BI Publisher Licensing considerations

By Paul Bullen, Senior License Consultant for Rocela

Recently we’ve heard about the many advantages and considerations of using BI/XML Publisher against Oracle E-Business Suite. Like many Oracle products, this provides some very powerful functionality which once mastered can revolutionise your use of applications. However, this functionality comes at a cost. As part of any (correctly) licensed Oracle E-Business Suite applications, you receive a restricted use license for Business Intelligence Publisher. What does this mean? Well, unfortunately the restrictions really are quite significant. Looking at standard terms and conditions, you are allowed to use Business Intelligence Publisher to publish and/or view:

1)      Shipped Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher reports: you are allowed to make changes to the layout of these reports

2)      Shipped or newly created Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher reports that are modified to access data from existing Oracle E-Business Suite Applications schemas that have not been customized

So, you can use the shipped reports and change their layout. Or you can create new reports which access non-customised schemas. In order to gain most business benefit from the BI Publisher, you’re probably going to want to create your own reports or query against schemas which have customisations.

Oracle provide further clarification:

Full use of Business Intelligence Publisher is required if any shipped, modified or newly created Oracle Business Intelligence Publisher report:

1)      Accesses data from a non-Oracle E-Business Suite Applications data source, or

2)      Accesses data from a new schema within the Oracle E-Business Suite Applications that is not shipped by Oracle, or

3)       Accesses data from a modified Oracle E-Business Suite Applications schema (e.g., by adding columns to an existing table).

Given how BI Publisher is Oracle’s strategic enterprise reporting tool, and may well become yours, it is imperative that you understand how you are licensed for using it. As a separately licensed product, it is available in either Named User Plus (£308 each, list price, minimum of 50) processor metric (nearly £31k per processor, list price), or Employee metrics.

The above restrictions are standard terms and conditions, they do vary and so it is worth checking your license documentation, bearing in mind your license may have been purchased before BI Publisher was released. If you are in any doubt, contact Rocela!

XML (BI) Publisher fit to ‘burst’!

By Andrew Archibald, Senior Consultant Rocela

As a curious technologist, I have recently revisited the functionality of emailing documents from Oracle E-Business to multiple recipients; a functionality called ‘bursting’ in Oracle E-Business language. I have used BI Publisher to ‘burst’ PDF’s out of Oracle E-Business R12 and save them to the server ready for printing – a relatively simple process using the web services available with BI Publisher.

However, when using Oracle E-Business R11 and XML Publisher, this method is not as straightforward and requires additional coding. Happily, there is a great deal of solid reference material out there for this (both Oracle documents and blog postings) which details the steps required for ‘bursting’ in XML Publisher.

One of the best features of XML Publisher is the ease in which you can link to Oracle E-Business Suite – if you set the code of the concurrent request to the same name as the XML Publisher data definition template, they automatically link together. My colleague Kenny Miller mentioned this in his recent post.

For now, I’m going to consider some of the “gotcha’s” when implementing ‘bursting’ functionality.

Building your RTF document, beware!

Oracle BI Publisher desktop is a great tool and makes it easy to create templates. The plug-in allows you to import demo XML and then create groupings, tables and fields on templates, but there are a couple of things that you need to watch out for.

Firstly, when you insert a new field into the template, BI Publisher creates a Word field and then attaches the BI Publisher options. The problem this can cause is around the values within the ‘advanced’ properties (right click on the field and select ‘BI Publisher’). These must match up with Word’s ‘help’ properties for that item. If they are different then the document will fail when BI Publisher tries to merge the XML and the template.

Secondly, if you are looking to ‘burst’ this document and also to store all the output as one document, you need to create a grouping which will encase your template and fields (don’t worry about headers and footers on the RTF document).

Be aware if you have a grouping on a lower set of data within your document; for example you have your invoice header details then displaying the invoice lines, the outer grouping may have an effect on the whole document. Always remember my first point about Word’s ‘help’ properties; these are easily reset by Word which will break your document. So, always check them before uploading to BI Publisher!

Building your ‘bursting’ file

Best tip is to start small, only build small components and start with small amounts of data. Don’t think that because the individual file generation works, that it will also work when it’s called a ‘bursting event’.

The log files are stored in the following places to help diagnose the issue. Log files are located in comn/util/java/jdk1.6.0_22/jre/lib for any BI Publisher logs.

The ‘bursting’ file takes an XML path as a parameter (tag <xapi:request select) which is used to split the data in the XML file output from the concurrent request and generate separate documents.

Ensure that the XML in the ‘bursting’ file is consistent with the structure of the output from the concurrent request. To view what is generated by Oracle E-Business, run the concurrent request to output the data as XML. If the XML path is incorrect you will notice that your document will only show the first record in your XML output.

These are just some of the features which you should watch out for and hopefully this will save you a few headaches! Just one more potential headache before you ‘burst’: it’s worth remembering that BI Publisher is a separately licensed Oracle product and although a restricted use license is included with Oracle E-Business Suite, it only allows certain restrictive usage of the product. One of my License Optimisation colleagues will write a blog about BI Publisher licensing soon. In the meantime, assuming you are licensed correctly, happy ‘bursting’!

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