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Tips and Techniques

NorCalPRUG Meeting Notes — PS/nVision vs. e.Spreadsheet

By Larry Grey • July 25, 2005

Actuate’s Managed Spreadsheet Solution

I was interested in this presentation specifically because when I worked at PeopleSoft, I worked on PS/nVision and part of this presentation seemed to be replacing the functionality of nVision. I was hoping to understand what part of nVision was problematic enough to replace with an entire product. Hopefully, I would be able to gain insight into issues with nVision and be able to help customers with those problems so they would not need to replace their exising nVision infrastructure and knowledge-base with a completely new technology.

The presentation pointed out some of the difficulties with nVision specifically that nVision requires a lot of database resources and the reporting itself is limited to PeeopleSoft data sources. Also, bursting, running the same report with different parameters and deploying the results to multiple users, is not accomplishable with nVision.

In general the results of the Actuate e.Spreadsheet product are wonderful and they can produce wonderful reports and deploy them to many users. However, there was one question came up after the presentation that might be of concern to customers thinking of buying the product. The question of how the actual e.Spreadsheet definitions are created. The presenter indicated that the typical scenario is that Actuate will come in and create the reports and teach the users how at the same time. It sounded like the Actuate product was difficult to use in a design sense. This was bolstered by the statement that nVision was best used as an ad-hoc mechanism for creating one-off reports.

My take:

While the product demos well and the savings of database resource may well justify a switch, it really comes down to whether the additional cost of the Actuate product and its resulting consultation time are offset by the better performance and any downtime required to make the switch from nVision-based reporting to e.Spreadsheet.

Also, since we at Grey Sparling worked on nVision, we are in a unique position to help customers retain their existing nVision knowledge and reports while augmenting the environment to add the bursting capability mentioned earlier in this blog entry and to mitigate some of the performance issues that they may be having.

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