April 2005

Executive Summary
Oracle Business Intelligence Beans ™ (Oracle BI Beans) is a set of standards-based JavaBeans™ that provide data-aware application building blocks designed for use with Oracle OLAP. Using Oracle JDeveloper and Oracle BI Beans, a developer can build advanced analytic applications for both casual information viewers and high-end users who require complete ad-hoc query, analysis, and reporting solutions. These solutions assist executives, managers and analysts in making key business decisions with confidence and precision.

The following images show two examples of the kinds of analytic applications that can be built with Oracle BI Beans:

Highly interactive dashboard    Adhoc query and analysis tool

a) Highly interactive dashboard                            b) Adhoc query and analysis tool

Over the years, corporations have collected large quantities of data from their ERP and CRM implementations. Executives and line managers can gain valuable insight from such data with the appropriate tools and applications. However, businesses need competitive advantage that may not be provided by off-the-shelf software solutions, which usually lack sufficient flexibility. Oracle BI Beans allows you to deliver unique solutions to your users. To provide this capability, Oracle BI Beans includes the following key features:

Oracle BI Beans has been used extensively within Oracle to develop products such as OracleAS Discoverer, Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting, and OracleBI Spreadsheet Add-in, thus ensuring a consistent user interface for customers who view OLAP data.

Accelerating Application Development
Developers today look for solutions that provide quick, easy, robust development. The aim is to design once and to reuse components repeatedly. Using Oracle BI Beans, both application developers and business users benefit from the rapid development and deployment of BI solutions.

Oracle BI Beans produces standards-based customizable Java components that can be used within any integrated development environment. Working with Oracle BI Beans in Oracle JDeveloper significantly enhances and simplifies the developer experience because ths environment provides wizards, JSP tags, live access to data, flexible deployment options, and ease of integration.

Development Wizards: To speed the process of developing application objects and fully functional applications, Oracle BI Beans provide a number of wizards. These wizards allow developers to systematically create reporting objects (graphs and crosstabs), calculations, application dialogs, and complete analytic applications without writing a single line of code. To customize these objects and applications, developers have the choice of using visual editors or directly editing and extending the generated Java code.

Wizards help developers to create complex objects easily and quickly

Wizards help developers to create complex objects easily and quickly

JSP Tags: To build custom applications, Oracle BI Beans provides an extensive set of customizable objects that are made available through JSP tags. These tags allow developers to build and embed frequently used components for analytical and reporting applications. The components include:

A developer can create pages of an application by embedding these data-aware tags using the component palette declaratively, or by using the code editor programmatically with Code Insight. This allows a developer to embed a graph in a page by simply inserting a tag that references a graph which was previously created. Some tags can also be used to define quick actions on reports. For example, a developer can easily create buttons or links on a page to export report data, change the underlying query of a report or navigate across multiple reports. At the same time, developers can see exactly what they are producing in a WYSIWYG visual editor.

An Oracle BI Beans application page in the JSP visual editor within Oracle JDeveloper

An Oracle BI Beans application page in the JSP visual editor within Oracle JDeveloper

Live Access to Data: Data is the focus of any business intelligence application. Oracle BI Beans provides a live connection to the Oracle database during application development. Live data access allows the developer to see data at design time. This is particularly important with business intelligence applications, because content often affects how the analytical objects are designed. For example, being able to see the data at design time allows the developer to make decisions about data selections and formatting in a report. It is difficult to format a report without seeing the data. Live access to data at design time facilitates the creation of end user reports with the help of rich formatting customizers and the user-friendly query builder.

Flexible Deployment Options: Oracle BI Beans was built from the ground up to provide the architecture for satisfying a variety of enterprise business intelligence needs. Because applications built with the Oracle BI Beans are Java-based, they can be deployed anywhere as Java Desktop applications or Java Web applications such as JSPs and Servlets. Java desktop applications can be deployed on any device that can run Java while JSPs and servlets can service any device that supports a browser. The application objects and logic are first defined by the developer and then reused in different kinds of Java applications, enabling support for a variety of devices such as PCs, browsers, PDAs, and even web-enabled telephones. Also, because Oracle BI Beans is J2EE-compliant, they can be deployed on a variety of application servers such as Oracle Application Server, BEA Weblogic, and JBoss.

Ease of Integration: Business intelligence portals have become an increasingly common method for presenting data to executives. Business intelligence portals can be built using Oracle Application Server Portal and Oracle BI Beans. Together, these products provide the ideal component-based architecture that allows you to create applications that can form a business intelligence dashboard. In addition, since Oracle BI Beans produces standard Java components, they can be embedded into existing Java applications. An application that processes transactions can be extended with analytics using Oracle BI Beans. For example, using this approach, an online store can present, in real-time, the top 10 selling products to its customers based on the demographics of each customer.

Empowering Users with Advanced Analytics
Advanced analytics are the heart of any business intelligence application. The Oracle database, with its embedded OLAP engine, offers the advanced analytic features that allow you to obtain the answers to complex data questions. It is easy to build forecasting models or "what if" scenarios in the database and to make them available through Oracle BI Beans. For example, a marketing analyst can use an Oracle BI Beans application to predict sales for different promotional campaign scenarios using functions such as nonlinear regression or Holt/Winters analysis.

Query Builder: Oracle BI Beans simplifies the formulation of complex business questions and the presentation of insightful answers. The patented Query Builder uses business terms and definitions that allow users to quickly and easily construct complicated queries. For example, consider the following typical business questions:

Coding these queries would take a hundred of lines of SQL, but, taking advantage of the user-friendly and powerful Oracle BI Beans Query Builder, a business user can specify this query without knowing any SQL. The Query Builder in Oracle BI Beans supports all of the functions that business intelligence users are accustomed to, such as ranking and exception tools. Other selection tools include level selections, attribute selections, hierarchical selections, and time-based selections.

Query Builder is completely customizable and extensible, so application developers can provide only the query functionality that a user needs or understands. For example, the application pictured below could easily be modified to omit the top/bottom conditions. Or the Conditions tab could be hidden completely. Query Builder functionality can also be presented outside the supplied user interface. At the same time, there is built-in support for data manipulation. For example, the ability to drill on, change the layout of, or sort the data, is available to all business users.

A HTML-Client Query Builder   A Java-Client Query Builder

The Query Builder is available for both HTML and Java Client/Desktop applications

Calculation Builder: At times, users may want to define new business indicators for analysis. For example, they may create a 50-day moving average for sales based on historical information. The Calculation Builder in Oracle BI Beans allows users to create such derived calculations (custom measures) using template-driven wizards. Calculation Builder has full support for the advanced functions of Oracle OLAP, including functions for time-series analysis and many other calculations. As with the Query Builder, the Calculation Builder allows users to define new models using business terms and definitions. Both tools function the way users think about their business.

A HTML-Client Calculation Builder    A Java-Client Calculation Builder

The Calculation Builder is also available for both HTML and Java Client/Desktop applications

Presenting Compelling Reports to Executives
When building business intelligence applications, the key piece is the data, but data needs to be presented in such a way that it is easy to identify trends. In addition, data presentations are typically created for review by senior management. Presentations need to be easy to build so that any user within an organization can produce the kind of high-quality report that senior management expects. BI Beans provides two major types of data-aware presentation components: Graph and Crosstab.

Graph: There are over seventy graph types included with Oracle BI Beans. There are common graph types like line, bar, and area, and there are more specialized graph types like bubble, radar, and stock. Therefore, developers can select the appropriate graph types to support the display of a variety of business data. Each graph has hundreds of properties for customization to give the exact look that is required. User-interface components are provided to allow developers to quickly and easily format graphs and change styles. For example, a graph-type panel is available for end users to change the type of graph they are currently viewing. The graph has full analytic support as well, which includes drilling, changing the layout, and providing tooltips.

Sample graph and wizard for choosing different graph types

Sample graph and wizard for choosing different graph types

Crosstab: The Oracle BI Beans crosstab offers a multidimensional view of data and provides services such as drilling and pivoting. Crosstabs provide page-item-filtering and rich cell-level formatting capabilities. For example, data-driven formatting allows users to highlight data by setting foreground and background colors based on data values within cells (Stoplight formatting). Presentations are completely customizable, even to the detail of hiding or showing gridlines, showing titles, and formatting labels. Not only do application developers have complete control of the look and feel of crosstabs programmatically though the APIs, but Oracle BI Beans also present interfaces to control the customization process. Easy-to-use interfaces are available for defining data-driven formatting and a toolbar gives quick access to commonly used formatting options.

A crosstab with stoplight formatting in an Oracle BI Beans web application

A crosstab with stoplight formatting in an Oracle BI Beans web application

Enabling Secure Sharing of Information
Working in teams and sharing reports are common requirements across an enterprise. Oracle BI Beans applications have built-in support for information sharing through the BI Beans Catalog.

The BI Beans Catalog is used to save, retrieve, and manage all developer-defined and user-defined analytical objects, such as reports, graphs, favorite queries, and custom measures. The BI Beans Catalog organizes objects into folders and provides access control at both the folder level and the object level. For example, an individual could have his or her own private folders for saving personal reports and queries. In addition, the application can create public folders for groups of users to share reports and queries. To make sharing more convenient, a user can also create and distribute shortcuts to folders and objects.

Object definitions are stored in the Catalog as XML and they can be manipulated using documented Java APIs.The BI Beans Catalog is designed to support large distributed user communities who share analytical objects in collaborative environments.

The BI Beans Catalog is also extensible. This means that a developer can create custom objects and implement Catalog interfaces to store these objects in the Catalog. Because the Catalog uses standard XML to store objects, an application can access a custom persistable object by simply reading and writing XML. The extensibility of the Catalog encourages the development of third-party data-aware objects that developers can share across applications and departments.

Oracle Business Intelligence Beans, a key component of Oracle's business intelligence offering, empowers all business users with critical information for decision-making. Oracle BI Beans achieves this goal by making it easy for developers to build custom applications that leverage the significant analytic power of Oracle OLAP. These applications can be adhoc query and analysis tools, executive portal-like dashboards, or interactive reporting systems.


Key Features:  
Accelerated Application Development Information Sharing
  • J2SE and J2EE compliance
  • Flexibility to develop and deploy different types of applications such as Java applets, servlets, and JSPs
  • Ease of integration with existing applications through documented APIs
  • Reduced learning curve by leveraging Oracle JDeveloper development concepts and tools such as visual drag-and-drop application building *
  • Complete set of customizable and extensible interfaces/components
  • Complete JSP tag library allows coding using HTML-like tags; no Java code required *
  • Wizards for creating data-aware objects and applications
  • Live access to data at design time, enabling interactive report development
  • Lots of samples showing the use of the components
  • Support for sharing queries and reports across the enterprise
  • Support for shortcuts to objects *
  • Support for deploying objects to multiple applications
  • Organization of objects, shortcuts and folders
  • Support for object-level and folder-level security
  • Ability to store custom third-party objects
  • Ability to export fomatted presentations to Excel *
Compelling Reports General and Advanced Analytics
  • Support for crosstab and graph presentations (Over 70 graph types)
  • Support for data-driven cell-level formatting
  • Out-of-the-box support for stoplight reporting *
  • Customizers for extensive formatting such as 3-D and gradient effects *
  • Support for time series scaling in graph *
  • Support for multiple forms of data source
  • Easy to use interfaces for generating queries and custom calculations against Oracle OLAP
  • Support for advanced analytic features of Oracle OLAP, including rankings, exceptions, hierarchies, and lag/lead calculations
  • Java client and HTML client Query Builder and Calculation Builder *
  • Support for paging, drilling, pivoting, etc

* New features in Oracle BI Beans 10g

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