What is Saiku Reporting and why it will help you!

For those of you who don't know what Saiku Reporting is, where have you been all these years?!

A few years ago Marius Giepz wrote the Saiku Adhoc/Reporting plugin for the Pentaho BI server, its aim was to allow users to utilize the power of the Pentaho Reporting Engine and Metadata framework and create "pixel perfect" reports from within the browser, using the same UI as Saiku OLAP offered with a few modifications. The cool thing was the Pentaho Metadata Engine allowed users to create reports without some of the more restrictive aspects of OLAP, for example, measures aren't mandatory, so you can just create big lists of things, you don't need to crosstab your data.

It had a great reception, was Apache licensed and was pretty flexible. At the top of the page you'll see a screenshot of what it used to look like. We loved the plugin but the problem was it was always too disconnected from the core Saiku OLAP product, and we never had enough resource to maintain both Saiku OLAP and Saiku Reporting, also it only really ever worked as a Pentaho BI server plugin, which wasn't our core focus as our standalone server always came first. Marius eventually stopped development when he was reassigned internally and after that the code sat there, doing not very much for a long long time.

Our aim with Saiku 4 was to make it much more pluggable, and maintainable than Saiku 3, which would allow us to include Saiku Reporting within our code base, which in turn would mean we could remove the bugs, maintain it and ship it to all of our end users. Saiku Reporting will reuse a number of the core Saiku OLAP UI elements and backend services, and this will allow us to deploy a "core" platform and OLAP & Reporting will become equal partners (as will Druid and SQL support when they arrive in 2016).

Because we always insisted that Saiku Reporting must work in standalone mode, this has always made it a challenge to integrate but it will be well worth it, this is because along with the Pentaho BI server plugin which will become available you will also be able to run it in a much more lightweight "standalone" mode. This is great for platforms where you want to spin up reporting environments quickly and easily and offer users both the ability to report over crosstab OLAP data, but also more traditional data sets.

Saiku on Juju

One of our core targets is to get Saiku Reporting integrated into Saiku 4 Core and onto Canonical's Juju service modelling platform as soon as possible. Those of you who follow me on social media and this block will have noticed we have been putting a lot of work into getting Saiku OLAP ready for the Juju store, this means we've had to write a lot of scripts to add cool utilities to our core platform for things like self registering data sources, cache warming, repository configuration etc. We plan to enhance this further to allow Saiku Reporting to operate in the same environment. This means that you will then be able to spin up a multi service Juju environment with, for example, a MySQL server, MongoDB for your web application and maybe some Hadoop stuff in there as well. Saiku Reporting & Saiku OLAP would then be able to report directly over all of those services allowing end users the ability to create their own custom reports and analysis, and export those reports to nice looking PDF's, Excel files etc.

The great thing about systems like Juju is they vastly simplify setup, as I had said in a previous post, it makes things that used to be hard just work. We try and make Saiku as easy as possible, but nothing is as easy as

juju deploy local:trusty/saikuanalytics-enterprise saiku

For people wanting to setup Saiku in a hurry, services like Juju are excellent in reducing the configuration time and effort, whilst allowing for a flexible deployment model, and we hope to leverage this further in the future in conjunction with our hosting partner BigStep and selling Saiku Enterprise licenses to Juju users.

Saiku Reporting will be Apache Licensed, which means you can ship it in you own web application or distribute it how you see fit. Because it is Java based it will run on your favourite operating system, from Ubuntu to Windows to FreeBSD, or your toaster, as long as it runs Java 7 or above.

How you can all help?

So what's the catch? We have a lot of work to do. To include Saiku Reporting we need to

  • extend our core product to allow for pluggable modules
  • update the old Saiku Reporting code which will allow us to make the code modular
  • remove the old bugs
  • update the old UI to work with our updated UI make the query design and generation easier for users.
  • Finally we need to make the whole platform a new Pentaho plugin to work with Pentaho BI Server 6.
We need help from the community, from the users, from the distributors, from the consultants who will sell Saiku to their end users. In the past we have done code first, ask for donations second, for commercial software this is fine, but for Apache licensed software we have found it very hard to recoup our costs, and we really want to keep the core of Saiku Reporting ASL licensed and work full time on Saiku CE! So, we've done things differently this time and launched a kickstarter, and we have another 17 1/2 days to get to our target funding of £15,000!

So please folks, this is a great tool and would really benefit a large number of the 250,000 users who have used Saiku in the last 12 months, if you have used Saiku in the past, or plan to in the future, take a look, ask me questions, and if you think Saiku has been or will be worth it, throw some money in our kickstarter pot, to help make Saiku Reporting a reality.

PS If we reach £15000, that doesn't mean we've done, keep donating we have a bunch of stretch goals and targets we'd like to achieve!

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About Us

Meteorite.bi are the founders of the Saiku Analytics BI Server project. We offer Saiku Analytics sales and services alongside traditional BI consultancy and support. Saiku Analytics can help you get the most from your data with the minimum of fuss. Standalone or embedded into your own application, Saiku offers easy to understand data analysis in a lightweight and flexible format.