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Active Interface, LLC. Home

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

“Using Vision to Think”

Active Interface, LLC builds web applications and information portals for both established companies and for Internet startups. We also provide integration services and custom application development across the entire Microsoft Windows product line. Active Interface does consulting nationally and internationally in our specialty area of Enterprise Information and Mashup Portals, Web Data Visualization, OLAP, and Content Management. Our client list includes:

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Contacts

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Contact Information

Active Interface, LLC

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Services

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Service Profile

Active Interface, LLC provides implementation services and custom development on all of the major Microsoft platforms and frameworks, including SQL Server, Analysis Services, Reporting Server, and Sharepoint. Our primary work focus is Business Intelligence (BI)  and web Content Managmement Systems (CMS), which typically utilize several of these platforms.

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Products

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Product and Soluction Frameworks

Active Interface, LLC is making available products and frameworks which are based upon our "in the field" efforts to date. These products are not so much "shrink-wrapped" offerings, but more like "accelerators" for your projects (or products). As we continue to apply best-practices to solutions development, we will update this list - so visit again. Also, check out the ThinOLAP Blog and the ThinCMS Blog sections of the site for samples and demonstrations of Microsoft's XML for Analysis SDK. Please take a moment to review our offerings and feel free to contact us for further information, including licensing terms.

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Enterprise Mashup Toolkit

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Enterprise Mashup Toolkit (EMT)

The Desktop Edition of The Enterprise Mashup Toolkit (EMT) is a collection of WSH programs which provide a bootstrap for developers or end users who wish to create enterprise mashup solutions on the Microsoft platform. All programs are provided in source code form, along with working examples of their usage.

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Purchase EMT

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Purchase Online

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Learn More about EMT

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

The Enterprise Mashup Toolkit

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PowerPoint Automation Toolkit

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

PowerPoint Automation Toolkit

While PowerPoint has long been a staple of business communications, its full potential as an information delivery vehicle remained untapped due to the difficulty of integrating PowerPoint into a business process automation scheme. Until now.

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Preparation Utility

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Preparation Utility

The PrepUtil is implemented as a command-line WSH script. It implements a folderwalker interface to traverse the folders beneath a root folder, looking for PPT files. The operation(s) performed upon the files found depends on the operation argument.

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Generation Utility

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Presentation Generation

The presentation to be generated is defined in an xml presentation manifest. The manifest contains:

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PPT ATK Demos

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

The links below demonstrate the features of the PptGen utility.

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IntraSight

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

IntraSight™: High-fidelity browser-based OLAP Client

The IntraSight™ Browser is a thin-client Analysis Services OLAP browser based upon Internet Explorer. Being AJAX-based, the user experience is much like a desktop application.

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IntraSight Views

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

IntraSight™ View Sampling

Active Interface's experience with information delivery extends beyond standard business graphics to include industries such as power, transportation, manufacturing, bioinformatics, and meteorology. Below are some sample views from these and other application domains.

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ThinCMS

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

ThinCMS Web Content Management

ThinCMS is a browser-based Web Content Management System (WCMS). ThinCMS build web pages and sites based upon a 3-level nested layout template paradigm. Content elements are stored in our open Web Page Composition Markup Language (WPCML). Unlike other CMS products which employ proprietary mechanisms or embedded scripts or tags, our approach is based purely on XSLT. A web service middle-tier managed the content repository. A high-fidelity browser interface is used to assemble and publish sites.

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ExcelETL

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

ExcelETL: Extraction, Transformation, and Loading with Excel

Excel ETL is a Microsoft Excel-based ETL solution. In several of our project, we have had the need to take data received in Excel or CSV format and send this data to a data warehouse staging database. Excel ETL is a generic framework for accomplishing this task.

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MergeService

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

MergeService: Server-side mailmerge and document management

Active Interface, LLC has developed a technology solution for performing server-side Word mailmerge.  This solution, called MergeService, is now available to our clients. The key features of MergeService are:

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Resources

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Web resources and links

Useful stuff on topics of interest.

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OLAP & XMLA

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

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Enterprise Mashup

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

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Communications

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Public Communications

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News

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

News and Noteworthy

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Presentations

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Presentations

I'll try to keep this up-to-date with the presentations I have made. If there is one you don't see, please let me know so I can find it for you.

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PASS Summit 2004

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

PASS Community Summit 2004

This year I had the honor of presenting at the SQL PASS Community Summit. It is a great event and a great communit. I encourage you to participate!

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TRI-XML 2003

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

TRI-XML Conference 2003

The following presentation was delivered at the TRI-XML conference in 2003.

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Press Releases

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Press Releases

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Terms of Use

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Terms of Use and Legal Notices

Please read these terms carefully before using this Web site. Using this Web site and the services provided therein indicates that you accept these terms. If you do not accept these terms ("Terms"), do not use this Web site.

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Privacy Statement

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Privacy Statement

Active Interface, LLC is firmly committed to protecting your privacy and the privacy of your organization. This statement discloses our information gathering and dissemination practices for this Web site (www.activeinterface.com).

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ThinCMS Home

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Introducing ThinCMS blog

I've decided to start a ThinCMS blog in order to share with other developers the approaches I am using for creating and managing static and dynamic web content. While there are links on the Active Interface web site to articles and presentations about my CMS work, they suffer from being non-succinct and non-HTML. The articles posted here will address both of these.

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Background

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Background

The spark that got me going was postings to CMS newsgroups which promulgated the mistaken belief that Office is only a "destination" of content. But saying that users should not create content in Office is misguided. And even worse offence to knowledge worker productivity is when IT takes away Office completely since, according to their school of thought, all real work can be done via the enterprise web portal. In this battle, I will side with the knowledge workers who are perhaps the only hope for our economy - and fight for their right to have and use the most powerful desktop tools available.

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A Web CMS with WebDAV, XML and SOAP

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Summary

The objective of a Web Content Management System (CMS) is to simplify and streamline the process of creating high-quality, accessible web sites. ThinCMS is a research project which demonstrates the application of current Internet technologies and standards to the task of web site creation and maintenance. ThinCMS is an outgrowth of the authors “Web Services” course at the Heinz School of Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA. and of consulting work over the years on web sites and web site creation tools.

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Word2WPCML

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Writing copy in Word

What is perhaps most sorry state of affairs in content management is that the most widely used word processor is viewed as being incompatible with structured content management. The fault fell squarely in Microsoft's corner by forcing organizations to choose between having content and having structure. Two seemingly inconsequential features of Word 2003 have changed that. The features are XML export and style locking. Both of these features on their own might have been viewed like many others as arcane stuff which typical users wouldn't know or care about. And even looked at together, they may not easily be seen as a solution for bridging the desktop author with the structured content repository. But together these two features are in fact a "silver bullet". Let's see why.

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ThinOLAP Home

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Welcome to my Enterprise Mashup Blog

The original purpose of this blog was to share my experiences in the use of Microsoft's XML for Analysis (XML/A) sdk. XML/A is a web service wrapper for Analysis Services 2000. Also, it is the native API for Analysis Services 2005. In most of my articles I have been and will continue to share my knowledge and solutions related to XML/A.

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Introducing ThinOLAP

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Why ThinOLAP?

In 1998 I was hired as a consultant to build a web OLAP client. On the server were SQL Server 7 and IIS. The client was Netscape 4.X (client's corporate standard). While I delivered a pretty impressive solution to the client, the time it required to develop was too long. At this time, there was little if any XML support available on the server-side or the client-side. To create the user experience I wanted, I had to dynamically build JavaScript structures on the web tier and send them to a hidden Frame to be interpreted by my client-side presentation libraries. Towards the end of the project, I began to explore XML technologies. I thought "imagine if I could send a course-granular query to SQL Server, get XML back, and send this directly to the browser to be processed." Needless to say, I was very excited when Microsoft announced XML for Analysis as a new Web Service OLAP API.

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Technical foundations and prerequisites

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Technical Backgrounder

Before getting started with XML/A, you need to establish the requisite technology foundation. Basically, you need to download and install some free Microsoft software upon which all of the articles in this series will depend. Relevant links are included inline. And a link to this articles source code can be found at the end of the article.

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Windows Scripting Host

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Windows Scripting Host

In this article, I will both provide an initial XML sample application, but more importantly I will provide an overview of using the Windows Scripting Host (WSH) for desktop development. WSH is an incredible desktop development environment which is unfortunately overlooked by many people. Whether you are a developer or end user on the Windows platform, an investment in WSH will pay major dividends in terms of automating many tedious tasks. WSH gets installed with newer version of Internet Explorer. But to be certain, I would recommend downloading and installing the latest and greatest version - currently version 5.6 (see article 1 for URL).

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Calling XML/A from WSH using XMLHTTP

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Calling XML/A With WSH

This articles continues to incrementally build up a toolkit for declarative analytics using XML/A. There are two options for making SOAP calls from WSH. The first was demonstrated in the Amazon example, where I opened a SOAP request template as an XML file. The Second approach is to use a SOAP client library.

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Generating Excel Workbooks from XML/A

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Generating Excel Workbooks from XML/A

In this article I will demonstrate the creation of Excel analytic report workbooks. The script which generates Excel is called xmla2xls.wsf. The operation occurs in several discrete steps which are explained below. A link to the source code can be found at the end of the article.

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Generating PowerPoint Presentations from XML/A

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Generating PowerPoint Presentations from XML/A

In this article, I will demonstrate the generation of PowerPoint presentations from OLAP data. While more complex that the samples presented thus far, it is also the most powerful in terms of delivering reporting value. The generated reports will support charts, graphs, and tables. The PowerPoint file sample.ppt is an example of a report generated by the XML file in this article.

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A full command-line XML/A client in WSH

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

A full command-line XML/A client in WSH

This articles continues to incrementally build up a toolkit for declarative analytics using XML/A. The scripts execute.wsf and discover.wsf demonstrated the basics of a WSH command-line client for XML/A. This article will exand this idea into a full XML/A client. I and others have found this program quite useful in working with Analysis Services and XML/A.

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Generating PowerPoint from a SQL database

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Generating PowerPoint from a SQL database

This example follows the model of the XML/A PowerPoint generator, except that now there is SQL embedded in the query XML instead of MDX. Each slide is generated from one of the tags in the XML by sending the corresponding query to SQLXML using the ISAPI interface. For each query, it populates a generic SQLXML template with the query and sends it to the IIS virtual directory which was setup by following verbatim the SQLXML3 documentation (see help page "Creating the nwind Virtual Directory")

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Three-tiered PowerPoint report generator

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Three-tiered PowerPoint report generator

Articles 4 and 5 demonstrated approaches for generating Excel and PowerPoint reports respectively. They were implemented as WSH scripts which ran on the desktop and made SOAP calls to XML for Analysis. This approach has some attractive features in terms of a users being able to self-support their report generation task. No web server usually means no or less need for IT support. But there are times when having report generation services centrally managed does make sense. So in this article, I demonstrate approaches for developing web applications which perform similar report generation services. My WSH scripts are written in JavaScript - for several reasons. The main reason is that it is a superior language to VBScript and is an ECMA standard. Another benefit (which is largely true for VBScript as well) is that very little code change is required to convert from WSH to ASP and run these scripts under IIS.

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XML/A with SQL 2005 B2

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Porting command-line client to use 2005 B2 provider

In case you hadn't yet heard, XML/A is a pretty fundamental component of Analysis Services 2005. No longer an add-in SDK, XML/A is now the native provider. This is of course good news for us XML/A die-hards. I had wanted to demonstrate XML/A in 2005 during my sqlpass presentation but I ran out of prep time. I have finally found the motivation to return to this question, and want to share with you the results.

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Batch compressing PowerPoint presentations

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Batch compressing PowerPoint presentations

PowerPoint presentations can get huge. And the culprit is usually the graphics. If your ten slide presentation is several megabytes in size, emailing and downloading this presentation will be burdensome for your users. After receiving such a PPT myself, I opened it up to find that the graphics had been imported as bitmaps. PowerPoint is not smart enought to convert them to a more efficient storage format.

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Highly flexible PowerPoint report generator

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Highly flexible PowerPoint report generator

The article on Nov 3, 2004 added a web middle tier to the PowerPoint report generation framework. Another article described turning SQL queries into slides. In this article I will combine these two data access strategies and also add the ability to add static slides to a presentation. The resulting script is the latest iteration in my ever evolving PowerPoint report generator.

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Flexible OLAP charting with XMLA and OWC

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

FLEXpart: Flexible OLAP charting with XMLA and OWC

ChartSpace is the name of the ActiveX charting control which is part of the Office Web Components (OWC) of MS Office. ChartSpace is a very powerful and flexible charting component. And since Office XP, the OWC controls can be used without having a license to Office on the client-side. In the past I have used ChartFX for client-side charting. But with this change of licensing on Microsoft's part, it is harder to justify spending over a thousand dollars to license ChartFX. The samples in this article will be using the Office 2003 version of OWC, which you can download from

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XPath Patterns for XML/A and Performance Results with COM and .NET

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

XPath Patterns for XML/A and Performance Results with COM and .NET

If you want to do anything useful with SOAP and XML, you need to learn to use XSLT. And to use XSLT properly, you will have to learn XPath. In this article I will be providing some XPath recipies for XML/A. This is not going to be an XPath tutorial - you can find plenty of those by Googling. I particularly like

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SharePoint 2.0 OLAP Web Parts

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

SharePoint 2.0 OLAP Web Parts

There is now tremendous out-of-the-box OLAP reporting capability on the Microsoft platform. I want to deviate for the moment from the strict XML/A topic to discuss some of these capabilities.

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Microsoft's new Business Intelligence Portal

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Business Intelligence Portal Sample Application for Microsoft Office

In my journeys on-line looking for SharePoint and BI stuff, I came upon this new sample which I wanted to share. Microsoft has release a new Business Intelligence Portal sample application for SharePoint and Office. The sample can be found at:

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Building cubes with the SQL Server Accelerator for Business Intelligence

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Building cubes with the SQL Server Accelerator for Business Intelligence

For the last couple of years, my approach to cube development has been to use the SQL Server Accelerator for Business Intelligence (SSABI). Rather than clicking screen after wizard screen in the Analysis Manager, I create a single file which declaratively specifies the cube schema. SSABI takes that file and creates a whole infrastructure for creating and updating the cube from source data.

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Moving Big Cubes

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Moving big cubes using a custom backup and restore add-in

Backing up and restoring Analysis Services (AS) catalogs is a common enough administrative task. But those of you who are pushing AS to its limit know that the backup and restore utility built into Analysis Manager has a size limit of 2G for any partition. It is not at all uncommon with a large data warehouse project to end up with cubes bigger than that. And when you cross that threshold you have two options a) just build the cube and don't try moving it, or b) build your own new and improved cube archive utility. Note that with the Enterprise Edition, you could create multiple partitions to keep the size within this limit.

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Much going on

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

So much going on

Cleary, I have slacked off on the ThinOLAP blog for the past half year. For two reasons 1) busy with client engagements and 2) not much new on the SQL front. Well I am less busy now (not so good) and SQL 2005 has been released (very good). So it is time for some new articles.

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Setting up SQL 2005 and XMLA

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Setting up SQL 2005 and VS 2005

I began this journey by downloading from MSDN the DVD ISO images for SQL 2005 Developer Edition and for Visual Studio .NET 2005 Professional. Each is about 2.5GB and over my not-so-fast DSL this download took about 30 hours. Amazingly all those bits did arrive in order. Instead of burning a DVD from the downloaded ISO images, I used the “Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel v2.0.1.1” from Microsoft, hoping that it could handle DVD images. It does.

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Changing xamd.xsl to show KPIs

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Changing xamd.xsl to show KPIs

I don’t see any way to have my MDX return me the KPI definition information. I’ll ask Mosha but for now I will need to be creative. In order to hand off the xamd.xsl everything it needs, I need to augment the execute result with the discovery result. This should be done in a generic fashion, so I need to change the command-line interface again to support running both.

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The Third Dimension

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

The Third dimension - Trellis OWC charts with PAGE axis

Summary: In this article I will review the extension of xmla.wsf to handle trellis charting of the PAGE axis using the multi-chart capability of OWC ChartSpace.

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Mondrian XMLA Provider

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Testing the Mondrian XML/A Provider

Last month I got a call out of the blue from Nick Goodman. Nick had enjoyed reading the ThinOLAP blog and wanted to find out more. During our conversation, Nick told me about the open-source Mondrian PTS and XML/A server. Well, I was shocked and amazed. Shocked that such a think existed and that I didn't know about it. Amazed because Mondrian wraps ROLAP, MDX, and XMLA around any relational source. 

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Google Analytics Mashup

2007-01-19T17:13:32-05:00

Generating PowerPoint Reports from Google Analytics

NOTE: demo is now on-line - see end of article for details.

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