Thank You!

This is a special post for Mrs. Ketul Sheth and Brijesh Shah, Pentaho Comunity Heroes:

Dears Mr. Sheth and Mr. Shah, thank you very much for helping us, the Pentaho Comunity in general, and the Brazillian Pentaho Comunity in particular, with the fantastic Self-Service BI Plugin, published by SPEC INDIA.

You’ve been linked here because the person who posted this link to you does not speak English but wanted to let you know he/she is thankfull.

As for myself, Fábio, it was a pleasure talking to you too. Keep up the good job!

Best Regards,

Brazillian Pentaho Comunity


Long gone are the years when to have or not a BI Solution (or Decision Support System) was yet an option. A company who choose not to analyze its data today won’t grow beyond a certain point. It has no tomorrow.

To have working BI initiatives is not easy, let alone simple. A sucessfull BI project depends on a lot of factors and to lead one is not a job for the faint of heart. Business Intelligence projects are experience- and knowledge-intensives. Even the customer must control a degree of education to reap the benefits.

A best selling book does not come from anyone armed with a word processor. A new software is not born out of the hands of its final user just because he/she has a point-and-click Java IDE within reach. Business Intelligence Solutions does not either. The whole big world is a complex place with less and less room for amateurs. Go educated or go extinct!

The Agile Manifesto

This was a milestone for the Information Technology Industry. The Agile Manifest broke the shackles tying projects to ever-late schedules in doomed iniatives, and opened up a road of unprecedent success. As a developer and manager I have embraced the A.M. and adopted Scrum as the means to implement AM. I ended using them both to do everything I do, including Teaching and building Business Intelligence projects.

Recently I became aware that, influenced by the A.M., I have brought some of those principles under a BI light, and I am sharing my insights here.

Agile Business Intelligence Manifesto

The highest priority is to help the customer to answer his questions through early and continuous delivery of quality data and tools for its exploration.

Changing requirements are a must because only so data exploration can shape new hypothesys and drive an increase in knowledge.

Deliver working advances on data platforms frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

Take part in the customer’s problem: To help the customer answer his questions is to help him formulate them by employing specialized knowledge on tools and techniques.

A customer answering its questions is the primary measure of progress, so he can make new questions.


This list does not stand on itself, but rather extends the Agile Manifesto. It also does not take care of effective delivering the results, which should be achieved by using Scrum and a special, iterative technique for BI projects, soon to be posted here.

Personally I don’t agree that Agile BI is only about tools. It sounds like too little, leaving a lot outside, begining with the very customer.

I didn’t invent the above principles, I more like found them spontaneously sprouted and began guiding my work whilst studying and applying the A.M., Scrum and some other methodologies and strategies to my daily job. The statements I posted above are in fact the Agile Manifest adapted to BI needs as per my point of view. I missed a list like that a lot and as until now nobody made a movent toward them, I did. So, here is my proposal.

What is your opinion?

To my English speaking fellows a note: In Portuguese the generic third person is the male form – he/him/his etc. So when we say “he” as the meaning of “anyone” we also refers to women as well. So, I am not confortable with using “one” or “he/she” when refering to an unknown person, what led me to using “he/him” above in the place of a generic “customer”. Please! I have a lot of intelligent women as friends besides my own wife, and I would never downplay the importance of them! I just wanted to sweep the ethnical differences aside so not to taint the discussion or raise any wrong criticism. Right criticism is welcomed <grin>.

Review: Pentaho BA Cookbook

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!

Reviewing Sergio Ramazzina’s New Book: Pentaho BA Cookbook

Sergio Ramazzina has published his new Packt work, Pentaho Business Analytics Cookbook. Happily, I was granted with a copy of it for reviewing. I am already reading it!

Pentaho BA Cookbook: A cookbook for fast and easy Business Analysis solutions
Pentaho BA Cookbook: A cookbook for fast and easy Business Analysis solutions

For those of you who don’t know him, Ramazzina is a seasoned BI professional with tons of experience on Pentaho – including authoring another best-selling Pentaho book, Pentaho Data Integration Kitchen.

Packt Pub. Celebrates 10 Years with US$10 Campaign!

Packt Publisher, the “We got IT covered” company, is celebrating 10 years this July 2014 with an offering on their site: every e-book and video on sale for US$10,00!

Packt slogan sounds like a weak pun, but in fact summarizes the truth: Think about a software – there are big chances Pack has a book on it. Not software, but hardware? Ok, they have it too! What about a supercluster with a thousand Raspberry Pis for a weekend project? (They have so many titles on so many things it is kind of ludicrous… Really! They’ve got a title blending Minecraft – yeah, the game – with hardware!!)

So, if you are in need of learning something about a software (be it Free or Proprietary) or hardware, give a look at Packt until tomorrow (July 5) to take advantage of a good offer. I bet you won’t regret it!