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Business Intelligence,Software & Programme

Free BI Corner (English)

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I am always on the lookout for a bargain and love using free and open source stuff whenever I can but never had the opportunity to do so in BI. There are occasions however when I have thought when discussing customer requirements for ETL and Data warehousing  ‚hmm, I wonder if there is some open source tool that could do this‘ rather than going down the usual MSSQL/ SSIS route.

This is particularly true when deploying a tool like Tableau which is lightning fast to deploy, learn and use but doesn’t contain any ETL components. Customers can sometimes be surprised and dismayed that although their reporting tool of choice ticks all the boxes unfortunately their data backend doesn’t and without time and money investment their reporting tool won’t deliver what they had expected and they certainly won’t be able to use their investment to its full potential. This can cause customers to question their decision to move to a new reporting platform or even abandon it altogether (and usually stay with Excel…)

Well to this end I decided when faced with this dilemma once again to delve in to the world of free BI tools and write a regular blog on what is possible, or at least what I managed to achieve, with free BI.

So, without further ado let’s jump in to what’s on offer regarding free ETL tools.

ETL Tools

I didn’t want to conduct an exhaustive survey of what is available or to make comparisons between available offerings and my criteria was simply that I only wanted to lean one product which would offer the most possibilities. This meant that it didn’t necessarily need to be the easiest to learn as the longer learning requirement could be offset by the greater possibilities. So setting about my search I found this useful site which detailed 15 free ETL tools.

As you can see there is actually more choice that what you maybe at first thought, or at least more than I expected. Of all those on off two particularly appealed. They were Pentaho ETL (Kettle) as firstly I had heard of Kettle and secondly it seemed to be part of a complete offering (Pentaho Community Edition) and secondly Talend Open Studio as this appeared to be the most full featured ETL, bringing however the steepest learning curve. I started to look into these products and stumbled across this interesting site which was just what I was looking for.

After evaluating the two possibilities I eventually decided on Talend as it did seem to offer the most possibilities and the fullest toolset.

Talend Open Studio

After downloading the bits the install went as expected with nothing out of the ordinary and then I started the program. I was unfortunately greeted with an Error:

The Studio does not support Java 8. Java 7 is the recommended JVM Version to be used.

Also included in the error message was a link to the Talend knowledge site confirming that Java 8 isn’t supported and that Java 7 should be installed and the JAVA_HOME environment variable updated accordingly. Oops, that I thought is the end of the story for Talend. I can imagine installing the Java 7 runtime on a customer machine without too much problem but changing the environment variable is too much to expect as it would affect all other installed products that use it. Ok, let’s try Pentaho then…guess what? Pentaho doesn’t support Java 8 either! To cut a long story short I eventually found that it is in fact possible to get Talend working with Java 7 AND Java 8 installed AND the JAVA_HOME environment variable set to Java 8. Here’s how:

1. Go to the install folder of Talend. In my case C:\Program Files (x86)\Talend\TOS_DI-Win32-20141207_1530-V5.6.1
2. Find the .ini file of the executable that you want to use. In my case I wanted to use TOS_DI-win-x86_64.exe so the .ini was TOS_DI-win-x86_64.ini.
3. Change the startup parameters of the JVM to point to the Java 7 JVM. I changed it from

-vmargs
-Xms256m
-Xmx768m
-XX:MaxPermSize=256m
-Dfile.encoding=UTF-8

To

-vm
C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.7.0_51\bin
-vmargs
-Xms512m
-Xmx1536m
-XX:MaxPermSize=512m
-Dfile.encoding=UTF-8

Save the file and off you go, you can now start the Open Studio – But only the one you have modified the .ini for of course.

In the next part of this blog I will detail the getting started and completing my fist project with Talend Open Studio. Stay tuned!

Richard Raistrick

Über den Autor 

BA-Universität Sheffield. 12 Jahre Erfahrung als Enterprise Software Technical Consultant/Ingenieur bei einem der weltweit größten Softwareunternehmen. Seit Anfang 2014 bei der Insight Dimension GmbH als Consultant / Entwickler tätig.

Free BI Corner (English) Reviewed by on .

I am always on the lookout for a bargain and love using free and open source stuff whenever I can but never had the opportunity to do so in BI. There are occasions however when I have thought when discussing customer requirements for ETL and Data warehousing ‚hmm, I wonder if there is some open source tool that could do this‘ rather than going down the usual MSSQL/ SSIS route.

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