Aug 22 2014

Yes, Virginia, You Can Refresh One Data Provider At A Time

Categories: General, Report Techniques, Web Intelligence Dave Rathbun @ 11:45 am

For a while now I have been whining about the fact that there were features dropped from XI 3.1 during the upgrade to BI4, including how the dimension merging process works. Another gap? In XI 3.1 we had the ability from the query panel to run only a selected data provider, leaving the others alone. When working on complex multi-query documents this could be a big help, especially if some of the data providers had longer refresh times.

A few days ago I was grumbling about this yet again and discovered a way to refresh a single data provider! It’s not perfect (nor was it the most obvious workflow for me) but it does work. I had one data provider that was scanning a huge multi-billion row fact table. To supplement this data I needed to run an additional query against an Excel data provider. I had to make several changes to the Excel file in order to help my data match up correctly, and each time I updated the XLS I had to refresh the entire document in order to see the changes… which was annoying and time consuming. Now I have a solution.

Note: Since I’m talking about joining with Excel, clearly I was using the rich client application. However the same technique outlined below works online with multiple universe data providers as well. Continue reading “Yes, Virginia, You Can Refresh One Data Provider At A Time”


Feb 26 2014

Big Universe + Security Profiles = Slow Query Generation

Categories: Rants, Report Techniques, Web Intelligence Dave Rathbun @ 6:01 pm

The actual origin of the concept of a “red herring” is unknown, but that doesn’t stop it from causing grief while trying to diagnose a performance issue. If you are not familiar with the concept, a red herring is something that initially appears to be relevant but ultimately is proved to have nothing to do with the actual issue. It’s a popular technique for mystery novels… and in tech support calls.

Case in point: Today I had to help someone who was wondering why their report took over thirty seconds to display a prompt window when there was only one prompt in the document. Clearly it was a prompt issue, right? Or something related to the list of values definition for that object? Continue reading “Big Universe + Security Profiles = Slow Query Generation”


Sep 06 2013

Unmerging Dimensions in Web Intelligence

Categories: Web Intelligence Dave Rathbun @ 2:02 pm

One of the things that I really wish SAP had left alone during the rewrite of Web Intelligence between XI 3 and BI4 is the merging interface. The way you merged dimensions in XI 3.x was brilliant, and gave the report developer an excellent interface to use to manage their merged dimensions. In BI 4 for some reason it looks like they took their design ideas from Desktop Intelligence instead. I was reminded of this today when I tried to “unmerge” (demerge?) two dimension objects in BI4. Continue reading “Unmerging Dimensions in Web Intelligence”


Jul 30 2013

Pivot UserResponse() Values Into Rows

Categories: Report Techniques, Variables! Dave Rathbun @ 6:15 am

Several years ago I wrote a post that has generated a fair number of follow-up questions and comments. The post was related to splitting user response values onto separate rows and it used some basic string operations to do that. The important distinction is that the values were on different rows but remained in a single cell, which meant the output was suitable for a header cell.

Recently I got a comment that posed this question:

In one of my reports there is prompt to select the Fiscal Year and the user can select multiple LOVs. Prompt Name is “Year”. Say for example the user enters 2011,2012 and 2013. On using the function userresponse the report will show 2011;2012;2013

My requirement is to identify minimum value from the LOVs that the user has entered. In this case the report should show the mininum value as 2011. Can you please guide me on how to achieve this?

Continue reading “Pivot UserResponse() Values Into Rows”


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”


Jun 20 2011

ER Diagram For Web Intelligence Document Structure

Categories: Report Techniques, Web Intelligence Dave Rathbun @ 10:07 am

I recently started participating more on the SAP SCN forums. One question in particular served to remind me that not everybody has a decade (or more) of experience with the tools, and sometimes we need to answer beginner questions too.

For example, someone asked a question along the lines of the following:

I have a document with three data providers but there are four reports. How can I know which data provider goes with which report, and why are there more reports than data providers?

That wasn’t the exact question, but that was essentially what they were asking. For someone that is new to BusinessObjects it’s a reasonable question to ask. Especially if they come from a spreadsheet background where everything is right up in front. I thought it might be interesting to set up an Entity – Relationship Diagram for the various document components to help clarify how things work together. Continue reading “ER Diagram For Web Intelligence Document Structure”


Jul 07 2010

Want To Remove Drill Indicators? Use A Variable…

Categories: Report Techniques, Variables! Dave Rathbun @ 7:38 am

In some cases I have created reports that were in drill mode that were not really drillable. For example, I showed a technique a few years back that would let a report developer swap measures out on a chart using a drill filter. It has been working great for quite a few years now. However, as a side effect any dimension on the report blocks that participates in a hierarchy becomes drillable. Sometimes I don’t want that, and there is an easy fix. Continue reading “Want To Remove Drill Indicators? Use A Variable…”


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?”


Jan 04 2010

Calculation Context Part I: Overview

Categories: Calculation Context, Report Techniques Dave Rathbun @ 6:28 pm

One of the hardest concepts to explain when introducing new folks to Business Objects is context.

I now imagine blog readers who have been working with the tools for a while have started nodding their heads in agreement, only to stop and say, “Hey, wait a second, is Dave talking about universe contexts or report calculation contexts?”

And the answer is, of course, yes. :lol:

Both concepts can be quite complicated and take a while to fully understand. Since I have already written a number of blog posts about universe contexts I thought it was time to turn my attention to the report technique of calculation contexts. Note that this concept is used in Desktop Intelligence and Web Intelligence but not in Crystal. This post is intended to be an overview only. I have plans for a detailed post on each of the various context operators where I will go into much more depth. For this post my goal is to introduce the concept and provide some basic definitions. Continue reading “Calculation Context Part I: Overview”


Dec 11 2009

Quick Tip: Detailing Web Intelligence Document Contents

Categories: Report Techniques, Web Intelligence Dave Rathbun @ 11:30 am

This tip comes courtesy of Joe Szabo. I met Joe many years ago at a common client. A few weeks ago we had a casual conversation in the hallway at the 2009 GBN conference. I don’t remember how we got started but the subject of documenting complex Web Intelligence reports came up somehow. I was probably complaining and Joe said something like, “… but don’t you just do blah blah blah? That’s what I do, and it works great.” This post is going to be all about the “blah blah blah” that Joe shared with me. It will help you provide documentation for complex Web Intelligence reports. It will even help debug reports. And best of all, it will help determine exactly what is different between those two different versions of the same report so you can make sure the right version gets migrated into production.

I am going to show screenshots from Web Intelligence 3.0 for this blog post but the same process works in XI R2 as well. Continue reading “Quick Tip: Detailing Web Intelligence Document Contents”


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