Dec 17 2009

Time Sliced Measures Part III: Making Measures

Categories: 2008 GBN - Dallas, Universe Contexts, Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 10:52 pm

In the first post in this series I defined what time-sliced measures are and why they can be useful in a universe. In the second post I described a special calendar table that was designed and built to support the requirements for this solution. I also showed how the join logic worked in conjunction with the table design. This post completes the implementation. I am finally going to work on the measure objects that a user will see.

In any universe design project I strive for the following goals:

  • Deliver the correct result
    In my opinion, this is always the number one goal in any universe design.
  • User friendly
    This is quite important but secondary to correctness
  • Easy to maintain
    Universe maintenance is always allowed to suffer in order to provide the first two attributes on this list, but it is a worthwhile goal to strive for nonetheless

In this post I will show how all three of these goals are ultimately met by this implementation. When I am done I will have a completed universe. This post will cover slides 26 through 30 from my 2008 GBN Conference presentation. There is a link to download the file at the end of this post. Continue reading “Time Sliced Measures Part III: Making Measures”


Oct 28 2009

Calculation Options

Categories: 2009 GBN - Dallas, Report Techniques, Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 6:00 am

When working with the reporting suite from Business Objects there are many different calculation engines. A report developer can create custom formulas or variables in Desktop Intelligence, Web Intelligence, and of course Crystal. A universe designer can build custom objects using database functions in the universe. An ETL architect can design special query transformations. So where do you do the work?

This post covers slides 6 through 9 from my 2009 GBN presentation titled “Return of the Variables” which can be downloaded from my conference page. Continue reading “Calculation Options”


Oct 15 2009

Interesting Future for the Semantic Layer

Categories: 2009 SAP TechEd, Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 4:44 pm

All I can say is “wow, I can hardly wait” for some of the features discussed in a private strategy session for the semantic layer. I need to find out how much I can say (and when) before I say much more on a public blog though.


Sep 18 2009

Use Contexts, Dammit

Categories: Rants, Universe Contexts, Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 7:27 am

I haven’t had a good rant in a while. I’m overdue.

Here are some real comments that were posted on BOB.

I already have around 18 contexts in Universe and hence I dont want to add any extra

The last two companies I have worked at, forbade the use of contexts

I only create contexts when I’ve got no other choice.

And this one wins the prize:

Here’s a list of what I cannot do (client requirements)

1. Cannot use contexts in the universe.

If you recognize one of your comments, please understand I am not ranting about you as a person, but about the sentiment or opinions expressed in the comment itself.

As a consultant, my job was sometimes to deliver a solution. At other times my job was to provide advice. My advice was based on my assessment of two things: what the client told me they wanted, and what I felt like they really needed. :) Continue reading “Use Contexts, Dammit”


Aug 28 2009

Time-Sliced Measures Part II: Time Slice Calendar Table

Categories: 2008 GBN - Dallas, Universe Contexts, Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 6:51 am

In the first post in this series I defined what time-sliced measures are and why they can be useful in a universe. I also shared the design requirements for a particular project I was on. The requirements included:

  • Each report is expected to have multiple time-sliced measures
  • Users must be able to select the type of calendar during the refresh process; calendar types include Monthly and Fiscal
  • Users can provide any possible date as the “to date” for the time slices
  • The process of splitting each time-slice time period into its own SQL statement should be completely transparent
  • The resulting SQL should be as efficient as possible

In this post I am going to cover the design of a special table that we built in order to support our solution for these requirements. After I talk about the table design I will cover how I use it in the universe, as well as provide a few pros and cons about this solution as I have outlined it so far. Just to prepare you, this post is a bit longer than most that I write, and gets fairly detailed. This post will cover slides 23 through 25 from my 2008 GBN Conference presentation. There is a link to download the file at the end of this post. Continue reading “Time-Sliced Measures Part II: Time Slice Calendar Table”


Aug 08 2009

Time-Sliced Measures Part I: Defining the Problem

Categories: 2008 GBN - Dallas, Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 10:05 am

During the 2008 GBN Conference in Dallas I delivered a presentation related to universe design. The last third of the presentation demonstrated a solution for time-sliced measures that I have used on a couple of different projects now. After the presentation I had two different people make suggestions that were proposed as being easier to implement than what I showed.

In each case I was able to tell the person that we had considered and perhaps even tested their suggestion and found it lacking in some way. I didn’t have time to present all of the different options during the one hour slot that I had at the conference, but I have unlimited time to explain options here on my blog. :) But before I go back and detail things that we tried that did not work out so well, I am going to have a few posts (it’s too long for just one) about the solution we did implement.

This blog post will cover slides 19 through 22 from the 2008 GBN Conference presentation. Continue reading “Time-Sliced Measures Part I: Defining the Problem”


Jul 27 2009

ZEN and the ART of Universe Design Presentation Posted

Categories: Fan / Chasm Trap, Universe Contexts, Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 7:39 am

I did a fun presentation (at least I had fun) at the New York user group a few years back. I found the original download package and have posted it on the presentations page on this site. The download package includes the presentation in Adobe PDF format, several universes, some Microsoft Access database files, some sample reports… basically everything you need to go through the slides and review the examples.

There is a “readme” file that contains notes on how to get everything working. The reports and universes were originally built in version 5, but should be usable in any current version (up through XI 3.1 as I type this). The demonstration reports were all built in Desktop Intelligence.


Jul 22 2009

Context Versus Alias Overview

Categories: 2008 GBN - Dallas, Universe Contexts, Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 9:24 am

In an attempt to complete the blog posts related to my GBN Conference presentation from 2008 before the upcoming conference in 2009 kicks off I bring you Context Versus Alias: The Smackdown Cage Match. :lol: People often post on BOB as if contexts and aliases are competing for the same job, and that is certainly not true. Each technique has an appropriate use, and I will cover them (although not in much depth) in this post. I won’t be showing the process for creating contexts or aliases in this post as it would end up being too long.

This post is related to slides 13 through 17 from my 2008 conference presentation. Continue reading “Context Versus Alias Overview”


Jul 14 2009

What does JOIN_BY_SQL do?

Categories: Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 8:05 am

We got a new feature / parameter in Designer a while back called JOIN_BY_SQL. This feature allows a universe designer to turn on an option that changes how multiple SQL statements are processed. This is related to the multi-path SQL generation provided by Business Objects, which frankly I think is one of the most powerful features of the product. What is multi-path SQL? What does JOIN_BY_SQL do to change that? Read on for details. :-)

Continue reading “What does JOIN_BY_SQL do?”


Jul 06 2009

SQL Aggregate Versus Universe Projection

Categories: Universe Design Dave Rathbun @ 9:55 am

Measure objects are – in my opinion – the most critical objects in your universe. Without them you can only make lists. While lists might be good for a grocery store or library, they don’t do much to help someone run their business. Measures give your universe purpose. They also are the source of most of the design challenges like fan or chasm traps.

In this post I’m going to go back to a basic concept and talk about SQL aggregation and universe projection and how they work together. Continue reading “SQL Aggregate Versus Universe Projection”


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