I was really pleased with the Oracle BI suite demo I put together this week. Although my demo was restricted to the Answers and Dashboard components there is enough going on to impress people, myself included:
Drilldown, it was a simple to mark any dimension attribute as drillable. For one of my hierarchies I have set all drilldown to be through the ‘description’ attributes, the others are on the ‘code’ key. Clicking on a value not set for drilldown navigates to that level’s drilldown key which is a nice touch.
Calculated logical columns can be readily defined in the admin tool. The expression builder allows SQL92 expressions to be used to manipulate data in the business logical layer. Typical uses would be to calculate ratios of measures and (in my case) to concatenate codes and descriptions to give more business-friendly labels.
Building queries in the web browser is easy. Click on a date attribute on calendar (or whatever you called your time dimension presentation object) and it appears on the query palette, click on the filter icon on calendar and choose the date, it appears in the filter list. Click on the measures you want to show on SALES object and then click on display results. And lo, a total company sales table for the dates selected in the filter. Now click on Region on your geography object and it redisplays total sales by region. Click on the region column on the table and it drills down to store. Very easy! Getting to charts or crosstab reports is just a click away.
Moving columns around in a query is a breeze, just drag and drop on the query palette.
Saving results The query definition can be saved to a folder for future use, as can the filters. The results of the query can be saved as PDF or HTML or exported to a spreadsheet or XML document
Of course there are a few quirks of the web interface that can cause confusion: clicking on the ‘clear all’ button on the criteria tab will remove all of the columns you selected for display but it does not touch the filters. If your last query was for a single store in May 2004 then the next query you build will use the same filter unless you change it! The other quirk relates to the browser back key – avoid it! Try to stick to the criteria and display tabs for most of your navigation in ad-hoc queries.