Business Objects XI – Changing BO Report / Universe Relationships

Common Ground – Terminology

Firstly, let me lay down some terminology in order to make this concept easier to discuss. “Classic BO” refers to any version of Business Objects between 5.X and 6.X. “BOXI” or “BO XI” refers to the Business Objects XI Release 1, 2, or 3 (R1/R2/R3), the injection of BO to the Crystal platform.

BO Classic Universe-Report Binding

In Classic BO if you wanted to replace a universe that was deleted from the repository or swap out one version of a universe for another version all that you had to do was place a universe in the repository which had the same name as the universe upon which the report was initially developed. The binding between report and universe was on name. For this reason universe name, for the most part, was the unique identifier for the universe. It made sense and it was a relationship everyone could understand regardless of technical background. When a report was selected from the repository its universe was also found based on the name of the universe listed in the report’s properties.

BO XI Universe-Report Binding

In BOXI, reports are bound to their universes not by the universe name, but by the unique identifier of the universe, the Cluster Unique Identifier (CUID). While this may seem a small change at first glance, one begins to see the full scope when one thinks beyond the simple workflow of universe creation and report creation. For example, what happens when you want to move the universe and report to another BOXI environment? What about if someone deletes the universe and reloads it from a back-up copy on their PC? What if you copy the universe to a different universe folder? Do you know how to answer these questions? Will your answers always result in preservation of the universe’s CUID?

Appearances are Deceiving

At first glance BusinessObjects has brought Full-client, WebI Intelligence, and Universes almost as they were in BO 6.5 (with a few improvements) into the the new Crystal platform with BOXI. The fundamental problem here is the phrase “as they were”. To the end user, it will appear that, despite the InfoView improvements and addition of multiple data providers to WebI, everything else is “as it was”. While familiarity is good, here it also creates the problem. Most end users do not realize that the binding mechanism between report and universe has changed, because for the most part everything else has not, and many training courses do not alert users either to this binding change. Therefore most users will follow development work flows based on the misconception that reports are bound to their universes based on universe name.

How to Maintain Business Objects XI Universe-Report Binding

Getting Started – Creating BOXI Universes and Reports

First of all you do not need to do anything special to create the proper CUID-level binding between the universe and the report. Creating a new report and selecting the universe will create the proper binding. In fact, if you copy a report, that is properly bound to a universe, you will end up with a duplicate report that is properly bound to it’s universe. Like I said before, if this is all that you are doing then you need not think differently about Universe and Report Binding. The problem is that most of us do more with reports and universes then just create them once, save them, and leave them alone.

Making Changes – Proper Universe Editing

Editing a report and a universe requires no special instructions as long as you obey some guidelines. Universes require the most delicate and precise handling. A universe that is imported from the repository, edited, and exported back to the repository will maintain it’s CUID and relationship to its reports. If you create a copy of the universe, using either CMC or Designer, the copy will receive its own CUID and it will not be associated with the original’s reports. Moving a universe between universe folders will maintain the CUID; HOWEVER if a universe of the same name exists in the destination DO NOT overwrite the universe. This will definitely cause the moved universe to receive a new CUID (this is true at least in Business Objects XI Release 2). NEVER USE THE OVERWRITE FUNCTIONALITY OF DESIGNER, terrible, unreliable results are nearly guaranteed. By the way, moving a universe cannot be done in CMC, BO Designer is required.

NOTE: A CUID is a unique identifier. It is impossible for two objects in the world (or same BO XI platform for that matter) to possess the same CUID, unless IMPORT WIZARD (or some other such tool) is used to “clone” the object from one environment to another.

Making Changes – Proper Report Editing

With regards to retention of the universe-report binding, editing a report does not require much delicacy at all, beyond that one would normally employ. However, if your goal is to retain the Business Objects report’s CUID (for reasons of cross-environment synchrony, for example) then there are some rules of engagement. A new CUID will only be created for a report if the report is duplicated, for example: the report is copied, the report is saved using “Save As”, the Import Wizard is used (various options could result in a duplicate with a different CUID).

NOTE: Once you understand the basics you will begin to ask yourself more profound questions such as… How can I tell if a report is not bound to its universe? Many unbound reports continue to work fine, why is that and if this is true why should I worry? How can a revert back to an old version of a universe without losing my universe’s CUID? Why do unbound reports spontaneously go berserk? These are all excellent questions that I will answer if you confirm to me (through your comments) that you are interested in the answers.

Closing Thoughts

In order to maintain CUID parity/synchrony within your Business Objects XI environment and across multiple BOXI environments you will need to learn more than can be covered in the scope of a single article. If this article has piqued your interest or assisted you in understanding the basics, and you would like to learn more then please leave your comments. I could present a couple more focused articles on this topic. Nevertheless, I would also like to know if there is interest in a more comprehensive guide that we could make available for sale at a reasonable price. If so, I would invest more time in this (many hours).