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15 July 2015

AppMan is dead, but should it live on?

Nostalgia or functionality?
If you’ve ever seen this:

Then you’ve certainly used this:

What is that?  This refugee from the 1990s is none other than Esbase Application Manager aka AppMan.  I am guessing that most extant EPM practitioners today came to Essbase post 7.x, but if you were around before that, this will be a tool you know, love, and probably miss quite a bit.

As I wrote before, my Ride or Die Girl, Kscope15 conference chairwoman, @EssbaseLady, also known as Natalie Delemar said, “What?  I want that!” when she saw a screen snapshot (literally, I held a camera up to the screen of Someone Else’s Laptop and took a picture) of Essbase Application Manager.

AppMan is so loved there are copies of AppMan binaries floating around out there that people trade like samisdat books.  Does anyone pass around obsolete versions of EssCmd?  (Okay, it’s still there in the product, but does anyone actually even notice it?)  There’s something about AppMan that speaks to Essbase geeks.  What is it?

Getting under the skin

Does Oracle read this blog?  Google Analytics says, “Yes”.  I can’t tell who, but this gives me a hint:

I’m taking that as a request from product management (could be development, could be a consultant, could be someone completely-not-from-Oracle) to provide feedback.  

AppMan isn’t coming back, but Essbase as a Service (EaaS) is on its way, and we know that EAS isn’t going to be the interface.  It’s still early days for EaaS and its developer interface – this is our collective chance to let Oracle know what we need.

Let’s do some research

I have an (un)lucky group of fellow geeks that I reach out to when I either have an appallingly stupid thought fantastic idea/cannot for the life of me figure out the most basic of tasks have a question for the Best and Brightest.

Having seen the above comment to last Kscope15 blog post, I asked this question:
What should that interface have that EAS doesn't have?  What new features should it have?  How will developers love EaaS' interface?

Here are the responses:
  • General use of and integration with Windows
  • Copy and paste from and to Excel
  • Opening an outline file without being logged in – great for disconnected times like on an airplane.
  • Faster and reliable copy and paste within the outline
  • Simple and easy to install
  • Multi select members and change any/all attributes (UDAs, Unary Operators, Attribute assignment, etc.)

Here’s a particularly cogent comment:
I don’t have too much more to add here. I think others said it best in regard to general look and feel, and usability; and the use of standard windows features! Seems like anything web enabled in Oracle stack is cumbersome and takes a year to render/repaint (including EAS) – but I guess that can be/is environment specific? On a side note…. I am shocked that there are this many old-timers on your list that even remember AppMgr. I truly had forgotten it. Loved the tool. And loved the thread.

Aw shucks on the last bit, but the person who wrote that is particularly thoughtful.

Now it’s your turn

The past is another country but EaaS is the future; what comes to EaaS will come to on-premises.  What do you want to see in the EaaS console?  What do you need?  What do you think is likely?  Can we ever get back to the ease of integration of AppMan?

Microsoft is a direct competitor of Oracle in many ways – I am happy to relate that Oracle kicks MS’ butt in the EPM/BI world.  One thing they do right is focus on the developer experience.  Talk to a .NET developer and he’ll wax poetic about the IDE, the tools, and life in the MS universe in general.  

Why can’t Essbase be the same way?

Use the comments section of this blog, please, to voice your opinion.  If Oracle reads this blog for something more than the amusement factor (although that may in fact be the only reason), your comments have a direct line to the people that decide what EaaS will look like from a developer perspective.  

Comment, won’t you?

Be seeing you.


Scott Nelson said...

I will add that App Manager wasn't hobbled to Java like EAS is. There was a time where, being on a newer release of Java than played nice with EAS was really a pain. Now it seems like current versions of Java play much nicer with EAS than previous releases, but it sure seems like it took awhile to get there.

Henry Robin said...

I still use Application Manager to copy a database without copying security. Yes, you can use the migration wizard but it's too many steps.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Cameron! Hopefully something will come from this.

Here are a couple of (I think) easy-to-implement suggestions that would be helpful for the Outline Editor:

Pressing Enter should bring up the Member Properties dialog box for the selected member(s), and the Menu key (next to Ctrl on most keyboards) should bring up the shortcut menu.

TimF said...

A proper MDX editor.

The ability to turn all upper level sparse members to dynamic (and vice versa).