Lately I’ve been converting a proof of concept (POC) dashboard into something production-ready. Now it’s time to adopt some naming standards and bring the original POC dashboards and their associated Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) queries, database tables, ETL scripts, etc. into a bit of standardization. One of my recent tasks was to rename tables to match our naming standards.
SAP BusinessObjects Designer (known in BI 4.0 and higher as the Universe Design Tool) makes the process fairly easy but also a bit unintuitive. Renaming a table is a snap. Simply right click on a table in Designer and specify a new name. But what if the table definition has changed somewhat? For example, what if some audit timestamps have been added? Universe Designer allows you to update table definitions, either one at a time or for the entire universe structure. However, the feature to refresh table structure is in a bit of an unintuitive menu location.
The feature in question is located on the View menu as View->Refresh Structure, as shown below.
What makes this a bit odd is that the “View” menu is commonly used for options such as zoom in/zoom out, the display of various toolbars, the status bar, etc. Things that don’t modify the actual file (in this case, a universe) that you’re working on. Not so with Refresh Structure, which will modify the table definitions in the schema window.
Single Table or Entire Universe?
There are two ways to refresh structure: on a single table or the entire universe table structure. To refresh the structure on a single table, left click on the table then choose View->Refresh Structure from the menu. To refresh the structure of the entire universe, left click on a blank area of the schema window to make sure no tables are selected, then choose View->Refresh from the menu.
If no changes in structure were detected, the following dialog box appears:
From Here To Eternity
I noticed that Designer was taking a ridiculously long time to refresh a very simple universe structure. It’s very inelegant. But I’d finally had enough and looked to BOB, the Business Objects Board, for the answer. Turns out that if you have Underline Keys checked in the Graphics options (Tools->Options), the refresh operation will take a ludicrous amount of time. Cause and effect is pretty non-intuitive here, is it not? In any case, clear the box and the performance of the Refresh Structure option will be light speed. Resolving this dilemma was my inspiration for writing this post.
Suggestions for Next Version of Universe Designer
First, I’d really like to see View Structure moved to the Tools menu; however, it’s been misplaced as long as I can remember (version 5) so it’s unlikely to change. But I can dream, can’t I?
Second, the ability to refresh a single table should be added to the right-click menu when right-clicking on a table. It’s conspicuous in its absence.
Lastly, the code should be re-written so selecting Underline Keys in the Graphics options doesn’t bring Universe Designer to its knees. It’s unlikely that SAP will make any additional changes to the classic semantic layer design tool, so hopefully we’ll see the new Information Design Tool bring some improvements to the Refresh Structure functionality.
Obviously, updating the structure is only the first step if the database schema has changed radically. In my case, I did not intend to create universe objects on the new database fields. However, at this point, designers should run an integrity check on universe objects to identify errors due to the database changes. Universe maintenance is a topic well-covered in the official Universe Design course (DM310) in the SAP BusinessObjects curriculum. Perhaps I’ll have more to say about universe maintenance in a future post.
- Refresh Structure Causes Designer to Freeze via the BusinessObjects Board (BOB)