I’ll give up Excel Pivot Tables when you take ’em from my cold, dead hands

Jedox, the company behind the open source MOLAP server Palo, has just announced an MDX driver. This means that it’s now possible to access Palo cubes using Excel Pivot Tables or indeed any tool that supports ODBO.  This is excellent news, as MOLAP to most Excel users IS a Pivot Table, and somewhat like the NRA, the NPTA’s (National Pivot Table Association’s) motto is “I’ll give up Excel Pivot Tables when you take ’em from my cold, dead hands”.

MDX/XMLA is now a de facto standard for OLAP servers, supported not just by MS SQLServer but by SAP BW, Hyperion/ESSBase and by Pentaho’s Mondrian. The new driver is not open source, nor is it for sale but instead comes free to those with Jedox support contracts. I’m sure lots of organisations will be more than willing to enter a support contract (starting at €3000 per server) to get their hands on this; think of the savings in training alone!

UPDATE: 2nd July 2009

Kristian Raue has announced on his blog that the ODBO/MDX driver will now come free with latest Palo BI Suite (both community and enterprise versions). Excellent news!


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19 responses to “I’ll give up Excel Pivot Tables when you take ’em from my cold, dead hands

  1. Tom,

    Is this driver any good for OOo?

    I’m a BIG Excel PT fan but we are moving to Linux and therefore OOo.

    This is actually a REAL problem for me because I find OOo DataPilot only does about 50% of what the Excel PT does – and I do a LOT of work in PTs. In fact I try NOT to use excel except for PTs.

    The ability to link to a Palo cube might go some way to helping the Datapilo drawbacks.

    Actually my dream has always been a clone of Excel PTs (sticky formatting etc, etc) in a Firefox browser with the ability to link to any backend, including Palo. If you find one, let me know!

    Martyn

  2. Martyn,

    Excel on Windows only, I’m afraid.

    There’s only two things that bind me to the Windows platform. Excel PTs and Excel VBA. At this moment in the time there’s nothing out there to match either, but I’ll keep looking!

    Tom

  3. Tom

    Don’t do VBA, but I just cannot do without PTs.

    Because we still run office 2k I’m looking at crossover for those users who need PTs when we move to Linux – it looks like the only option right now.

    I did find some ajax components here

    http://demo.openlinksw.com/DAV/JS/demo/index.html

    which looked great but we haven’t had time to develop with them. Maybe in ’09……

    Martyn

  4. Martyn,

    Hadn’t really looked at OAT before (not another JS toolkit, was my first reaction) but from a data access point of view it looks very impressive, must find time to look into it.

    As the OAT library is an XML/A client, and the new Jedox driver can act as an XML/A server (not sure whether the server component of the driver is Windows specific but I wouldn’t think so) you could then back-end OAT client apps with Palo pivots (for a cost) or indeed Pentaho Mondrian cubes (for free).

    Tom

  5. Hi,

    Maybe you can use ReportPortal as XMLA Report solution:

    http://www.reportportal.com

    Marco

  6. @Macro,

    Yes indeed, that’s why exposing Palo as XML/A is such a smart move, it opens up a whole new world of front-end clients, both closed and open source. Choice is good!

    Do you guys use Palo?

    Tom

  7. Tom

    Our initial thought was to integrate OAT into our ERP system so we could pivot table within the application/browser.

    Now you’ve got me thinking that actually we could pipe our management data to Palo (which we are going to do with pre-canned links anyway) but still display it in the browser using OAT.

    BTW (and a little off topic) – whats your view on the JPalo stuff? We also thought about using that, or maybe the PHP api to achieve the same thing.

    Martyn

  8. @Martyn

    I’ve not really looked at the PHP API in any detail but I would presume it’s up to the job as Jedox were originally a PHP shop (current Worksheet Server is a PHP app).

    Tensegrity’s JPalo is an API, a Web-based Palo browser and a client-side eclipse-based Palo front-end. All three are excellent and there’s strong links between Tensegrity and Jedox (their respective CEOs are brothers). Tensegrity are also the developers of Palo’s new ETL tool.

    PHP or Java? I’d go the Java route as it fits in nicely with my other server-side ETL datasmithing tools (Talend, Groovy, Jetty, JDBC etc.) but if you guys already have PHP and Javascript skills then a PHP back-end combined with an OAT powered front could be the way to go.

    Oh, the raw HTTP API is also very approachable and offers the greatest flexibility (I’m currently using it in an Excel VBA add-in combining it with SQLite to create a relational-meets-dimensional-meets-Excel reporting engine, powerful stuff!)

    Tom

  9. Tom

    Thanks for the insight – I use the eclipse client and have looked at the web based version as well.

    My company does a lot with PHP so it may be cool to look at that.

    Martyn

  10. I am looking for some idea and stumble upon your posting 🙂 decide to wish you Thanks. Eugene

  11. @Eugene

    Thank YOU for reading and taking the time to comment.

    Tom

  12. Hi,

    Any expoerience with PALO XMLA ?

    Where can I download the PALO XMLA ?

    Marco

  13. @Macro

    I’ve used XMLA with Mondrian but not with Palo. PALO XMLA is a not free and you would need to contact Jedox re downloading it.

    Tom

  14. @Marco

    I see I keep referring to you as Macro, sorry! Obviously Excel is deeply embedded in my brain 😉

    Tom

  15. @martyn – have get a pivot table in a browser – Try look in google docs – Panorma have release a free pivot tool. For a fee you can connect to OLAP Servers such as MSAS

  16. Hi,
    the ODBO driver is now included in the community edition of Palo. But it seems they don’t provide the full XML/A support that would be needed to access Palo from tools like Rex or Wabit.

  17. Pingback: Excel as the iPod of Downloaded Data « Gobán Saor