Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All in one BI tool for the non-geeks

A colleague of mine once asked me if I knew a program that can connect to almost all relational databases and offers MsAccess like features to build queries. Sure thing says I. Wabit.

So he downloads it and installs it in 5 minutes. It's free and open source. No hassle. He then creates his connections and manages to do everything he needs to fulfil his duties as a business analyst. Pretty kewl story, heh? Short too. But that's a good sign because as a developer on this project, I can confirm first hand that this is exactly what we aimed for. Making business intelligence easy and painless.

The Wabit is more than that. It's also an OLAP data warehouse browsing and reporting tool. It creates charts in 10 seconds and features a template engine for easy corporate branding. Version 1.0 will feature a server repository for multi-user collaboration and incremental saves, scheduling and fine grained security. The enterprise server is not open sourced though, but the Wabit client is a fully featured platform. You can still save all your queries and reports as an XML file for easy import and export and share it with your fellow co-workers.

The Wabit approaches 1.0 now. We need to reinforce the community around it and we need more feedback. The Wabit works on all platforms with a Java JVM, so whatever your background is, I'm sure that we can make good use of your comments or contributions. You are a GUI designer or a BI consultant or even just the regular Java developer, we have need of your help.

Wabit on Google Code
Wabit homepage

For the geeks out there, here are some of the technical details.

The Wabit is a Java thick client. It requires a Java 5 JVM or better. Java 6 is recommended. There are OS specific installers available, or a generic package that is platform agnostic. They are available on the Wabit Google Code site.

In order to connect to your data sources, the Wabit requires a JDBC or olap4j compliant database driver.The Wabit comes with some of them, like MySQL and SQL Server. One could also use Sun's ODBC driver and access OS provided datasources.

I forgot to mention that it can query against SQL Stream real time queries as well.

Units of work are separated in workspaces. One can open/save his workspace XML files and work on multiple workspaces at any given time. A workspace includes queries, reports, images, charts and templates.

I'm pretty sure you can lean the rest by yourself from there. There are no video tutorials yet available, but it is on the TO DO pile.

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