donderdag, oktober 12, 2017

What happened to Business Objects

In 2005, a colleague of mine, taught me to use Business Objects. At the time, it was version 5 and the web-interface was still in it's infancy. I was hooked.

At the time, the program was a Windows application connecting to a central server. It had it's own way of doing things, that was very much in line with Microsoft applications. Over time, I learned to use Designer and build Universes, and I went very far in getting to know the cool tricks you could do with Business Objects.

Then came version 6.0. A great new iteration, the bug only some of us remember is the disappearing File menu, but it was very stable in most respects that matter to someone who builds reports.

Version 6.5 -- the most stable most robust and most iconic version of Business Objects in every way.

But it was clear, everything was moving online, Business Objects would have to follow. Yes, the web-interface was already very respectable, translation issues in functions made it clear that this was a work in progress.

XI came, XI R2, XIR3

All this time, every user that wanted a stable environment, wanted to stay with Desktop Intelligence. The web-version was very "cool", but it was also very unstable. Time-out was a curse that would destroy your report if you left it unattended for too long.

Being in bed with JAVA proved a curse, more than a blessing, a new version would require patching the server and in a large company, installing patches can take a while. (Risk analysis, dev testing, etc)

Then came version 4. BO XI 4.0

Desktop Intelligence would disappear, which many of us did not really agree with at the time, because DeskI had functionalities, BO XI R3 did not have. One glaring shortcoming of WEBI was that it used Calculation contexts different than Desktop Intelligence, producing the ominous #Multivalue. Webi did not behave like a database, like DeskI did.

The tabbed interface was a step away from the logical interface of DeskI -- many functions being so horribly hidden, that the developers had to add the same functionality in the right mouse-button. Microsoft somehow managed to build a good tabbed interface.. Business Objects never did.

Now, we are running version 4.1 and we're preparing to migrate to 4.2

4.2 calculates differently from 4.1

Yes, you read that right, 4.2 calculates differently from 4.1 -- calculation contexts have changed.

Have a look at the table below. It is a report on BO XI 4.1. Notice that the FTE columns contain values.

Now have a look at that exact same report on 4.2. FTE_Before is empty, but worse, FTE_After shows some values, not all.

When I alter the context of that calculation by adding in([V_Key]), the values return and the report is correct.

This is a bug of Olympic proportions.

What I can imagine happened is this : 4.1 had a bug in the calculation contexts. All the users found a work-around and the reports worked. Now 4.2 shows up and guess what, the bug is removed.. and calculations no longer function.

I used to be (and mostly still am) a Business Objects Evangelist, but these kinds of mistakes tax my patience. This is not just a bug, this is a change in how BO calculates. An essential part.

Right, end of Rant, I have 240 reports to rework and verify cell by cell, to make sure they contain correctly calculated data.

Desktop Intelligence never gave us this amount of shit.