Pedro Alves did some impressive work on the new CDA (Community Data Access):
CDA allows you to access any of the various Pentaho data sources without worrying about the details. It can be used as a standalone plugin on the Pentaho BI server that can output the result in several formats or it can be used in combination with the Dashboard Editor and the CDF.
It basically covers any source that you can use within PRD (Pentaho Report Designer). Additionally it has a security layer that prevents code injection.
Moreover it has a caching layer (only Mondrian provides caching out of the box).
CDA also offers unions, joins (full outer join), column selection, formula additon and column renaming. Following output formats are available: JSON, XML, CSV and XSL.
CDA uses XML files to define the access data, which can be created/edited in the CDA Editor (The Editor doesn't work in IE). Results can be previewed via the CDA Previewer.
A CDA file consists two parts: the connection details and the query itself.
By using JNDI you can use the connections that you set up on the Pentaho Admin Panel.
CDA can be used then as input for the Dashboard Editor.
For all charts that are displayed within the CDA plugin pages, CDF is actually called to generate them.
Pedro is working on releasing a new version on CDF with CDA completely integrated.
Watch the webcast on for more details.