One very difficult aspect of using OBIEE (or APEX for that matter) is that it doesn't lend itself very well to source control.
There is one RPD (metadata) file in use at any given time. Changes to this environment will affect anyone using or developing on the presentation server layer (Dashboards/Answers/etc).
For the web catalog (Answers/Dashboards/Prompts/etc) you can make changes, but again, it will affect anyone who is also using the tool. If you want to tweak a report that has prompts or filters, you need to save everything off to your own folder in order to work on it or risk colliding with others or worse, messing up the report beyond repair (also known as FUBAR).
Developers usually need to break things to fix them and giving them an environment where they can do this (also known as tinkering), without repercussions, should be high on the list of must-haves.
Inspired by a meeting I attended last week and Jake's recent welcoming of VirtualBox into the Oracle fold, I decided to think (yikes) my way through a possible solution.
After the meeting last week, I was convinced I could build an environment using subversion as the source control tool. Tie that in with Jira, Fisheye and ultimately Bamboo and you'd have a pretty sweet environment to work in. How to do it though?
1. Set up source control. SVN is free and runs on Linux. Free.
2. Convince a multitude of developers to install and configure OBIEE on their own workstations. Yeah...not so sure about that. I accidentally said in that meeting, "I don't know a single, good developer who doesn't have a local install of Oracle (the database)" May have been just a tad hyperbolic...I like to tinker and appreciate those environments which allow me to do so. Having a local sandbox has been indispensable for me.
3. Not sure where or what 3 is. That's where I got hung up...until reading Jake's post.
How about this then?
1. No subversion (for the time being).
2. Virtualize the development environment.
3. Hand out the VDIs to the developers, and let them run with it. When they make changes, they can promote them through the usual channels. Once those changes are accepted/merged with the development environment, a new snapshot is taken and distributed.
Having the snapshot of dev is the key I think. Those who don't like to tinker, who just like to get their job done, won't have to worry about configuring their environment. They'll just fire up the VM and do their work. For those that do like to tinker, they can fiddle with the VM as much as they want without fear of breaking things for everyone else. If they need a fresh start, just get the original VDI and go crazy again.
This hasn't been completely thought at (if you couldn't tell). I haven't considered passwords or other such sensitive data. It sounds good in my head though. What's the worst that could happen?