OBIEE : New Dashboard, Analysis and Reporting Features

March 5th, 2012 by

So apart from support for a new type of repository storage, and enablement of the Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, OBIEE brought in a number of new features that could be of benefit to end-users and dashboard/report developers. Let’s go through them now, starting with some new capabilities around ad-hoc analyses.

The 11g release of Oracle Business Intelligence brought in the concept of selection steps, something that Venkat covered in detail around the time of the 11g launch. Selection steps allow you to further manipulate the results returned by an analysis, to add, remove or keep certain dimension members, add groups or calculated items, or filter results based on conditions which could make reference to hierarchies. Selection steps are applied post-aggregration, whilst regular filters are applied pre-aggregation, and they preserve totals even if you subsequently add or remove members from the analysis view.

Up until, selection steps could only be added within the analysis editor (a.k.a. Answers), and there was no way to display to the end-user what selection steps had been applied, or any way for them to add their own steps. This changes though with, and now either the analysis developer, or the end-user, can add selection steps to the analysis by right-clicking on the view. Let’s work through an example.

In this example, we have a simple pivot table that returns sales by product category and a stores hierarchy. We’ve applied a filter to the results so that only certain months are included, and we’ve included the filter view in the compound layout so you can see what’s been applied. Here’s the view as seen in the analysis editor, with the stores hierarchy drilled-down to the regions level:

Now new within this release is the ability to right-click on the pivot table view, in this case, and add selection steps, which includes adding groups and calculated items. What’s in the selection step list depends on whether you’re working with attribute columns or hierarchy columns, with the former having less options.

So let’s add one of the new Selection Steps views into the compound layout, like this:

and then we’ll include the analysis in a dashboard page. Now, even in this “published” form, end-users can take the initial set of results, and as well as move the columns around and sort the results as provided previously, they can add their own selection steps. Let’s start by excluding Other USA from the list of Regions:

Now we’ll create a new group containing all of the SF regions, like this:

Now, I’m going to create a new calculated item that’s made up of Gifts and Snacks, and replace the existing two product category members with this new calculated item.

So now our analysis is starting to look a lot different, with the selection steps we’ve applied shown in the selection steps view under the main pivot table.

Now let’s add a column-level grand total for each region and grouping on the Y axis, to show the total sale amount for each row.

Sshot 1

And then finally, exclude those regions that aren’t in the top three overall, based on Sale Amount across all categories.

Sshot 2

So once this is all done, the final version of the pivot table as customised by the end-user, looks a lot different to when it was first viewed, and the additional steps that the user has applied are clearly visible under the pivot table view.

Sshot 3

Now any changes that the user has made to this view are only visible to him or her, and haven’t changed the underlying definition of the view. But what if that particular user wanted to save these changes somewhere, so that they could see this customised version of the analysis whenever they logged in into their account? To do that, you can save this particular dashboard customisation, by selecting Save Current Customization… from the Edit Page menu in the top right-hand corner of the page, like this:

Sshot 4

and then choose whether this customisation is available as an option for other users, and whether it gets applied automatically whenever this particular user accesses this dashboard page again.

Sshot 5

From my perspective, for end-users this is the single-most important new feature in OBIEE that I’m aware of, as it gives the end-user so much more power to customise and further manipulate the results of queries that you present to them in dashboards. When I was using to write the Answers and Dashboards chapter of the book, but it wasn’t yet on general availability, going back to the restrictions of on customer sites was a real pain, as I’d got so used to this new flexibility in presenting analyses to dashboard end-users.

That said, you may not want all analyses to be used in this way, so a new tab has been added to the Analysis Properties dialog to allow you to selectively disable these features should you wish.

Sshot 6

Another change introduced with, but primarily aimed at Exalytics implementations, is the ability to remove the Apply and Reset buttons from prompts. In fact, every optimisation introduced into to do with the dashboard front-end is actually available for all implementations, though you’ll need to consider whether your system is powerful enough to make proper use of them. In the case of removing the Apply and Reset buttons from prompts, you need to be aware that every time you select a value, or move the focus area out of the currently selected value in the prompt, it’ll cause the analysis to refresh and a logical query to be send through to the BI Server, which could get interesting if you’ve got a large data set and a number of users all accessing dashboards at the same time.

So you can disable the Apply and Reset buttons at the individual prompt level, like this:

Sshot 7

or at the dashboard page level, like this:

Sshot 8

or at the whole dashboard level, using the Dashboard Properties dialog, like this:

Sshot 9

Then, assuming you’ve gone ahead and hidden these buttons, prompts will then cause linked analyses and other objects to change their values as soon as you make the selection, giving your users a very interactive and fast dashboard experience, assuming that your underlying database can handle the extra level of activity.

Sshot 10

As mentioned earlier, by default dashboard prompts are visible when you install the stock version of OBIEE; however, if you’ve bought an Exalytics box, the installation procedure switches all prompts to hide these buttons by default, as the assumption is that you’d want this feature and the underlying database is able to handle the increased load, due to the presence of the TimesTen in-memory cache.

Another set of new features in that this time are for Oracle BI Publisher, are around how you set up new reports and the templates that they use. In previous versions of BI Publisher, you first create a data model and then create a report definition, with the report creation process first prompting you to select a data model from the catalog. Now, when you go to create a new report (New > Report from the common header menu), you’re prompted to either select an existing data model, create a new one, or upload a spreadsheet which creates a corresponding data model for you. Presumably this is because usability reports showed that most people new to OBIEE didn’t realise you had to create a data model before you created a BI Publisher report, and this change makes the process a bit more obvious (plus provides a short-cut to creating reports based off of spreadsheets).

Sshot 11

Then, when you actually come to create the report template, you’ve now got the option of going to the regular online layout editor, or you can step through a wizard to help you define the layout template.

Sshot 12

This then takes you through a number of steps, where you can select the columns to include, and then further customize the report at the end.

Sshot 13

So, a few interesting new front-end features in the of OBIEE, and we’ll conclude this series about this latest release of OBIEE tomorrow with a look at what’s involved in upgrading from earlier releases.


  1. Reddy Says:

    Ok. Good.

  2. Scott Powell Says:

    Hi Mark, I’m curious if you have any thoughts around using standard OBIEE hierarchies (aka 10g) versus the new presentation hierarchies in 11g. Because of limited functionality (specifically allowing to drill to all descendants), I’ve shied away from the new 11g hierarchies. But it seems with that may be the best way to do things now. Any thoughts on how you decide whether or not to use the new 11g presentation hierarchies now?

    Thanks – great article as usual!

  3. rastin Says:

    Hi Mark,

    how what-if-analysis in obiee


  4. Sajeesh Says:

    Hi Mark,

    We are planning to upgrade our OBIEE 10g instance to 11g. We were thinking of upgrading to till the launch of Can we go for directly from 10g?


  5. Mark Rittman Says:

    Hi Sajeesh

    Yes you can go straight to from 10g. See the article I just posted this morning on what’s involved.\


  6. Nilley Says:

    Hi Mark
    Excellent article. and we have no doubt OBIEE 11g version that we must migrate.


  7. Greg Menon Says:

    Oracle has a pre-built demo VM of on Linux. Very impressive.

    It does run better with 8GB of memory assigned to the VM.

  8. Oliver Nau Says:

    Hi Mark,

    as you can see in your post in picture sshot-10.png you have a NULL Value included in the prompt. We have this behaviour too. It came up after integration of the repository and catalog from our Dev environment to the test environment
    Do you know if it is possible via configuration to disable this new ‘feature’?


  9. Paul H Says:

    Hello Mark,
    We’re having the same issue as Oliver Nau – NULL value now showing up in dashboard prompt after upgrade from –> I don’t have any NULL data in table for these prompts, but still I am getting NULL. Do you know what is causing this/ how to stop it?
    Thank you

  10. rastin Says:

    Hi Mark,

    how what-if-analysis in obiee
    please create post for this issue.


  11. Francesca Says:

    Hi Mark,

    in developing a dashboard (in obiee where I put two different results analysis linked by master-detail, I note that if I put the master upper the detail or on the left of it in the same page, the link doesn’t work. Instead if I put the master under the detail or on the right of it, it works.
    Any suggestion?



  12. Eva Delaney Says:

    Currently, BI Server has a temp file that grows everytime a drill down report is created. Sometimes to the point it get so full and the D: crashes. Which new version of Oracle will take care of this issue????

  13. Vivian Says:

    I am a BI Publisher Newbie.
    I was wondering if it is possible to create a report with a calculation for the basis of this, I want use the outcome of other reports.

    In example:
    Report A total: 1.000.000
    Report B total: 2.5

    New report: use a function/calculation to use the total outcome of report A and B.

    If Yes, how can I apply this calculation?
    Thanks in advance.

  14. Sohail Nawaz Says:

    Hello Mark,
    We’re having the same issue as Oliver Nau & Paul H – NULL value now showing up in dashboard prompt after upgrade from –> I don’t have any NULL data in table for these prompts, but still I am getting NULL. Do you know what is causing this/ how to stop it?
    Thank you

  15. Scott Powell Says:

    To stop the “NULL” showing up in dashboard prompts, you have to turn off “NULLABLE” on the column on the physical layer. I’ve already opened a SR with Oracle on this.

    Hope this helps,

  16. Swapna Says:


    I am working on OBIEE We are having a requirement to have nested pages in OBIEE Dashboard.

    Example: In Dashboard A, i have two pages Page A and Page B. Again under Page A, i should have Page A1, page A2, Page A3. Similarly for Page B

    I have checked the sample app application and found that it can done using BI Publisher. But we do not want to do with BI publisher.

    Is there any standard way of doing this??? This requirement is for a product. So we are looking for a standard way which is approved by oracle.

    Please give me your suggestions.

    Thanks in Advance.

  17. karen03 Says:

    Hi Mark,

    We’ve recently upgraded to and understand the facility of creating grouped or calculated items as shown by you. However, my understanding was that you would then be able to drill down on the calculated result (if there is a drill down report associated) which doesn’t appear to be the case. When I’ve created a calculated item I get a hyperlink which suggests i can drill down but the parameters for the grouped values are not passed on correctly. Is this something you have come across? Thanks, karen

  18. Mihai Says:

    Same as Francesca said, the master-detail work only if the master analysis is placed under the detail, how can we bypass this bug?


  19. El Dimitri Says:

    You can also eliminate the NULLS in the presentation layer (Answers), specifying “Direct SQL” with the ‘WHERE is not null’ in the dropdown list properties.

  20. El Dimitri Says:

    You can also eliminate the NULLS in the presentation layer (Answers), specifying “Direct SQL” with the ‘WHERE ${column_name} is not null’ in the dropdown list properties.

  21. Pietro Says:

    Hi Mark – With the saved customizations, how do you migrate these from environment to environment (i.e. DEV to PROD)? We simply could not easily migrate customizations with Has .6 made the migration possible?


  22. kirru Says:

    Hi Mark,

    We have one requirement, in the report level want to grouping the column names. For example if we generate the report ‘Product ID’,’Product Type’, ‘Product SubType’, These all coming from Product Table. In the Report level , we want to see only one column name in those 3 columns with the ‘+’ symbol, when we click that ‘+’ symbol, It should have to show the all those 3 columns.

    Its my requirement. Please can any one post the clue.

    Thanks ,


Website Design & Build: