixel-perfect reporting tool called BI Publisher, Penatho has one called Report Designer. As can be seen from the example, Pentaho offers fine-grained control over the layout, including the embedding of images:

      Figure 5: Pentaho - Sample Pixel-Perfect Report