4 steps to create a universe

4 steps to create a universe – the Information Design Tool, part 2

To continue our journey to create a universe full of data we will learn the steps to do this mission. The major steps in this process are:

  1. Create a new project in IDT (Information Design Tool).
  2. Create a connection between the HANA system and our project from IDT.
  3. Create a data foundation and a business layer.
  4. Publish to a repository.

First of all we have to define some basic terms that you have to know when handling universes and IDT.

  • Connection: defines how a universe connects to a relational or OLAP database. Local connections are stored as .CNX files, and secure connections are stored as .CNS files.
  • Data Foundation: a scheme that defines the relevant tables and joins from one or more relational databases. The designer enhances the data foundation with contexts, prompts, calculated columns and other SQL definitions. It can represent a basis for multiple business layers.
  • Business Layer: it represents the first draft of a universe. When the business layer is complete, it is compiled with the connections or connection shortcuts as well as data foundation. Then it is published and deployed as a universe.
  • Universe: the compiled file that includes all resources used in the definition of the metadata objects built in the design of the business layer.

Step 1: Create a new project in IDT

No matter if your plan to discover the universe is big or small, you need to have in mind a whole project. Technically speaking, the journey to a universe starts with a new project. We can create a new project opening IDT by opening IDT and then going to File -> New and selecting Project. The project will represent your box full of ideas, a workspace where you can build your universe brick by brick.

The bricks are represented by specific objects like data foundation or business layer.

How to create a project in IDT.

Figure 1: How to create a project in IDT.


Project is the house for resources used to build a universe. This project is used to manage the local objects for the universe creation.

In a project, you can have a multiple number of objects like data foundation, business layers, and data source connections etc.

Figure 2: How to create a project: enter name.

Figure 2: How to create a project: enter name.


We will enter the project name (in this case we use the name Test). Then we will set the project location in our workspace, too.

You also have the possibility to edit an existing project. You have to go on File -> Open Project Local Project area.

Another very interesting functionality in a project is represented by the locking resource – in this way you are able to inform other developers that you are working on the resource.

Step 2: Create a connection between the HANA system and our project from IDT .

Once the project is created, we have to assign a connection to be able to connect a data source.

This connection will define how the source system provides data. There are two types of connections: Relational or OLAP connection.

A Relational connection is used to connect to the database layer to import tables and joins.

An OLAP connection is used to connect to the multidimensional model like an Information View in SAP HANA.

How to create a project in IDT.

Figure 3: How to create a relational connection.


In order to create the connection, we have to enter the system details, the password and the user name.

After we have created the connection, we will test it and then we have to publish it to the repository to make it ready to use for our universe.

How to publish a connection.

Figure 4: How to publish a connection.


In order publish the connection, you have to provide the BO Connection Parameters (Repository, Username and Password).

Step 3: Create a data foundation and a business layer.

Once we have an available connection to the repository, we can proceed to create a data foundation for our universe. Data Foundation layer gives you the opportunity to import tables and joins from different relational databases.

In Information Design Tool, there are two types of Data Foundation: Single-source enabled or multi-source enabled.

Single-source Data Foundation supports a single relational connection. Single Source Data Foundation supports a local or a secured connection so the universe designed on this can be maintained locally or can be published to the repository.

How to create a Data Foundation.

Figure 5: How to create a Data Foundation.


Multi-source enabled Data Foundation supports one or more relational connections. Connections can be added when you design the Data Foundation or even later. Multi-source enabled Data Foundation is designed on secured connections published in a repository.

We have to define Data Foundation Technical Name and click on Next.

An interesting option in IDT is that you can create a universe on multiple sources. In the next screen, you can see a list of available connections to create the universe (both .cnx and .cns).

.cnx connection is used when we do not want to publish the universe to a central repository (can be used in local universe).

If you want to publish the universe to any repository (local or central), you have to use the .cns (secured) connection.

Once we set the finish button we will have a data foundation.

How does a Data Foundation look like?

Figure 6: How does a Data Foundation look like?


Congratulations, you are already half-way on your way to an own universe!

We have a project, a set connection and a data foundation so far. Now we need the other half of the universe, the Business Layer.

To do this, we have to go in the project menu, new and select Business Layer. Here we have to select the connection and also the Data Foundation on which we want to create the Business Layer.

How to create a Business Layer.

Figure 7: How to create a Business Layer.


Business Layer contains all classes and objects. You can also check dimensions and measures that are defined in a universe. When you publish the business layer in the repository, this shows the completion of a universe creation.

Once you created the business layer, you have to decide which fields need to work as dimensions (attributes / characteristics) and which fields functions as measures (Key Figures).

To give the universe a better layout, we can create folders for each dimension and one for Measures. Set by default option, measures are also treated as attributes.

Step 4: Publish to a repository.

Our journey to a universe full of data approaches the final step. We have all the elements and only just one click left to the finish line. After an integrity check we have to save and publish the universe to a repository.

How to publish the universe to a repository.

Figure 8: How to publish the universe to a repository.

This article is inspired by tutorials provided by Tutorials Point.

Ionel-Calin Oltean Consultant SAP BI/BW
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0

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: (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!


Ionel-Calin Oltean Consultant SAP BI/BW
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0