BannerArgos - using Evisions' Argos Reporting Tool with Banner  
  by Bruce Knox  bknox @t     Oracle Database Programmer/Analyst                                       Copyright 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017     
last updated 03/16/17               


March 2017 - Attending the Evisions Conference and Ellucian Live in Orlando

March 2016 - Attending the Evisions Conference and Ellucian Live in Denver

I will not be presenting.
We are extending the use of Argos to more Extension employees via a rollout plan that makes use of Banner Fund/Orgn Security.  Argos has become the preferred way to do Banner reporting for many of our users.  We are using Argos Web Viewer, the Argos app, and the Reporting API.

April 2015 - Attended the Evisions Conference and Ellucian Live in New Orleans

March 2014 -  Attended Evisions Conference and Ellucian Live

The following presentations are currently available from Evisions for their clients.  Contact Evisions for access:

Evisions_Conference_2014_Research Suite.pdf
Jen-Rosborough_Evisions_Conference_PPT_411 Prof Serv.pdf
Zach-Heath_Build a Drill-Through_Dashboard.pdf

Each of the sessions I was able to attend was well worth attending and I would recommend that you request Evisions give you access to the Power Point files.

In Other News:  Our production Evisions products are now all running on Windows Server 2012 HyperV VM.  Cloned to a new, faster machine and back into production in under one hour down time.  All printers, drivers, and applications just worked upon startup.  No installation changes were needed at all.
Without a doubt the best system migration I have experienced. 

Janauary 2014 - We have production Evisions products (MAPS, Argos, FormFusion, and IntelleCheck) running on both Windows Server 2012 HyperV VM and Windows 2003. 

Banner Reporting Sites:
      Calvin Deiterich's
 Argos Reporting
      Zach Heath's Banner Reporting Blog


Janauary 2014 - We have our backup of production Evisions products (MAPS/Argos/FormFusion/IntelleCheck) running on both Windows Server 2012 HyperV VM. 

The hard part of migrating Evisions products to Windows 2012 is getting by the Windows 8-ish GUI changes and finding the underlying Windows (which then looks much like the old Windows).  Our Evisions products are the only application software systems installed on this VM which makes many difficult interapp issues disappear.

 IIS is not needed by Evisions products and that really made it far easier to migrate their software to the new Windows environment compared to other apps we have that do require IIS.

Windows 2012 is 64 bit and Evisions' MAPS is 32 bit.  Only 64 bit Print drivers work for Windows 2012, so don't waste time hunting for 32 bit print drivers.  The 64 bit print drivers are not a problem at all for MAPS.  The OLE DB connection must be 32 bit and it works fine on the server once you find the right Oracle client installation files. 

The Evisions folder will be in C:\Program Files (x86) instead of C:\Program Files (which is for 64 bit only code).

OLE DB is in ODAC 12c which installs via the Oracle Universal Installer and you can limit the install to just the parts you need for making the OLE DB connections for MAPS.  You might notice that there are both ODBC Data Sources (32-bit) and ODBC Data Sources (64-bit) in Widows 2012, but only if you are using non-Evisions software to make any DB connections.  We used them only to quickly confirm that our installed drivers were working for our DBs.  (We have a lot of non-Evisions apps moving to VMs too.)

Last I heard, Evisions does not officially support Windows 2012 (But, I have never had the company refuse to help with any problem I have taken to them.) 
Migrating from Windows 2003 to Window 2012 in one step took more effort than expected.  I nearly took a step back to a Windows 2008 VM on the same Windows 2012 Server, but I am glad we pushed on.

All this was happening with a pending January deadline for migrating FormFusion 1.9 to 3.3 for 2013 Tax reports. 
(Yes, we were long overdue to update all of our Evisions products and they are all current today.)

Current Project: Migrate all Evisions production from the Windows 2003 Server so that the machine can be taken off-line.

Spring and fall 2013  -  I presented "My New Favorite Argos Feature" Session at the Evisions Summit  Conference 2013 and ABUG in the fall
My New Favorite Old Argos Feature (pptx) - Evisions Conference 2013 Presentation/ABUG 2013

March 17, 2013  -  Someone asked how to view OS files from Argos at the Evisions Conference.  John Clark helped me do this several years ago.  

I have an Oracle query for the PO numbers, select one, and then the retrieval is via a generated Hypertext link. Uses a button to do this. (see the details below, John said you couldn't do this and then had an epiphany at lunch;) How many vendors call you back like that?  His solution works great for me.

">>Hi Bruce,

After having some lunch and thinking about how to solve this I have come up with an idea.
1. Create a multi-column list box.
2. Add the query that returns the url
3. Add a button.
4. Make it data aware.
5. In the On Click events add Hyperlink
6. Set the url to be the column from MC list box i.e Multicolumn.URL.

If you any further questions please do not hesitate to ask.

John Clark"

January 21, 2010  -  Still upgrading to Banner 8.  We upgraded to MAPS 3.8 without any problems.  Banner 7 Year End Payroll and Tax patches are delaying our Banner 8 upgrades.  We will be using IntelleCheck 3 (uses MAPS as does Argos) with Banner 8 which will mean one fewer Client Server applications to support.

September 18, 2010  -  I have upgraded our test MAPS/Argos server.  We are in the middle of going to Banner 8, so little time to spare.  Be sure to read the MAPS 3.7 Upgrade Guide.

The upgrade is simple and fairly quick (it took me longer to check the results than to do the multiple upgrades).  But, be warned this is very different from a normal upgrade for MAPS/Argos.  Only 3.7+ versions will run on MAPS 3.7.  Little appears to be changed to an Argos user, but the underlying MAPS structure is very different.  This version allows Argos, FormFusion, and IntelleCheck to all run from one MAP Server and prepares the way for taking FormFusion and IntelleCheck to Web based clients (ending their PC Desktop Client and ODBC installs).

The install is easy, but you definitely should print the upgrade guide for this one.  There are some required steps that one normally need not be concerned.
You will need to run this upgrade from the Server or using a Remote Desktop tool (as I did).  It is critical that you allow MAPS to automatically reconnect between upgrades without interruption.  (An extra backup might be very reassuring.)

May 22, 2010 -  I have found a solution to viewing PL/SQL EXCEPTION messages in Argos.   This is definitely a programmer topic, but the need was to replace
DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE which is not seen by SQL, so not available directly to Argos.

error_code number(8) := 0;
error_message varchar2(200) := '';

-- DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('Unknown error, details below');
-- DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('Error code: '||sqlcode);
-- DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE ('Error message: '||sqlerrm);
-- INSERT into common.REPORTS values (1,'Unknown error, details below');
INSERT into common.REPORTS values (99999991,'Error Details Below:');
error_code := sqlcode;
INSERT into common.REPORTS values (99999992,'Error Code: '||error_code);
error_message := sqlerrm;
INSERT into common.REPORTS values (99999993,'Error Message: '||error_message);

This will give one a similar error message from Oracle Exceptions without the need to use SQL*Plus to view the message.

The rest of the solution can be seen in the DataBlock and Reports posted to the Argos COOP as "PL/SQL Report Conversion to ARGOS".
Search the COOP for bknox under Argos.

December 4, 2009  -  No Arkansas school stepping up for next year's ABUG yet.  No chance of doing it this time.  We are short too many key positions to carry it off.

November 30, 2009  -  There will be no "Argos - Moving into the Community" at SunGardHE Summit this year.  Rejected, just when I thought I had found what they were looking for in a session.  Well, I thought last year went very well, but that wasn't what they are looking for this year.

November 21, 2009  -  Upgraded our Production Argos to version 3.5.   It takes only a few minutes, but it does take a little longer than most Argos/MAPS upgrades.  Five minutes for our Production system.

November 20, 2009  - 
Tested the new Argos 3.5 Release without any problems.  I think they should have called it Version 4.0.

November 12, 2009  - 
Zach Heath (Evisions) has a personal blog devoted to Banner Reporting 
Calvin, Zach, and I discussed Argos PL/SQL error handling approaches (a future project perhaps, but mostly of interest to developers).

October 19, 2009  -  Submitted an Argos Community session and thinking about proposing What's A Command Line kind of guy doing using  Argos?

July 21, 2009  - 
We have our MAPS/Argos server on our INB or Banner WebForms serverWe have made this work from the beginning and until now, the only serious downside has been needing to upgrade the OLE DB driver without disturbing this Oracle Infrastructure machine.  While that should not actually be a problem, it is when your DBA is too busy to take on any new tasks, especially ones that you create.

We make an image of this machine each evening just in case we need to restore the server.  With a recent Banner upgrade, this restore was done several times and it has caused me to rethink the whole idea of sharing a server for Argos.  The biggest impact of the restore was on Argos' scheduled reports.  When the server is restored to a previous day's image, the server's time is set forward on boot by synchronizing the box to an Internet Time Server.  The MAPS Service promptly starts and then runs each scheduled task for the day up to the newly reset time.  This happened because the scheduler was active when the server image was taken.  The scheduler saw the time go from a couple of days ago to sometime after the reports should have been done for the actual date-time and it ran the reports as if the day were passing rather quickly.  Since the reports had already been run for the day before the restore, users were getting duplicates and it caused some confusion.

To me, this means that the MAPS/Argos server should be on a separate server.  That would allow upgrades to OLE DB drivers to be independent of the Oracle Infrastructure machine and avoid problems with the far more complex Banner and Oracle Infrastructure upgrades.

May 28, 2009
  -  Thanks for the great sessions at ABUG!  And, thanks to ATU for hosting ABUG this year!

Here are the ppt files from my sessions plus some older ones for related info:

   Reporting BOF (with Robert Long and guest Rob Hagmaier)
   Argos - Moving Quickly into the Community

Selected Older Argos Presentations:
   Argos Admin and Security (from Argos pre-Summit 2007 Admin and Security Track)
   MS Access Conversion to Argos (from Argos pre-Summit 2007 Tech Track)

May 22, 2009  -  Mr. Argos will be at ABUG!  Who?  Robert (Rob) Hagmaier will be tell us about the most significant new features to to soon be released.

May 21, 2009  -  I am expecting to see some of the new features of the next release of Argos to be shown at ABUG.

May 20, 2009  -  Just found out that IE8 blocks Javascript prompts by default.  That broke my scripts repository password checking.  Doesn't even give you the option of opening it.  Here is how to fix IE8 to allow the prompt:
Change your Internet Options to "Allow websites to Prompt for information using scripted windows." 

May 15, 2009  -  Updated for the IE8 patch and I am using IE8 with Argos now.  I have had no problems with it.

May 14, 2009 - Adding a Google Custom Search for Argos Reporting:

May 1, 2009  -  I have a presentation that covers Converting from MS Access.  
See screens 26-56 the ppt from the Tennessee Summit 2008.

April 24, 2009  -  I have been using a MacBook for several months now.  
I actually installed MS Windows to allow me to edit in LCMS (Luminis Content Management System) pages on my laptop, and Windows is needed for Argos. 

One can dual boot the Mac hardware into a Windows only environment using OS X' Boot Camp or even completely replace OS X with Windows, but that just gives you great hardware for a Windows machine.  (I do have a friend that actually turned his MacBook into a Linux only machine, but that is another story.)  I wanted to keep the Mac OS for most purposes but be able to run Windows applications when needed. 

I did need to evaluate a solution that had end-user vendor support, so I limited the options to Parallels and VMware.  Parallels seemed to be the best virtualization solution of the pair, so Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac was my pick.

When you add Windows to a Mac, you must also add virus protection which came with the Parallels bundle that I purchased (it is using Kaspersky for anti virus, spyware, and malicious programs and handles firewall and spam too).  These products install easily and look to be built-in Mac features once installed.  Kaspersky is actually installed after the Windows install (I took Windows to SP3 before installing Kaspersky, being very careful to only go to Microsoft site for the updates until I had the  protection software installed).  I only use MS Internet Explorer for our University sites because the editor for LCMS needs IE 6 to work properly.  IE 6 security is really unacceptable for general browsing, so be very careful if you must use it.

Installing Windows is a very time consuming process.  Fortunately, I could skip the first couple of hours of required updates by starting the install with a Windows XP SP2 version CD.  It still took a couple of hours to get everything running and updated.  I did use a feature of Parallels to "Take (a) Snapshot" of the currently installed virtual machines after each significant step.  Good thing too, because Windows decided to hiccup in one of the many update steps and I had to "Revert to (previous) Snapshot".  That saved me hours of re-Install + updates. 

I run Windows in what Parallels calls Coherence mode.  It basically lets the Mac run Windows applications without the user being much aware of the difference.   For example, one can double-click on a .ppt file on the Mac Desktop and it just opens in Windows' Power Point (OK, I did previously install MS Office in the Windows environment).

Parallels does put a Windows "start" button on the Mac application Dock.  This lets you run Windows applications from the Mac desktop using that Icon.  You can share files between OS X and Windows.  You can switch between a Windows application and Mac application as if they were both Mac applications.  The integration is much smoother than I was expecting.

For example, if you double-click on a Power Point file on the Mac desktop, Parallels will open the file in Windows.  It will take whatever steps are necessary to get this done.  Depending upon the current status of the Virtual Machine, Parallels might just switch to Windows, start a new Windows session, or wake a suspended Windows session all depending upon what state you left the machine.  Or, you can use the Start icon in the Mac menu bar and do this step by step as you would on a Windows only machine.

I just tried the double-click a .ppt file to be sure I was telling the store correctly and I was surprised to find that I had left Windows was running.  The Power Point just opened.

Now, there is a Parallels Suspend mode that is much like Sleep in Windows.  If you double-click on the .ppt from this state, Parallels will Resume the suspended Windows Virtual Machine and then open the file.

If instead you had Shutdown Windows, the double-click will start Windows before opening the file.

If you had Quit Parallels Desktop (which would have given you the option to stop or suspend the Windows Virtual Machine), then it would Start Parallels, Start Windows, and open the file.


I used the defaults for the Parallels install and used Custom updates for Windows to prevent IE being replaced (to keep IE 6 for LCMS' Site Studio).

Parallels just works on my MacBook.  My Mac has 2.4 GHz processors and 4GB RAM.  The only thing slowing it down is the hard drive.  You might get a very different experience with a less capable machine. 

Of course Argos works on it.  I can even add new LDAP users as an Administrator in MAPS as long as I am connected via VPN or inside our Computing Center Firewall.  The MacBook VPN works more reliably for me than my Windows Desktop PC's VPN.

April 23, 2009  -  I am frequently asked about Security.  Here is the link to my 2007 pre-Summit Power Point Presentation on Ad Hoc Reporting Security for Banner.

April 22, 2009  -  Added some Cross Tab example SQL code below.  Both DECODE and CASE can easily turn rows into columns for reporting.  I actually wrote a cross-tab code generator for converting some Command-Line Focus ACROSS statements into SQL*Plus.  I have not shared the generator, because it would require a very specialized environment or lots of debug time to install.  The generated code works great as long as a static selection for the across columns is acceptable.

April 15, 2009  -  I have asked for feedback from those that registered for my Summit class.  Most responses have been very positive; however, one person complained that I gave a sales pitch.  Maybe I should ask for commissions.  I am not sure how one could speak on a topic without enthusiasm.  Sounds boring to me.

March 27, 2009  -  Just back from Summit and Pre-Summit.  Thanks to everyone that attended my sessions.

Calvin Deiterich's Argos Reporting is a great addition to the Argos Community.
Calvin's original Argos Reporting site is now relocated to

The preview of the Argos release (the 3.5 Alpha) looked very good.  I want to have it as soon as possible.

February 26, 2009  -  Finally getting to review some of the new features of 3.2.  The new searchable log is very helpful for administrators:

February 21, 2009  -  Argos 3.2 is live and doing well.

February 6, 2009  -  Testing Argos 3.2

January 29, 2009  -  Argos 3.2 is out!

January 22, 2009  -  Looking forward to a new Argos version release
Argos 3.2 is rumored to be very near release.

December 8, 2008  -  Summit and Argos Pre-Summit 2009
I will be presenting variations of Moving into the Argos Community at both Summit and the Argos Pre-Summit.  The Pre-Summit version is more directed to those that already have Argos.  Both presentations introduce the Argos Community, available training, and rapid startup information.

Getting Cross Tabs in Argos can be done with sql code.  Here are examples of using DECODE and CASE.

The object is to get a single line for each key, in these examples Fund.  So, the results would look like:

  NHRDIST_FUND_CODE        A611000   A611100   A613000  A615300  A617000  A619210          Other  ROW_TOTAL
13101 918.26 5752.69 0 182700 0 0 4458.78 ...39.73
13103 82.87 0 0 0 0 0 0 ...82.87
13104 7871.76 0 0 0 0 0 1705.48 ...27.24
13115 0 0 3633.36 0 0 0 0 ...33.36

. . .   except that the totals will sum correctly

Using Oracle DECODE:

SUM(DECODE(nhrdist_acct_code,'611000',nhrdist_amt,0)) "A611000",
SUM(DECODE(nhrdist_acct_code,'611100',nhrdist_amt,0)) "A611100",
SUM(DECODE(nhrdist_acct_code,'613000',nhrdist_amt,0)) "A613000",
SUM(DECODE(nhrdist_acct_code,'615300',nhrdist_amt,0)) "A615300",
SUM(DECODE(nhrdist_acct_code,'617000',nhrdist_amt,0)) "A617000",
SUM(DECODE(nhrdist_acct_code,'619210',nhrdist_amt,0)) "A619210",
nhrdist_amt)) "Other",
SUM(nhrdist_amt) Row_Total
WHERE nhrdist_fisc_code = '2009' AND
(nhrdist_rucl_code = 'HGRS' OR nhrdist_rucl_code = 'HGNL')
GROUP BY nhrdist_fund_code
ORDER BY nhrdist_fund_code

Using Oracle CASE:

SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '611000' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END) "A611000",
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '611100' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END) "A611100",
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '613000' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END) "A613000",
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '615300' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END) "A615300",
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '617000' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END) "A617000",
SUM(CASE WHEN nhrdist_acct_code = '619210' THEN nhrdist_amt ELSE 0 END) "A619210",
nhrdist_acct_code = '611000' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '611100' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '613000' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '615300' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '617000' OR
nhrdist_acct_code = '619210' THEN 0
ELSE nhrdist_amt END) "Other",
SUM(nhrdist_amt) Row_Total
WHERE nhrdist_fisc_code = '2009' AND
(nhrdist_rucl_code = 'HGRS' OR nhrdist_rucl_code = 'HGNL')
GROUP BY nhrdist_fund_code
ORDER BY nhrdist_fund_code


Reporting Tool Selection Criteria should be:

  Ease of use
  No added fees for additional users
  A rapid startup with little IT investment
  Flexible training options and
  Good support. 

These are, in my opinion, the most important requirements for your reporting tool. 

Specific features are not nearly as important as these few key requirements.  As for a long list of feature specifications, I would discount the importance of those.   All of the reporting tools on the market can do pretty much the same things. 

With programming tools, there is always another way to do a task.  You should not let one vendor state your selection criteria in terms of their product unless you really want them to be the only one to meet your specs.

For us, Argos met all of our criteria

Ease of use
I thought getting from scratch to a working Argos report was pretty simple.  Under a couple of hours form the get-go and I had Argos installed and a new report with headings, footers, page counts, etc.  Now compare that to my first SQL*Plus report, which took me many, many hours to get to my first acceptable completed report.

I find that it is much harder to get a programmer to use a new tool than it is to get an end-user to climb onboard.  Programmers have more invested in their old ways (I would love to still be using PL/I).  End-users just want quick and easy results.

With a new Report Viewer, someone that just runs reports, I just sent them a webpage link that tells them how to quickly add an Argos link into Luminis.  They already know how to run Windows apps, so they need next to no help from me on getting into or using Argos. 

I can monitor usage, so I can tell that the users are actually using the reports.  I do get a question from about one in ten new users.  Most of them just jump in and start using the reports. 

Programmers and fairly technical end-users take a little more encouragement.  I send them to about an hour of on-line (free) recorded training.  Sure, they will not learn every feature of the product in an hour, but in that short time they will learn enough to convince themselves that making the switch is worthwhile. 

How many reporting tools could let a new user create useful reports in an hour?  Argos can.

No added fees for additional users
I do not know the prices of the competing tools, but I would expect Argos to be on the low end of the comparison.  MS Access is “free”, but it is missing a lot of features.  Argos is licensed for an unlimited number of users.  Good thing when someone wants to take your in-house report public (that happened here).

A rapid startup with little IT investment
For testing, I installed a free, full featured demo copy, downloaded dozens of pre-written reports,  and began testing it in a couple of hours.  Now, it takes longer to get it installed in a computing center environment because of the added controls and delays with split responsibilities.  Still, startup goes fairly quickly because most of Argos’ setup and administration can be done outside of the computing center.

Flexible training options
I never had much use for the long and expensive training sessions that most vendors favor.  Argos will do formal training on-site for a fee, but I much prefer the free on-line, on-demand recorded training.  Some of our developers attend the free on-line live training sessions.  I personally have a hard time dedicating a block of time for training; I rather like the pause feature on the recorded sessions, but then I am more inclined to search the Evisions Knowledge Base for a solution.  It is secured, but not impossible to actually use like some other archives.

Good support
Evisions’ support seems to be well regarded.  I get quick responses and problem resolutions from them.

What users really want
After many years of giving users rather complex reports, I found out that most, especially Financial, users would really rather just have a way to get their Banner queries into Excel.  Argos has had this feature since its pre-announcement Beta version (probably because Evisions asked the users what they really wanted in the product).  Sure, Argos does standard reports with subtotals, sorts, filters, OLAP Data Cubes, and the like too.  All the better reporting tools will do these things.  But think about it, not many end-users will ever use the more elaborate capabilities found in these tools.  Programmers and rather technical end-users may use them.

One can make a secretary’s day or for that matter most manager’s day by giving them a new report (think on-screen form) and showing them that Right-Clicking nearly instantly gives them the same info in Excel. 

I have been pursuing Banner Reporting Solutions for our functional and IT users for years.   I have tried giving our users MS Access and SQL*Plus based solutions with some degree of success, but most recently I have placed an emphasis upon Argos for most end-user reporting.  The Argos solution has been by far the most successful of my efforts for a Banner Reporting Solution for end-users.

Argos has turned some of my most difficult to please users into personal champions.  I never expected that.

The great promise of relational database systems was to give non-IT end-users powerful Ad Hoc reporting.  That was a promise that has been very hard to deliver.  But, we are getting much nearer to that ideal.

Now, keep in mind that this is not a product or vendor endorsement.  We are not allowed to make those.  This is only some notes on what I have been doing to support Banner Reporting and should not be taken as an official endorsement.


October 23, 2008 - The Tennessee Summit presentation ppt files
are available in my Scripts Repository.  If you need the scripts password, just ask (bknox @t 
I have some notes in the ppt files that would expand upon my presentations and you might find useful.  Thanks to the great group attending and to John Tong, Michael Boote, and Pamela Clippard for assisting; and to the Tennessee Board of Regents for inviting me to present at the conference.

October 2, 2008  - Preparing for the Tennessee Summit
I am presenting two sessions for  the
Tennessee Summit 2008 on Administrative Computing Technologies October 13-14th One is Argos - Moving into the Community and the other is How your DBA or Database Programmer can Improve your Argos Reporting!

Class Title: Argos ‑ Moving into the Community
Class Description: Searching for THE Banner Reporting Tool your obsession?  Mine too!

After building my own Banner reporting tools for years including BannerAccess a MS Access based Banner reporting tool, I found Argos, the Evisions product for Ad Hoc Banner Reporting.  

I wanted it from the moment I saw it.  Argos was my BannerAccess with all the missing pieces that I never found time to develop. 

Learn about our experience installing Argos, joining the Argos User Community, acquiring free community written software, and converting from MS Access.

Class Title: How your DBA or Database Programmer can Improve your Argos Reporting!

For Banner Reporting, there is a great need for filling in the missing parts.

Just as Argos provides THE missing Banner Reporting tool, there are ways to fill in some other missing parts and even improve your Argos Reporting. These are things your Database professionals can provide for you, but things they may never realize you are missing.

We can give them a hint or two! 
(Centers on Argos, but touches APEX, conversions to Argos, multiple databases, and Batch Scripting.)

October 1, 2008  -  A new Banner Server. 
The easy part was connecting Argos.  Stop MAPS/wait for the new server to get on-line/Start MAPS. 

September 30, 2008  -  3.1.4 works fine for us. 

September 29, 2008  -  Luminis and LDAP.
 With Luminis comes LDAP and the opportunity to move Argos to LDAP.  Switching an existing Argos User to LDAP is easy.  One caution:  If you have Scheduled Reports for that User, any Schedules must be opened and closed to associate the new properties for the Run User with the Schedule. 

We currently are running Argos from a Bookmark in Luminis.  We have our LDAP via Active Directory.  When adding a new user to Luminis, one must sync the ID/pw with Banner (i.e., change the Banner pw).  Then the new LDAP user will have their Banner pw available in Argos too as long as the Argos Username is the same as the Banner Username.  This is not totally integrated as it would be with a Luminis Channel, but it is not as complex either.  I have not seen what is required for a pw change yet (safe from that for a few months).

August 15, 2008
  -  Argos 3.1.n Testing

We have been testing with Argos 3.1 since before it was released.  This Beta gave us the Reporting API so that our Web based applications could call Argos Reports.  I have been anticipating the move of our "real" users to 3.1 since the first day I installed 3.1 Beta.  I think we are nearly ready to move to 3.1 as our production version.   (I only need a few test users to confirm my good test results with the current Argos 3.1.4 release.)

We have a lot of non-Banner Tables and multiple Oracle Databases (including a mix of Oracle versions).  Our home grown Oracle applications are mostly converted FoxPro applications and these have some very non-Banner like constructs.  We are moving much of our non-Banner reporting to Argos, because it fits in well with our environment.  It is not uncommon for us to Link Databases for a single report.  Many applications need information from several other Databases.  Argos allows us to move between the Databases as needed.

We have our production server (Windows Server 2003) running with the Oracle 9iR2 OLE DB driver.  I have just tested the Oracle 10gR2 OLE DB driver on a desktop.  One does need to remove the old 9i OLE DB provider before installing the new one.   So far, everything is looking good even with the aging 9i driver.

All the new 3.1 features and improvements are much anticipated and will help our developers' efforts.

August 14, 2008  -  Tennessee Summit 2008 on Administrative Computing Technologies October 13-14th

Looks like I will get to present an Argos session for the ACT Summit.  No details yet.

June 19, 2008  -  ABUG went very well.  

I have been working on Integrating Argos with Luminis and supporting the reporting for a new Publications System. 

We have a significant publishing group and this system allows for both internal "sales" and external sales of our publications.  The reporting covers it all, including printing picking lists for the just approved orders during the day.  We are using a scheduled direct print of newly approved Orders to our Warehouse and Print Shop.  The Scheduled Report uses a DataBlock that selects records for the last couple of hours (since 4 pm the previous day, for the 8 am run).  The first run of the new day picks up any late Orders from the previous day.

On other projects:  One of our Functional "programmers" has converted several MS Access reports to Argos.  While it could take us hours to implement a change to our MS Access production reports, we can change a report in Argos in minutes.  Part of that long delay with MS Access was our own doing, but due to our security restrictions, I cannot directly update a MS Access database on our central office file server.  FTPing a really large file can take a long time, so even simple changes were a lot of trouble.

With Argos, I can copy a Report/DataBlock, make a test version, and have the user testing it very quickly.

But, the huge project now dominating everything here is Luminis.   Concurrent implementation of Active Directory, Luminis IV, Single Sign-On, moving our remaining non-Banner Apps from FoxPro to Oracle, ...

I am also setting up a backup server for Argos.  I installed Argos on the backup server, Stopped the MAPS service, replaced the default install database with a copy of our live Argos' database and it should work, right.  Well, I don't know yet, because installing the OLE DB driver requires rebooting the server.  This is on our live INB server, so rebooting may be a while coming.

One must be careful to disable the Scheduler.  I used the previous automated backup files to create the backup Argos' files.  I am considering scheduling a Windows script to do this copy automatically just after the early AM MAPS automatic backup.  That avoids needing to down MAPS before copying the files.  But, first I want to confirm that the backup server works for us.

May 3, 2008  -  ABUG is May 5th at UCA in Conway, Arkansas.  Evisions' Mike Boote will be presenting an Argos Reporting session.

April 30, 2008  -  The code I used to create many of our Banner Table Current Record (Oracle) Views is available in my scripts Repository (see April 21st below for access instructions).  We find these to be very useful in providing Ad Hoc Functional users a way to create their own Queries without having to learn Sub-Queries or the many ways to select Current Records in Banner.  Just JOIN the Current Record Views and the Query is done.  Most Ad Hoc users will be reporting current records only.  Usually, I find that Ad Hoc Functional users will need help creating more complex multi-Table Queries that vary by date.  These Queries are rather difficult for most programmers.

April 22, 2008  -  The ppts for all the Argos Pre-Summit sessions have already been made available for download.  These are well worth your time and include some ideas I am sure you have not seen before.  From my session I have uploaded the Bonus Materials as a DataBlock and Report in the Argos COOP.  You can find it by searching for the Table DUAL.  It has not been reviewed yet, so expand your usual search to include all objects.  The exported object is also available here.

The Report includes my idea of Standard Format and Content for Banded Reports.  This includes logo, Date and Time, page numbering plus identifying and locating information for the report objects.  It uses Argos functions to dynamically correct for any moved or renamed DataBlock/Report.  This reduces maintenance, saves time, and insures correctly labeled reports.  Correctly identifying a report can be a great aid in debugging when someone requests a change or correction to a report you wrote long ago.

While Templates are planned for a future Argos release, it isn't too hard to Copy and Paste now.  There are two ways that I know of to accomplish this.

One can Copy the Banded Report Standard and Paste it into a new DataBlock.  Just change the dataset in the report and add the columns you need.  (One of the participants at the TN Summit gave me this tip.)

Or, one can Copy and Paste the three blocks of content to create a new report.  Copying and Pasting all objects at one time for a single block will retain the original formatting.  This is especially useful for the Path name positioning as it can become very long (that is why the Database Instance is displaced with very short paths).  It is easy to miss an object using this method.


April 21, 2008  -  Back from Summit and a very good Argos Pre-Summit.  We missed a few of the planned sessions due to the Airline Cancelations, but as expected the Argos folks filled in very well with some great new information.

Argos 3.1 is now officially released.  We already have several reports being called by the new optional Report API.  It works very well for us and one of our programmers is already calling his Argos Reports from an Oracle Application Express (APEX) generated application.  This API will be key to using Argos Reports seamlessly with Luminis.

There are many new Argos enhancements planned for later this year.  They are significant enough for an Argos 4.0 release in my opinion.  Wish I could share the details, but we were asked to keep them private (because the details may change significantly between now and the release).  We did see the current Alpha version and I was impressed.

If you attended my Argos presentation at the pre-Summit, I have some notes in the ppt that would expand upon my presentation and you might find useful.  Thanks to the great group attending and to John Tong for his song and dance routine (really, you should see it).

The ppt is available in my scripts Folder.  If you need the scripts password, just ask (bknox @t  That Folder also contains my presentations from Summit 2007 and the Charter Argos Pre-Summit.

I will be presenting my 2008 talk at A(rkansas)BUG early next month.  ABUG 2008 will be Monday, May 5, 2008  at UCA in Conway, Arkansas.

April 3, 2008 - Very near release (I bet), the new (just updated Argos and MAPS) are looking good.  I really like the inserted comment code that identifies the Report name and the DataBlock name.  Well done!

March 31, 2008 - Added a Bonus section to my Argos Conference Presentation (Bonus is for tips on dynamically labeling Banded Reports).

March 17, 2008 - Testing Argos 3.1 Beta  (screens updated to April 3 versions)


Within the API, there are buttons to generate the html code you will need for connecting an Argos Report object with the Calling Web page.  An this works well for me.  The Report Unique Identifier "key" below, is used to uniquely ID the object.  One does need a bit of html knowledge to use this feature, but really that should be expected.  This is a Designers Tool.

Sample GET


Sample POST

If no UserName is supplied to the Report API, then it cannot run the report.  Clear enough.

March 15, 2008 - Testing Argos 3.1 Beta

First thing you notice is the new Trash Bin!  And it works!  Only an Administrator can undelete an Object.

I like the new look and feel.  (But, this is a Beta.  They may change the final design.)

March 14, 2008 - Testing Argos 3.1 Beta.  It installs very easily using the same MAPS_ADMIN_INSTALLATION_ Guide.pdf as used for 2.5.  There are a few minor differences at some steps, but nothing to be concerned about.

Argos 3.1 has a little different look.  I like the new version's look and feel.  First thing you notice is a Trash Bin has been added.  I have not tried the Restore yet, but I have no doubt that it will be useful.  Only an Administrator can do a Restore.  But, I bet a non-Administrator can copy and paste?

The DataBlock and Report object (expanded) shows Report Viewer/Report Writer/DataBlock Designer sections.

What is really special about 3.1?  The new API support to allow external apps to run Argos reports.

Just Beta tested the Beta's HowTo with Evisions (John Tong and Sal Yu).  We walked through the new interface and we tested running a report from a new external web page in about an hour start to finish.  It would have taken less time but we could not connect our PCs giving them access to my install (because I am connecting to our Banner Server through a Windows VPN and between that and the Firewalls, no go).  Plus, my office is very noisy with my very old PC running as a test "Server".  It sounds like a vacuum cleaner running in here.  Keying in verbal instructions given over a conference call is really error prone, but we did very well in spite the handicaps.  John and Sal are Argos "old timers" and we have worked together on several occasions.

Oh yes, the new API works great.  It will require someone a little familiar with html code to set up a new calling web page, but that was anticipated with the nature of what is being done.  (Maybe a Wizard some day?)  I had no problem cutting and pasting the required code snippet generated by the API.

There is a new Chart Wizard too.  Maybe I will start doing Charts now!

The Argos Pre-Summit: signup is closed.  A Full House!

Argos Pre-SummitSession Presentation (Ready for Summit at Last!)

How your Oracle DBA or Oracle Programmer can Improve your Argos Reporting!

For Banner Reporting, there is a great need for filling in the missing parts. Just as Argos provides THE missing Banner Reporting tool, there are ways to fill in some other missing parts and even improve your Argos Reporting.

APEX + Argos = Rapid Development + Great Banner Ad Hoc Reporting!

Even with Argos, which is a great Evisions product for Ad Hoc Banner Reporting, we still need a way to load and manage spreadsheets into Oracle. And, what about those ubiquitous Cross Reference (Cross-Walk) Tables you need for special reports?

Can APEX, Oracle Application Express, provide that missing piece? Can Argos report from APEX Tables too? Well of course they can!

Of course, there are ways to fully automate moving data into Oracle from other resources.  Ways just out of reach for a functional person can be made available with a little help from your Oracle professionals.

Then there are Oracle Views that can simplify record selection. Think of them as Alternate Views of a Table or even of several Tables. Why should we need to specify the same record selection criteria, the same Joins nearly every time we use a Table or set of commonly paired Tables?

If you are one of the many of us that report from a copy of yesterday’s Banner, shouldn’t some of those long running Queries be done before you come to work?

These are things your Oracle professionals can provide for you, but things they may never realize you are missing. We can give them a hint or two!

And please, do plan to share your tips and hints with us too!

Summit 2008 - Let me know if have an Argos related class and I will post it here:

Lannie He's Summit 2008 Session Accepted:

Lannie He, Framingham State College

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 3:30 PM 4:30 PM

Argos OLAP - Adding pictures to Banner

This session will show how we are using Argos OLAP Data Cubes to provide complicated and comprehensive statistics to our customers.

The OLAP is an extended functionality of Argos which provides flexible, user friendly and cross level data summary and detail capabilities with Banner database. In most of our cases, one OLAP Data Cube can provide results that need to be accomplished by more than two regular reports. Come and share the ideas with us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 3:00 PM 4:00 PM   (Hey, 30 minutes left to get into the other session:)

Leveraging ODS/EDW with Argos Reporting  (this is the Evisions presented session)

Evisions Argos is the most rapid way to realize the full power of your ODS & EDW investment. Easily deploy our reporting and performance management solution and let everyone on campus benefit from ODS & EDW. Use the ingenious SunGard Higher Education data methodology and present this information through Argos, wide array of distributed and advanced reporting features. This session will cover implementation, training, and varied reporting strategies. Client case studies from Loyola Marymount University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and more!


Argos 3.0 has been released

There is an upgrade document available at
see: MAPS/Argos Upgrade Guide to 3.0 (New for 3.0!)

There are also Release Guides for MAPS and Argos.

Archived Argos 2.5 information

So, I am testing 3.0 on a Desktop machine.  Much faster than the one I used to test 2.5.  This one is a GB RAM and 2.66MHz. 


February 15, 2008

Got the word today that my Argos Pre-Summit session has officially been accepted.

And also, that the beta API that will allow users to 'call' Argos reports without having to log in and go through the standard client interface is nearly available for me to test. 
Why would anyone want to run outside of Argos?  Well, it makes Argos look like an extension of the other application in a very transparent way for the user.  You might even want to make a report available to non-Argos users.  And, there is always the impending move to Luminis (yes, this API is a big part of integrating Argos with Luminis).

February 01, 2008

Many things happening concurrently.  I have been brought into a non-Banner Oracle application under development with the idea of providing the project's reporting using Argos. 

So, I jumped in.  A new database connection (well, it does have a few links to Banner).  That is quick to add.  Then, I decided to look into a "standard" design or "template" for the Banded Reports.  I found that access to the Argos variables made displaying report names, the current database, the path including the Folder nesting, and of course a page number simple.  With this, I when a report object is moved, the displayed info is automatically adjusted.  Why does it matter?  Well, just try to figure out which object created a paper report that a user is questioning.  A few hints are better than a great memory.

September 14, 2007  -  So, under an hour from start to finish!  Live on Argos 3.0!

July 31, 2007  -  Will APEX and Argos work together?  Well, why not?

This is just a quick test of reporting from the APEX Demo, but it make the point.  (This is Argos 2.5, BTW.)

Of course it works! 

APEX + Argos = Rapid Development + Great Reports!

Check Back Soon! 

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