Why I created a blog

Its been many years since I first created this blog. It has remained true to Essbase and related information over those years. Hopefully it has answered questions and given you insight over those years. I will continue to provide my observations and comments on the ever changing world of EPM. Don't be surprised if the scope of the blog changes and brings in other Hyperion topics.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Undocumented Change to Smart View

As we all know (or at least the cool kids know) the changes to Smart View have been coming quickly. So fast that the wise at Oracle decided to decouple its releases from the rest of the EPM stack. That is how we are at while the rest of the stack is I think this is a good thing as it allows Smart View to be more proactive in introducing changes to help us do more and better reporting.  I applaud Oracle for doing this.

However, because the changes are coming so quickly, not everything gets documented very well. From the new features documents we see this.

“Change to Display of Duplicate Variable Names

With this release, Smart View added functionality to display fully qualified variable names when variable names are duplicated. This helps to identify variables defined at the global, application, and database levels. “

But what does it mean? One of the cool features of Smart View is the ability to use substitution variables. You are thinking, what is so cool about that, the add-in could always do it and Smart View could do it since version 9X. Well yes, in both cases you could enter your substitution variable like &CurrMonth and when you retrieved, you would get the value of the substitution variable returned when you refresh the data. With this comes the limitation that if you save the spreadsheet, you save the actual value of the substitution variable and not the substitution variable itself. Huh? What I mean is suppose the substitution variable is set to Mar. It saves Mar and not &CurrMonth. 

Starting in Smart View a new way to use variables was introduced. HSGETVARIABLE. When used in a worksheet, it would retrieve the value of the variable but keep it as a formulaic member so next month when you changed the variable, your report would update with the new information. Pretty cool!

So lets get on to the change. Suppose I have the following substitution variables:


Notice I have both a global and database specific variable with the same name.

In and below, I could enter

=HSGetVariable(“HSActive”,”CurrMonth”) and when refreshed, get the variable. Note, HSActive means the current active connection for the sheet, I could also put in a private connection name.


Starting in, the command allows you to put in a qualified name

=HSGetVariable(“HSACTIVE”,”Sample.CurrMonth”) to determine the scope of where to get the variable from. If left blank, it seems to get the global variable. If qualified, it picks up the variable from where you specify


The screenshot above shows what the formulas look like, but in reality when you enter them you get is


Once you refresh you get


The difference between rows 1 and 2 is Row one has been physically been changed to Mar while row 2 is still a formula.  The interesting thing is unless you qualify the application, you will get the global variable. 

Further, I’m using HSACTIVE for the connection name, you can actually use a different connection instead. For example if I created a private connection for Demo.Basic called DEMO, I could use it and it would pull from the Demo.Basic version of the variable even if I’m connected to Sample.Basic.

So here is where it is getting more interesting. In I tried the same thing. When trying to use a global variable


I get an error message


and what did not work before supplying both the application and database now does work


As a test, I deleted the application and database level variables and then tried:


and now it returns the global variable.

By the way &Currmth stopped working as well. 

Between the two versions Oracle development has apparently been refining how this functionality works. So what worked in does not necessarily work the same way in and of course different than prior versions.

Anyway this is a good enhancement to substitution variables and I urge you to give it a try.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Formatted columns in Essbase

Am I crazy(Yes)! Formatted columns in Essbase? What am I talking about, we know you format your data in the front end, why would I do it in Essbase.  That is a good question and brings up the topic of this post.  This is one of those items I put into the category of “Little used features of Essbase” an ever evolving presentation I give at various events.  What I am talking about is Format strings that became available with Essbase 11.1. Lots of people jumped on the Text and Date measures bandwagon and that are in use a lot now but few if any have implemented format strings and they can be very useful.

How about taking a date stored in Essbase and returning it as a formatted date in the format you want, or taking a numerical value and returning it as text. Wait you say, I can do that in a text list. Well you can sort of, but formatted text gives you more flexibility. For example , I can tell the format string that if the value of a column is between 0 and 28.5 then return the text “Bad”, if the value is greater than 28.5 and less than 80.3 return “Good” and if it is greater than that return “Great”. Text lists have distinct integer values and can’t do that without some manipulation.

Using one of the examples in the Tech reference


I took Sample.Basic and enabled Typed Measures


I then went into the Variance % measure and added the following format string:

    WHEN CellValue() <= 5 THEN  "Low"
    WHEN CellValue() <= 10 THEN "Medium"
    WHEN CellValue() <= 15 THEN  "High"
    ELSE  "Very High"

Note, The example in the web page has the quotes as intelligent quotes and you have to change them back to regular quotes or you will get an error something like “Error on line 3 unknown name ?”

So what does the output look like? For help in checking the values, I added a member named Variance % Unformatted.  You can see I now have text in my report that will change as the data does and does not require the results to be integer values.


There are a lot of possible uses for this to create more customized reporting.  I should note that this is only possible with Smart View as the Add-in does not support the text output.

Now that I have expanded your horizons, explore the possibilities