Mondrian in Action - win a free copy


Mondrian fans your wait is over – the book, Mondrian in Action is complete and available to purchase. We sat down with the three authors to get the inside scoop about the book. Below is our interview with:

  • William (Bill) D. Back @billbackbi - Enterprise Architect and Director of Pentaho Services
  • Nicholas (Nick) Goodman @nagoodman - Business Intelligence pro who has authored training courses on OLAP and Mondrian
  • Julian Hyde @julianhyde - Mondrian Founder and the project's lead developer

Read below to learn how to win a FREE copy of Mondrian in Action and for a special discount offer from Manning Publications.

1. What inspired you to write Mondrian in Action? 

Bill:  I was assigned to be the Mondrian "expert" on my team and started looking at the documentation.  I discovered that it was pretty spread out and some functionality was in people's heads.  I started pulling together a set of personal documentation and thought it would be a good resource for others.  I don't think the book will answer every edge question someone might have about Mondrian, but I do think it does a very good job of covering Mondrian and how it is used for Analysis.

Nick: It was a long overdue book and somehow had to write it!   A full decade after Julian began work on it, there still wasn't a comprehensive guide addressing the practical soup to nuts of a Mondrian project.  When Bill floated the idea, I was happy to join the project.

Julian: As Nick says, this book is long overdue. It's my way of saying thank you to the community who have helped Mondrian and Pentaho become successful. In the early days, people were taking a risk when they used a product with little documentation beyond what they could find on the developer mailing list. Yet many people did use it, and their projects were successful, and they wrote blog posts and articles that inspired others to try it too.

2. What is the main goal if the book? What do you aim to bring across?

Bill:  I wanted to create a single resource that people can turn to answer their questions about Mondrian.  This includes understanding how it is used by organizations to analyze their business data, how it is used by various tools, such as Pentaho Analyzer and Reporting, and how to integrate Mondrian into a user's application.

Nick: The goal of the book was to bring together practical knowledge, from 3 of the top practitioners who have worked with Mondrian at over a hundred customers.  The mix of skills between the 3 authors meant we got diverse topics to make a comprehensive and practical book.  Julian is the code expert, Bill knows the integration/Pentaho aspects, and I have extensive customer modeling/configuration experience.  Readers should benefit from our varied experience with Mondrian!

3. What do you like so much about Mondrian to make you write a book about it? 

Bill:  I love how easy it is for someone with limited technical knowledge to analyze large amounts of data.  Reports are great, but they often provide too much data and are difficult to change to do analysis.  Mondrian lets users quickly analyze their data and make information-based decisions.  It's a powerful concept for any business in today's highly competitive environment.

Julian: I was inspired to write Mondrian because I wanted to bring powerful BI to a wide audience. I had used a few multidimensional databases and loved how they enabled business users to ask sophisticated questions of large data sets. But they were expensive, not open source, difficult to install and integrate with, and especially difficult to use from within a Java environment. With Mondrian, I set out to address all of these issues. The book is the logical next step. We can bring BI to a wider audience if we gather everything they need to know about Mondrian into one place.

4. Tell us more about the cover of the book – who is the man on the front and what is he doing? 

Bill:  He's a man from Konavle, a town Southeast of Dubrovnik, Croatia.  Manning uses a variety of historical figures to demonstrate the diversity in technology.

Julian: I think the "man from Konavle" story is just a cover. I think it's actually Bill in a false mustache and one of his more elaborate Halloween costumes!

5. What's next?

Bill:  I'm still trying to figure this out.  I've got a huge backlog of things I want to research that I've been putting off for the last year and a half.  I have some analysis that I want to do with Mondrian based on topics I'm interested in.  I'm also interested in looking at the emerging predictive and Big Data technologies that take analysis to the next level with machine assisted analysis.

Nick: I'm taking some time off from the Big Data hype machines and staying home with my 6-month-old daughter for the next year.  After that, I'll look at new data/analytics technologies and jump back in - Mondrian will certainly be relevant when I return. I’m  looking forward to all the great stuff Julian is doing with Optiq and the possible synergy between the two projects.  Also, I'm tinkering with a detailed time based analysis of my infants eating and sleeping schedule and am considering building a "baby-mart."  Just kidding!

Julian: First of all, I am working on the next Mondrian release. There are lots of new features and architectural improvements, most of which are described in the book. The whole Mondrian dev team is really excited to get it to market.

Outside of Mondrian, in my Optiq project, I am also developing some ideas that will allow fast, easy access to data wherever it resides. It is easy to build an adapter to a new data source, so several projects are already using it, including Apache Drill and Cascading. Optiq could be used to extend Mondrian's capabilities: to run natively on NoSQL databases and Hadoop just as it currently does on relational data, and to improve Mondrian's performance by pushing more work into its distributed cache. But Optiq can solve a lot of data management problems besides OLAP, so an option I am considering is to build Optiq into a full product.


Win a free copy of Mondrian in ActionLike Pentaho on Facebook and leave a comment here about which chapter(s) you think will be most useful for you and why (you can see the full index in the book here). You also have the chance to win on Twitter by following Pentaho and tweeting your comment with the hashtag #MondrianIA. Nick, Bill & Julian will pick their favorite comment to win. Deadline to leave a comment is Monday, Sept 9 at 12pm/EST.

Manning Publications is offering an exclusive 37% discount off Mondrian in Action when you purchase through At the shopping cart, simply enter the discount code mlbackp.

Rebecca Shomair

Senior Director of Corporate Communications