Business analysts gain new power and flexibility to build predictive and prescriptive analytic models, while business intelligence consumers gain new, visual access to analytic model results.

INCLINE VILLAGE, NV – September 5, 2017 – Frontline Systems is shipping a new product line release for desktop and cloud, Analytic Solver® 2017-R2 for Excel and enhancements to, its SaaS equivalent. Building on the February V2017 release that unified and simplified Frontline’s product and introduced Analytic Solver Basic, the V2017-R2 release features major performance improvements in optimization, new distribution and correlation functionality in simulation/risk analysis, and a new, radically simple way to convert Excel analytic models into Power BI® custom visuals, for distribution to "BI consumers" throughout an organization.

“We’re not only making advanced analytics power tools and learning aids accessible to every business analyst,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline’s President and CEO. “We're making the fruits of their efforts -- working analytic models and their insights -- readily accessible to everyone who needs them.”

Automatic Creation of Power BI Custom Visuals from Excel Analytic Models

Microsoft's popular Power BI business intelligence and data visualization platform now supports "custom visuals," originally conceived as a way to broaden the range of chart types available in Power BI dashboards. Independent developers, using an array of special Web development tools such as TypeScript (a "strongly typed JavaScript" programming language) and the Node.js framework, can create custom visuals to be used in Power BI. But for Excel-literate business analysts, creating their own Power BI custom visuals has been far out of reach.

All that has changed with Analytic Solver V2017-R2. Working in Excel with this tool, a business analyst user can turn his or her Excel-based optimization or simulation model into a Power BI Custom Visual, with just a few mouse clicks. Users simply select rows or columns of data to serve as changeable parameters, then choose Create App – Power BI, and save a custom visual file created by Analytic Solver. They click the Load Custom Visual icon in Power BI, and select the file just saved. The result isn’t just a chart – it’s a fully-functional optimization or simulation model, ready to accept Power BI data, run on demand on the web, and display visual results in Power BI. Users simply need to drag and drop appropriate Power BI datasets into the “well” of inputs to match model parameters.

The Magic of RASON® -- RESTful Analytic Solver Object Notation

The secret behind the remarkable capability to turn desktop Excel models into web-based Power BI custom visuals, without any programming, is Analytic Solver's ability to translate an Excel model into RASON® (RESTful Analytic Solver Object Notation), Frontline's powerful modeling language embedded in JSON. (While not every model can be automatically translated, a wide array of simulation/risk analysis and linear and nonlinear optimization models can be.) Analytic Solver then “wraps” Power BI custom visual code around the RASON model. The result is a radically simple way to move from traditional Excel to cloud deployment to business intelligence "consumers" -- not available anywhere else.

Major Performance Gains for Large Optimization Models

For large optimization models with tens to hundreds of thousands of decision variables, the V2017-R2 release greatly improves the speed of "problem setup," where a "Jacobian matrix" is built from many thousands of Excel formulas. Though individual results vary, Frontline has seen speed gains of 10 to 50 times on real customer models. These improvements benefit all of Frontline's twelve different "Solver Engines" that handle problems ranging from linear programming and nonlinear optimization, to "arbitrary" models and stochastic optimization.

Also part of the V2017-R2 release are new, higher performance Solver Engines for optimization based on latest releases of the Gurobi Solver, FICO's Xpress Solver, and Artelys Knitro Solver, as well as Frontline’s greatly-enhanced, high-performance Evolutionary Solver, focused on challenging non-smooth, non-convex models with integer variables. Free trials of the optional large-scale Solver Engines are "built in" and available to users at any time.

New Simulation/Risk Analysis Functionality

The V2017-R2 release supports a new family of probability distributions, called the metalog distributions, even more general than the Pearson distributions -- members of this family can be chosen based directly on historical data (even just a few observations), without a distribution fitting process. The metalog distributions allow empirical data to "speak for itself" in simulation models.

Frontline's V2016-R2 release introduced Gaussian, Student and Archimedean copulas -- popular in quantitative finance -- to define correlation among uncertain variables with dissimilar distributions – complementing existing support for rank-order correlation. New in the V2017-R2 release is the ability to fit copula parameters to historical data – a complement to automatic distribution fitting sometimes called “correlation fitting.”

Data Mining and Predictive Analytics Power

The new release builds on Frontline's V2017 release earlier this year, which delivered a wide range of enhancements for data mining and predictive analytics:

  • Ability to create ensembles of any mix of six different classification methods and four different prediction methods
  • Direct use of categorical variables in many predictive algorithms that, in other analytics software, can use only continuous variables
  • Ability to save and apply to new data an array of data transformation and unsupervised learning tools, such as PCA and clustering
  • Enhanced neural networks with any number of layers, and better scaling, training, and activation function options
  • Support for industry-standard PMML (Predictive Model Markup Language), plus PMML extensions for text mining

New Release Available Now for Download and SaaS Login

The new V2017-R2 release is available now at Frontline’s website and at its cloud version portal In this release, Frontline is making available to all users Analytic Solver Basic, a new version of its Analytic Solver Platform for Education product, formerly offered only for university MBA programs, and used to learn by hundreds of thousands of students. Analytic Solver Basic includes every feature of Frontline’s analytics software, but handles only limited-size models and datasets, suitable for learning. (All of the 100+ example models and datasets included with the software can be used.) A software license is just $250 per year and includes both the desktop version and access to Paired with Solver Academy, Frontline's new Open edX-based online learning platform, Analytic Solver Basic offers a way for business analysts to gain "advanced analytics ninja" skills.


Frontline Systems Inc. ( is the leader in analytics for spreadsheets and the web, helping managers gain insights and make better decisions for an uncertain future. Its products integrate forecasting and data mining for “predictive analytics,” Monte Carlo simulation and risk analysis, and conventional and stochastic optimization for “prescriptive analytics.” Founded in 1987, Frontline is based in Incline Village, Nevada (775-831-0300).

Excel® and Power BI® are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corp.  Knitro® is a registered trademark of Artelys/Ziena Optimization. Analytic Solver® and RASON® are registered trademarks of Frontline Systems, Inc.