Before being stationed here, what goes on at Gunter was always a mystery to me and I thought it would fair to everyone else to see what we get to see. As functional analysts, we test all software before it is released to the field. Before I got here, I envisioned testing as logging in, then doing normal day-to-day tasks. In reality, testing goes way beyond normal every day tasks. The amount of time and work required for a simple release was dumbfounding. Testing is done in many phases of development. Recently, the 1C0X2 functional analyst were provided access to Jaspersoft to conduct preliminary government acceptance testing. This means that we make sure that the contractors have met all contractual obligations prior to the ARMS Program accepting the software from the contractors. Government Acceptance Testing is the first of many different phases of software testing we will do as functional analysts for the release of ARMS 6.2. In this post, you will see some screenshots of Jaspersoft. You’ll also get a good comparison view of how Jaspersoft matches up with Oracle Discoverer. Please keep in mind that we still have a lot of testing to accomplish before Jaspersoft is ready for the field to start testing and learning how to use. When we find problems, we have to give the software back over to the contractors to fix. They will correct the problem and release the software for the next phase of testing. The time it takes to fix the software is dependent upon the issue at hand. It could be 10 minutes; it could be 10 hours.
1C0X2 Functional Responsibility
The 1C0X2 functional analysts evaluate the software, and for a lack of better words, we try to break it. We try every possible route that we can think of that might cause an error. When we are successful at breaking the software, we annotate and document the errors we find and share them with the developers. They then have documented justification to correct the issue with the software or its setup. For Jaspersoft, our main goal is to ensure that the ARMS Database Tables are properly joined so that we can run the types of reports we use to accomplish our job with 100% data integrity. To complete Jaspersoft testing, we will review Oracle Discoverer browsers and create the same type of report in Jaspersoft with the goal of receiving the same results in the data. We will compare everything from calculations to exceptions. Additionally, our team is charged with ensuring that we provide an easy transition for the field by configuring Jaspersoft to mirror Oracle Discoverer as much as possible.
Individual Training Summary (ITS)
I wanted to start with a report that we are all too familiar with. Not only is the ITS a great starting point for data validation, but it’s also an extremely important for the Go/No-Go process.
Selecting Items (Discoverer)
Selecting Items (Jaspersoft)
As you can see, there’s not a whole lot of difference when selecting items (tables) to build the report from. Part of the requirements for the developers were to make it as seamless as possible when creating reports in Jaspersoft. One noticeable difference is that you no longer have to switch between business areas (see below). All tables are in one area and in alphabetical order. To me, this is great improvement over Discoverer! This made it so much easier to find the items I needed.
As you can see, Filters in Jaspersoft are to Conditions in Discoverer. I found that it was much easier to create Filters Jaspersoft than it was to create Conditions in Discoverer. All you have to do is right-click the item and click on “Create Filter.” The Filters vocabulary is also more intuitive and easier to understand. Also, notice that I had to actually create more Filters in Jaspersoft than I did in Discoverer to get the report to display the same data. This took a little extra time and thinking power, but overall, it was not a problem. (This may change as the developers make their changes to the setup of the software.)
Creating calculations in Jaspersoft may look extremely similar, which it is in many instances, but it differs quite a bit. The calculation in this example is extremely simple. I’m simply subtracting “Volume Accomplished” from “Volume Required” to obtain “Volume Remaining” for each task id. The main difference I found was the Functions in Jaspersoft. I particularly appreciate the change as the functions provided by the software are more closely related to real-world computer programming language functions, than Oracle specific functions. For example, the if() function in Jaspersoft is much more intuitive than the decode() function in Discoverer. Many of the functions in Jaspersoft are the same as the functions or “formulas” used in Microsoft Excel. Lastly, see that “Validate” button? That’s a great tool to have! I played around with the different functions in Jaspersoft and would click the Validate button prior to saving. This not only highlighted syntactical errors, but gave a pretty decent description of what needed to be corrected so that the function would work as it should.
Ad Hoc Designer (Jaspersoft Only)
NOTE: There is not a comparison here as normally the Discoverer Ad Hoc View is already populated the Table or Crosstab with its applicable data. With Jaspersoft, you have to move the selected “Fields” and “Measures” to the Columns area. Fields are items within the tables that hold data. For example, a member’s name, or the Task ID’s. Measures are aggregated fields used to create new data from those fields. For example, “Sum of Instructor Hours.” So in this example, the Instructor Hours (Fields) are added together to create their Total Instructor Hours (Measures).
Table Ad Hoc View (Discoverer)
Table Ad Hoc View (Jaspersoft)
The main noticeable difference here was that I had to design the view by dragging and dropping the Fields and Measures into the Columns and Groups areas. This was not difficult at all, but did add some extra time to creating the view. I really like that I can drag and drop the items directly into the Groups area. It’s much easier than going to Tools -> Sort/Group in Discoverer. A word of advice, switch the “Full Data” to “Sample Data” when creating Jaspersoft Ad Hoc Views. Each time you add a Field or Measure to the column, it populates the data on the fly. Sample data shortens the refresh time by only pulling a few records, versus all records.
Report View (Jaspersoft Only)
In Discoverer, I can skip this step and start formatting my report immediately. This is not the case with Jaspersoft. Once the Ad Hoc View meets all your requirements, you must save that Ad Hoc View to a Report View.
Format Exceptions (Discoverer)
Conditional Formatting (Jaspersoft)
The main difference that I found was the name. Conditional Formatting, much like Microsoft Excel, makes much more sense than Format Exceptions, in my opinion. In Jaspersoft, you have to navigate a bit differently to find the conditional formatting, which took some time at first, but was very easy to use. I actually prefer it over Discoverer’s Exceptions. Also, notice I have different screenshots for Jaspersoft. This is because I had to create conditional formats in two separate locations. Overall, Conditional Formatting is very similar to Discoverer and very easy to operate once I found where to do it.
Final Report (Discoverer)
Final Report (Jaspersoft)
I have really enjoyed Jaspersoft thus far. I really like that it’s web-based, so no more difficult software installs that take all day. Plus, it’s nice to look at! I don’t feel like I’m working in a software program that was developed exclusively for Windows 95, for those of us who remember what that is.
My opinion, the learning curve is right in the middle. It was difficult to use at first, but has become much easier the more I use it. As with any new software, the best way to learn it is to get in there and use it. Look out for more guidance to come down the pipe on when it will available for you to start learning our new reporting tool.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I also hope it calms some nerves. Jaspersoft isn’t anything to be afraid of. I think you will find that Jaspersoft is a great addition to ARMS.
Please feel free to post your questions, comments, or concerns below.
Thanks for reading! Gunter out!