Jun 25 2010

Universe Models For Recursive Data Part II: Design Challenges

This is the second of several posts that will review my presentation “Universe Models For Recursive Data” which was originally presented at the 2009 GBN conference, then at the North Texas / Oklahoma ASUG chapter meeting, and finally at the Mastering BusinessObjects conference in Melbourne. As with my other presentations there is a PDF file that can be downloaded from my conference presentations page. The first post introduced the concepts of recursive (as opposed to hierarchical) data and provided a couple of examples. In this post I will review some of the different design challenges that I have seen in working with recursive data.

I decided to identify and cover four different examples of recursive data configurations. These included Clean, Unbalanced, Ragged, and Lateral. As I mentioned in the first post, I am going to use some basic human resources (HR) data for my examples. For this post, in order to show samples of each of the four challenges, I am going to represent my recursive data using a tree. The branches of the tree show the relationships between people. The nodes of the tree contain the information about each person. The data might include their name, hire date, and position (title) within the company. In order to properly interact with my recursive data I have to be able to work with both types of information: relationships and node data as well. If you are not sure what I mean, please continue reading, this will make more sense later on.

This post will cover slides 14 through 21 from the presentation and will describe each of the different recursive challenges that I identified. Continue reading “Universe Models For Recursive Data Part II: Design Challenges”


Jun 24 2010

ASUG Crystal SIG Webinar: Universe Design

Categories: General Dave Rathbun @ 4:19 pm

Next week I will be presenting a webinar for the ASUG Crystal SIG. The details:

SAP BusinessObjects Universe Development for Non ERP Data
Date: Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Duration: 60 minutes

Join the ASUG Crystal Reports SIG for their upcoming Webcast, Accelerate Your SAP BusinessObjects Universe Development for Non-ERP Data.

In this Webinar you will understand what an SAP BusinessObjects Universe is, how to identify and resolve the most common structural issues facing a universe developer and how to quickly resolve them against non-ERP data.

Why the emphasis on “Non ERP Data”? When I build a universe on top of a cube (whether SAP or other source) I don’t have many issues to solve. Everything comes in based on the structure of the cube. With SAP using Crystal in more and more places, I wanted to make it clear that I was not going to be talking about cube sources but relational sources instead.

It will be a quick (one hour) overview universe design, including a couple of loop resolution techniques and I think I also talk about fan traps.


Jun 23 2010

Accepted to Present at SAP TechEd 2010

Categories: 2010 SAP TechEd Dave Rathbun @ 9:14 am

I got an email yesterday saying that one of my abstracts has been accepted for the 2010 edition of SAP TechEd. I will be talking about universe design over non-ERP data, showing the SAP folks that you can build universes on more than just cubes. :)

The selection process for the fall BusinessObjects conference in Orlando is continuing through July 2nd. I submitted several abstracts for that conference as well, including one on universe change management that will feature a (hopefully) completed version of a script to compare universes that I started writing years ago. I am using the script today (thus the abstract) but it’s far from completed, and certainly not ready for public consumption.

As a side note, the “Conferences” category on the right menu for my blog has continued to grow. I experimented with a couple of Wordpress plugins that would allow blog readers to expand / collapse the categories as needed, but so far neither of them have worked to my satisfaction. Either they didn’t work in all of the browsers I tested, or they looked bad, or they were not as functional as I would like. But hopefully I will get something there soon in order to avoid having that category take over the entire side of the screen.


Jun 19 2010

What Does Extend Merged Dimensions Really Do?

Categories: Multiple Data Providers, Report Techniques Dave Rathbun @ 1:19 pm

The “Extend merged dimension values” is designed to provide more flexibility in how Web Intelligence handles merged data. In Desktop Intelligence we have for years complained that there is no way to control the merge (join) process. No matter what I did I got a full outer join. In the XI versions of Web Intelligence, I now have three different ways to reference my merged values. In this post I will show those three options and then show the impact of the extend merged dimension setting. Continue reading “What Does Extend Merged Dimensions Really Do?”


Jun 16 2010

Universe Models For Recursive Data Part I: Introduction

This is the first of several posts that will review my presentation “Universe Models For Recursive Data” which was originally presented at the 2009 GBN conference, then at the North Texas / Oklahoma ASUG chapter meeting, and finally at the Mastering BusinessObjects conference in Melbourne. After presenting it three times it seemed like an appropriate time to (finally) get started writing up the blog posts. As with my other presentations there is a PDF file that can be downloaded from my conference presentations page.

This post will cover slides 6 through 13 as a basic introduction of recursive data and challenges presented to universe designers.

Defining Recursive Data

Sometimes there is confusion about the distinction between hierarchical and recursive data. Hierarchical data does not present a big challenge for BusinessObjects. It can be something related to time (Year, Quarter, Month, Day), geography (Country, Region, State, City), or something more specific like an accounting structure (Business Unit, Account, Sub-Account). What makes this hierarchical structure work easily is that each element is stored in a different place. It could be in a different column in the same table (flattened) or even in different tables (snowflake). As long as I can drill from one column to another in the hierarchy everything works fine.

Self-referencing or recursive data may initially look like a hierarchy. The key difference is that all of the elements are stored in the same place. There are keys that relate one row in a table back to a different row in the same table. That’s how recursive data is different from hierarchical data.

Why is recursion is a problem for BusinessObjects? The language used “behind the curtain” is SQL, and SQL does not natively support recursion. Some database vendors offer extensions (for example the CONNECT BY PRIOR structure in Oracle) but these are not used by BusinessObjects.

How common is recursive data? It is certainly not unusual. Consider any of the following:

  • Company organizational structure
    Object levels: President – Vice President – Director
    Object type: Person
  • Inventory BOM (Bill of Materials)
    Object levels: Product – Assembly – Sub-Assembly – Component
    Object type: Inventory item
  • Project Management
    Object levels: Project – Task – Sub-Task
    Object type: Project entry
  • Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)
    Object levels: Founder – Recruit – Recruit Level 2
    Object type: Person

In each of the above examples the type of object (or node) type is the same at any level. For example, a company organization chart is made up of people. Some people are at different levels, and there are therefore relationships from one person to another. In order to show all of the relationships from the top of the company to the bottom (or the bottom to the top) I have to keep going back to the same table. That is recursion.

Because it’s easy to think about a company organizational structure I used that example for the rest of the presentation.

Note: The Motors database is used in the standard Universe Designer training course and will not be presented in its entirety in the download package for this presentation for copyright reasons. However, I will be providing the standard HR table and all of the modified versions used in this presentation. Continue reading “Universe Models For Recursive Data Part I: Introduction”


Jun 11 2010

Mastering BusinessObjects 2010 Review

Categories: 2010 Mastering ... Melbourne Dave Rathbun @ 3:13 pm

I was fortunate to once again be invited down to the Mastering BusinessObjects conference in Australia. I hope this conference continues to do well because I certainly enjoy going. Two weeks prior to this conference I was at ASUG Annual Conference / SAPPHIRE, and the difference is substantial. SAPPHIRE is HUGE, which might explain why their name is in ALL CAPS. :-D The Mastering conference is much smaller (they’re only just getting started, really) and feels much more intimate. I talked to quite a few folks and got to hear some really interesting stories.

And like last year I got a few pictures… Continue reading “Mastering BusinessObjects 2010 Review”


Jun 08 2010

Using ConnectInit For Teradata Query Banding

Categories: Database Techniques Dave Rathbun @ 11:27 am

There was a post opened recently on BOB asking about Teradata Query Banding. DBAs are always interested in knowing as much as they can about who is running a query, and query banding (think of banding a bird to track its flight patterns) does just that. In later versions of XI we have the BEGIN_SQL parameter that can be used for this. In XI R2 and earlier versions the BEGIN_SQL parameter does not exist, and the END_SQL parameter really isn’t appropriate. Can we still use this feature?

It turns out that earlier versions are still able to use this feature by plugging the proper syntax into the ConnectInit parameter, which is part of the connection definition process. Continue reading “Using ConnectInit For Teradata Query Banding”


Jun 07 2010

Call For Speakers Extended to June 13

Categories: 2010 SBOUC Dave Rathbun @ 8:59 am

If you procrastinated just enough to miss the deadline, or if you were inspired by some extra stupendous ideas just after the submissions window closed, you are in luck. :) The call for speakers for the fall BusinessObjects conference has been extended until June 13th.

To repeat something I mentioned earlier (a tweet from Jamie Oswald)

Did you know that speakers at #SBOUC get free admission. That’s like making $1,000/hr. Go submit an abstract. http://ow.ly/1KefI #ASUG #BOBJ
10:40 AM May 19th


Jun 05 2010

39 Hour Friday

Categories: General Dave Rathbun @ 4:53 pm

That’s what I had yesterday. And the day before. Which was also yesterday. Confused? I know I was when I got home.

I got up about 5:30 am local time in Australia. I was in the airport by 7:30 am, and checked in for my flight by 8 am. They had extra security checks… I got flagged. That meant I was pulled out of the boarding line and was one of the very last people to get on the plane. Which I was able to do by 10 am. We took off, flew over the Pacific Ocean, and landed in California at 10 am. That meant that I landed in LA before I had taken off in Australia. I guess getting to do Friday over (twice) made up for the fact that I lost my Saturday on the way out.

In any case, I got home safely and with some interesting tips and exciting memories from the Mastering BusinessObjects conference in Melbourne. The spring conference season is over (at least for me) so now it’s time to start planning for…

… summer vacation. :lol:


Jun 01 2010

Mastering BusinessObjects 2010 Day 2

Categories: 2010 Mastering ... Melbourne Dave Rathbun @ 6:16 am

Today we closed the Mastering BusinessObjects 2010 conference. I presented my “Return of the Variables” talk, and afterwards I had someone come up to me and saw what I always love to hear: “You just solved one of my problems.”

Tom Nather did a very detailed session on setting up the configuration for single sign-on (SSO). I’ve been away from the server stuff for a while, so it was good to see the process laid out so cleanly.

Fellow SAP Mentor Ingo Hilgefort did a keynote this morning where he outlined current (SP3) and future (XI 4) product features, concepts, and directions. He was (rather predictably I think) asked about Desktop Intelligence, and just like every other time I have heard this question asked, the answer was: “It’s gone.” With folding now in 3.1 and the data manager coming in 4.0 it really seems like it’s time to read the writing on the wall and move on. The only big remaining “gotcha” for Desktop Intelligence users is the lack of scripting support (VBA) in the rich client. In many cases what I have seen scripting used for is now covered by the standard scheduling or other processes.

I had some really good conversations with folks here in Melbourne, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time here at the conference. It’s so much easier (it seems) to connect with people in a smaller setting.

After the conference Tom invited me to go with his family to eat dinner on a train. Who was I to refuse? :) It was a wonderful dinner, served on a trolley car that drove around the city for an hour and a half while we ate. The food was wonderful, the company even more so.

Tomorrow I am delivering a full-day seminar titled, “From Universe Development to Report Generation: The Untold Story.” It should be fun. 8-)