Jul 02 2010

Universe Models For Recursive Data Part III: Alias Versus Flattened

This is the third 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. The second post reviewed some of the different design challenges that I have seen in working with recursive data models. In this post I will introduce four different possible solutions and present a scorecard for each, showing how well it solves the issues presented in the prior post in this series. Links to both prior posts are presented at the end of this entry. I have also included Oracle SQL scripts that can be used to create and populate the tables used in this post.

This post will cover slides 22 through 30 from the presentation and will describe the first two solutions (one with two variations) outlined in the presentation. Continue reading “Universe Models For Recursive Data Part III: Alias Versus Flattened”


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 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 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-)


May 31 2010

Mastering BusinessObjects 2010 Day 1

Categories: 2010 Mastering ... Melbourne Dave Rathbun @ 5:09 pm

Yesterday was the first full day of the conference, and it went very well. Timo Elliott did his typical excellent job of opening the conference with a keynote full of possibilities. He remains very enthusiastic about the social aspects of BI, which is something that I think I agree is coming even if I’m not exactly sure when or how it is coming.

The second keynote was from Rubbermaid. They have done some interesting stuff with dashboards (which was fun to see) but one of the most impressive things to me was the statement that their company has at least one product in 90% of American households. That’s some serious market penetration.

I thought my talk went well. I had some great conversations afterwards about working with recursive data, including one interesting challenge related to investment funds. No, not a ponzi scheme, it’s a legitimate question. :)

The evening keynote was from Glenn Singleman. I had never heard of him, but he was an excellent story teller. He started out his career as a doctor in the emergency room. One day a co-worker asked him to go “canyoning” on the weekend, and when he asked what it was (and found out it involved hiking through deep canyons and the occasional descent over a waterfall) he was inclined to pass. A different co-worker then asked him to take his weekend shift so he could go, and Dr. Singleman decided that he would rather go hiking in wet canyons than work yet another night shift. The decision changed his life. He’s now an adventure documentary film maker along with being a doctor, and the adventures he has had…

He and his wife recently set a number of records by base jumping off of the highest cliff they could find, something over 6,000m (23,000 ft). From their web site:

On May 23rd, 2006 that strength and persistence prevailed, and they achieved their dream. Glenn and Heather successfully climbed Mt Meru in the Indian Himalaya and BASEjumped in wingsuits from a ledge at 6604 metres. It was a new world record, a world first for a woman and a husband and wife team.

And here I thought remodeling a house was the scariest thing a husband and wife could do together… :lol:

Related Links


May 29 2010

Arrived in Rainy Melbourne

Categories: 2010 Mastering ... Melbourne Dave Rathbun @ 8:12 pm

I had a (long) flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne; the flight went very well. By that I mean I slept through most of it. :) They also had a “tail cam” which was really fun once the sun came up. They had a camera mounted in the tail so you could see the view from behind the plane. It was especially fun to watch the landing from that perspective.

The folks at Eventful Management have once again done an outstanding job. I took a quick tour of the facilities, and everything is quite nice. We have over 200 folks attending the conference this year which is up from last year. I like smaller conferences because it’s much easier to connect with folks. I’ve already met Josh in the lobby, and Tom and his lovely family in the lounge area. I will be going with Tom on a tour of the city later today, then tonight there is a speaker orientation meeting. The opening keynote and reception follow.

Maybe they’ll have more of this:

Vegemite


Nov 17 2009

Down Under All Over Again

Categories: 2010 Mastering ... Melbourne Dave Rathbun @ 11:02 pm

I got an exciting email earlier… it seems that I have been invited to attend (and present at) the second annual Mastering Business Objects conference in Australia. In my opinion, the conference last year was an excellent event (and I’m not just saying that because I got to go.) I tend to prefer smaller gatherings like user groups or smaller conferences because I get to meet and interact with a lot more people. Oh, and I got to go surfing. :)

This year the event will move a bit south to Melbourne. Here are the specific details as recently published:

Mastering Business Objects
May 31 2010 – June 2 2010
Grand Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia

I will post more details as they become available.

It’s funny because just this evening I was talking to Daniel (my 3rd grader) and he wanted to know (as he was petting one of our family cats) if any cats were poisonous. I told him that as far as I knew, there was only one poisonous mammal, the platypus. Which is native to… Australia. :) After a quick visit to Wikipedia I know now that there are a variety of shrews that are also poisonous, but I felt good about the fact that I at least remembered the platypus.