October 30, 2009

The state of OBIEE on the web

Filed under: obiee, rant — rmoff @ 11:06

An advance footnote

I’ll start this by saying why I think things are how they are, and then I’ll get to the meat of my article.

OBIEE in its current incarnation (v10.1.3) is a mature product. All the big bugs have been caught and fixed. All the known quirks are well documented. All the missing features are known. All the clever workarounds have been found. All the neat little hacks have been explored.

What’s left to talk about?

Where have all the good men (and women) gone?

The OTN OBIEE Forum has become a depressing place.

This is no forum of equals, sharing and discussing a joint interest in a product.

I would say that 90%, if not 95%, of posts are from beginners. Already I can hear the shaking of heads, but bear with me. There’s nothing wrong with beginners posting on forums. Everyone has to start somewhere. But the problem is — they then disappear. So instead of organically growing as part of a community and in turn becoming more knowledgeable and helping others with their problems they leave. This leaves a fresh batch of beginners with questions, yet the same people answering them (invariably growing more frustrated and cynical).

The second problem, and not limited to this forum, is that people don’t RTFM! They don’t search in Google, and they sure as heck don’t search the forum. Why should I spend MY time looking up something in the manual for someone just so that THEY don’t have to?

This maybe shows my age, but on Usenet (nntp:// !) the mantra was always to “lurk” first. You gained a feeling for the group, and you saw quickly what questions came up repeatedly. You read the FAQ, so that you didn’t post a Frequently Asked Question. That’s where FAQs came from – people ask the same question again and again.

Asking questions is brilliant. Asking questions is how one learns. Showing curiosity in something and exploring it is how one becomes truly knowledgeable. Answering those questions and thinking about them is how one learns more and proves ones knowledge.
Asking for the hundredth time why Presentation Services won’t start, if OBIEE is supported on a certain OS, how to configure a DSN on Linux, or how to implement SSO is not learning. It’s plain lazy. It’s asking someone else to do your job for you.
If you really can’t get Presentation Services to start, and you post up the full spec of your environment, configuration, and what you’ve tried already and with details of what didn’t work with all the symptoms, links to all the posts you’ve found and ruled out as being relevant to your problem and why — then, and only then, is it fair to be posting your question.

And finally, since when did a lack of manners become acceptable? If someone helps you out, it’s polite to say thank you. People constantly abandon threads yet go on to post new ones. It’s also important from a point of view of people searching (hah!) for previously answered questions. If a suggested solution has been acknowledged to work other people may try it. If a suggested solution has been met by a deafening silence then people may give it less credence.

To finish this section on a positive note, here’s an example of what I think the forum should be about. These are a couple of threads I’ve been involved with where it’s not been necessarily something documented, where there’s been a back and forth of diagnostics, where both sides have benefited from the thread

Silence in blog land

Related to the OTN forum is the decline in OBIEE blogging. Just as there’s no sparks of new ideas or problems being discussed on the OTN Forum, there’s not a lot being posted on the OBIEE blogs any more. It could be literally the case that everything that’s to write about has been.
If one looks at the blog archives of people like Venkat and John M, what else is there to be said, other than re-hashing the same points?
There are new blogs coming along (and I include myself in that, in internet years I’m extremely recent too), but there’s either not a lot to write about, very esoteric, or just re-working the same ideas.


I’ll say again what I did at the top of this posting.

OBIEE in its current incarnation (v10.1.3) is a mature product. All the big bugs have been caught and fixed. All the known quirks are well documented. All the missing features are known. All the clever workarounds have been found. All the neat little hacks have been explored.

On the horizon and (slowly) approaching is OBIEE 11g. It’s is already in a limited ßeta. Once it’s open to a more wide field (presumably those currently ßeta testing it are under NDA) there’ll be a whole raft of exciting new things to talk about and I would imagine things will pick up again

The future

A new OBIEE forum?

I think there’s a real need for a proper, moderated, OBIEE forum. The OTN one is probably beyond redemption. Much better to start a new one with clear posting rules, and as people stray gently bring them round 🙂 No-one has time to herd cats (per the OTN forum), but the odd stray question can easily be redirected. A forum outside of OTN would also be free of its dodgy functionality and restrictions.
A well organised forum with little repetition will have less traffic to read through, and thus be much easier searched.
Registration would be mandatory, to reduce the number of people “fire and forgetting” their questions.
Even have a ‘waiting period’ after registration to reduce the number of “URGETN!!!!!” posts.

Volunteers? 😀


Over here it’s approaching the time of year when animals go into hibernation, and maybe some OBIEE bloggers are doing the same, ready to burst forth full of life once OBIEE 11g is available.

A real footnote

Maybe it’s the dark autumn evenings making me a grumpy old sod, and things aren’t as I make out. I’d be interested in people’s comments 🙂



  1. ZOMFG! h3lP doodz!!!!1!11oneeleventyone!!!1!

    Sorry, couldn’t help it. Yes, the OBIEE forum has developed into a sandbox for rather impolite script kiddies with no notion of etiquette let alone any intention to investigate / gather information. I moved to OTN from it-toolbox because of the same. Seems that roaming munchkin herds have migrated as well.

    It’s acutally sad to say this, but there is a definite need for a moderated, controlled and professionally-oriented platform. That’s got nothing to do with elitism, just with common sense. Venkat left the forum for exactly that above reasons…so if the newbies read this here: Yes, I mean YOU guys! Get a grip and some manners. Otherwise see how you survive when the people actually knowing stuff collectively leave.

    Coming to think of it…that’s actually not a bad idea. We should run it by John, Stijn, Nico, Goran etc. See what they think.

    Oh yeah: and what do you mean with esotheric? ;-))

    Re. 11g: knowing Oracle that’s not an NDA but rather a remote-controlled cerebral implant consisting of about 50g of C4.

    Brb…something just started to beep 😛

    Comment by Christian — October 30, 2009 @ 11:43

  2. Hi rnm,
    I didn’t know whether to smile or to cry when I read this, because I totally agree upon your opinion about the OTN forum.
    Interesting topics are very scarce lately and the majority of the topics and questions are easily answered by using google, badly documented or described or just annoying because of the laziness of the poster.
    It’s interesting that you start about FAQs, because that is maybe what is missing: one central point with all links to all different blog posts and correctly answered questions on OTN.
    Most of the times I just answer questions on OTN because I remember that John or Venkat already blogged about it. I think this is a disadvantage of blogging: when you follow a blog from start then you can keep on track with the blogger and know where you can find the knowledge on a later moment. But when you start later on, then you’re not aware of the existence of all earlier posts.
    But ok, this is still not an argument for ‘forgetting’ to use google before asking a question on OTN.


    Comment by Stijn — October 30, 2009 @ 15:14

    • Hi Stijn, hi rnm,

      valid point with the blogging, but as you say that can’t be used as an “excuse”.

      As far as the FAQ and the “central point with all links” goes…the OTN forums are (unfortunately) not abel to provide us with that. I asked Justin to at least get the ability to post sticky threads in sub-categories of the forum, but to no avail. John had a good idea with his “where to start” post but it seems that even that one escapes people’s notice. Plus: would a central knowledge repository really stimulate people to think first, then try, then search, then blurt out with questions? Or would we need the ability to give them an electronic slap on the fingers of some sort if they don’t comply with netiquette.


      Comment by Christian — October 30, 2009 @ 16:48

  3. For my part, I’m a bad guy.
    I don’t want and have time anymore to participate to all threads. I’m in the process to discover
    the other Oracle BI products as Essbase and OBIA.
    I searched a way to catch the good threads and the threads without answers
    but unfortunately, I didn’t find it.
    So, I didn’t leave the forum, I just read the rss thread searching them.

    I follow the good old rule of the life cycle: Development, Introduction, Growth, Maturity, Decline.
    And I decline.
    Wait 11g and you will see a bunch of new blog entries and good threads.

    A new forum is always a hot question. What I can say, is that I learned a lot, I met
    many good people (as you guys) and for this, I like it even with its faults.

    Good week-end

    Comment by Nicolas GERARD — October 31, 2009 @ 17:24

  4. Wow, sometimes things run in parallel. I was thinking about the same forum idea for some time now as well.

    I agree with your OTN’s evaluation. I think its inflexibility along with impolite beginners hurt the effectiveness of interaction.

    I’m willing to discuss creating a moderated OBIEE forum with new features. But I think that it should have “Adrian, John, Stijn, Nico, Goran, rnm, Mark, VJ” (and others of course) as board of directors. Moreover, I’m willing to offer hosting (dedicated server) as well as forum platform (this will be the most difficult thing to choose – since there’re so many forums available these days).
    best wishes

    Comment by Andriy Yakushyn — November 2, 2009 @ 17:50

  5. Christi@n – you too

    Comment by Andriy Yakushyn — November 2, 2009 @ 17:50

  6. Just for the counterpointy record, I’m against moderation. Gangfaq ’em, I say!

    Comment by joel garry — November 4, 2009 @ 02:07

  7. […] today I was reading this article which brought it all back again. I realise that this particular post is aimed towards OBIEE, but […]

    Pingback by Pay it forward… « Lisa Dobson — March 21, 2011 @ 19:30

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