Yellowfin says Java the smart option for Business Intelligence



Global business intelligence vendor Yellowfin is investing in the best
available Java technologies and people to stay at the forefront of web-
based BI software development.

Since 2003, the company has been actively seeking out talented
programmers and architects to keep its web-enabled suite of products
at the cutting edge of usability and design.

“One of our key strategies has been to embrace the best available Java
technologies and know-how and then let our creative architects and
developers run with the technology,” says Yellowfin's Chief Operating
Officer, Justin Hewitt.
“So far the approach has been really successful in achieving our
product goals.”

The Java platform is attractive to both new graduates and seasoned
developers. It enables people to work with one language set across
platforms and devices, and to interact with large peer communities.

CEO Glen Rabie believes the approach has paid off: “We believe in
investing heavily in building a product that does not require a user
manual. Equally we are constantly surprised by the solutions and ideas
our staff develop to make that a reality.”

Rabie points out that Yellowfin’s BI development involves constant
innovation around the user interface: "You can develop hideous UI
experiences with a GUI, but it is harder to get away with it these
days. I think this is largely due to the influence of easy-to-use
online interfaces. People are now demanding technology that is similar
to their web experiences.”

In sourcing staff, (“our greatest asset”), Rabie says:”We are paying
for innovation, not coding. If we were to go down the path of
offshore development, would we get the same level of care for the
product? I don’t think so. The strength of our approach is in
investing in talented people and then allowing them to work together
to come up with robust and creative solutions."

Over 60 per cent of Yellowfin's developers in the Melbourne office
were hired straight out of university.

"Our people are passionate about software and technology," Rabie says.
He adds that some staff work independently on open source projects in
their own time.

“These are attitudes that we encourage and foster. We want people who
are innovative, who can collaborate and come up with ideas to deal
with problems not yet solved. But meeting the skills requirement is
only one step. We also select those who can work in an environment
where people are excited about solving tough problems and doing
interesting work.”

Yellowfin's products have been built using Java technologies like
J2SE, Spring, and Ajax. They have also absorbed several leading Java
BI code sets like BIRT, Jasper and JFreeChart when extensions to the
product were required.

Hewitt says: “What has our guys excited right now is using Java to
develop solutions in WKT [a text markup language for representing
vector geometry objects on a map] and WKB [database binary
equivalent]. Java’s support for general geometric objects provides a
perfect base for database geometry types, which once parsed and
transformed into plane coordinates can be easily graphically
represented. These representations can then be zoomed in and moved
around on. In fact, Java’s capabilities were key to some of the new
GIS features built into Yellowfin Release 4.0.”

With some 300 customers worldwide, Yellowfin has experienced 300 per
cent growth over the past two years. In August 2008, the new flagship
product Yellowfin 4.0 was released to an eager market. The developers
who worked on the 4.0 feature list were challenged to build on 3.3
with integrated GIS, Google maps, Ajax View Builder and a raft of
demanding requirements that customers had asked for beyond the
traditional tables and graphs of legacy BI products.


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