Monday, April 27, 2009

Free Ad-Hoc Business Intelligence and Database Reporting

I struggled for the past week searching for an easy to use, intuitive and ad-hoc business reporting tool. Today I came across Wabit from SQL Power - a Canadian consulting firm that specializes in business intelligence reporting. There are a lot of software out there, but they were either not free, complicated to setup, or required SQL knowledge.

Wabit is really easy to use and SQL Power did a really great job making the interface as intuitive and easy to use as possible. One thing I really needed is the ability to drag and drop tables onto my canvas and select which columns I need for a specific report. Wabit does exactly this, and does it very well.

It also comes with a WYSIWYG editor to design the report, you can drop labels in, drag in the queries you built and finally export the report to PDF.

When I started looking for a Business Intelligence database reporter I started looking for web applications, I figure that would be easiest way to get one, but I was wrong. The first database reporter I came across seemed promising after using the online demo was xreporter. It turned out to be complicated to setup with different components that needed to be installed and configured separately and then I was not able to get it to work. To make matters worse the available resources did not help me figuring out what I did wrong.

Slowly over the past week I came to accept that free, opensource, online BI tools are either non existent or very badly marketed. Today I decided to change my search angle, and decided to look for BI tools for Macs. I have a Mac and when I need an application for something I had no troubles finding it. Lo and behold after 20 minutes of searching there it was - the business intelligence tool for the rest of us. If you are not looking for bells and whistles in your BI tool, give this one a try.

Finally Wabit comes for Mac OS, Windows and Linux which is the other secondary requirement. I'm a PC and my customer is a Mac, so if I were going to walk him through using it, or troubleshoot problems I need to have it as well so this is great.

One problem I did find - not directly with the application but with Postgres - is that Postgres does not support cross-database queries. After generating a query through the GUI and then dropping the query within the report you will get a :

"ERROR: cross-database references are not implemented".

To resolv this just edit the SQL Wabit generates and remove the [DATABASE_NAME].[TABLE_NAME] from the FROM and WHERE clauses.


  1. Thanks for your interest in Wabit. We welcome the feedback, so feel free to let us know about any further issues you have with any of our BI tools. Also, if you don't mind us quoting your review, we'd like to add a link to your blog from our website.
    -Your friendly neighborhood SQL Power employee

  2. Thanks for the comment, by all means go ahead and link.

    Out of curiosity, how did you find this review? I'm surprised that I got the attention from someone at SQL Power so quick.