You Should Really Learn SQL

By Joshua, September 20, 2015

I have seen a trend over the last several years of more and more BI developers using SAP BusinessObjects who don’t know SQL. So I guess this is just a little PSA of sorts. 🙂

This applies to using SAP BusinessObjects with relational databases, and especially for those who are or desire to work with Universes using the Universe Design Tool (Designer) and the Information Design Tool.  If you are always using BOBJ with SAP BW, then it is a little bit different story, however in my mind I would imagine that you should want to further expand your knowledge at some point and start covering these areas as well.

There are many benefits to learning SQL if you are working in BI.  You will do a huge service to yourself and to your customers if you know it very well, and a huge disservice if you do not at all.  The bottom line is:

You will have a much deeper understanding of how the BI tools are working and how to use them the most effectively.

With BusinessObjects, the primary function of the Universe is to give end-users an easy-to-use GUI whose main purpose is to dynamically generate a SQL query to be executed on a database.  If you already know what kind of queries you want to be executed, then you can build the structure and objects of your universe to meet those specific desires.

In fact, I would almost argue that you should be learning SQL before you ever try to learn BusinessObjects.  You wouldn’t try to learn to ride a bicycle or skateboard before you know how to walk, right?  At least, that’s kind of how I see it!

When you know SQL, you can

  • Know what you want the resulting query to look like before you even start designing it in the universe, which means that you will know all of the options you need to set before you even start
  • Have a much better idea of what kind of design and queries would perform faster and more efficiently, giving your end users a far better experience when using your reports
  • Communicate more effectively with power users, functional support personnel, and database administrators to resolve problems significantly faster (if not avoid them before they ever happen!)
  • Read and understand any existing SQL queries or reports that the users might currently be using that they wish to be converted to BusinessObjects, so that you can more quickly and easily build their logic into the design of the universe and reports (you will see this come up a lot!)
  • Use derived tables much more intelligently and efficiently (or not and instead build the solution into the design of the universe, as the case often should be)
  • Troubleshoot problems that are happening in your universe or reports
  • And I could probably keep listing things for hours… 🙂

So how can you learn SQL?  It’s actually much easier than you might think, and there are a lot of free, well-designed, and interactive training solutions available online to help get you started.  You could also buy a book or take a course on the subject.

Here are a few examples that I easily found:


What do you think?

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