Business Intelligence is a complex diverse space. There’s a bunch of technologies that typically need to be combined together to get a comprehensive, end to end solution.
One of the things that I believe is confusing for users of Pentaho is the sheer volume of clients that are available to “quickly and easily” build your solution. The quickly and easily is predicated on the fact that if you need to build a “prompt” for a report, you know which of the fat clients to fire up. Want to dynamically hide a field? In order to do that you have to know that’s in a different fat client.
I know of at least 10 different good ole fashioned, download and install to your desktop clients that you’d use if you were doing a full, soup to nuts everything used Pentaho installation.
  • Design Studio
  • Report Designer
  • Report Design Wizard
  • Mondrian Workbench
  • Pentaho Metadata Editor
  • Spoon (Kettle)
  • Cube Designer
  • Weka Explorer
  • Weka Experimenter
This is no easy challenge to solve for Pentaho. Part of the open source mantra includes making each of the individual projects (Kettle/Mondrian/Weka/etc) useful on their own, without some big Pentaho installation. What that means is a challenge to make a UI/designer/etc that works “standalone” but could also be included in some master development environment? That’s tough, and to date Pentaho has made only modest steps at this (Wizard inside of Designer).
I have no good advice for Pentaho in this regard. There’s a very good reason for keeping them as separate installations and I think it shows respect to the individual communities. However, this is an issue for people coming to Pentaho as a full BI suite. Does anyone have any good ideas on how to solve this pickle of a problem? We should all help Pentaho with this as it benefits everyone to come up with a good way to approach the development tools (as a suite and as individual products).
PS - My $HOME/dev/pentaho directory is littered with old installations. Every time Pentaho goes from 1.6.0 GA to 1.6.1 GA the only way to ensure you’re getting the correctly matched versions is to upgrade all those clients.