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Business Objects Desktop Intelligence Overview

Winter-Spring 2011: Penn is in the process of migrating to Business Objects XI3 and Web Intelligence (Webi). Documentation changes are underway. Please consult with Data Administration to determine whether you should still use the Desktop Intelligence client software. For more information, see the Webi migration website.

· Business Objects at Penn · Business Objects XI Release 2 Upgrade information

Note: This page is designed for on-screen viewing. If you wish to print this page, please do so in landscape orientation.

Business Objects Desktop Intelligence (or "Deski") is the primary supported query tool used to provide access to Penn's Data Warehouse.

· Concepts
· Software Features
· Accessing Canned Reports
· Saving Options
· Sending Documents to Other Users


Desktop Intelligence presents the data in three hierarchical collections or categories: universes, classes, and objects.

Universes. A Business Objects universe is a collection of classes that is intended for a particular group of users. At Penn, universes are created to meet the needs of persons who access specific data collections in the Warehouse. For example, the STDTCANQ universe was created for those who need information about students' academic work at Penn, while the FINQUERY universe was created for those who need summary level account balances data.

Classes. A class is a logical collection of objects. Most classes in Business Objects correspond to a table in the Data Warehouse. For example, the Degree Received class in the STUDCANQ Business Objects universe corresponds to the DEGREE_RECEIVED table in the Warehouse, just as the Balances class in the FINQUERY universe corresponds to the BALANCES table in the Warehouse. Like the related Warehouse table, the Degree Received class contains objects that provide data about degrees received at Penn and other institutions. Some classes can contain objects that will return data from more than one table, though this is infrequent in the current Penn universes. For example, the Statistics Objects class in the Student Data Collection contains objects from more than one Warehouse table.

Objects. An object corresponds to a data element, a calculation, or a function based on one or more data elements. Objects (data elements) are selected to construct a query on the Warehouse. Once the query is performed, the objects are returned with corresponding values.

For the purposes of analysis, objects are qualified as dimensions or measures.

 Dimension objects retrieve the data that will provide the basis for analysis in a report. Dimension objects typically retrieve character-type data (student or employee names, course or organization names, job titles, etc.), or dates (accounting periods, fiscal or calendar years, terms, etc.).

 Measure objects retrieve numeric data, or data that is the result of calculations on data in the database. Measure objects are semantically dynamic: the values they return depend on the objects they are used with. For example, if you include Accounting Period, COA ORG, COA Object and SUM Actual Month in a query from the FINQUERY universe, BusinessObjects calculates the actual month balance per object for that organization in that accounting period. If you include COA Program and COA CREF, BusinessObjects calculates actual month balances for that ORG/Object/ Program/CREF combination.

 Detail objects are typically associated with measures, and provide descriptive information about a measure. Detail objects can not be used in filters.

Software Features

Desktop Intelligence is an extremely versatile software package that allows you great flexibility in query construction, analysis and report presentation. Key components are: the Query Panel, Report Manager, Slice and Dice and calculation and formatting buttons.

Query Panel (also known as the Data Provider window)

The aim of building a query is to retrieve the data that you want to view and analyze in a report. Deski provides the Query Panel, the one-stop graphical interface in which you perform the following tasks: view the classes and objects of the universe you are working with, select the objects you want to include in the query, and run the query. The Query Panel also lets build combined queries and subqueries, as well as view, edit and print your query's SQL.

When viewing report results, the Query Panel (or Edit Data provider) button on the Standard toolbar  opens the Query Panel, when the data provider is a query, or the editor that was used for the data provider. If your document contains more than one data provider, you are prompted to select the one you want to edit. Hint: When working with multiple queries, it's helpful to rename them from the default "Query 1". You can do this in the Definition tab of the Data Manager window ().

Report Manager

The Report Manager is a key part of the Desktop Intelligence workspace that enables you to manage many different aspects of your work in Deski quickly and easily. From one window, you can manage all the variables in your report, work on the structure and formatting of report components and use the navigation view to go quickly from section to section or report to report.

When the Report Manager window opens, it is docked on the left-hand side of your report window. If you wish, you can undock the Report Manager window and drag it to any other convenient location on your screen. Hold down the Ctrl key while moving the Report Manager window to prevent it from docking. If you have closed the Report Manager window, you may access it again by clicking the Report Manager button  located on the Standard toolbar.

The Report Manager has two tabs -- the Data Tab and the Map Tab. Each is used to manage a different aspect of your work in BusinessObjects.

Data Tab

The Data tab is used to manage the variables in your report. It contains a list of the objects, variables and formulas in your document. You can drag items from this list and drop them directly into the report window to construct or edit tables and other components. You can also create new variables or edit existing variables.

You can bring in new data into your report directly from the Report Manager window. You can edit the current query or set up another one. Simply right-click on a folder or variable and choose the appropriate option from the menu. You can view items in your document in two different ways: in alphabetical order (variables in the document are listed in alphabetical order with the variables in the Variables folder and the formulas in the Formulas folder), or by query (variables are grouped into the queries from which they were returned).

Map Tab

The Map tab is used to manage the structure of your document. It has two views.

Navigation view: displays a list of all the reports in the Desktop Intelligence document. For the report currently displayed on your screen the section names are also displayed. You use this view to go from report to report and from section to section within a report.

Structure view: displays a list of all the components in the selected report. Each report component (header, section, cell, table, chart etc.) is represented by an icon and a name. The name of components hidden in the report are displayed in italics. When you click on an icon in the Report Manager window, the corresponding component is displayed in the main report window. You can rearrange the components in the report by dragging and dropping them from one position to another in this list. You can also work on the formatting of the different report components and on breaks, sorts and filters. Right-click on an icon in the list and choose the appropriate option from the menu.

Slice and Dice

The Slice and Dice Panel provides a user-friendly, graphical way of analyzing data. It displays the contents of the current report, and enables you to:

  • Add, move and remove objects.
  • Switch between block types (by turning tables into crosstabs, for example).
  • Build and edit master/detail reports.
  • Apply, edit and remove breaks, filters, sorts, ranking and calculations.

When viewing report results, the Slice and Dice button on the Standard toolbar  opens the Slice and Dice window. If your document contains more than one table with results, the tables will be arranged as tabs in Slice and Dice.

Calculation and Formatting Buttons

Like many software packages, Desktop Intelligence provides many toolbars with short-cut buttons to calculation and formatting features (some of which are also accessible via menus or Control key commands). Useful buttons include:

 Insert Count (located on Report Toolbar): Lets you insert a Count on the selected data. Returns the number of rows for a Measure object, and the number of distinct values for a Dimension or a Detail object.

 Insert Percentage (located on Report Toolbar): Lets you insert a calculation on the selected data. Displays the selected data as a percentage.

 Insert Sum (located on Report Toolbar): Lets you insert a calculation on the selected data. Calculates the sum of the selected data.

 Insert Variance (located on Report Toolbar): Lets you insert a calculation on the selected data. Calculates the difference between two selected values.

 Insert Variance Percentage (located on Report Toolbar): Lets you insert a calculation on the selected data. Calculates the difference between two selected values and displays the difference as a percentage.

 Group Values (located on Report Toolbar): Allows you to create a new variable by grouping the values of an existing dimension-type variable. For example, your query of employee payments for an organization may return payments for several employees, some of whom you know are post-doctorate fellows. You can create a new variable, Post Docs, by grouping those individuals together. By inserting Post Docs in a report that displays payments by individual, you can view the total payments for Post Docs together.

To group values displayed in a table or crosstab, select the values you want to group together and choose Group Values. The Rename dialog box opens so that you can give the new value a name.

 Custom Sort (located on the Sort Toolbar): Opens the Custom sort dialog box to define a custom sort on the selected data. For example, Accounting Periods will be sorted alphabetically by default. You can use the Custom sort feature to sort them according to their order in Penn's fiscal year.

 Paste Format (located on the Standard Toolbar): Pastes the formatting only. The formatting is copied but the contents remain unchanged. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+V to paste the formatting only.

 Search (located on the Standard Toolbar): Allows you to seach for text within your report results. This acts like a "find in page", and can also be activated using the Ctrl-F key combination.

Accessing Canned Reports

Preconstructed reports are available for some data collections (the list of available reports may vary, depending upon user needs). In most instances, the queries contain prompts that allow you to customize the report for your specific needs. For example, a prompt may ask you for a School, organization, accounting period, term, or section ID. The main reason for using a canned report rather than creating your own is that your chances of misinterpreting data or getting an incorrect answer are reduced. Someone who is knowledgeable about University data has created the report with the proper conditions and criteria needed to execute a successful query. To view the canned queries and reports available in Business Objects Enterprise:

To import a query for your own use:

Using InfoView:

The InfoView web page allows you to view the list of corporate documents in the Business Objects repository and refresh and download those documents via the web. To access the corporate documents using InfoView (Business Objects users only):

  1. Point your browser to
  2. Enter your Business Objects User Nameand Password (leave the Authentication option set to "Enterprise"). (You can make sure your Data Warehouse and Business Objects account passwords are synchronized by using the password change application.
  3. Once you've successfully logged in to InfoView, the home page will appear. You can choose to browse documents by viewing them by Category or Folder. The Category view appears by default - all the shared documents are available under Corporate Categories. Although you'll see all the categories available, you'll only see documents whose data you're authorized to refresh. You can also use the search option to search for a report by name.
  4. Click on a category or folder name to view the documents available to you. The list of documents appears in the right-hand pane of the InfoView window, and displays the documents by name, with description (if available) and links for the kinds of actions you can perform on the document.
    • Simply clicking the document name will open it.
    • Keep in mind that documents in the repository are saved without any data, so that you can click the Refresh Data link at the upper right corner of the screen to refresh the report according to your security and any parameters.
    • If the report includes prompts, you will be presenting with a screen asking you to fill in those prompts, and then click the Run Query button to execute the report

Using the Business Objects Desktop Intelligence client software:

  1. Log on to Business Objects Desktop Intelligence.
  2. From the File menu, click "Import from Repository." You can choose to view documents by folder or category.
  3. Click on a category or folder name to view the documents available to you. Click on the name of the file you'd like to retrieve, and then click the Retrieve button. You may choose whether to open the document upon retrieval.
  4. Retrieved files are saved in your \My Documents\My Business Objects Documents\userDocs directory by default. You may wish to relocate and/or rename them. (If you right-click on the file name, before you retrieve it, you can save it to another location at that point.)

Saving Options

Save As: Desktop Intelligence allows you to use the "Save As" feature to save documents in Excel, Adobe Acrobat PDF or CSV formats. Once you've refreshed a report, click on the File menu and select Save As. Select the file format you'd like from the "Save as type" drop-down list. Desktop Intelligence will then save your file with the data as it appears on the screen. This means the output will be saved and reflect section breaks, filters, special formatting, etc. The results of any variables or calculations will be saved as text, not underlying formulae. If your report has multiple tabs, and you choose to save as Excel, each tab will appear as a separate worksheet within one workbook. Similarly, multiple tabs will be accessible indidually in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files.

Export data: You can also export the raw data retrieved in your query (retaining no Business Objects post-query formatting or calculations), in a variety of file formats. From the Data menu, select "View Data" to display the Data Manager window (or click the Data Manager icon on the Standard Toolbar ). Click the Export button at the bottom of the Results tab, and designate file name and path, and file format (options include text formats, and .xls for Excel). If you choose the All files (*.*) format, you can also control the field delimiters used. [A word of caution about using the .xls format: some versions of Excel object to the field names used in the Business Objects classes. If you encounter an error when exporting/importing using the Excel format, try it again with either the All Files or the Text Files format, and then use the Excel Import Wizard to bring the data into your speadsheet.]

Sending Documents to Other Users

You can use the Business Objects Enterprise infrastructure to send send Desktop Intelligence reports to other users, which they can they view either from within InfoView or Deski. From within Deski, choose "Export to Repository" from the File menu. You can send a document already open, or browse to another one. Export the file(s) to your Favorites folder. Note: Using Deski, you may only send documents to your own Favorites folder - you'll receive errors if you try to export to another folder. Once the export is complete, log on to InfoView and continue the process from there.



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