Actuate to BI Publisher for Siebel
As you have seen in the previous posts the Siebel Reporting with BI Publisher architecture uses BI Publisher only for the reports layout generation, not for the data generation. It uses the Integration Objects, which are metadata objects in Siebel Business Applications that provide the ability to obtain Siebel data in XML format, within EAI Siebel Adapter to retrieve the data from the Siebel database. And this two layers of the report generation architecture is pretty much the same way as before with Actuate base reporting. Actuate has been used to handle the report layout with Actuate Design file (ROD) and generate report outputs based on data returned by the Integration Objects.
So the reports conversion will focus only for the layout part of the reports and that means you will take care of only the BI Publisher RTF Template side of business.
By converting the layout part of the report you can take advantage of BI Publisher’s easy and flexible development framework and better performance and scalability for the reports generation.
Here is a list of steps required for the Actuate to BI Publisher reports conversion for Siebel.
- Obtain Actuate Report File
- Convert Actuate Report File to BI Publisher RTF Template File
- Review the converted file and Adjust/Update
- Upload the RTF Template and Register
- Associate the RTF Template with View
Reports Conversion Assistant Utility
When you start thinking about the conversion process, the first question would be if there is any conversion tool available or do we need to convert one report by one manually ? The answer is, Yes, there is a conversion tool available, which is called BI Publisher Actuate Reports Conversion Assistant. It converts the Actuate report files (BAS) to the BI Publisher RTF Template files.
How to Get the Conversion Assistant Utility?
You can get this tool from the metalink.
- Go to the metalink.
- Go to Patches & Downloads tab
- Click on the Oracle, Siebel and Hyperion Products link
- Click on Simple Search
- Enter patch number 8968224 in the Search by Patch Number/Name box
- Pick generic platform and click 'Go' (You should see files for download)
Before you start the conversion process make sure you have downloaded the above tool and locate to an appropriate folder.
How Much Can be Automatically Converted
The Conversion Assistant does the conversion for the basic objects but not for all. And often that you need to manually add or implement some of the functionality in the RTF Template files based on the original Actuate reports. This is due to different ways to achieve a same functionality between the two products (Actuate vs. BI Publisher).
You can find such objects that are not converted after the conversion by looking into the log file, which is also generated by the tool. The log file indicates the functions in the Actuate reports that are not converted with label names and you can find such label names in the generated RTF file with a tag like ‘<!--->’ as place holders.
Also, you want to review the report layout to see if the layout in the RTF template is matching the original report layout or newly defined reports layout requirements. In order to review the report layout you can preview the report with actual reporting data in a desired format such as PDF quite easily, instead of just looking at the RTF template, by using the BI Publisher MS Word Add-in tool called Template Builder.
How to Use the Conversion Assistant Tool?
The Actuate Reports Conversion Assistant is a Java command line tool and it requires JDK 1.5 or later. The conversion tool takes BAS file as an input therefore you need to generate the BAS file from the original ROD file first before you start the conversion. The below image illustrates the conversion workflow by the Conversion Assistant.
The Conversion Assistant takes the following input parameters.
Input file name – BAS file name
Output file name – RTF Template fille name
Log file name
And the syntax to convert a single report is:
run –i <bas filename> -o <output filename> -l <log filename>
You can also convert multiple files together and the syntax to convert multiple reports together is:
run –i <Folder_path_for_bas_files> -o <Folder_path_for_RTF_Files>
The above command will read all the files in the <Folder_path_for_bas_files> location and put the converted files with corresponding names in the <Folder_path_for_RTF_Files> location. By default a log file is created at location <Folder_path_for_RTF_Files>.
Review and Adjust Converted RTF Template
As mentioned above, the conversion assistant does the conversion from Actuate to BI Publisher RTF Template but in most cases it still requires manual adjustments. You can review the log file which indicates all the functions from the original Actuate report that are not converted. Also you can open the RTF Template file with the Template Builder (BI Publisher’s MS-Word Add-in tool), load the sample XML data file, and preview the report output to see if the final report output is meeting the business requirements. When you review the RTF Template file the followings are the typical items that requires such manual adjustments.
- Formatting (Color, Number formatting, Date formatting, etc)
- Image (including company logo)
When you review the template files it is very important to compare with the newly defined requirements definition, which is agreed with business users who will consume the reports. There might be some logics or formatting in the report which are not relevant today’s business process. There might be some new requirements that are important today but not in the original report. Often that reports developers are given the original reports and they try to mimic the original reports for their adjustments and end up spending a lot of time for something that is not even required anymore. That’s why it is critical to have the requirement collection, analysis, and definition first even for this type of reports conversion project and make sure the all the developers who will work on the conversion process would crystal clearly understand the requirements and share how to address the gaps between the Actuate and BI Publisher.
How to Get XML Data File
One more thing for reviewing the report outputs to perform the manual adjustments. As mentioned above, you can use the Template Builder to preview the report outputs with sample data within MS-Word without connecting to the database or Siebel system. In order to preview the report outputs, you need to get a sample XML data file for each report first. You can generate the XML data file from the integration object for which you want to prepare a BI Publisher report. Here are the steps to obtain the XML data file.
- Login to Siebel application
- Navigate to the ‘Administration - BIP Reports’ screen, then ‘Sample Data File Generation’ view.
- In the Sample Data File Generation list, select the integration object for which you want to generate a data file, and then click Generate Data File.
An XML file will be generated with the name of the integration object followed by .xml. For example, if the integration object name is BIP Literature Fulfillment, the file name for the XML file is BIP Literature Fulfillment.xml.
Now you know how to convert the Actuate report files to BI Publisher RTF Template files. In order to generate Siebel reports with the converted BI Publisher RTF Template files you need to upload the RTF Template files and register them, and associate them with related Siebel Views so that the users can generate the reports from the relevant UI. I will talk about these process tomorrow, so stay tuned!