As Published In
Oracle Magazine
May/June 2013

TECHNOLOGY: Business Intelligence

  

New Spaces for BI

By Mark Rittman Oracle ACE Director

 

Integrate Oracle WebCenter Portal’s Spaces feature and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition to create custom business intelligence application pages.

Oracle Business Intelligence analyses, KPIs, and scorecards are typically delivered to users through a dedicated business intelligence (BI) dashboard or a mobile device such as an Apple iPad or iPhone. Because Oracle Business Intelligence is also an integral part of Oracle Fusion Middleware, you can also deliver BI content to users as part of a business process; as a Web service; or even embedded in another set of products, such as Oracle WebCenter Portal.

The Spaces feature of Oracle WebCenter Portal provides a ready-to-use Web application focused on team collaboration and communities. Built on Oracle Application Development Framework (Oracle ADF) technology and Oracle WebCenter Portal’s Framework and Portal features, Spaces can also be extended and customized through Framework to include, for example, graphs and other BI visualizations from Oracle Business Intelligence. Integrating Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition and Oracle WebCenter Portal solutions in this way makes it possible to develop composite Web applications that include collaboration features such as blogs, wikis, and content management alongside rich BI data views sourced through an enterprise business semantic model.

This article looks at how Spaces can be configured to include BI content. The article demonstrates the process by using two of the prebuilt developer virtual machines (VMs) for Oracle VM VirtualBox, available for download from Oracle Technology Network. To obtain the Spaces VM environment used in this article, download the SOA/BPM Oracle VM VirtualBox image based on Oracle WebCenter 11.1.1.6.0. To obtain the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition environment, download the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition SampleAppV207 Oracle VM VirtualBox image.

Integration Prerequisites

To enable Spaces users to access the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog content, some configuration tasks need to be performed within Oracle Business Intelligence and Oracle WebCenter Portal.

The following configuration prerequisites must be completed:
  1. The Oracle Business Intelligence domain needs a BIImpersonateUser that can connect with Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services with a single user ID and password but then browse the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog with another user’s credentials. Oracle WebCenter Portal will connect to Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition by using this special user account, and Spaces users will then browse the catalog using their own individual view of it, not the view of an administrative user who can see and run every analysis in the catalog.

  2. The Oracle WebCenter Portal domain needs to be configured to create an Oracle ADF connection to the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services within your Oracle Business Intelligence domain, using BIImpersonateUser’s credentials to connect.

  3. This Oracle ADF connection needs to be registered in a new Oracle WebCenter Portal “resource catalog,” making the contents of the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog available to users as items they can add to their Spaces Web pages.

To see how a BIImpersonateUser is created for an Oracle Business Intelligence domain, see the “55.6.2.1 Creating the BIImpersonateUser” section in Oracle Fusion Middleware Developer’s Guide for Oracle WebCenter Portal 11g Release 1. Once you’ve checked to see that you have the BIImpersonateUser account set up within your Oracle Business Intelligence domain and you have the password for that account, you can move on to configuring Oracle WebCenter Portal to connect to Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services and the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog of analyses, dashboards, and other reports. 

Creating the Oracle ADF Connection to Oracle Business Intelligence

Oracle WebCenter Portal connects to Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition through SOAP, making Web service calls to initially display the contents of the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog and then render tables, graphs, and other views directly within Spaces Web pages. To configure this connection, you will use Oracle Enterprise Manager’s Fusion Middleware Control feature and its System MBean Browser to create a new connection object with the name BISoapConnection, which Oracle WebCenter Portal will then recognize as a connection to Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services.

To create this connection by using Fusion Middleware Control, follow these steps:
  1. In your Web browser, navigate to the instance of Fusion Middleware Control used by your Oracle WebCenter Portal installation, and when prompted, log in with the username and password for an administrative user, such as weblogic/welcome1.

  2. The Oracle ADF connection details need to be added with the System MBean Browser, which directly creates and sets configuration settings for Oracle WebCenter Portal with Java MBeans. This process involves several steps, the first of which is to create the connection entry within the MBean navigation tree. Expand the Farm_wc_spaces -> WebCenter -> Portal -> Spaces folder within the navigation tree on the left-hand side of the Oracle Enterprise Manager Fusion Middleware Control page, and right-click the webcenter(11.1.1.4.0) node. From the context menu, select System MBean Browser to display the dialog box.

  3. Within the System MBean Browser dialog box, locate the Application Defined Mbeans top-level folder and, within that folder, navigate to oracle .adf.share.connections -> Server : WC_Spaces -> Application : webcenter -> ADFConnections -> ADFConnections (tree node).

  4. To create the connection to the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog, click the Operations tab on the right-hand side of the screen and click the createConnection link. When the Operation: createConnection dialog box appears, enter the following values: 

    Connection Type BISoapConnection
    Connection Name biserver

    and click Invoke to register them. Then click Refresh (at the top of the MBean folder tree on the left-hand side of the page) to display this new connection in the folder hierarchy. The ADFConnections MBean now has a BISoapConnection folder under it, and that new folder contains another MBean called biserver.

  5. Click the biserver MBean to display the Application Defined MBeans: BISoapConnection:biserver dialog box, and click the Attributes tab to display a list of MBean attributes that are used to hold the connection details for Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services whose default, online catalog you want to make available to your Spaces users. Enter the connection details as shown below, amending for your environment as appropriate: 

    Context analytics
    Host [hostname for your Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition server, such as obieesampleapp]
    Port 7001 (or 9704 for enterprise installations)
    Username BIImpersonateUser
    Password [password for your BIImpersonateUser, such as welcome1]
    Protocol http [or https, if your Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services uses SSL)

    Leave the other values on this screen at their default values and click Apply, as shown in Figure 1.

    o33bi-f1

    Figure 1: Creating the Oracle ADF connection within Oracle Enterprise Manager Fusion Middleware Control

  6. Next, navigate to the ADFConnections MBean above the BISoapConnection folder in the System MBean Browser navigation tree, and then when the ApplicationDefinedMBeans: ADFConnections:ADFConnections dialog box appears, select the Operations tab and click the Save link on the list of operations. Then, when the operations: Save dialog box appears, click Invoke to save these settings. 

You’ve completed the second set of configuration tasks. Let’s look now at how this Oracle ADF connection is used to register the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog as an additional source within Oracle WebCenter Portal’s resource catalog.

Registering the Catalogs

At this point, you have created a connection between Oracle WebCenter Portal and your Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog at the Oracle WebCenter Portal Framework level, but you still need to make this connection and the contents of the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog available to Spaces users through a resource catalog, using the administration functions in Spaces.

To perform this last set of configuration tasks, follow these steps:
  1. In your Web browser, navigate to the Spaces Web application—for example, http://webcenter.oracle.com:8888/webcenter—and enter the username and password for an administrative user, such as weblogic/welcome1. When the Oracle WebCenter home page appears, click the Administration link in the top right-hand corner to display the WebCenter Spaces Administration screen.

  2. Click the Resources tab, and then from the menu on the left-hand side of the screen, click the Structure -> Resource Catalog link.

  3. Next create a copy of the existing Default Space Catalog so that you can edit that copy to add a reference to the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog. To do this, first locate Default Space Catalog on the list of resource catalogs displayed in the main part of the screen, click it, and then select Edit -> Copy from the menu. When prompted, give the new resource catalog a name, such as Copy of Default Space Catalog, and click OK to close the dialog box.

  4. Adding Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog content to this new resource catalog involves two steps: You create a folder in the resource catalog and then add a resource catalog component to the folder that references the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog, which becomes available after you have configured the connection between Oracle WebCenter Portal and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition described in the previous section of this article.

    To add a new folder to the new resource catalog created in the previous step, locate the catalog in the list of resource catalogs, click it, and select Edit -> Edit from the menu to display the resource catalog Edit dialog box. Select Add -> Folder from the menu, and when the Edit Resource Catalog Item – Folder dialog box appears, name the folder BI Presentation Catalog Content, confirm that the Visible checkbox is checked, and then click OK to close the dialog box. 

    Then, with that new folder selected in the list of folders for the resource catalog, select Add -> Add from Library from the menu and, from the Add Resource Catalog Item dialog box that appears, select Connections -> BI Presentation Services, double-clicking the folder to open it. You should see an entry that corresponds to the connection name you registered in the earlier set of steps (in this example, biserver). Select either the connection name to make all catalog folders available to users or a particular subfolder if you want only a subset of the catalog to be made available for selection, as shown in Figure 2. Once you’ve completed this step, click OK to close the dialog box.


    o33bi-f2

    Figure 2: Registering the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog in Spaces 

  5. Finally, to make the new resource catalog available to users, select it again from the list of resource catalogs on the WebCenter Spaces Administration page Security tab, and then select Edit -> Show to enable it for selection.

    Next Steps


    READ more about Oracle WebCenter Portal
     Oracle Fusion Middleware Developer’s Guide for Oracle WebCenter Portal (Oracle Fusion Applications Edition) 11g Release 1 (11.1.1.6.2)

     READ more Rittman
     

    DOWNLOAD Oracle VM VirtualBox and images for this article
     oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/virtualbox/downloads/index.html
    oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/soasuite/learnmore/vmsoa-172279.html
     oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/bi-foundation/obiee-samples-167534.html
     

    Then switch to the Configuration tab for this page and navigate to the Resources section to locate the Resource Catalog for Spaces setting. Select your new resource catalog (Copy of Default Space Catalog), and then repeat this step for the Resource Catalog for Home Space setting, again choosing your new resource catalog containing the connection to the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog. 

Spaces should now be set up to provide access to the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog as a new source of items to add to Spaces pages. Let’s now finish the process by creating a new Oracle WebCenter Portal workspace, or “space,” and add some items to it, including an analysis from the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog.

Adding BI Content to a Spaces Page

In this last example, you will create a new space and start by adding some regular Spaces items to it to see what a Spaces Web page can look like. Then you’ll use the new connection to the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog to browse the set of BI objects available and include one such analysis on the Spaces Web page.

To create such a Web page, follow this set of steps:
  1. In your Web browser, log in to Spaces with the username and password of a user within your BI domain; in this example, you will connect as the “weblogic” user present in both the Oracle WebCenter Portal domain and the Oracle Business Intelligence domain. Note that if you connect by using a Spaces username that does not exist in the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog, you will not be able to browse the catalog, because Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services won’t recognize you as one of its user accounts.

  2. When the Spaces home page appears, click the Spaces tab to create a new space. Click Create, and when the Create a Space wizard appears, type in a name and an optional description and keywords for your space. For example:

    Name Team Workspace and Sales Reports
    Description A workspace for our team to use, containing forums and updates along with the latest sales figures
    Keywords sales, forum, team

    When you have entered the information, click Next. When prompted on the next wizard page, select a suitable template, such as Team Site, and click Create to create the space and close the dialog box.

  3. A default empty space using your chosen template appears. To start adding content to it, select the Actions -> Edit Page menu item.
  4. In the Add Content dialog box that appears, add content—such as polls, forums, and discussions—to your page.
  5. To add an item from the Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog to this page, use the same Add Content dialog box but this time select the BI Presentation Catalog Content folder, which you added to the resource catalog in the previous set of steps. Double-click this top-level folder, and then navigate through the set of available Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services catalog folders to show the analyses, dashboards, and other BI objects available to this particular user. When you have located an item you want to add to the page, such as the Shared Folders -> Brand Analysis -> Product Line Analysis item, click its Add button to add it to the page layout. When you have finished adding items from the resource catalog to the page, click Close to return to the page editor. 

    Now, when you view your Spaces page, your selected analysis will appear on the page, along with your other Spaces items. If, as in this case, the analysis has parameters defined for it, you can provide values for them by clicking the Parameters button for that object.

  6. Once you have finished adding new items to your Spaces page, click Close to close the page editor. Your page should then look like the image in Figure 3, with a BI analysis displayed alongside other Spaces content as a single composite application.

     
    o33bi-f3

    Figure 3: Spaces page with integrated business intelligence 

Summary

In addition to providing analyses, scorecards, and reports to users through a standalone dashboard, you can embed BI content by using the Spaces feature of Oracle WebCenter Portal. Embedding BI content gives you the ability to create rich, interactive Web portals for your teams and communities.


Mark Rittman Headshot



Mark Rittman
is an Oracle ACE Director and cofounder of Rittman Mead, an Oracle Gold Partner based in the UK, with offices in the US, India, and Australia. Rittman has worked with Oracle’s BI, data integration, and data warehousing products for more than 15 years and writes for the Rittman Mead blog at rittmanmead.com/blog.

 



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