Jul 10 2007

Variables and More Variables

Categories: Variables! Dave Rathbun @ 11:44 pm

If you have been to the Integra Solutions web site and looked at their presentations page, or if you have been to one of the many Business Objects conferences that I have presented at over the years, you may have seen one of my “Variables” presentations. The very first one was in 1997 at the conference in New Orleans. And believe it or not, it was the presentation that almost wasn’t. :-)

I joined Integra Solutions in 1995 and got to go to my very first Business Objects conference that year. In 1996 I got accepted as a presenter for the very first time. That presentation was really not very good. ;-) It was also for version 4.0, which was a rather uninspiring release for Business Objects. I think they had monthly patches for about half a year until they got to something relatively stable. I remember getting to what we jokingly called the “Canadian Version” which was before we got something that was usable. (Say the version out loud and you’ll understand why we called it the Canadian version… :lol: ) But I digress.

As I said, that presentation was not very good. There were other Integra presentations that were quite good that year, it was just mine that was bad. But the following year (1997) we were not selected for a single presentation. Not one. As a very small company the conference was really our one chance to do any large-scale marketing, so we were quite disappointed. As luck would have it, a few weeks later I was at a client site where a couple of Business Objects folks were visiting as well. During a conversation during a break in the work it came out that one of the gentlemen was part of the selection process. So I whined. Politely, I think, but it was whining. :-) I did tell him that if they had any cancellations and needed someone to fill in a spot at the last moment, we were more than willing to help out.

Fast forward for a few months. At this point the conference is only about six weeks away, and we get a call asking if we take one of our abstracts and get ready to do a presentation at the conference. The abstract that was selected? “Variables and More Variables”

That conference was a lot of fun for me. First of all, I got to do what I thought was a really fun presentation. Second, it was in New Orleans, which was near where I grew up and went to college. I got to see a lot of old friends… one of whom was actually attending the conference and using Business Objects in her work! Third, it was the beginning of what became a regular occurrence for me. Over the following years I did five more presentations on reporting techniques, all named “Variables” in some form or another. At a conference a few years ago (held here in my current home-base of Dallas) I did “Variables Greatest Hits” which was fun too. In that presentation I took some of my favorite techniques from over the years and converted them all to work in Web Intelligence. Since version 6 had just been released (and finally included variables in the web product) it seemed to be a good opportunity.

Ultimately that made seven different conferences that I got to attend because of a chance encounter with a Business Objects employee at a client site. Maybe if I had not whined about the lack of selections, the “Variables” series never would have happened. The rest, as they say, is history. 8)

Author note: I plan to revisit and expand on many of the tricks included in those presentations in some of my future blog posts. I hope you will find them useful.

7 Responses to “Variables and More Variables”

  1. Comment by Maloy

    Hey Dave
    Could you also share some tips and tricks about variables, especially in WebIntelligence, now that BOBJ is rushing full steam to the Web.
    Thanks for your blog – it makes for nice reading!

  2. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Yes, I absolutely plan to post more tips and tricks with variables in the coming months. I will be revisiting some of the tips from earlier presentations, and will be posting new material along the way as I have time to do so.

    Thank you for your comment. 8)

  3. Comment by Rohan

    Hi Dave,

    Looking with anticipation on the your blog on variables.


  4. Comment by Shiva

    Hi Dave….

    When are you planning to update this post…..
    I’m Curious to read….

    I’m also planning to share a couple of question that i prepared and gathered from BOB …. so that they can be placed in BOB forum… I guess after reading that people atleast wont come for basic question.. and the forum will be more towards real time problems…. by the way the credit for that document goes to You, Steve, Eileen, Anita, Nick, Marek and many others…..

    I thot i’ll put it directly in the BOB but the document is not finished yet and it needs a review by atleast a few moderators who knows a lot on BO ….. anyways thanks for providing so much of info….


  5. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    There won’t be an update to this post. Over time many of the tricks that have been included in my presentations for the past several years will appear as separate blog posts. Some have already been posted.

  6. Comment by preeti

    I am using island resort marketing as my universe in webi,I have put a prompt on country and tried to perform calculation on revenue (sum,average) its not working.How to perform average and sum based on prompts

  7. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Hi, preeti, it might be better if you post your question (with more details, such as what you are trying to accomplish and what is happening that you don’t like) on BOB instead. Thanks.

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