Like a good obedient BO disciple I switched from using BO 6.5’s “full client” (now called Desktop Intelligence) to using BOXI’s Web Intelligence tool (also called WebI). To Business Objects’ credit, they have put much of Desktop Intelligence’s functionality in to WebI. But there is one disorienting difference.
BOXI Web Intelligence “Save to CSV” Is Different
My recollection tells me that if I exported a BO 6.5 Full client report to CSV that I received a CSV file with the same content that I would get through a Microsoft Excel export. Sure formatting, such as colors, column width, font, etc. were lost, but the order of the columns and even the report level variables in the table were exported to CSV from full client. Maybe, I a wrong about this (please point this out if I am), but that is the way I and some colleagues remember it.
BOXI Web Intelligence (and perhaps BO 6.x Web Intelligence) also has the ability to export to a CSV file, but this export behaves very differently. This export behaves much like the BO 6.x “View Data” or the “Data Cube” functionality. The BOXI WebI CSV export is a dump of the exact results of the first query of the report just as they were received from the database.
WebI CSV is a Query Result Export, NOTHING MORE
When you export a WebI report to CSV you may not get what you expect. The results should be identical to those you would get if you took the query and ran it directly against the database. This may be disappointing to some because it does not include any report-level aggregation, calculations, sorting, breaks, character formatting, or column ordering. HOWEVER, if a report developer is debugging a query or a universe object this output can be invaluable. For example, it can quickly uncover issues (such as Cartesian products) that dimensions can hide in a table. There are many uses for this output.
Why Does WebI’s CSV Have This Limitation?
I don’t claim to have inside information, but I can guess at two reasons for this limitation.
- Report Development Debugging: I know I already mentioned this, but I really want people to use the CSV export to understand more about their query and report. This previously perceived limit is actually advantageous functionality in the right hands.
- Discouraging ETL Use of Business Objects: If CSV were to output the aggregation and calculated columns of a report it would be readily used by end users as an ETL tool (Extract, Transform, Load). Some users still use it this way, but large scale use would explode if CSV exports were more than query dumps.
What Can I Do If I Want a CSV Export of My WebI Report Table’s Data?
There is almost always a workaround. If you must have your table’s data in CSV format then the solution is simple: export to Excel, open Excel output, save to CSV. You’re welcome!