Oracle Discoverer 10g Handbook Review
he following review of the Discoverer 10g Handbook was written by
Karen Cannell, from the Integra Technology Consulting Corporation.
It was published in the December 2006 edition of the ODTUG technical journal.
To download a copy of the review you will need to be a full
Note: Supplemental information is in dark blue,
while comments in light blue
were done by us to highlight sections of the review.
We waited a long time
for a worthy Discoverer 10g text.
It's not an easy topic to tackle—Discoverer is now a collection of eight separate tools to serve
both relational and online analytical processing (OLAP) databases:
Desktop, Plus, Viewer, Administrator, Portlet Provider, End User Layer
(EUL) Command Line for Java, Business Intelligence (BI) Spreadsheet
Add-In, and the Enterprise Manager Application Server control.
second edition of The Discoverer Handbook, authors Michael and Darlene
Armstrong-Smith have done an exceptional job of describing how
to productively use all components of the Oracle Discoverer toolset. End
users, developers, administrators, and managers will all find parts that
will enhance their use of Discoverer. This book will become, if it has
not already, the essential Discoverer 10g reference.
The Armstrong-Smiths have made a business of Discoverer,
specializing in Oracle Discoverer training and
implementation through their company Armstrong-Smith Consulting, an
acknowledged leader in Discoverer training. For additional expertise in
completing the configuration and OLAP chapters, the Armstrong-Smiths
consulted with contributing authors Chris DeYoung of Oracle Corporation
and Mark Rittman of SolStonePlus (now
Rittman Mead Consulting
). Mr. DeYoung, an Oracle University instructor, has been a lead trainer on the Oracle
Application Server and Discoverer for the past six years (
as of 2006
). Mr. Rittman is a respected and well-published consultant specializing in Oracle data warehousing and
business intelligence applications. These are the experts on Oracle
Discoverer—just the persons to learn from.
The Discoverer 10g Handbook flows much like one of the
Armstrong-Smith's courses or presentations:
Key concepts are presented as a foundation, then the reader is led
through increasing levels of knowledge by a series of
workflows—step-by-step descriptions of how to accomplish a task. The
combination of text and workflows forms the tutorial. All of the
examples in the book build from and reference the tutorial database.
Every task is described clearly and succinctly. Where there are options,
the authors fully describe all paths and comments on the merits or
pitfalls of each. Notes and recommendations are interspersed in the
Instead of focusing on Discoverer Plus, then Discoverer Viewer, then
Discoverer Desktop, the authors focus on the workflow
—how to complete the task at hand—and within the workflow describe the subtle
or not-so-subtle differences of performing the same task in the
different Discoverer tools. This side-by-side comparison is very helpful
to those of us that use a mixture of Discoverer tools in our development
The book is organized in four parts: Getting Started, Editing the Query,
Advanced Discoverer Techniques, and Using the Discoverer Administration
Edition, followed by four appendices.
The first three chapters of Part I:
Getting Started provides an overview of the Discoverer toolset and lay the
groundwork for effective use of Discoverer. Chapter two, Users and
Databases, presents the Library and Report Writer concepts and suggests
a sound approach to planning for optimal use of Discoverer. While the
tendency is to skip the introductory chapters and jump to the meat,
these early chapters are worth reading. The latter two chapters of Part
I describe the essential and optional steps of the Workbook Wizard.
Part II: Editing the Query leads the reader
into editing queries and using Discoverer to analyze data. This section
addresses formatting, graphing, report refinement, and analyzing data
through the various Discoverer tools. Chapter 10 is devoted to
Discoverer Viewer, highlighting the advantages and limitations of this
HTML-only Discoverer interface.
Part III: Advanced Discoverer Techniques
chapters include Drilling and Hyper Drilling, Building Effective
Conditions, Refining Parameters, Calculations, Sorting and Percentages,
Query Management, and User Preferences. Experienced Discoverer users
will spend most of their time in these chapters, as the authors describe
how to achieve results with Discoverer that one may not have thought
In Part IV: Discoverer Administration, the
first three chapters cover the expected groundwork and detail to create
and maintain the End User Layer, Business Areas, and end user access and
privileges. The Configuring Discoverer chapter describes all aspects of
Oracle Application Server configuration for Discoverer: HTTP Server,
OC4J, Oracle Enterprise Manger (OEM) for configuration of Discoverer,
Single Sign-On, Oracle Process Manager and Notification Server (OPMN),
Oracle Internet Directory (OID), the Metadata Repository, Discoverer
Preferences, and Web Cache. This configuration chapter is not a full
how-to for configuring the Oracle Application Server, but does give the
basics of Discoverer configuration in each of these areas. This is the
only consolidated source of such information that I am aware of. The
Setting Up Portal for Use with Discoverer and Summary Management
chapters round out the administration section.
The Appendices are as valuable as the rest of the text.
Appendix A is indeed a gold mine of answers to
common Discoverer questions. The SQL Functions appendix is a valuable
reference for all SQL function available within Discoverer, including
analytic functions. The Database and Views appendix explains key
database concepts, Oracle Applications Business Views, and Noetix Views.
The final appendix is a full description of the tutorial database used
throughout the book.
I actually tried to find a Discoverer topic that was not covered in The Oracle Discoverer 10g Handbook—I couldn't. Of course some
topics, like Advanced Techniques and Analytics, are covered in greater
depth than others, such as Application Server configuration. For any
issue or topic not addressed in the text, the reader is invited to the
author's Web site and blog.
As I said at the beginning, we waited a long time for a worthy Discoverer
text. The wait was well worth it.
About the Author
Karen Cannell is an associate principal with
Integra Technology Consulting Corporation,
a quality technical service provider for the greater Boston area.
She has analyzed, designed, developed, converted, upgraded, enhanced, and
otherwise tweaked database applications for more than 20 years, focusing
on the Oracle Database and toolsets since 1994.
At the time of the reviews she was involved in various ETL, Application
Express, and Discoverer projects leveraging the Oracle 10g platform and tools.
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