A universe full of data – the Information-Design-Tool 

A short introduction to the Information-Design-Tool (IDT)

Nowadays any big company takes part in the process of globalization and the transfer of products, but also the global transfer of information. It is not a big surprise for a German company to take a decision based on a report with data provided from the other part of the planet. But how can we put together all this data and information? Let’s create an own universe full of data! Yes, a new universe is the solution. But how can we manage a universe? Read the next rows and you will discover how to become a master of universes.

All magic elements are coming from the heart

The heart of HANA System:

Business Layer Structure

Figure 1: Business Layer Structure – Source: Internal training – IDT Presentation

The first step in order to create a universe is to create a view. This first brick in our “Chinese Wall” is called SAP HANA Information Modeler, also known as HANA Data Modeler in the heart of HANA System. It enables users to create modeling views at the top of database tables and implement business logic to create a meaningful report for analysis.

There are three types of Information Views

Defined as:

Attribute View Analytic View Calculation View
  • Attribute views are dimensions, BW characteristics or master data.
  • Attribute views are used to join to a dimension or attribute view. 
  • In most cases used to model master data like entities (like product, employee, and business partner).
  • Analytic views are star schemas or fact tables surrounded by dimensions, calculations or restricted measures.
  • Analytic views are typically defined on at least one fact table that contains transactional data along with number of tables or attribute views.
  • Analytic views leverage the computing power of SAP HANA to calculate aggregated data, e. g., the number of bikes sold per country, or the maximum power consumed per month.
  • Calculation views are composite views used on top of analytical and attribute views.
  • It can perform complex calculations which are not possible with other views.
  • It can be defined as either graphical views or scripted views depending on how they are created. Graphical views can be modeled using the graphical modeling features of the SAP HANA Modeler. Scripted views are created as sequences of SQL statements.

Figure 2 Short description of each type of SAP HANA View. Source: http://saphanatutorial.com/sap-hana-modeling/ (Entire data from the table is taken from this source)

Once we have the first brick, the view, we can start to do a concert. This role is played by IDT (Information-Design-Tool).

According to Information Design Tool User Guide, published by SAP, the Information-Design-Tool is an SAP BusinessObjects metadata design environment that enables a designer to extract, define, and manipulate metadata from relational and OLAP sources to create and deploy SAP BusinessObjects universes.

The universe designer may be a database administrator, an applications manager or developer, a project manager, or a report creator who has acquired enough technical skills to create universes for other users. A security administrator also uses the Information-Design-Tool to define universe security profiles. There can be more than one universe designer in a company. The number of universe designers depends on the company’s data requirements. For example, one universe designer could be appointed for each application, project, department or functional area.

A universe is an organized collection of metadata objects that enable business users to analyse and report on corporate data in a non-technical language.

These objects include

  • Dimensions
  • Measures
  • Hierarchies
  • Attributes
  • Pre-defined calculations
  • Functions
  • Queries

The metadata object layer, called the business layer, is built on a relational database schema or an OLAP cube, so the objects map directly to the database structures via SQL or MDX expressions. A universe includes connections identifying the data sources so queries can be run on the data.

The role of the universe

The role of the universe is to provide the business user with semantically understandable business objects. The user is free to analyse data and create reports using relevant business language regardless of the underlying data sources and structures.

Example of an universe

Figure 3: Printscreen from an universe – Source: Internal training – IDT Presentation Inspiricon SRL

Steps to create a universe:

  1. Create a new project in IDT
  2. Create a connection between HANA System and our project from IDT
  3. Create a business layer
  4. Publish to a repository

For an easier understanding, please keep in mind that universes enable the business users too freely and securely access, analyze, enrich and share information using familiar business terms. Another important aspect is, that universes do not store data from HANA or add any performance overhead.

Universes created using the Information-Design-Tool can be used by the following SAP BusinessObjects data analysis and reporting applications starting with version BI 4: SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, SAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard Design.

You can find more details about IDT and the description of every step for the process of creating a universe in the next article – stay tuned!

Source: https://help.sap.com/doc/businessobject_product_guides_boexir4_de_xi4sp8_info_design_tool_de_pdf/XI4.0.8/de-DE/xi4sp8_info_design_tool_de.pdf

Ionel-Calin Oltean Consultant SAP BI/BW
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: cluj@inspiricon.de