CTools are a set of community-driven tools which are installed as a stack on top of the Pentaho BA server and are commonly referred to as "CTools." The core CTools supported by Pentaho include:
- CDF: Community Dashboard Framework
- CDA: Community Data Access layer
- CDE: Community Dashboard Editor
- CCC: Community Charting Components
- CGG: Community Graphics Generator
General Overview of Pentaho and CTools
The Pentaho platform allows you to use external components, or plugins, with the purpose of extending the standard functions. These plugins are installed on top of the Pentaho platform, enabling you to add customizations to the BI platform.
CDF: Community Dashboard Framework
CDF has five main advantages:
- Based in open source technology.
- Uses popular web technologies, such as Ajax, HTML, and CSS3.
- Manages the components' lifecycles and interactions between them.
- Separates the HTML design from the component definition.
- Allows for extensibility.
CDE: Community Dashboard Editor
CDA: Community Data Access
Community Data Access (CDA) allows you to gather and combine data from several data sources into a single structure, which you can then use in dashboards. Driven by the need to unify access to the Pentaho data layer, CDA was developed to create an abstraction layer between a CTools dashboard and the physical connections to different databases.
CDA has three main objectives:
- Combine data from several sources.
- Ensure security while accessing the data (avoiding, for instance, SQL injection problems).
- Ease data exports.
CCC: Community Chart Components
Community Chart Components (CCC) allows dashboard designers to create powerful and custom charts for their dashboards. Essentially, it is a visualization library built on top of Protovis, a powerful open source data visualization library based in scalable vector graphics (SVG). The included default options can be bolstered with features in CDE, or an advanced user can pass extension points via Protovis commands to enhance chart components in dashboards.
CGG: Community Graphics Generator
Community Graphics Generator (CGG) allows you to export CCC charts as images which are then available for Pentaho reports. Additionally, this plugin renders the CCC charts in browsers which might have limited capacity for rendering SVG images. In summary, this component is able to draw, within the server, exactly the same chart which is shown in the CTools dashboard using your web browser.
CGG has three main features:
- Full integrated with CDE.
- Rendering charts via a URL.
- Running SVG-based charts and then converting them into images.