Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Wailing Wall of Open Source BI - Response

This is a response to a post by Jerome Pineau about the dire state of open source bi communities, specifically Pentaho and JasperSoft.


Due to limitations of posting links and response size, I am repeating my reply here:


When I first saw your post I figured it was some nut with an axe to grind and was going to ignore it. Through the course of the day I received emails from some of the Pentaho community members, saw the tweets and blog replies and thought I need to at least look into your complaints. I began searching for the specific posts you referenced. Each one I looked at and compared to how you took the quotes out of context just pissed me off more and more until I had to reply.

The following is a hyperlink to each reference in the order you reported them. Your readers can have the opportunity to see real people helping real people with real problems. Not all of the replies are perfect and there are a handful of people that got no help at all. The vast majority did get their issues answered and most have gone on to help others as long time community members.

I take great exception to your use of terms like condescending, social superiority, berate, ignore and insult to describe the people in the Pentaho community. I have personally met many of these people and their families over the years and I assure you – the Pentaho community, specifically the people that answer the vast majority of the forum posts, are an outstanding bunch of human beings.

I don’t mind criticism or feedback on how we as a Company can do better, I welcome it. I know we have products that could be easier to use or better documented. Any stones you want to throw at Pentaho as a company is just part of doing business. Do not insult the volunteers who may get frustrated, but instead of bitching about it on some blog, participate in the solution. It’s a shame that while you were utilizing those 2 decades of IT experience to get Mondrian working, you never posted once to help someone else. Note: I am assuming that you are the person registered as “jeromepineau” since May of 2009. If I am wrong, I apologize.

I think you will find that most of the frustrations in the following posts are about the product and not the people. In most responses, the community is helpful and understanding. Some people do fall through the cracks. When someone gets a no reply, there can be many reasons including no one who has read the post knows the answer and moves on assuming someone else will pick it up. We do talk about community expectations and how open source works on the community wiki home page - http://wiki.pentaho.com/display/COM/Community+Wiki+Home. We also explain that professional support is available. I will make that info more prevalent on the forum itself.

Please take the time to read through these cases and I think you will find that these people are not trying to make you feel bad about yourself or conjure up some deep childhood memories of Medieval schooling. I think you will find that they are a lot like you, you know, except for the participating part ;^)

Doug Moran

Ends with “Thanks for the answers”

This one you even quoted the answer, again without context: "You use the search button”

I agree it’s a bit crass but he does follow up that post with another post (same timestamp) providing a link to the tutorial the person was looking for.

And, since you went through the trouble to include “Version 2/3/3.5 brings in lots of changes to the way Pentaho does things, please mention which version of the BI server you are running. Join the Unofficial Pentaho IRC channel on freenode. Server: chat.freenode.net Channel: ##pentaho - Please try and make an effort and search the wiki and forums before posting!"

I want to point out it is his signature block and it's good advice and mentions the IRC channel where you can get help also. bugg_tb is also a volunteer and answers massive amounts of questions (2169 forum posts) and is most helpful on the IRC.


No answer on this one. He has gotten answers on other posts and has been an active member since 2005

This guy got an answer despite his rudeness

Looks like a great example of cooperation to me

Question answered correctly

This guy wasn’t asking for help, he was posting a link to his blog with a good article and was thanked by 2 community members

No reply. This guy does have other posts that were answered and has commented on posts

No reply, this guy is new and has a couple unanswered posts – not good.

He got an answer and didn’t follow up. Also, there are very few people that could answer this question including most Pentaho developers

No Reply, this guy is new and has a couple unanswered posts – not good.

No reply although he has a couple dozen posts with answers going back to 2007

No answer to a few of his posts. Most, like this one, do not have a clear question that someone can answer. The posts that were replied to asking for more info were ignored. Generally the “Can someone do my job for me” questions are ignored.

Looks like someone tried to help and gave up.

No reply here. This person has been a pretty active community member for over a year and has gotten and given help on a couple dozen threads

This person got a solution and has been a community member since 2007

This person didn’t get much help with their Oracle issues in 3 different posts although someone tried. Maybe no Oracle experts watching back in 2007

Answered – there was a bug and he got a workaround.

No answer but in the 2 years he has been in the community, other questions were answered.

The dashboard builder question was tacked on to an unrelated dashboard thread 2 weeks after the original question was answered.

This was a good post with feedback on how we can make the evaluation of Pentaho easier and was welcomed

He was frustrated but got lots of help

Sorry he was frustrated but he was using version 1.2 which was over a year and a half old and 2 versions behind. He did get a response to upgrade to a version that did what he wanted.

This is another interesting quote: “I got frustrated that i cannot get a decent quality, well formatted pdf output.” Which was preceded by an apology. The person who made this statement has been active since 2006 with 278 posts including today. He is one of our most valued community testers for the new report designer.

You didn’t mention that the sentence before saying “… I really had to grind through the first 10 days…” was “I'm loving kettle right now. There are so many things we used to manually write that can be hammered out in this tool WAAAAYYY faster, and with better performance, consistency, etc. on top of it.” It was well accepted feedback

So this quote, “A few weeks ago I was very frustrated that I was completely lost withing thePentaho suite. I cannot afford training (I'm broke, plus I live too far away from the traing venues) so my only means at this stage is all of the above” is one community member reassuring another member that there is a learning curve but it is doable and that he was in the same boat. Since 2007, when this post was made, that community guy has become one of the more active in the IRC and has over 164 posts helping people on the forums.

Yes, this person was frustrated that in 2007, we were not a drop in replacement for Crystal Reports. He was answered by another long time community member. The last few quotes have been over 2 years old and for a 5 year old open source company that’s pretty old.

This person was answered and actually found his own mistake.

This person got help with their frustration by a nice community person pointing them to tutorials and giving them a workaround for a known bug.

A Pentaho developer helps on this one. And they are right – it was hard to embed Pentaho Reports into an existing website in 2007.

Wow – had to reach back to October of 2006 for this one. Kettle was open sourced for less than a year. Well what do you know, with a little prodding, he gets the answer himself. We see this guy in the forums for at least the next 6 months.

Frustrated, found a bug, reported the bug, the bug was fixed by a community guy, the new version worked. Sounds like open source.

Frustrated by the session timeout value, reported it, two Pentaho developers respond. The guy making this is the all time most active reporting community guy with 1045 posts since 2003, 2 years before JFreeReport becomes part of Pentaho and before Pentaho became Pentaho.

This poor guy got totally missed. Don’t know why although addressing a question to an individual is a good way to be ignored by anyone except that person.

“Maybe a non-IT guy doesn't want to deal with SQL queries at all...” is a reasonable requirement from a user. BTW – the feedback was for wabit, a non Pentaho product.


"If all that is true then it is clearly a bug in mondrian and you should report it in jira."
Here, the moderator seems to question whatever the premise of the question was (as if people bothered posting lies...)

If you bothered to read the post (I assume you are not posting lies) it would be obvious that after 2 days, and several replies, the assumption on the part of the community person is that it must be a bug. I don’t see any place where there is any implication of lying. You also misidentified the person as a moderator when his title is clearly “Junior Member” with less than 30 posts. It is also possible that being from Slovenia, it was an unusual choice of words and not some horrific transgression.

"The procedure is exactly as I have told you. You must have done something wrong somewhere. Just check through carefully;"
Typical "you must have screwed up something" response. How encouraging and a little condescending if you ask me.

Again, read the thread – it’s 15 posts over 6 days trying to help someone. I can’t tell if it’s frustration at not being able to solve the problem or a language issue. It’s the same guy from above.

"If not, please post the error. We're not clairvoyant."
I’ll give you this one, although the guy did get his problem straightened out.

"There might be a simpler way... search the doc."
This is 1 of 4 proposed solutions and I’m not sure it was meant to be condescending.

I hope we don't go back and forth on the merits of each of these cases but I don't see the horror and malice in these posts.

Doug Moran - Pentaho

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We just finished the second community technical WebEx meeting today where we talked about the BI Platform's Web Services architecture that will be in the next release of the platform.

We will be doing these meetings on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. To find out more information and to suggest topics, check out this thread in the Pentaho community forums.

In case you missed it, the recording is available on the WebEx service site. Click the link below to play it:

BI Platform Web Services-20090603 1404
Wednesday, June 3, 2009 10:04 am New York (Eastern Time, GMT-04:00)
39 Minutes

Thanks to everybody who participated!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pentaho Community Metadata Meeting

Pentaho hosted a community WebEx meeting today and presented the Pentaho metadata architecture and road map. There were about 25 community members, a dozen or so Pentaho employees and all the architects in attendance. The presentation was 20 minutes long followed by 40 minutes of questions and answers.

The Pentaho community WebEx meeting will become a regular event with different topics either once or twice a month.

In case you missed it, the recording is available on the WebEx service site. Click the link below to play it:

Metadata Discussion-20090513 1404
Wednesday, May 13, 2009 10:04 am New York (Eastern Time, GMT-04:00)
1 Hour

Thanks to everybody who participated!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

2009 SourceForge Community Choice Awards

Nominations are now open for the fourth annual SourceForge Community Choice Awards 2009. The awards program allows the community to recognize open source software projects that are built with the highest quality, creativity and ingenuity.

Get the word out – Blog, Tweet, Post, IM, IRC, Chat, Write on walls, Text, Sext, Call your mom or actually talk to people about nominating Pentaho!

We qualify for three categories:
  • Best Project for the Enterprise
  • Best Commercial Open Source Project
  • Best Project

You can Nominate Pentaho in all three categories.

URL to Nominate Pentaho:

HTML you can add to a blog etc:

<center><span style="font-weight:bolder;"><a href="http://sourceforge.net/community/cca09/nominate/?project_name=Pentaho - Business Intelligence&project_url=http://sourceforge.net/projects/pentaho/"><img border="0" src="http://sourceforge.net/images/cca/cca_nominate.png"/></a><br/>Nominate Pentaho</span></center><br/><ul><li>Best Project for the Enterprise</li><li>Best Commercial Open Source Project</li><li>Best Project</li></ul>

Nominations will be accepted until May 29th, and the ten projects with the most nominations in each category will become finalists. The winners will be announced at a party, held at the Agenda Lounge in San Jose, CA, starting at 6:00 pm PT on the night of July 23rd, during the week of OSCON.

For more info: http://sourceforge.net/community/cca09/

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Pentaho Install and Evaluation Guide

The Pentaho BI Suite is a collection of software that can do some amazing things. It is not just an application that "does something" that can be easily explained. It consists of a suite of tools and technologies that can be used alone or in combination to build BI solutions. Tools that a user can use to collect, transform, describe and store data. Technology that lets you add structure and relationships to that data in order to make it easier to analyze. There are applications for formatting, presenting and distributing the data as things like reports, charts and spreadsheets. There is even software that will analyze your data and help find hidden relationships. Lots of capabilities to try to explain to people with wildly different skills and needs.

Our crack documentation guy, Jem "I'll delete your wiki comments" Matzan, may have broken the evaluation barrier with the first ever* Installation and Evaluation coloring book. Pentaho top management exclaimed "...something this obviously valuable should be reserved for Enterprise Edition customers." Well, it took calling in some favors and a lot of behind the scenes deal making but I just received approval from "Pentaho Towers" to make it available to the open source community.

I haven't read completely through the document, but from what I have seen so far...
Great job Jem!!

You can download The Pentaho BI Suite 3.0 Installation and Evaluation Coloring Book here.

* I have not validated this claim

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Community Projects

I thought it would be appropriate kick off the blog with a roundup of the most active Pentaho community projects.

Community Dashboard Framework (CDF)

This project started out as a tech tip from Ingo Klose of SHS VIVEON AG way back in August of 2007. Since then it has become it's own project on Google Code. It has been included as a part of the Pentaho BI Server version 3.0. It is currently being led by Pedro Alves of WebDetails.

Pentaho Flash Charts

This project started life as an entry on Nick Goodman's blog in June 2008 and eventually found a life of it's own on Google Code. Due to popular demand, it is being included as a standard part of the Pentaho BI Server version 3.0. Nick Goodman of Bayon Technologies and Pentaho contributor Tom Qin are the main developers.

Pentaho Analysis Tool (PAT)

PAT is a GWT based analysis tool designed to replace JPivot in the Pentaho suite. It is based on an earlier project, Halogen, used for demonstrating the usability and features of the olap4j library. PAT is being led by Tom Barber, Luc Boudreau and Paul Stöllberger of Aschauer EDV GmbH. The project is starting to gain momentum and they could use more help. General mondrian/analysis knowledge, CSS, GWT and Spring skills are a plus.

Kettle Documentation en Español

The first full scale translation of a Pentaho documentation wiki space is underway. Tomás Di Doménico of Datalytics is leading the effort to translate the Kettle documentation to Spanish. A Kettle wiki space has also been created for an Italian translation of Kettle which I expect to start soon. If you are interested in helping out or would like to start a translation space of your own, contact me and we can get started.

Community Build Framework (CBF)

The CBF is another project being led by Pedro Alves of WebDetails with help from Daniel Einspanjer of Mozilla and Pedro Reininho. It is an alternate way to setup and deploy Pentaho based applications. Focused on a multi-project/ multi-environment scenario, it gives you the ability to switch from totally different projects on the fly, supports multiple environments (eg: development, production, worker1, worker2...), keeps changes to the original files from being overwritten in a upgrade and generally helps you manage your dev process. It has been recently upgraded to be compatible with Platform version 3.0.

Great things happening in the community - Thanks for all your hard work!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hey Everybody

Setting up a blog has been on my to-do list for a few years now. I think it was even on my Q1 2008 quarterly objectives list - hmmm... little late on that one. I assume that since you are reading this, you are already familiar with Pentaho, you know me personally or your name is "Doug Moran" and you just googled your name to see what "the other" Doug Morans are like. For the latter, I am the "Community Guy" and co-founder of Pentaho Open Source Business Intelligence.

The intention of this blog is to post news, information and observations that I think the Pentaho community will find useful or at least mildly entertaining. I answer a lot of Pentaho related questions via email, the forums, in wiki comments, on IM etc. I will attempt to provide some of those answers here in case they are generally useful. Please feel free to comment and ask questions.