Bringing analytics to the corporate masses
- By Peter Bochner
Many organizations yearning to get their feet wet with custom
applications are running into problems caused by a lack
of necessary Java
That problem led analytics software company Alphablox Corp. to
do-it-yourself (or, more accurately, a 'let-them-do-it-
with the latest version of its Alphablox
development platform, which works
with multiple vendors' application
servers to create J2EE-based analytic
applications. The new 4.1
release of Alphabox contains a toolkit that
officials say can help
business analysts with no programming experience
reporting and data access applications.
By broadening the spectrum of people who can build these basic
applications, companies can get them up and running and out to the
users more quickly, says Carol Ewton, senior product manager for
Mountain View, Calif., firm.
Called Blox Palette, the open standards toolkit is an add-in to
Macromedia’s Dreamweaver MX software for creating Web sites.
contains a palette for basic HTML elements; the toolkit
offers a palette for
presentation and data analysis components, or
Blox. The business analyst
developer drags and drops the HTML and
Alphablox elements from the palettes
to the page, creating queries
and choosing data access sources with the help
of a wizard.
To build an application, a non-programmer must have basic HTML skills,
comfortable with wizards and understand the underlying data cubes
offerings such as Hyperion Essbase. The only assistance they might
to have an IT person hook them up to the Alphablox server,
where pages are
deployed so they can be rendered over the Internet.
According to Ewton, a typical non-programmer getting started with
toolkit would be able to create a workable two- or three-page
that could be rolled out to users in one day. By
comparison, she said, it
might take one to three days for an
experienced Java programmer getting
started with Alphablox to build
a similar application.
While the wizards protect non-programmers from the underlying detail
the Blox Palette’s J2EE capabilities, such as writing tags on the
developers can go into Dreamweaver and see the code being
generated, or what
is being done with tag libraries. As a result, they
can extend the
applications created by non-programmers to include more
analysis components and business logic over time.