Simplify Contexts Inside of SAP BusinessObjects Universes with the IDT

Contexts are sometimes viewed as a necessary evil in the SAP BusinessObjects universe. If you are unfamiliar with a context, it is a universe feature identifying a specific path for a query when certain objects are used in a SQL SELECT statement. There may be multiple paths to get to a measure and depending on the objects selected, a specific path will be chosen for the query to run most efficiently. It can come in handy when you have measures aggregated in different tables.  Contexts can create added complexity and confusion to your universe if you are not well versed with all of your tables. Often times universe developers will exhaust all options to a problem until the only solution is to build a context.  Once a context has been added to the universe, you take a step back and you may no longer recognize the universe you started with.
The Information Design Tool (IDT) introduced a new feature by allowing developers to create views off of the data foundation.  I found this feature helpful especially when isolating contexts into individual slices to get a better understanding of all the tables and joins involved.
Let’s take a look at the data foundation for our trusty e-Fashion universe:


The data foundation currently has joins and tables affiliated with 2 contexts: (1) Promotions and (2) Shop Facts. Without selecting a context, it’s a bit hard to see the relationships. However, if we select the ‘Promotions’ context, we can then see the affiliated tables that are not grayed out and the joins with the {+} green line.


While this helps a bit more as the excluded tables are grayed out, it can still be difficult to make out what’s going on.  I like to take it an additional step further and select the tables included in the context and add them to a view.  You can do this in many ways.  I like to go ahead and click on the ‘Insert View’ tab next to the ‘Master’ tab in the data foundation and give the view the same name as the context.

Let’s go ahead and do one for the ‘Shop Facts’ context.


I will then right-click on the selected tables that I want to isolate for ‘Shop Facts’ and add them to the view.  This should be very easy as they will be the tables that are not grayed out.


….you can do this with the ‘Promotions’ context as well.



You have now isolated your larger universe into smaller subsets that look cleaner and visually less confusing to the eye.  Each view will include all of the tables and joins that are affiliated with the context at hand. Any change you make to the view will be incorporated into the ‘Master’ view. You may ask yourself if this is necessary with a 2-3 context universe.  I would say it never hurts to  take a different view of your tables as you may identify an error or possibly a more efficient way of joining your tables to get the desired result.  Also, you never know how a universe can grow and be used over time.  A 2-3 context universe may end up being a 20-30 context universe and then you will definitely need to break it up into different views just see all the joins.

The Information Design Tool is more than just a universe builder, it’s an all-access view into your data.  As part of the BetterBOBJ ‘Data in Motion’ series we will be discussing some more tips that can help get you a better sense of your data with the IDT:

Information Design Tool – A Universal look inside your company data on March 12, 2014.


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