Packt Ed. has released on August 2014 a new member of their Cookbook library, by Sérgio Ramazina: Pentaho Business Analytics Cookbook, first edition.

The today aging Pentaho Solutions was the first authoritative source of Pentaho Platform information, but it was far from practical no matter how good. Even those already into the platform had to scratch their heads a little to translate all that knowledge into action. A lot of us simply need much more than was made available. We needed pretty-a-porter how-to’s with which solve our daily paings with each Pentaho Suite component. And that’s the niche Packt has been neatly filling out: they are running into the HUNDREDS of published Cookbooks, on a lot of topics. Yeah, I know, it is starting to sound an unintended pun “we’ve got IT covered.” <chuckles>

This new book covers a lot of the newest Pentaho Suite version (v.5) recipes. Except for PDI (which already featured a dozen Packt books), the book comes into almost everything else: BA Server, Metadata Editor, Schema Workbench, PRD, and some Enterprise Edition operations, besides a bit of C*Tools.

The Good

It is a relativelly complete compendium of everything that deserves atention on the Pentaho Plaform:

  • BA Server: how to set up data sources (JNDI, Analysis, Metadata etc.), how to tie it to an LDAP server and manage users/roles;
  • Metadata: it is the first place to seriously show how to use “concepts”, an importanta metadata ahn… concept. Also, there are a lot of important tips on metadata modeling, like complex join and calculated fields;
  • OLAP: how to create cubes with Schema Workbenche, with calculate members, how to publish it and generate OLAP views with Saiku;
  • PRD: very complete, with recipes to build prompts, sub-reports, charts (including the tricky sparkline), besides having a PDI transformation for report source.

Were it not enough Mr. Ramazinas goes on to show recipes on less searched for things like interface customization and C*Tools (CDE) introduction, always with hands on, detailed examples.

Raising the bar, the book offer recipes on the Pentaho Enterprise Edition. Although Pentaho Community Edition abbility to offer everything the Enterprise Edition does, Enteprise Edition adoption is on the rise and a lot of its resources rest unusedor not fully explored by its customers. Being usefull for the sheer amount and coverage of the recipes, the book becomes even more interesting for the EE recipes it brings:

  • Analyzer: operations with OLAP client;
  • Dashboard Designer: dashboard editing made easy;
  • Interactive Report: ad hoc reporting, the heir to the gone WAQR;
  • Mobile: the inedit iPad and smart phones interface.

More than just helping those with Pentaho EE, the book opens it to those who have not bought it. IMHO, this is an excelent opportunity to get acquainted with Pentaho EE, a high quality yet cheap (very cheap for what it offers!!) versatily BI product.

Also, more than offering an extensive list of how-to’s, Packt’s cookbook format makes it for a very understandable experience for it tells not only how to do each of its recipes, but also why it works and how it does and what else there is to see. Every recipe has at least an image. Even in the grayscale Kindle all of them have a good look.

For its detailed content, its broadness (lots of things on both CE and EE) and its usability, Pentaho BA Cookbook is another must-have volume on the Pentaho Platform practioner library, and even more for a casual dabbler.

The Bad

Ok, the book shines – it is very good, have no question about it. But…

  • Kindle (Touch – my device) version (the one I reviewed) does not stop at the chapters divisions when one sweeps the finger vertically across the screen. Instead it jumps to the beggining. Annoying;
  • Some recipes are too trivial. If the user really needs somebody telling it, then he also needs help on how to setup the software, which the book does not do – and of course not! Recipe books show recipes, now how to cook or who to buy and setup a cooktop;
  • I missed some important recipes, like how to setup BA Server with other databases. There are instructions on how to do that at Pentaho’s Infocenter. However there are some other recipes which have Infocenter how-to’s too, but they’re in the book nonetheless;
  • I missed performance tunning recipes, like setting an external cache or turning on and using aggregated tables;
  • The subjects does not look like well separated. For instance, the schedulling is part of the Pentaho BA Server, but it makes a full chapter in the fartest corner of the book, chapter away from the BA Server chapter. Maybe it would make more sense to have one after another, if not totally made into a single chapter;
  • Plugins: Pentaho Marketplace’s plugins are growing by the day, but the book says little about them. It only briefs mention two of them (Saiku and Logs), besides internationalization.

None of those things diminishes the book value, however.

The… Italian

Packt is a trully global enterprise. Their writers come from all over the world and in fact most of them write in a foreign language – English. Well, Mr. Sérgio Ramazina is itallian and as every good latin (just like me, brazillian), tends to thing in a more literall English. Reading the book you almost can hear his accent in phrasings like “This is the idea that stays behind the concept of(…)” (locus 2028.) The English-born speaker would rather have a simpler “(…) the idea behind the concept(…)” Mr. Ramazina quite used up his quota, but it never impairs the reading. It is kind of easier for me, in fact, because as a Brazillian I also tend to think on that style of English. Maybe it might be stranger for a, say, Japanese reader (as it is a bit awkward for me to read Japanese writers in English.)

Anyway, I just though of making a note so you know what to expect. The book is good and the reading flows ok, just a bit… creatively. <grin>


Have installed Pentaho BA Server 5 and know not where to begin with? Were commited to migrate a legacy 4.8 BI Server to 5? New to Report Designer 5 or banging head against the wall with some JNDI configuration and metadata editing? Wait no further, Packt’s new Pentaho BA Cookbook is your book: a wealth of immediatelly usefull how-to’s (recipes), well layd-out and explained in details. Lots of topics on both the BA Server and its clients, as well as some topics on the Enterprise Edition. Even if it does need some improvent, this is the book to go after for Pentaho Suite 5!

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