Friday, July 03, 2009

Junk Viz - Web Searches

Search Engine Land has a post, Michael Jackson’s Death: An Inside Look At How Google, Yahoo, & Bing Handled An Extraordinary Day In Search, on how web traffic spiked at some of the web's leading properties like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia, as a result of Michael Jackson's death.

All good and fine, and a sad day for fans of Michael Jackson, the king of pop as he was known as, but a sad day also for data visualizations.
The chart above is a time-series area graph, and you can see that on the 25th of June 2009, around 14:00 hours traffic to Google querying "Michael Jackson" or combination of words thereof, began to spike. But by how much? Where is the scale? What does each increment of the gridline indicate? 1 million searches? 10 million searches? 100 searches?
Secondly, the area chart could instead have been replaced with a line graph, thus minimizing non-data pixels.

The bar chart above does a better job, in that you can actually see what the vertical scale represents. However, there are at least three problems with this chart:
  1. The color scheme makes it tough to see the data clearly. Of course there are only two bars, so it is not that difficult.
  2. The X-axis labels are gibberish. There is no sub-title or explanation of what these numbers mean. What does "6.4k" mean? And what do the zeros at the end signify?
  3. The location of the vertical scale on the right is non-standard. Most often a scale is placed on the right edge when there are two axes on the graph, as in a dual-Y bar/line graph, and the left and right edges both have different scales. For example, if you were plotting sales and units on the same chart, and using the left axis for the sales and the right axis for the units data.
  4. Adding a fourth quibble: time series data is best visualized by a line graph.


A better graph than the first one, but with the same problems of having no vertical scale.

Downloading Discoverer 11g

Go to and accept the license.

Browse down to the section that says "Portal, Forms, Reports and Discoverer". 
Currently there are downloads available for Windows and Linux:

 As you would expect, this download contains the familiar set of components; I have highlighted in bold the ones that are relevant for Discoverer:

  • HTTP Server
  • WebCache
  • Forms Services
  • Forms Builder
  • Reports Services
  • Report Builder/Compiler
  • Discoverer Administrator
  • Discoverer Plus
  • Discoverer Viewer
  • Discoverer Services
  • Discoverer Desktop
  • Enterprise Manager Fusion Middleware Control
 Now, unlike the previous release of Discoverer, 10g, where you could install the standalone version of Discoverer and be up and running, here you need a few more components in order to be able to install Discoverer, and these need to be installed in a specific order.

  • WebLogic Server
  • Repository Creation Utility
  • Identity Management
  • SSO Metadata Repository Creation Assistant
  • Identity Management 10gR3
  • Oracle Database
WebLogic Server is easy enough to understand: it, or WLS as it is commonly referred to as, is the app server that is front and center in Oracle's middleware suite.
Repository Creation Utility, or RCU as it is sometimes referred to, is used to create your repository on the target database.

SSO Metadata Repository Creation Assistant is optional for Discoverer - if you do not intend configuring Discoverer to run under Single Sign-On, then skip this.

An Oracle Database 11g, Enterprise Edition, is what the last item refers to, and this is where the Discoverer repository is created by the RCU. Similar to the "Infrastructure" database in 10g.

Have fun downloading, and patience too, as these are downloads totaling several gigabytes.

More later.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Discoverer 11g Doc

screenshot of Discoverer 11g doc page
If you see the Discoverer 11g Documentation library at, you will notice the familiar set of docs, with one new addition. There is now a doc for the Discoverer Web Services. The "Oracle® Fusion Middleware User's Guide for Oracle Business Intelligence Discoverer Web Services API", 11g Release 1 (11.1.1), Part Number E10412-01 can be viewed at, or downloaded as a PDF from

As a brief intro, these web services are a layer of SOAP based web services that sit on top of Discoverer, provide access to a variety of functions, and provide a level of abstraction from the underlying implementation of the functionality that these services expose.

The very first instance where these web services were used was in the integration between BI Publisher and Discoverer (see my posts on this topic from 2007), that happened with the BI Publisher release and Discoverer release in 2007. Actually, there was a one-off patch that had to be applied on top of Discoverer which contained the web services libraries. However, these web services were not yet meant to be consumed externally by customers for building their custom integrations. The intent was to document these and release them with the Discoverer 11g release. There is a slightly fascinating history behind the evolution of this project that I will try and blog about in a future post.

The other place where these web services shall be used is in the integration of Discoverer with the Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition Plus, also referred to sometimes as simply OBIEE. Specifically, and since this is about functionality not yet released, please bear in mind that some or all of this could change, so do not take this as official Oracle communication, the intent is to use these Discoverer web services to publish Discoverer worksheets to an OBIEE Dashboard page, and to also use these same web services to allow OBIEE Delivers to run and send Discoverer worksheets on a scheduled basis.

More later.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Oracle FMW 11g

Use this link - - to register for the event.

Apart from the very important reason that Fusion Middleware is the technology platform and foundation of Fusion Applications, Fusion Middleware 11g is also the vehicle for the release of Discoverer 11g.