in BI Strategy & Execution, Data Management, Universe Design

What is a Business Objects Universe?

A Business Objects Universe is the semantic layer that resides between an organization’s database and the end user but more importantly, it is a business representation of your data warehouse or transactional database.  It allows the user to interact with their data without having to know the complexities of their database or where the data is stored.  The universe is created using familiar business terminology to describe the business environment and allows the user to retrieve exactly the data that interests them.

A universe contains:

  • A connection parameter to a single data structure.
  • SQL structures called objects that map to actual SQL structures in the database.  All objects are grouped into classes and subclasses.
  • A schema of the tables and joins from the database.  The objects are built from the tables that are included in the schema.

Universe Schema

The objects that are created must be relevant to the to the end user’s business environment so that the objects present a business-focused front end to the database structures.  The final universe structure removes the need of the end user to have knowledge of the underlying database.

When designing the universe the most important aspect is to keep it simple.  Do not include objects that are unnecessary or that could cause confusion to the end user.  Object names should clearly state what the underlying database field represents.  Additionally, it is important when creating the universe that when creating these objects that the final universe will help achieve business goals.

Advantages of a Universe

  • Only the universe designer needs to know how to write SQL and understand the structure of the underlying database.
  • The interface allows the creation of the universe in an easy-to-use graphical interface.
  • All data is secure.  The data is read-only so there is no danger of the data being edited or changed by the end user.
  • The reports are created using a simple interface using drag and drop techniques.
  • All users use consistent business terminology.
  • Users can analyze data locally.

The universe is the core of the Business Objects suite because all Web Intelligence and Desk Intelligence users will use the universe to create new queries/reports using the familiar business terms.  Crystal Reports can use the universe as an optional or alternative data source and finally, Dashboard Manager uses universe measures to create its metrics.

Remember when building the universe, think about who will be writing the reports today as well as in the future.  Ensure the universe is simple enough for all users, yet robust enough to facilitate business insight.

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  1. Good introduction of the concept. Questions are:
    1.) Is a universe purely a metadata layer without containing any data?
    2.) If the answer of Q1 is Yes, will there be any response performance issue when running reports which get data from universes?
    3.) If the answer of Q1 is No, where is the data (extracted from the source DB) saved in BO layer? How is it refreshed if the source data is changed?


  2. @Danny
    Danny, you are correct that the universe is only a metadata layer — it does not contain any data. The universe contains information about the objects in the data source which it uses to generate SQL queries to retrieve the data.

  3. Hi,

    Is it possible to use/convert a business objects universe for use with another product (such as Hummingbird)?

    This is an issue my company is facing and any help would be gratefully received…!


    • Steve,

      No you cannot use a universe with other products as it is meant to be used only within the BusinessObjects Platform


  4. Hi all,

    My organization is looking to move from BOE Infoview to the universe b/c we have data coming in to be utilized from 3 different hospital organizations… The issue is one organization cannot see the data from the other 2 organizations…

    I used Universe with my last employer as a report writer so i didn’t have any involement with the setup. It doesn’t appear that specifying the service areas will be a big issue to give each organization their own Universe to query from or is it really tedious!?

    Also, with Universe, would there be a need for BOE Infoview or do they work hand in hand?


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