By Timothy Dyck  |  Posted 2001-12-10 Print this article Print

-Friendly Software"> Taxi-Friendly Software

Informatica analytics servers use of single report elements, which it calls indicators, and Informatica Mobiles automatic report formatting are what makes this package so useful for road warriors.

Indicators are usually single charts, though they can also be single tables, which quickly summarize key reports. A wide selection of chart types (including a useful gauge-type chart) let us get at a glance a lot of information. Analytics Servers home page, which it calls a dashboard, is customized for each user, and we could easily select which indicators and reports we wanted to see on a particular dashboard.

Informatica has really worked on making ADPs mobile interfaces productive despite its device limitations. We found paging through reports on our three-line phone display possible but awful, so we used the option to fax ourselves the report (a separate fax gateway is required for this) to see it in full.

Voice support is seamlessly integrated into the WAP client: We could switch to a voice-driven interface at any time. (In this case, we used voice servers at Informatica.) For example, we forwarded a report to another user using a voice recognition system and then attached a voice message.

In tests with wireless-enabled Compaq Computer Corp. iPaq and Handspring Inc. Visor Deluxe PDAs (we used JP Mobile Inc.s Surewave Browser for PQA to view the Informatica Palm Query Application on the Visor), we saw graphs in reduced but legible form—and in color on the iPaq. Larger tables were automatically converted to icons that lead to secondary detail pages. In addition, labels were automatically shortened, and a corresponding legend was added.

The desktop story is less strong.

For traditional database reporting jobs such as generating multipage reports, developing complex reports that have several charts or tables based on different queries, or reports that must be formatted with particular layouts and fonts, ADP is not a good choice. ADP is also not a replacement for OLAP tools—it cannot query OLAP servers, and pivoting was generally awkward. This package is about the quick hit, especially from on the road.

ADPs only client for desktop users is a mostly static HTML Web-based interface. The Web client has less flexibility in report creation and design than competitors offer. Theres no ad hoc report designer so our reports all looked basically the same. There is a PDF export option, as well as data export choices.

When we created a 30-page report, we really missed having report search features or other navigation tools, such as an automatically generated table of contents, and theres no way to highlight outlying values.

For those who need to work with detailed reports instead of just quick summary data, we recommend production reporting champs Crystal Decisions Inc.s Crystal Info or Actuate Software Corp.s e.Reporting Server.

West Coast Technical Director Timothy Dyck can be reached at

Timothy Dyck is a Senior Analyst with eWEEK Labs. He has been testing and reviewing application server, database and middleware products and technologies for eWEEK since 1996. Prior to joining eWEEK, he worked at the LAN and WAN network operations center for a large telecommunications firm, in operating systems and development tools technical marketing for a large software company and in the IT department at a government agency. He has an honors bachelors degree of mathematics in computer science from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and a masters of arts degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel