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”


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”


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”


Dec 05 2009

Making Up Data Part II: Using Universe Data

In Part I of this series I talked briefly about the need for report writers to sometimes “make up” data. In that post I showed how I could use the Web Intelligence Rich Client (or alternatively Desktop Intelligence) to import data from a spreadsheet in order to fill out holes in data. In this post I am going to show an equivalent solution using multiple data providers from a universe instead. I will redo the same example shown before (with a lot fewer screenshots since quite a bit of the process is the same). Because I am using a universe I can show two different possible solutions. Continue reading “Making Up Data Part II: Using Universe Data”


Nov 25 2009

Displaying UserResponse() Values On Separate Rows

Categories: Report Techniques, Variables!, Web Intelligence Dave Rathbun @ 7:00 am

I am often asked why I still participate so much on BOB after all of these years. The main reason is I still get inspired by questions that make me think a little bit. The puzzle for today’s post was presented as a question something like this:

How can I display each individual value selected in the UserResponse() function on its own row in a table?

I believe the reason for wanting this behavior is fairly clear. If you have a bunch of complex data it would be much easier for the report consumer to read this:

XYZ123ABC
DEF456HIJ
BOB111BOB

Instead of this:

XYZ123ABC;DEF456HIJ;BOB111BOB

As is often the case, the strict answer to the question is “you can’t do it that way” with Web Intelligence. Despite the “you can’t…” answer I am going to show how it can be done.

Continue reading “Displaying UserResponse() Values On Separate Rows”


Nov 09 2009

Making Up Data Part I: Personal Data Providers

Reporting tools are designed to report. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But sometimes they need to do more in order to meet the requirements. For example, a frequent question on BOB (in fact it’s in the Reporter FAQ) goes like this:

I have only six months of data, but I have to show all twelve months in my report. How can I show the missing data?

The trick is to understand that Business Objects does not make up data. It just doesn’t have that capability. And you can’t edit the report directly in order to add those extra values to the result set. However, there are a couple of tricks that I can share that will help solve this issue. Continue reading “Making Up Data Part I: Personal Data Providers”


Oct 23 2009

Calculating Business Days Between Two Days Via Report Functions

Categories: 2009 GBN - Dallas, Report Techniques, Variables!, Web Intelligence Dave Rathbun @ 7:57 pm

A frequently asked question on BOB is:

How can I calculate the number of business days between two dates?

The easiest answer is to use a calendar table with a flag for business days because that takes care of everything quite easily. You can even mark holidays along with weekend days and make the results more useful.

But suppose you don’t have a calendar table. Suppose you don’t care about holidays, you simply want to count the number of Monday – Friday days between a range of dates. Can you do that?

The answer is coming if you read the rest of the post. :)

Note: This technique was shown in public on Monday at the GBN conference. I had written this blog post some time ago but waited to release it until after the presentation had been delivered. The presentation has been uploaded to my blog and is available for download from the conference page.

Continue reading “Calculating Business Days Between Two Days Via Report Functions”


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