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Oracle Business Intelligence (OBIEE): Interactive Dashboards & Answers

by Sideris Courseware Corporation Sideris. (c) 2009. Copying Prohibited.

Reprinted for Leela Mohan Gongunta, Cognizant Technology Solutions Reprinted with permission as a subscription benefit of Skillport,

All rights reserved. Reproduction and/or distribution in whole or in part in electronic,paper or other forms without written permission is prohibited.


Section 4: Introduction To Oracle BI Answers & Dashboards

Section Overview The purpose of this section is to introduce you to the Oracle BI Answers and Dashboard component of Oracle BI and how it fits into the broader Oracle BI and data warehouse architecture. Included in this section are these topics:

Snapshot of the Oracle BI architecture BI Presentation Services and the Presentation Catalog BI repository layers Launch BI Presentation Services Logging on and logging off Basic navigation through the BI interface

Oracle BI Architecture
Oracle BI Presentation Services

Users interact with the Oracle BI platform through a component known as BI Presentation Services. These are the primary services delivered via this component:

Answers allows one to build reports, in the form of data requests, which when executed produce the resulting analytic answers. Interactive Dashboards allows one to interactively view KPIs, dashboards, scorecards and other analytic measures generated from Answers.

Roles Of Answers & Dashboards Users

Those who build requests within Answers are often known as reports developers. The Answers interface is powerful enough so that even those who are not information technology (IT) professionals can build sophisticated reports. At the same time, Answers is flexible enough to offer database programming and web publishing features which are useful to advanced IT professionals. Those who incorporate Answers results into personalized Dashboards are considered to be the consumer of the request. Such consumers may also be known as end-users or simply users. The most complex dashboards might also be built by Answers developers, although such expertise is not necessarily required. Dashboards may be customized and one may select the content to appear on a dashboard and its presentation. While one may not be a developer of reports, generally one will be able to be a designer of their own dashboard presentation. Other resources such a documents, images, web resources and the like can be incorporated into personalized dashboards along with results from Answers.
The Presentation Catalog

The Presentation Catalog allows Dashboard objects, Answers requests, and other elements which support these products to be stored in folders. This allows collaboration and sharing between BI users. Sub-folders may be created within higher level folders to provide a hierarchical storage scheme.

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The Catalog tab is primarily used to manage Answers requests and supporting objects, such as prompts and filters. This portion of the Catalog is organized as follows: My Folders Answers objects which are owned by the current developer are generally stored within this area. Primarily these would be requests. Shared Folders The owner of objects stored within their personal My Folders area may choose to move or copy their work into the Shared Folders area. Other developers may then be granted access into a shared folder, allowing reuse and collaboration between developers. My Filters, Shared Filters Filters offer a means by which unneeded data may be pruned from the results of a request. Similar to the storage of requests, filters may be stored within the My Filters private area for reuse by a single developer, or they may be stored within the Shared Filters area for reuse by other developers. Conversely, the Dashboards tab is used by consumers of Answers results for the storage of their dashboard designs. The My Dashboard folder is used for private storage for a single user while shared folders may be created, allowing other users to access dashboards already built by others.
Oracle BI Repository Presentation Layer

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When users and developers invoke the BI Presentation Services component they require access to data stored within the data warehouse or perhaps transactional databases. The description or metadata for these data structures is stored within the Oracle BI Repository. The repository consists of several layers, with the highest-level conceptual layer accessible to the Presentation Services being called, appropriately enough, the Presentation layer. Within this layer one will find business descriptions of Subject Areas containing available columns found within fact tables and dimension tables.
Oracle BI Repository Lower Level Layers

Below the Presentation layer is the Business layer. This contains the dimensional schema which represents the star
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schema data model upon which the Oracle BI framework is based. The lowest layer of the repository framework is the Physical layer which contains the necessary internal database objects and descriptions.
Additional Components

Additional components within the architecture may be summarized as follows:


Publisher supports custom-coding and enterprise reporting requirements for database developers. Delivers uses database scheduling services to analyze measures and proactively alert appropriate users. One need not run reports or peruse dashboards looking for important metrics, but can be automatically alerted when these arise. Briefing Books while Dashboards and the results of database requests which they display are dynamic, at times one may need to carry away static copies of such data for offline reference. A briefing book is a logical storage object which can contain a static snapshot of a dashboard or request results which may be referenced when one is disconnected from the Oracle BI platform. Administration Repository administrators have an environment within which they can maintain all the layers of the repository data. They do so using a tool known as the BI Administration Tool.

Launch BI Presentation Services The Answers and Dashboard interface is available from BI Presentation Services. You may launch BI Presentation Services by any of these means:

From the MS Windows desktop Start menu From a web browser using an appropriate URL Possibly from a Portal or other interface which supplies the URL

From The Start Menu

BI Presentation Services launches the Dashboard and Answers interface. A local installation of BI on an MS Windows desktop will provide a program shortcut for Presentation Services. To access the shortcut from the Start menu, select the Windows menu item Start Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services. This shortcut launches the default browser and issues the appropriate URL to launch BI Presentation Services.
From A Web Browser

From a remote machine which does not have Oracle BI installed one may manually launch a browser and enter the same

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URL as an alternative. The URL will follow this general format: http://host:port/analytics For example, consider the following URL based upon the configuration of Oracle BI within the Sideris labs: http://siderislab5:9704/analytics The components of the URL may vary from one installation to another. So it will be useful for you to understand what these are and how these may change as your local configuration changes. Note the following breakdown along with the accompanying illustration:

http:// protocol (possibly a secure protocol using https:// may be available) siderislab5 BI Presentation Services host (a different production host may be used) 9740 port to access the desired web service /analytics web service for BI Presentation Dashboards and Answers

NoteThis sample URL shown above is for demonstration purposes only. You will need to consult your local systems administrator or local Oracle BI configuration instructions for the exact URL appropriate for your own installation. Log On The URL you entered to launch Oracle BI is redirected and modified to a slightly different URL. You need not be concerned about the revised URL shown in the browser window once the interface has started.

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Enter the Oracle BI user credentials you have been provided for your local installation and then click the Log In button. NoteAlternately, you might find in your local installation that the corporate security directory has been integrated with Oracle BI. If so, you may be redirected to the corporate single sign-on (SSO) server and bypass the default Oracle BI logon screen shown here. In any case, once you have signed-on, Oracle BI will perform the same regardless of the sign-on configuration.

From this starting point one can create or modify reports built within Answers, and then use those reports within Dashboards. Other support functions are available from this starting point as well. By default, the first page of the default Dashboard is shown.
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As you can imagine, initially the Dashboard page will be empty. One will design the dashboard by including content available from the Presentation Catalog and other organizational resources. Basic Navigation Once the starting page for Oracle BI Presentation Services has been raised, one will navigate to the desired work area.

Consider the basic navigation available from the links shown on this page:

Within this course one will primarily toggle between Dashboards and Answers links. As explained earlier, using Answers one will create requests and then Dashboards will be built which consume the results of those requests. The More Products menu provides links to other components within the Oracle BI platform. These might include Delivers, Publisher and Disconnected Analytics. The My Account link provides access to account personalization options. Depending upon the privileges assigned to your ID, this link may be called Settings, with both a My Account and an Administration link available from this point. The Log Out link will terminate the session connection to Oracle BI Presentation services. The Page Options menu provides access to the Edit Dashboard menu item, allowing one to modify content on the current dashboard.

Log Out

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When one presses the Log Out link, the session to the Oracle BI Presentation Services component is terminated. One may see the default Log Out screen which includes a link to log back in once again. Or, in an integrated SSO configuration the SSO login screen may be presented instead, allowing one to log back in using that means.
Access Dashboards

Click on the Dashboards link to navigate through dashboard contents and the current dashboard design.
Access Answers

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Click on the Answers link to navigate through Answers content. Clicking on an Answers object will render that object similar to what was shown for a Dashboard. The root node will display available Subject Areas available for the creation of new Answers content. Subject Areas are effectively data marts. These contain targeted data models within the broader enterprise data warehouse. Click on the appropriate subject area to access the sample data model for the workshops of this course. You may or may not have other subject areas also accessible from your installation.

Within the Subject Area, the objects representing the star schema data model are listed. One will find both fact and
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dimension tables. The data elements or columns within these tables will form the basis for the reports to be built. Data security schemes may be in place to limit which rows of data will be returned when a report is executed. This is based upon access rights and roles assigned to the user ID Workshop SectionIntroduction To Oracle BI Answers & Dashboards Exercises and Solutions
What You Will Do In This Workshop

Within this workshop you will:


Confirm that you can connect to BI Presentation Services on your local installation. Confirm that you have access to the BI Repository and the Presentation layer of the Equities subject area. ?

INTRODUCTION-1 qLaunch a browser and sign-on to your local installation of Oracle BI Presentation Services. INTRODUCTION-2 qAlthough you will not yet create any objects within the Presentation Catalog, it would be good to become familiar with the basic look-and-feel of the interface. Try some of these tasks:

Toggle between the Answers and Dashboards start pages. Locate the list of columns available from the Equities subject area and relate these to the discussion of the star schema data model earlier in this course.

Answers INTRODUCTION-1 The exact URL required for your local configuration is installation-specific and you will need to consult your instructor or local systems administrator. But the general format of the URL to be entered is as follows, with appropriate local values for HOST and PORT: http://host:port/analytics Also your Oracle BI user ID and password should be available from these same individuals.

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Once you are logged on, you should be able to see the Equities subject area, perhaps along with some others. You may or may not have any objects at present within the My Folders folder in the Presentation Catalog, but you will create objects there throughout this course. INTRODUCTION-2 You may return to the BI Presentation Services start page at any time by clicking the Oracle Answers link at the left-side of the screen. You may toggle between the Dashboards and Answers start pages by clicking on the Dashboards and Answers links respectively at the top of the screen. To navigate through the columns available from the Equities subject area, follow these steps: 1. Click on the Answers link at the top of the screen.
2. Click on the Equities subject area link. 3. Navigate through the columns using the Expand

and Collapse

icons listed from the subject area column list


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