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May202014

Implementing Business Intelligence Publisher (BIP)

If you can imagine the power of channeling all kinds of different report generating requirements into one software application to then choose between multiple methods of distribution – that’s the idea behind Business Intelligence Publisher. BI Publisher takes data from P6 project portfolio management for example, and generates reports according to pre-defined or custom templates. Report can be generated to a variety of formats that include PDF, HTML, Excel, PowerPoint, Flash, RTF, CSV, XML, EDI or EFT. The reports can then be automatically routed to email addresses, printers, fax, or different data repositories. BI Publisher can do this for varying data sources including other Oracle applications.

BI Publisher Components

BI Publisher comprises Toolbox, Bursting Designer, Delivery Designer, Report Conversion and Desktop components. With these modules, BI Publisher separates the report presentation from the data structure to apply template files chosen by the user and publish output documents. The Bursting Designer in particular is used to define how a single output file is to be split into individual documents; the Delivery Designer corresponds to the distribution of the report to different destinations. Report design best practices are available to give users information about both data modeling and template design. However, it’s wise to check exactly which BI Publisher functions are available for a given source application as there are some differences.

System-Side Aspects

Knowledge of applications like P6 Report Writer does not carry over to BI Publisher. It’s a different animal and requires specific application knowledge to make it work with LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), for instance. It’s also important to know which version of BI Publisher is required for a given source application and how to troubleshoot any hiccups. A competent hosting provider will handle these points. A good cloud-based BI Publisher service can therefore be advantageous by reducing in-house support workloads.

Desktop Tools

With BI Publisher is installed or available as a hosted service, the next step is to add any specific report templates required. BI Publisher works with XML (its former name was XML Publisher). However to make life easier and so that customers don’t have to work with XML directly, BI Publisher provides a design tool for creating templates in RTF (Rich Text Format). The Template Builder tool runs as a plug-in for Microsoft Word and incorporates instructions, demos and samples. With straight forward drag-and-drop functionality, you can use the Template Builder to build, test and upload templates to BI Publisher. Similarly, BI Publisher Analyzer is an add-in for Microsoft Excel for creating templates in Excel, and accessing and running reports in BI Publisher from Excel.

If You’ve Already Met Oracle Reports

Oracle Reports is also a tool for creating reports using data stored in an Oracle database. It is a solution that requires more specialized knowledge for modifying existing reports. BI Publisher offers easier ongoing maintenance via its desktop tools, and greater efficiency by initially separating the presentation of the report from its data structure. However, if an Oracle Report currently exists, it may well be possible to change the report output to XML and input it into BI Publisher. This is then a first step towards standardizing on BI Publisher for all reports afterwards.

Best of all, BI Publisher is can be hosted in the Cloud. Making the grade as one of our Cloud-hosted software products isn’t easy. Each one has to live up to our persnickety standards before we even think about recommending or hosting it. Go ahead and generate your reports – now it’s fast and simple, in the Cloud.

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