DV Series: Extensions

Ah, it’s now summer in Texas which means crazy, unpredictable weather with lots of hot mixed in for added effect. But, on the bright side, also a new series for my blog! I call this one “DV”, which stands for Data Visualization. This is an area I hope to grow into skill-wise. I’ve been using Oracle DVD for executive presentations over the past couple of months, and am really loving it.

So what is today’s inaugural DV Series blog post about? One of my super awesome Oracle friends was giving me a tour of some of the cooler features in DV and told me about the wonderful world of extensions. Extensions (also called “plug-ins”), for those of you who don’t use a lot of super techie, coding software, are basically software enhancements that can be added in easily like plug and play. Smart View also utilizes the concept of “extensions” for many of the Oracle EPM Cloud products. DV extensions are written by 3rd parties (not Oracle) and also by Oracle. Occasionally, Oracle will adopt a 3rd party extension and incorporate it into the base DV product.

Without going into too many details about Oracle’s Data Visualization offering at this point in time (I’ll save that for later), let me just start by saying that within the Oracle Analytics suite of tools, DV comes in both desktop and Cloud flavors. And since DV is the base product and the end user product, it comes with every licensing tier. Extensions can be added to either desktop or Cloud, but are required to be installed to both environments if projects utilizing an extension are used on both platforms.

For demonstration purposes for this blog post, I’ll be working strictly within DV Desktop (“DVD”). I don’t want to risk altering my company’s DV Cloud instance, so I’ll keep it clean by doing the following steps locally. And I’ll be working on the following copy of the Mac version, which is now be one version out of date. Note that Oracle offers DVD on both PC and Mac.

Now, the first question that you might be asking is “why do I need to even bother with extensions?” Extensions allow the developer community to plug gaps in the existing product – for instance, visualization charts and/or features that may not exist yet in the base product.

To give you a more realistic perspective, here are some options in the extensions library that have interesting potential:

  • Auto refresh (for auto refreshing the data in DV on a regular frequency)
  • Essbase write-back
  • Vertical waterfall (co-written by the great Gary Adashek)
  • Butterfly chart (also co-written by Gary)
  • Custom tiles
  • Heatmap plugin

Note that I haven’t played with all of these extensions myself, so these are “at your own risk” suggestions. I love the fact that there’s a way to develop these and share them with the broader Oracle DV community.

So, how do you install an extension? Easy peasy and the motivator behind this post!

Step One: Find Extension and Download

Within DVD itself, you’ll find a super handy link that takes you to where Oracle’s public gallery of sample content exists. This is directly within the home screen itself, which is full of colored tiles that take you to multiple websites or within the various areas of DVD:

(Note that it can take up to 2 minutes for the home screen to fully load these tiles, so be patient.)

In case you can’t access this link directly or don’t have DVD installed, you’ll find the public gallery here.

On the public gallery home page there are a number of resources listed, as well as an overview of all the sample content that’s downloadable. You’ll want to navigate over to the Extensions tab within the center menu:

From here you can browse through the extensions most recently available (the default sort – the sort drop-down is on the right-hand side), or search for keywords within them:

Right now, there are ~30 extensions available for download.

For demonstration purposes, I’m going to find and install the extension that allows for Essbase write-back directly from DVD. This one is called “Essbase Write-Back plugin”.

Update: as of the release of this blog post, this extension can no longer be found in the extensions library.

After accepting Oracle’s license agreement, I’ll download it to my local machine.

Step Two: Install Extension

If you haven’t yet, open DVD. You can install your extension directly from the Console. To insert an extension, select the “Upload Extension” icon:

Browse locally to your downloaded extension:

Then it will auto-install.

Step Three: Use Extension

Once I installed the extension, I received an interesting warning:

I ended up closing down DVD completely and reopening it in order to see the new extension option in my project. This may not be fully required, but I could not get the extension to appear any other way.

Once I reopened DVD, I was able to see this new extension within my list of visualizations and start using it:

I’ll have to play with this more later in order to see how well it works and what it’s capable of. This extension also comes with a readme download which is worth reading.

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