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Getting Started with BI Publisher ToolBox

By: Ike Wiggins
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Learn how this free utility can make running BI Publisher reporting components incredibly easy.
Ever wished that using the Oracle BI Publisher APIs could be easier to use? Ever wanted a single-click template load application for EBS Template Builder? Ever wanted to be able to test your reports with a single click? Look no further! These features and many more are provided in the BI Publisher ToolBox, a free configuration management tool I created for Oracle BI Publisher .

For those of you unfamiliar with it, Oracle BI Publisher is a tool that generates high-fidelity documents and reports. Also, it provides a rich set of APIs that can generate and deliver content to a variety of platforms ubiquitously.

ToolBox increases the speed of development because a developer can now connect to any environment, any disparate data source, or any ERP system. This functionality has the added benefit of not requiring you to create or key any system config, copy files to servers, or wait for concurrent manager requests (a plus for E-Business Suite developers).

Not only will ToolBox make your life easier, it will also save you valuable development time—a lot of it. To illustrate this point, below is an example of how a typical BI Publisher report is developed and unit tested for Oracle E-Business Suite developers:
1. Copy the Reports6i report to the server or upload a Data Template: 5 seconds
2. Upload the Format Template (assuming you are logged-in already): 5 seconds
3. Copy a concurrent request and resubmit: 10 seconds
4. Wait for the concurrent request to start and finish: 30 seconds
5. Review the log and output file: 10 seconds
6. Repeat

With all those non-value added steps, you will waste over a minute clicking, keying, copying files and waiting. With ToolBox, you will just click one button. The report will run in real-time, the log file will be displayed on the screen automatically, and the output will go to the configured directory. ToolBox can do the same work in half the time.

What Is It?
ToolBox is a lightweight Swing app that allows developers to run the BI Publisher APIs locally on their PC with a nice, front-end GUI. (See Figure 2.) There is nothing to deploy and no OAF or Java knowledge is required. As a result, it allows a developer to quickly create and test BI Publisher Data Templates, Format Templates, Burst Control Files, etc.
The most important aspect of ToolBox is its ease of use. A novice BI Publisher developer can easily set up the necessary configurations to run any type of BI Publisher report. Below is a list of the core functionality ToolBox provides:
* Format Templates - rtf conversion, applying xsl templates to xml files
* Data Templates - generating xml files (Reports6i replacement)
* ETEXT - Generating EFT and EDI documents
* Bursting - Delivery documents via http, email, ftp, filesystem, etc.
* Uploading Format Templates (E-Business Suite)
* Uploading Data Templates (E-Business Suite)

This section explains the technical setup to successfully run BI Publisher ToolBox.
1. Install the Java runtime environment (JRE) version 6. The download for the JRE version 6 can be found here.
2. Verify that your PC has 500+ MB of memory. (Note: 1 GB is preferable)
3. Download BIPublisherToolBox.zip
4. Download BIPublisherToolBoxSrc.zip (optional)
5. Extract the BI Publisher ToolBox.

ToolBox can be extracted into any directory. DO NOT move the executable, Batch File, or Shell Script to another directory. You may not copy the executable out of the extracted directory, either. In doing so, the jar files and their paths will not be found for this application. With that in mind, you may move the entire extracted folder (BIPublisherToolBox) to your choice of locations.

ToolBox comes pre-packaged with basic examples that a developer can run. In order to run the Data Template examples, the scott/tiger schema must be installed and you must have a working data source. It is recommended that the developer load the examples before proceeding to the "Configuration" section.

1. Run the executable - Navigate to the BIPublisherToolBox\bin directory. Double click on the BIPublisherToolBox.exe. The ToolBox screen should come up.
2. Open the BIPublisherToolBox_SampleConfig.xml file - Click the Open Folder button, navigate to the BIPublisherToolBox\corporate_examples directory. Double click on the BIPublisherToolBox_SampleConfig.xml. The ToolBox screen should now be populated with the examples. (See Figure

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