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BI Publisher 11g: Only Good News


Edelweiss Kammermann, UYOUG (Uruguay Oracle User Group)

Oracle BI Publisher is an enterprise reporting solution for authoring, managing, and delivering all types of highly formatted documents. One of the most important characteristics is the separation of the three report design components: data, layout and translation, obtaining flexibility and reducing maintenance.

You can create a report combining different data sources into a single data model which can be shared and used by other reports. These data sources could be of almost any type, like a database, an HTTP XML feed, a web service, an Oracle BI analysis, an OLAP cube, an LDAP server, an XML file, or MS Excel file.

This version of Oracle BI Publisher provides not only multiple and new output formats but also very user-friendly native tools to create layouts. With his own Layout Editor, users are not dependent any more of MS tools to build templates. In addition, all the different outputs that you can define for a report, could be send to a wide range of destinations (printer, email, fax, WebDAV, FTP, etc.), or be published in a portal or dashboard.

There is no need to create different reports for different languages. Each report layout can be translated into more than 150 languages. If it is a standalone installation, BI Publisher supports catalog translations as well. This version includes also automatic internationalization of dates and numbers and font handling.

Oracle BI Publisher can be installed as a standalone product or as part of OBIEE. No matter what option do you choose, you must use Oracle Business Intelligence installer for both types of installation. If you want to install Oracle BI Publisher as a standalone product you need to select only Business intelligence Publisher in the Configure components screen of the Installation. Keep in mind that before installing BI Publisher you must run the Repository Creation Utility in order to create the needed schemas BI_PLATFORM and MDS. The RCU software is available for windows (32 bits) or for linux .

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The figure above shows the new report architecture. In BI Publisher 11g, reports, data models, sub templates and sytle templates are independent objects in the catalog. One data model which can access information from many different data sources, can be used by many reports. This is a great advantage because you define the data that you need once and then this information can be reused. In 10g version, data model was included in the report definition, and if you need the same data again, you had to define it again in a new report. Also at the data model level, you can define Parameters (with or without LOV) and then at the report level decide which parameter you will use. Something similar happens with bursting definitions: you can create many of them at Data model level but you can select only one at the report level. Moreover, a report can use many templates in order to create different layouts.


1. 2. 3. 4. Create data model Create layout(s) Set Report Properties (optional) Add Translations


Data Model defines data that is used by a report and has the following components: Data Sets Parameters Lists of Values Bursting Event Triggers
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A data set obtains data from a single data source and can get data from a wide range of sources as databases, data files, Web services, URLs/URIs, etc. A data model can have multiple data sets from multiple sources and you can establish relationships between them or keep them unrelated.

You can add parameter allowing users to set and filter the data that a report shows. There are different types of parameters that BI Publisher supports: Text, Menu (selected values from a list), Date and Search (using a list of value).

A list of values is a set of values that users will select from to pass parameter value to the report. This list of values can be populated manually enter the values or using a SQL query from a database.

Using bursting you can split the information of the report into blocks based on a key, and then deliver each of these blocks to one or more destinations based on a second key. Both keys have to be in the report data.

There are two possible events for these triggers in BI Publisher 11g: before data and after data. With Before Data event, the trigger fires before the data set is executed and with After Data event, the trigger fires after all data sets are executed and the XML is generated. Each trigger has a PL/SQL function associated which is stored in a PL/SQL Package in the Oracle Database. This function must return a Boolean (true/false values). This code is executed when the trigger is fired.

A flexfield is a specific structure used by Oracle Applications (Oracle E-Business Suite). You can get information from these structures defined in your Oracle Application database tables.

A layout consists of a template file and a set of properties and defines how the data is presented in the report. When you create a new layout, you have to create a new template or select one of the basics templates included with BI Publisher. BI Publisher supports templates created from many sources including Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Flash, and BI Publisher's new layout editor. As it is shown in the picture above a report can include multiple layouts.


The report properties allow you to control many generation, formatting and display aspects. These properties are grouped in five categories: General, Caching, Formatting, Font Mapping and Currency Format. Some of the general properties are allow users to run report online, enable bursting and choose one of the definition.


There are two types of translations supported by BI Publisher: Catalog translations and Template translations. Using catalog translation you can extract translatable strings from a catalog folder in BI Publisher into a file, translate it and then uploaded back into BI Publisher associated with the correct language code. The objects that will be translated are strings from report layout, catalog object description, report parameter names and data display names. This feature allows users who
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change the UI Language and Report Locale settings in My Account preferences to see those items translated. If Oracle BI Publisher is installed as part of OBIEE, BI Publisher catalog translations is ignored because the OBIEE catalog translations is applied instead.
Template translation allows you to extract the translatable strings from a RTF or BI Publisher template (including sub templates and style templates). This option is very useful when you need only to translate the final report documents.


One of the principal features of the version 11g, is the addition of new tools included in BI Publisher to design and simplify the report creation. Part of these improvements is the new Data Model Editor, a GUI tool to create data models. This is a very intuitive and easy to use Editor, which combines multiple data sources, through the creation of data sets, and allows to query, structure and aggregate data. Besides that this editor enables you to create calculations, filter and aggregate data, it allows you to transform data, defining alias for columns to create user friendly business names. Also this version adds new data sources that can be used: Excel, LDAP and ADF View Object.


One of the principal problems that 10g version had, is that it was not a very intuitive tool for end users and in order to create templates they should had use MS tools or some PDF creator with a BI plug-in. That changes in this version with the inclusion of a web design editor that provides a WYSIWYG(What You See Is What You Get), drag-and-drop interface. It uses the sample data in the data model to shows how the information looks meanwhile you drag the different layout components. Thus you can preview your data and modify the layout. The Layout Editor has the following panes in order to make the design easier: Data Source Pane, Component Pane, Properties Pane and Context-sensitive (ribbon style) menus.


With the BI Publisher layout editor you can create reports and display them in a new interactive output type. This interactive viewer enables a lot of interactions as select data from a list of values, sort, filter, and scroll a table data. Also allows filter information through charts, selecting elements of it. This filters are propaged across different components of the reports

A style template is an RTF file that contains layout formatting detail and is applied to RTF Layouts at run time to manage

style information (font type, text color, or table styles) This type of template is useful for create consistent look & feel through organizational reports and also to avoid the need to apply changes to standard information to each report.

A Subtemplate is a piece of formatting functionality and can be defined once and used multiple times within a single layout template or across multiple layout template files. It can be a RTF or a XSL file.

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The difference with 10g Sub templates is that in the 11g version they are independent objects of the BI Publisher catalog, so they are saved and managed as a catalog object and do not need to be stored in an external directory (as in 10g). The most common uses are: reusing a common layout or component (header, footer, or address block), handling

parameterized layouts, dynamic or conditional layout. Also they are useful to handle lengthy calculations or to reuse complex formulas.


The OBIEE 11g version presents a lot of differences, innovations and improvements than 10g version. One important change presented in this version is that OBIEE is not oriented to tools anymore (Answers, Dashboard, Delivers,etc) but to tasks. This means that for the users is an only and integrated big tool and not a set of tools to do different things. BI Publisher 11g presents a very tight integration with OBIEE in many aspects. First, the web catalog is the same for both as well as the Home Page of the suite. Another important integration is in the security area, sharing the Fusion Middleware security using Oracle WebLogic and Oracle Fusion EM to create and handle users, groups and application roles.


There are a lot of enhancements in the Scheduling and Bursting areas in Oracle BI Publisher 11g. First of all, you have the possibility of use recurrence patterns to schedule a report hourly, monthly, and annually, etc. as well as choose specific dates. Also for a report, each scheduled job can have multiple output files and each output file can be send to different destinations. In addition, BI Publisher 11g enables you to manage jobs through the Manage Report Jobs page which display information about recurring report jobs and future scheduled and allows you to take actions on these jobs. There are a lot of tasks that you can perform in this page as monitor the status of a job and view details. Also you can use the Report Job History Details page to download the reports XML data, view report job execution summaries, etc.


There are few features in the version added to Oracle BI Publisher 11g. The principal are: A new component of the Layout Design Editor called List Component, A new data source which allowsusers to upload a Local Excel spreadsheet to the report. The addition of Native and Web Applications for iPad & iPhone A new output: Excel 2007 Output And improvements in the performance of the interactive reports

To upgrade Oracle BI Publisher you have to run Upgrade Assistant in two steps: For Oracle BI Publisher Repository (Reports and Configuration Files) For BI Publisher Scheduler Schema

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When you upgrade the BI Publisher repository, 10g reports are upgraded and placed in the 11g repository. That means that the 10g repository remains intact. The most important change in the report definition (from 10g to 11g), is the separation of the data model as an independent object in the catalog. Also, the upgrade from 10g to 11g splits the 10g report object into a report definition file (.xdo) and a data model file (.xdm)


The Upgrade Assistant copies from the 10g scheduler schema all the 10g schedule jobs and job history into the new 11g scheduler schema that have to be created previously using Repository Creation Utility.


Despite the security model changes a lot in this 11g version, there are some differences depending if BI Publisher is installed as a standalone product or as part of OBIEE: If you will upgrade a standalone installation of BI Publisher, the security model does not change and you can still use the security model that you define in 10g. However, Oracle suggests that in 11g version, you move to the Fusion Middleware Security using Oracle web Logic Console to define users and roles, and FMW EM to define and associate the correspondent application roles. If BI Publisher is integrated with Oracle BI EE, then users and groups are migrated from the 10g repository file to the default 11g identity store (Oracle WebLogic Server embedded LDAP server).


In BI Publisher 10g to grant a user role access to run a report you only needed to give permissions to the folder which the report was. That task was performed in the Administration Roles and Permissions page and any user with that role would then have access to view any report within the folder. In 11g, the granting of permissions is a little bit complex and safer and is performed within the catalog using the Permissions task for every object. It means that for a user to run a report, he must have the read permission granted for every object that is referenced by the report. (For example: data model, style template) Also, in 11g, all roles that access a data source (even only for viewing reports), must be granted access to that data source. (This task is performed in the Administration Page)

Discoverer Workbooks are not longer supported as a Data Set Type. These reports cannot run in 11g. Instead, as a workaround, you can copy the SQL query from the Discoverer Workbook and use this SQL as a data source. In this way, BI Publisher directly request the information from the database.

COMPATIBILITY BETWEEN 10G AND 11G REPORTS Cannot download reports from 10g and try to upload and run them in 11g. All the reports from 10g, have to be upgrated using the Upgrade Assistant. And is the same from 11g to 10g. You can still use a template that was created in 10g for a 11g report. You can use the BI Publisher Template Builder for Word 11g to design reports for 10g, setting the option: Backward Compatible.

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BI Publisher 11g: Only Good News

With BI Publisher you can: Obtain data from almost any source Combine data from different data sources, no matter is they are relational, multidimensional or files. Reuse your data models Easily create many layouts in different output formats for the same report., allowing users to get involved. Generate multiple documents from the same report, and deliver each document to a different destination (bursting). Schedule reports and manage the job history

Advantages: Reduces complexity: Most intuitive tool to create, deploy and deliver reports Has quick learning curve: Only one tool to create any type of report Reduces time in reports generation. (Optimizations for PDF and to handle large documents.) Reduces total cost , including develop and maintenance because of objects reuse (data models, style templates

The flexibility and all of the intuitive tools that Oracle BI Publisher provides to create and design reports, allow getting users involved and releasing the burden of building all the reports company from IT shoulders.

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