You may have read something on this web site or in one of our guides that mentioned “unbound reports” in a less than favorable light. Hopefully this article explains what we mean by this.
What is an unbound report?
With the migration to the Business Objects XI platform many things changed. One of these changes was the method used to connect (or bind) documents to universes. I wrote an article on this binding and relationship, it is called “Business Objects XI – Changing BO Report / Universe Relationships“. So I won’t revisit that discussion beyond saying that in BOXI reports and universes are primarily and securely bound to each other through a set of unique identifiers of the objects: CUID and Object ID. If a report loses this relationship to its universe we call it and “unbound report”.
There may be other names for this phenomenon, but I believe this is the one the experts in SAP Business Objects use, and if they don’t I like it and I think it fits very well.
What causes a report to become unbound from its universe?
The basic event that occurs causing a report to become unbound from its universe is that the unique identifier of the universe is removed from the system. Some of the actions that remove this unique identifier may seem rather innocuous, but they can all be potentially deadly to your reports:
- Deleting a Universe: OK, this one is not innocent, but it is the most obvious and it actually has a few variants
- Replacing a Universe Using Designer: Many people use Designer to migrate universes from a development environment to a production environment. If during export you are prompted to “overwrite” a universe and you accept… kiss your report binding good-bye. If you quickly delete the original universe and then upload the new one, same story.
- Improper Use of Import Wizard: The “Merge” option causes so much trouble because it is not understood properly by many. If you use this or even if you use the much preferred “Update” option and you see that a new universe named with a “(2)” suffix was created, you haven’t ruined your report binding yet, but you next actions might. You must manually bind each report to the new universe with the “(2)” using the Java Report Panel to transfer the binding and make it safe to remove the old version of the universe. Failure to do this will fill your day with regrets.
The truth is that there are many permutations of actions that can lead to this. Many of them start with improperly creating backups of the universe (using Save as) and generating new unique identifiers for the modified universe. Others start with bad migration or promotion techniques.
But It Worked Fine in Business Objects 6.5
You are correct, but that doesn’t change anything. Remember, the game changed with Business Objects XI. The fusion with Crystal Reports created all new rules that Business Objects has barely explained to its customers. In BO65 the report-universe relationship was name based. Thinking this is still the case is the biggest issue facing Business Objects XI administrators and developers. Now it is all about unique identifiers and you can only maintain them by using the properly workflows.
I Followed a “Bad” Workflow but My Report Still Works, Why?
Many times unbound reports will continue to perform just fine, for a while. The first question is how long with that while be. The second question is, are you sure the report is using the right universe??? The CMS record of the report has meta data that lists a universe short name which many times will allow a report to find a universe to use. The problem with this is that it is unreliable and universe short names can change and be duplicated. In such cases a well-behaved unbound report might start to use a universe other than the one you intend or it might just fail. If it uses an unintended universe this could be a HUGE problem as it may not raise any errors to the end-user and the end-user may be making business decisions on wrong, bogus, or out-dated information!!!
The Nearly Unrecoverable Error – Error: WIS 00501
If your report cannot locate a universe, even with using the hidden short name stored in the report’s meta data then this is the error you will see:
Universe not found. See your Business
Objects Administrator. (Error: WIS 00501)
(Error: INF )
Once you see this error, you should expect the worst. In some rare and mostly undocumented cases some lucky BO developers have been able to recover from this issue by replacing the original universe. However, please don’t count on this; it is only worth an attempt.
So What are the Proper Development and Object Promotion Workflows?
I have hinted at a few and skimmed over others. To be honest there is a lot to discuss on this topic that exceeds the scope of a simple article. I am working on a new guide that details these workflows and how to properly design or retrofit a Business Objects XI system to best avoid these pitfalls and provide the maximum stability. As the guide materializes I will post some of the content here. I also hope to receive comments that will help shape part of the guide as well.