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No-Cost Interop 'Lab' Kit Connects Hadoop HBase and Excel

JNBridge, maker of tools that connect Java- and .NET-based components and apps, this week released another of its free "labs," a.k.a. interoperability kits for developers looking for new ways of connecting disparate technologies. The latest lab provides a way to build a Microsoft Excel add-in for Hadoop HBase.

HBase is the Java-based, open source, distributed database for Big Data used by Apache Hadoop, the popular open-source platform for data-intensive distributed computing. HBase apps must use Java APIs, which makes it tough to provide cross-platform business intelligence on the desktop. The new JNBridge Lab provides a simple Excel front end to HBase MapReduce that allows developers to view HBase tables and execute MapReduce projects. Google's MapReduce is a programming model for processing and generating large data sets. It supports parallel computations over large data sets on unreliable computer clusters.

Why create an Excel add-in? "Microsoft Excel has always been the ubiquitous off-the-shelf tool for data analysis and it makes a ready-to-go front end for Hadoop," the company explained in a blog post. "Excel can be extended using add-ins developed in Visual Studio using...Visual Studio Tools for Office."

The Excel add-in lets users view HBase tables and execute MapReduce jobs. It consists of a single control pane; as the user interacts with the pane, underlying code accesses the Excel data model consisting of workbooks, worksheets and charts.

"Most Hadoop users run Hadoop on Linux, but many also want to integrate .NET and other Microsoft technologies, and we've been supporting them in our series of labs," explained Wayne Citrin, CTO of JNBridge, in a statement. "This latest JNBridge lab extends this support by allowing users to continue to run the analyses on Linux while viewing the results with a familiar Excel front end. By supporting the HBase client API, users can get finer-grained control over the queries that they perform than they can through other mechanisms."

The latest lab uses the company's flagship product, JNBridgePro, for .NET-to-Java interoperability.

The lab also leverages concepts and code from the previous lab, "Building a LINQ Provider for HBase MapReduce"). LINQ (Language Integrated Query) is Microsoft's .NET Framework component that adds native data querying capabilities to .NET languages (C#, VB, etc.).

The Boulder, Colo.-based company began offering these interoperability kits last year as part of the company's 10th anniversary celebration. "It was a way of showing people how to use the out-of-the-box functionality of JNBridgePro to do useful things that they may not have thought of, or that don't exist out there as products," Citrin told ADTmag at the time. The first JNBridge Lab was an SSH Adapter for BizTalk Server designed to enable the secure access and manipulation of files over the network.

Posted by John K. Waters on May 8, 2013