Mar 30 2012

Drilling to Details

Categories: Report Techniques, Variables!, Web Intelligence Dave Rathbun @ 8:30 am

One of the frequent requests that I see goes something like this:

I have a hierarchy set up. When I drill to the bottom of the hierarchy, I want extra detail objects to show up.

This seems like it should be the default behavior, right? If I take the time as a universe designer to properly classify objects as dimensions or details, and also take the time to set up hierarchies, then it would seem that reports would recognize and utilize that information.

Unfortunately they don’t. That means I have to use some report functions and set up some variables and do some creative formatting to make it work the way I think it should. I first showed how to do this with Desktop Intelligence way back in 2000 at the Business Objects conference in Washington D.C. Today I will update the technique and show how it can be done in Web Intelligence. Continue reading “Drilling to Details”

Mar 26 2012

Exposing Yourself To The Internet

Categories: Blogging, General Dave Rathbun @ 11:47 am

In part one of this series (What Does It Take To Become A Blogger?) I talked about what it takes to become a blogger by answering the “Five W’s” of reporting. In part two (Blogging for Dollars? Or Something Else?) I went a bit further into depth on reasons for blogging, how much money you should expect to make (or not make), and covered some of the financial costs of running a blog. In part three I want to talk about what happens after you start blogging. The worst possible case is that you put yourself out there and nobody notices. Let’s assume that’s not going to happen. :)

Content Is King

I talked previously about setting up a posting schedule and sticking to it. This becomes the “pulse” of your blog and I think it’s one of the most important attributes of your new online presence (call it brand or whatever else you like). I tend to post mostly technical articles that are designed to solve a specific problem. That’s what I do in real life (solve problems, or at least attempt to do so). That makes it easy for me to carry that over into my blog life. (Hopefully solving more than I cause. ;) ) That being said, what if I don’t have any blog posts ready to go for a particular month? Do I make up some fluff in order to maintain my self-imposed posting schedule, or do I just skip a month? Maybe I should just post a movie review or talk about my latest technical toy that I have purchased to fill in the gaps?

Or perhaps not…

Continue reading “Exposing Yourself To The Internet”

Mar 21 2012

SAP Insider BI 2012 Presentations Posted

Categories: 2012 BI 2012, Conferences Dave Rathbun @ 10:21 am

I have updated my conference presentations page with links to download my two sessions from BI 2012 conference last month. The two sessions were:

Leveraging Report Variables for More Robust SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence Reporting
This session explores the role of report variables in SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.0 and offers undocumented tips and tricks to exploit them for more creative and efficient ad hoc reporting and data analysis. Walk through system demos to understand what’s required to merge data providers in SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, including tips to leverage the ForgeMerge() function to fix unbalanced data providers in a full client document. Obtain best practices for using SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence report functions and other context operations to enable calculations at different levels of granularity. Explore workarounds for displaying UserResponse() values on separate rows in a table, and see how this improves the user experience. Get techniques to optimize prompt handling, including insight into whether and how to create a prompt syntax that substitutes “today’s date” for a prompt default value.

The Web Intelligence session was actually delivered with the 3.1 rich client, not 4.0 as mentioned. The conference page lists a number of blog posts related to the content included in that session.

Universe Design Techniques Proven to Boost Front-End Performance
This session dives deep into universe development and examines when, why, and how to tweak your existing Business Objects universes for optimal report performance — and when you may need to build new ones. Explore proven techniques for extending a universe to ensure more efficient queries, an optimized end-user experience, and more timely and efficient BI operations. Acquire tips to perform index awareness, such as choosing a value from the list of values (LOV) directly within the query panel, rather than using prompts. Learn how to use aggregate awareness to set up complex logic and step through a demo to see how this results in significantly improved performance on the front end. Gain insight into whether and when to leverage shortcut joins to boost query speed. Explore universe design techniques that provide the best performance when pointing to a data source outside your Business Objects system. View detailed demonstrations of various advanced universe design techniques and leave with proven strategies for incorporating them into your own environment.

The Designer session included information that I have posted about on my blog before. However, in going through my older posts to build some links to those posts I realized that I’ve never really covered the aggregate awareness feature here. I hope to address that in the next few weeks.

Mar 17 2012

An Unintended Consequence?

Categories: General Dave Rathbun @ 8:35 am

I’m not sure Jobs had this in mind when Apple invented the iPad:


Cartoon from

Mar 02 2012

BI2012 Wrap Up

Categories: 2012 BI 2012, Conferences Dave Rathbun @ 1:37 pm

This conference has been flying by, primarily because I’ve been so busy. Today is the last day of the conference and since I woke up early I went to Eric Vallo’s session on high availability. Eric is a very entertaining speaker who also happens to know his stuff. After that I visited with a few folks on the way back to my room where I will be packing to head home as soon as I finish this post.

Wednesday morning I went to Alan Mayer’s session on how to perform a self-service system health check. I had not seen him in quite a while and it’s always good to catch up. If you weren’t aware of this, I used to work with Alan back in the Integra days, and Alan has launched a new venture called Solid Ground Technologies. Alan has been a regular at BI events for even longer than I have, and he always delivers great sessions. This year was no different.

I then spent Wednesday afternoon with Michael Welter preparing for our joint training session; we delivered a 3 hour hands-on session on the semantic layer to end the day. If you can imagine in three hours we covered setting up a connection, inserting tables, creating joins, building classes and objects, differences between dimensions and details, derived tables, measures, solving loops with aliases, solving loops with contexts, and even fan and chasm traps. Yes, in three hours. Just like running a marathon. ;) We repeated the session on Thursday morning to start what was my busiest day so far.

Thursday after the repeat of the designer session I got to spend the next hour talking about one of my favorite topics: BOB. They scheduled a room for me and allowed me to talk about the origin of BOB, some best-practices or tips for using BOB (how to search, among other things) but as the conversation went along we also talked about some of the challenges of running a large and active online community. I also talked about some of the new features that I hope we will be able to release within a few months. The crowd was small, but it was still a lot of fun for me to be able to talk about our progress over the last ten years. I would have been willing to do the same talk to an audience of one.

After that I had a quick lunch (food here is decent, by the way, and no problems at all finding water throughout the day unlike at another event I attended earlier this year). I went back up to my room to test and then reset all of the demonstration queries for my afternoon session on tuning universes. I covered index awareness (which I have blogged about before), shortcut joins (also a prior topic from this blog), and finished off with aggregate awareness. I will be posting the presentation slides after I get home, and will be adding a blog post (or two) related to aggregate awareness to eliminate that gap. That session was a lot of fun, as it included a lively discussion with audience members as they peppered me with questions throughout the hour.

One interesting difference between this event and other events where I have presented is the timing: the sessions here are designed to be an hour of lecture followed by a 15 minute question and answer period. As I was preparing my presentations for this event it really helped me to know that I could include extra content; so many times I have had to cut out important or useful information just to fit inside a one hour (or even fifty minute) time window. As a presenter I found that to be a nice change, and in the few sessions that I was able to attend I didn’t mind that they ran a little bit longer.

Overall I enjoyed the event. I was told that there are about 1,800 folks that are attending (although some of those are cross-over registrations, meaning they registered for a different event other than BI2012 but their conference pass allows them to attend all of the sessions.) The hotel was nice, although it was a long walk to the event location, and the walk included a pass through the smoke-filled casino area. That wasn’t always pleasant, but it’s a part of doing business in Las Vegas.

Finally, an amusing (at least to me) story to end the week: while I am here I am also still trying to keep up with work back home. At one point I was getting extremely frustrated with the hotel Internet access. I had established my connection and started up VPN. I was trying to import a universe, make a few small changes, and then export it again. The problem was the import process kept timing out. I finally was able to get the universe imported and make the changes but was a little hesitant to try to export after the time-out failures from earlier. I didn’t want to risk having the export process interrupted (this is a fairly large universe).

Finally I decided to risk it, and I exported the universe.

The export completed successfully.

Which proves that what happens in Vegas does not, apparently, have to stay in Vegas.