New Features, OAC, Oracle Analytics Cloud

The next release of Oracle Analytics Cloud will be 5.9. For a change I thought it would be interesting to look at the upcoming new features from a solution point of view rather than a product point of view. I.e. not just “what’s in the product” but rather “what do you use it for and how does it actually help you”. Also this allows you to have a sneak peak before the actual GA release.

Please note that this list isn’t a 100% coverage of all new features and changes. The official documentation of new features can be found here. I will also link another blog post below which covers other aspects of the 5.9 release.

System features and settings


Strange to start a solution overview from a system perspective? It may seem so at first glance. However it is worth to remember that “new animated visuals” never made a project successful. New ways of supporting the workflow and daily embedding of analytic into your business processes? Definitely so.

The main new feature for advanced users on this front is definitely the extended snapshot options. They now include the ability to snapshot “Day by Day” content. Shared cards, Bring backs and your own “For you” feeds. Never miss your Day by Day content again when backing up an environment or moving content from one instance to the other!

Export settings

While we do all in our power to help users to do their work INSIDE the system, we can never fully stop data from exiting the system. Unsurprisingly this area receives continuous enhancements. First of all, the limits for raw data or formatted data export have been increased across the board for all instance shapes.

By the way since this is a question I keep getting asked, you can always find the current values for all shapes in the official documentation.

Another enhancement for exports has been done in the area of purely visual/graphical exports like PDF. All content is now exported in a pure WYSIWYG fashion:

Enhancements for Data Prep / Data Engineering

Two new functions were added to the data prep part of the solution. Very typical and common functions which users tended to shoehorn into SQL statements in order to work around bad data.

a) Trim

How often do source systems or external data providers contain superfluous blank spaces? This is handled now and available at the click of a button. No more code:

b) Leading zeroes

Is 012345 a number? Kind of, but only because your brain reads it as that. Technically it’s a string. Argue all you want but that’s what it is. Still want to give business the ability to use leading zeroes in data sets? Again that’s at your disposal now with but a click.

UX Enhancements


Screen real-estate is crucial for a simple reason. Wasting usable space hinders productivity. And the idea that all users constantly work on 32”, 4k screens is not reflecting reality.

Progress bars were moved, the side bar in Data Visualization (DV) was changed to a top bar and a permanent search box was added. That last bit is a definite life saver for analysts asking with data sets that comprise dozens if not hundreds of attributes

Sorting and Filtering

Pretty much the two things which users do the most: filter data and sort data. You can’t have enough functionalities there since otherwise you inevitably drive them back into their destructive relationship with Excel.

The context menu has been enhanced to allow for a definition of sort orders for each attribute or measure used in a visualization. Furthermore to this ability for multi-layer sorting of attributes, “sort x by y” for measures has been added:

Filters have received an overhaul and more detailed control options. Each visualization can now be controlled in detail with regards to using the viz filter bar, “use as filter” and “Show Filter Toggle”:

Especially “Show Filter Toggle” is a neat feature as it allows you to disable the end user to himself decide whether to use filters on a viz. Comes in very handy when your viz is built for an extremely specific point of view. Less possibility of confusion and invalid interpretation of displayed information!


5.9 enhances the charting engine for area charts. You now have the choice between standard area charts, stacked area charts and 100% stacked area charts.

WMS/XYZ Maps Support

Lastly there is now extended support for using externally-hosted background maps. The support for two new formats now makes the easy use of ESRI or ArcGIS a thing of a couple of clicks: Web Map Services and XYZ tiled maps respectively.

Map usage is still something that analysts crave but at the same time struggle with. It isn’t a trivial topic due to its inherent complexity and every additional bit of supporting functionality helps enable more users to leverage this powerful capability.

This concludes my overview of OAC 5.9 new features and their usage. If you want to read more on the embedded options of Oracle machine Learning and database analytics, please continue reading on Gianni Ceresa’s excellent blog post.

OBI, OBIA, obiee, oracle analytics, upgrade

As a part of the ongoing Oracle Analytics Summit I presented on “Upgrading from OBIEE to OAS” together with Gianni Ceresa on Thursday, 13th of August.

With OAS being available since the beginning of this year already, the topic is becoming more and more pertinent to clients who are still on the legacy Oracle Business Intelligence versions.

Rather than a common sales pitch, this session focused on a far more praxis-oriented approach with real examples and lessons learned from actual upgrades.

“In this session you will hear from both Gianni & Christian, two independent Oracle ACE Directors in the Analytics space. They will discuss why existing Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE & OBIF) customers should upgrade to Oracle Analytics Server (OAS) if they need to stay on-premise. They will briefly consider the factors that should weighed up when deciding between staying on-premise (with OAS) or moving to the cloud with (Oracle Analytics Cloud). They will go through and show much of the additional functionality that becomes available upon the upgrade to OAS; Self Service, data preparation & augmented (machine Learning) and discuss the value it brings to an organization at no additional license cost. Gianni & Christian will also cover the approaches available to customers wanting to undertake the upgrade and the things that they need consider.”

Abstract for OA Summit page

You can also see this presentation directly on the event home page together with tons of other Oracle Analytics content.

Analytics Server, Data Visualization, OAS, OBI, obiee

I’ve had quite some feedback and reactions on this post over various channels on the last days. I’ll leave the original post as it is so you can read through it, but here are the most important takeaways of the back and forth behind the scenes:

a) Reminder: Deprecated doesn’t mean dead. Otherwise I would have said “dead”
b) Oracle reassured me that they won’t just kill a feature without thinking about proposing a replacement
c) They’re probably going to spell all of this out more explicitly in the documentation
d) Thinking about the support lifecycle of Oracle products each new release means commencing a 12 months grace period for the “now old” version. For something like OAS with yearly releases we can therefore expect a roughly 24months-long timeframe in which we get warned about a feature change in V1 (month 0), then V2 comes along and the feature goes away (month 12) and by month 24 we have to move away from V1 and lose the feature/replace them with something else/do it differently/…. Note that this is a hypothetical case. I’m not saying these features ARE going away by V2 of OAS.

And that’s it for the update. Huge thanks for the amazing reactivity of the Oracle Product Management team and Partner Management as well as everybody out there who bombarded me with messages over just about every conceivable channel.

Data Set, OAS

The new OAC 5.5 release hit us a couple of days ago. After moving over all my existing things from 5.4 to 5.5 via snapshots I realized that while my existing data sets were working in projects I couldn’t re-work them anymore using “Open”. They all throw a “General Error” and stop working.

This was happening for all data sets. XLS sheet bsaed as well as sets pulled from ADW, on-premises data sources etc. It also made no difference whether any modification scripts were being applied or not.

I am being told that this will be patched in the very near future but until then, there is a manual workaround which will allow you to continue working with your existing data sets that you created using earlier versions of OAC:

  1. Create a new project from the data set:

2. Click on “Prepare”:

3. Here you will again get the General Error which you click away with “Ok”:

4. Click on the menu in the bottom bar or right-click on the data set name and choose “Profile”:

5. You will get yet another General error. Just click “Ok” and ignore it.

6. Do NOT click “Save” now! Just exit the data set:

7. Go back to the list of data sets and open your data set again:

8. Voila, your data set is fine again. Rinse and repeat for your others:

Many thanks to the Product Management team for their quick help on this – Philippe, Mike, Luis, Adam, Pravin and Bret! Hope I didn’t forget anyone 🙂

Edit: Obviously I forgot someone. D’oh

12c, Analytics Server, Data Visualization, OAS, obiee

With last Friday’s release of Oracle Analytics Server and Gianni beating just about everybody to a first write-up on how to get it running (after getting the correct versions first) I thought it would be time for a real-world reality check of this newest incarnation of the Oracle Analytics family for on-premises clients.

OAS it the gateway to OAC with pretty much seamless moving from OAS to OAC or deploying things both on-premises and in-cloud in a hybrid setup. New features galore but in turn a dependency on assuring that on-premises is built in a way that they can be moved to the cloud easily. More on this in a moment.

This release is aimed at lifting existing OBIEE customers on par with OAC in terms of functionalities. Customers who for whatever reason do not want or can not move to the cloud. A decision which is valid in and of itself as not everything or everybody has to go to the cloud.

Many functionalities of OAS which weren’t available on-premises so far at all and/or were tied to additional licensing costs are given to customers with existing licenses – for free. Now I have to say it fulfills this bit more than well. To say that Oracle was generous in scooping ladles of additional stuff into it is an understatement.

You can see a full list off features differences here.


HOWEVER the huge issue I see is precisely that list of feature differences combined with the fact that most OBIEE customers have systems that are running since years, are very mature, HIGHLY integrated into their other business-critical systems and their business processes. You know…the things companies actually use to make money. Sadly almost all existing things that aren’t fancy eye-candy for executives but make a solution successful and workable are marked as “deprecated” which translates to:

“Deprecated: Deprecated features won’t be enhanced in the future but are supported for the full life of the Oracle Analytics Server 5.5.x release. Where indicated, a deprecated feature might be desupported in a future, major release. “

  • Oracle Marketing Segmentation – Well isn’t that a major punch below the belt line. Using analytics as the marketing engine for Siebel was half the reason Siebel bought nQuire in the first place. Getting rid of said segmentation engine for Siebel Marketing and drop the related functionality may cause existing customers to both leave both Analytics and Siebel. One stone, two birds. Sadly not the good kind of kill.
  • Flat Files and XML-based Data Sources – Having this in DV is fine, but confining its use to data sets and no longer have the ability to model it properly into corporate data structures? A step back since you simply do not have the same level of integration and access control in terms of detailed row-level filtering and even attribute filtering/masking anymore.
  • Session Personalization using System Session Variables – Now this is just silly. It seems that nobody ever went through any RPD of clients with thousands of users in worldwide implementations and went “Oh hey they are actually using this to make the system react more dynamically without hard-coding 5 gazillion things!”.
  • Act As Another User – Again how can anybody who worked more than 2 weeks on any real life project consider this a candidate to be deprecated? Ever had to Act As another user around the globe to see his data or pick up his slack or troubleshoot? Can you imagine that not every business user is ok with planning a meeting to screen-share with you because they have more important things to do like running the business? Thought not.
  • Database Storage for User Group Memberships – The absolute kicker. This takes the cake (with cream and cherry on top). Like deprecating Marketing Segmentation but taken to the extreme. Customers using other Oracle applications and leveraging what they have already implemented there to help secure and control analytics from a functional, content and data access control perspective are being left out in the cold.

I love OAC and what it has done to the product line and brought to the cloud line-up. But OAS? With that feature list? Well I only hope somebody realizes that it may not be a good idea to completely disregard the existing and blindly chase after buzzwords when compiling the list of things to remain in the product.

Bet on the future and continue developing things in that direction but please don’t sacrifice the existing things on the altar of the new. Especially if the reason is just “because reasons”.

Autonomous Datawarehouse, Chatbots, conference, Data Analytics, Data Engineering, Data Visualization, ITOUG, Machine Learning, Oracle Analytics Cloud, ta Visualization

Check out my latest post over on the ITOUG site on the Data Analytics track at the upcoming events in Milan and Rome, end of January 2020!

@IT_OUG @oracleace @OracleAnalytics @daanbakboord @SpatialHannes @brendantierney @mikedurran @FTisiot @G_Ceresa @ElffarAnalytics @ChandlerDBA

11g, 12c, 19c, admin, obiee, security, standard configuration

Many times I come across posts and emails asking for help on specific configuration changes or questions asking for help achieving certain things.

Long story short – you can over-complicate everything if you don’t look at what the standard gives you efore going off and hacking / scripting things in an uncontrolled fashion that will come back to haunt you when you patch or upgrade.

Case in point: Implementing new, custom links which should react to standard security privileges.

As in: Adding a link is documented by Oracle, but how can you make this link react to standard privileges which are tied to your Application Roles?

Oracle provides the out-of-the-box functionality of custom links since several years with all the usual bells and whistles. Problem is, that by far not all options are documented in detail with examples. Top tip here: guess what you will never have everything in the documentation, so the important thing is where to look for more information.

Enter the XSD! Every configuration XML comes with an accompagning XSD style sheet which maps all elements and attributes that the XML supports. Find that XSD and you have all the documentation you could ever want. Following the example of making links dependent on OOTB security privileges:

Here we see one of our administrators (prodney) logged in and seeing two custom links rendered. The “SampleApp V607 Index” and the “Custom Link” which is a link to the documentation. Now we don’t want non-admin users to be able to access the documentation link. So how do we go about this?

The customlinks.xml controls the rendering of custom links as described in the official documentation:

That XML file itself is goverened by the customlinks.xsd file. In there we find the following information on the privilege usage:

<xs:attribute name="id" type="xs:string" use="required" />
<xs:attribute name="iconSmall" type="xs:string" use="optional" />
<xs:attribute name="privilege" type="xs:string" use="optional" />
<xs:attribute name="src" type="xs:string" use="optional" />

Now let’s look back at the documentation and an

<link id="l1" name="OTN" description="OTN open in new window" src="" target="blank" >
      <location name="header" />

My customlinks.xml says the following for the “Custom Link” one:

<link id="l2" name="Custom Link" description="Instructions on how to insert a custom URL on OBI EE headers" src="" target="blank" iconSmall="common/info_ena.png">
        <location name="header" insertBefore="home"/>

Nice. Now let’s add 1 and 1.

“id” and “source” are both attributed of “link” just like privileges which gives us the necessary indication of how to use it.

<link id="l1" name="SampleApp OTN Page"  [skipped...] privilege=" hmm what goes here=?! ">

For the content of the “privilege” attribute we simply refer back to the documentation again:

<link id="l1" name="SampleApp OTN Page"  [skipped...] privilege="privileges.Access['Global Admin']">

Which puts the whole entry in the customlinks.xml to this:

<link id="l2" name="Custom Link" description="Instructions on how to insert a custom URL on OBI EE headers" src="" target="blank" iconSmall="common/info_ena.png" privilege="privileges.Access['Global Admin']>
        <location name="header" insertBefore="home"/>

Restarting things will now give me the same resutl for my administrative user “prodney”:

And the correctly secured result for my non-admin user “testuser01”:

Piece of cake.


If you’re into cloud, analytics, data and everything around then join us for the second Oracle Analytics meetup which we’ll be hosting on the 20th of September 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Click here to register!

1) Graph Databases and Graph Analytics: the new weapon of Business Analytics

Graphs are around for ages, for many it’s a bunch of mathematical theories, for others some kind of highly specialized engines. In reality almost any kind of information can easily be represented as a graph, and a graph can have various advantages over a relational approach to data and analysis.

2) Oracle Analytics Cloud New Features

What has changed, what is new in Oracle Analytics Cloud? We will look at the major changes in the 5th big release of OAC – 18.3.3. Main areas cover data flows, data preparation, visualization, sources, BI Publisher and Essbase.

3) Machine Learning Alleviates ‘Blank Canvas’ Syndrome

For an artist or a writer, a completely blank canvas might inspire the next Rembrandt masterpiece or Pulitzer Prize winner. For a business manager performing data analytics, a blank canvas might cause extreme terror. Discover how to use Oracle Analytics Cloud to avoid ‘Blank Canvas’ Syndrome with Machine Learning and find trends that will help you improve your decision-making.

installation, OBI, obiee, OTN, sampleapp

Every week between OTN, stackoverflow, and direct questions sent to my email accounts there are 2-4 occurrences of “How do I install OBI on Windows 7/8/10” or “I am having issues with installing OBI on Windows”.

In order to clear up this topic once and for all – here is the ultimate guide to running Oracle BI on your Windows desktop OS:

  1. Download VirtualBox

  2. Install VirtualBox on your machine

  3. Download all image files for the Oracle BI Sample Application
  4. Deploy the VM in your local VirtualBox installation according to the Deployment Guide
  5. Start your deplyoed SampleAppVM via your VirtualBox Manager

  6. Use the “Start” icon to start both the database and the full Oracle BI stack inside the VM

  7. Let the script run its course until all services are up and the leave that terminal window open

  8. Open Firefox inside the VM and click the “OBIEE Login” bookmark

  9. Log on using “weblogic” / “Admin123” (without the quotes)
  10. You’re in. You’re done. That’s it. You have a fully functioning OBI environment with about 5 gazillion more things compared to what you could ever come up with yourself.

Now it you haven’t stopped reading yet because you thought “Hey wait this isn’t a Windows installation” let me explain a couple of things:

Point #1: Oracle BI is a server tool. It isn’t your WhatsApp desktop, it isn’t your Chrome/Firefox/Safari. It’s actually a whole range of servers and as such not something you run on a desktop operating system. And because of that:

Point #2: It is NOT supported on Windows desktop operating systems!
If you go to the Fusion Middleware Supported System Configurations page and open the certification matrix for the current version you will find that the only mention of anything “Windows” are 2012 and 2012R2:

No 10, no 8, no 7, no ME, no XP, no 98, no 3.1 … you get the point. No. Desktop. OSs.

Point #3: That means that Oracle will never bother to test things fully or help you out if you mess up things or can’t get something to run because you installed on a Windows desktop OS. You’re on your own.

Point #4: Even if you make it run or clamour “But I’ve seen tons of videos where” it works like someone recently did – I don’t care and neither will Oracle in terms of their product development or support. Sooner or later you will run into follow-up issues and scratch you head and go mad because things just don’t work or not as expected / in a weird fashion.

People this is how technology works. An Android app is an Android app and not usable on iPhone unless the company making it actually releases an iPhone app. Ask any iPhone user and gamer how they felt between the Android release of Pokemon GO and the iPhone release last year.

To use another example: You shouldn’t fill up a diesel-engined car with petrol just because you always took petrol from the pump or whatever unvalid reason you can conjure up. Well you can but don’t complain afterwards that your engine is busted

Got it now? Thanks!