RPE Enablement – we need your feedback

We keep getting the following message from you, the RPE users: the RPE documentation/enablement is not sufficient.

This is a constant message and one of the reasons for starting this blog and other initiatives the RPE UA and development team are undertaking, such as preparing videos for the new features in our next RPE releases.

There are many things to write about RPE and the new/less known features of RPE are the obvious targets for the next articles. However what the development team might think is less known is not necessarily what end user does so for a more relevant content we need your direct feedback: for what features of RPE would you like to see more enablement material?

Your requests will have as result one or more of the following: posts on this blog, enhancements in the official RPE documentation, requests to the other Rational teams.

I’m looking forward for your answers here as comments so we can discuss them and see what would be of greater interest.

A node.js chart service powered by Excel

Updated 17:15 EEST: added a diagram of the flow and updated chartServer.js

In a previous article I have shown how to use Excel to generate image charts with Microsoft Excel. In this article I will take this one step further and add a HTTP interface to that script so you can invoke it from a browser.

The ingredients are node.js and Microsoft Excel.  node.js offers an extremely lightweight ( 5.5 MB) framework to run a JavaScript server that receives HTTP requests, dispatches the requests to excelPieChart.vbs which in turn produces image charts via Excel. These images are served back as the response for the HTTP requests.


Installing and starting this server should take less than 2 minutes, with the biggest part of it being the download of node.js. The solution does not require any node.js modules other than the standard ones.

Using the service is even simpler:


http://giediprime:8000/chart?labels="High|Medium|Low"&data="2|25|8"&title="node.js chart example"


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Charts in RPE Documents – the Excel OLE way

Expanding the solution described in Charts in RPE Documents – the Excel way it is possible to generate Excel chart and embed them in the RPE output Word document as an OLE object. For PDF a snapshot image of the OLE will be automatically generated by RPE.


This solution has several distinct advantages over the initial image based approach:

  1. the image scales better with the page size
  2. the chart can be further processed
  3. simpler to code and maintain in RPE
  4. greatly improved progress tracking and error information in the RPE console view

The example template and VB Script are available on the RPE devWorks examples wiki page: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/wikis/home?lang=en#!/wiki/Rational Publishing Engine/page/Examples

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Charts in RPE Documents – the Excel way

Updated on 2014.08.20, 20:00 EEST

RPE does not have native support for drawing charts so you need an external tool to generate the chart. Google Chart Tools: Image Charts have been used successfully in the past but it has been deprecated by Google in  2012 and it is unknown how it will work past 2015.

There are other online providers or applications that can be installed in LAN to provide a REST API for generating image charts. But these solutions may present security/confidentiality risks or additional effort in installing and maintaining them.

An alternative to this is using Microsoft Excel to create charts as Excel can be fully automated through Visual Basic Script which in turn can be invoked from RPE.


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SaaC – Software as a Chef?

One thing that stuck in my head after Getting Started With Rational Publishing Engine was Alex Feseto‘s analogy between RPE an a chef: it uses recipes (templates) to turn raw materials (data) into exquisite dishes (documents).

This might become a trend as Watson is doing it too: http://www.bonappetit.com/tag/chef-watson


Image courtesy of GEBS Reporting and GEBS Unison

The slides for this webinar are  here http://gebsreporting.com/webinar-downloads/Webinar-02-Getting-Started-with-Rational-Publishing-Engine-U2.pdf

The recordings of the webinars can be accessed here: http://gebsreporting.com/education/webinars/ and on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/103786116

Up to date information and comments on RPE and Document Generation for Rational tools


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