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One last Hurrah for the Import Wizard

With the launch of BI4, we can finally say farewell to the Import Wizard.  It seems that a lot of BusinessObjects people have a real ‘love/hate’ relationship with this tool.  And by ‘love/hate’, I really mean ‘despise with the fire of a thousand suns’.  The Import Wizard (IW) is a tool that serves a few distinct purposes, but let’s look at the main uses (as I see them):

  1. Migrate content from one BusinessObjects server to another.  IW is the tool we use to move from our Development environments to QA.  And once signoff is complete in QA, a BOE Admin will fire up IW  again and migrate the content (perhaps an updated Universe or Crystal Report) to production.
  2. Make a backup.  Yup, I’m talking about the infamous ‘Business Intelligence Archive Resource’ files.  Better knows as BIAR, it seems that BOE Admins have a bigger ‘love/hate’ relationship with BIAR files than the Import Wizard that creates them.  Perhaps it’s a chicken and egg kind of thing?  Do Admins hate the IW because of the rocky success of exporting and importing BIAR files or do they hate the IW because of the pain a bad BIAR file can inflict? I will leave that to the comment section below…

The ‘swan song’ for IW is the upgrade of my last BOXI R2 environment to XI 3.1.  This application is, by default, mine to support.  And ‘by default’, I mean that there’s no other area that really wants it and since it’s critical- someone’s gotta do it!  This is the application that I talked about in my Universe Design for VLDB Environment presentation at the 2010 SBOUC in Orlando.  For those not lucky enough with attending that session (or found a more interesting session in the same block), here’s the 10 cent tour:

  • Originally built eons ago, the application ran BusinessObjects 5.2 with WebI 2.7 until December 2009.  When we used to call support for it, we actually got laughed at.  And then the engineer on the phone would track down the ONE person who knew 5.2 to help.
  • I used the BOXI R2 Import Wizard to migrate the content from 5.2 to XI R2.  It worked OK- didn’t fail, but we did have some significant growing pains in regards to security and access restrictions.  And for some reason, the same settings we selected from Production to QA for testing did NOT set the security the same way for the Production to Production move.  Never could figure out why, but I just chalked it up to ‘IW being IW’!
  • We attempted a 3.1 upgrade in December 2010, but had to back it out.  This was due to internal reasons that I can’t blog about.  Let’s just say that I was unhappy and kept pushing for this upgrade.  And with key business support, I got my upgrade.

So now its me, IW and a whole boatload of WebI reports and users to migrate.  Here’s the team:

  • 1 clustered SAP BusinessObjects environment, using Enterprise authentication
  • 1 custom access portal that will be updated to login to the new 3.1 environment
  • 1 Server support person. They manage the physical boxes, install the server side software and configure Tomcat.
  • 1 BusinessObjects SME.  He’s done it all from server side to client side and is our pinch hitter when there’s a problem or question.  Luckily for me, he’s also a close friend and willing to work off-hours to be a pinch hitter for our BI Team.
  • 1 User Acceptance Tester.  Primary business lead. She has sign-off responsibility and checks out the new setup to make sure the end users won’t be too confused come Day One.
  • 1 QA Tester.  Checks that the sign-on from the custom portal is working and regression tests the universe to make sure it works.  Has never tested anything in BusinessObjects before.
  • 1 Universe Developer/psuedo-BOE Administrator/Project Manager/Level 3 support.  If you guessed me: you win.  Collect your prize at the door!
  • Note: Of course, we did QA and testing before we did the actual content migration from Production. This was a ‘vanilla’ SAP BusinessObjects XI R2 to 3.1 upgrade.

Without further ado, here’s what Import Wizard needed to handle:

  • 3 Groups
  • 1790 Users
  • 4161 Folders
  • 3 Overloads
  • 1 Connection
  • 1 Universe and
  • 58,620 Objects (All WebIntelligence with instances)

Did it work?  Absolutely!!  How long did it take?  It wasn’t as bad as I thought:

Build Object List:

  • Start: 1919
  • End: 2030
  • Elapsed Time: 49 Minutes


  • Start: 2035
  • End: 0025
  • Elapsed Time: 3hr 50min

I know that everyone’s mileage has varied- especially between using IW and a CCM copy to upgrade versions. Personally, I think that this was a fine way for me to say farewell to Import Wizard.  Upgrade fallout was mainly limited to some high-level security setting changes that have been documented before. As we move into the brave new world of BI4, let’s take a second to remember the tools of the past as we move to conquer their successors.

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  • I love BusinessObjects XI 3.1’s Import Wizard because I feel that my inforamtion will be backed up properly.  However, there is something I hate and it is the impossibility to make it run automatically to create a BIAR file.

    Well, I don’t know if I’ll like or dislike what is coming with BO 4.0.  Time will tell.

    • Thanks for commenting Erika!  I’ve had my share of frustrations with IW and BIAR files, but I agree that we’ll need to see how the new BI4 tools compare and contrast. 

      And Jaime- we’re back to trying LCM again after our last catastrophic failure of an attempt.  It should be interesting to see if we can get it working they way we think it should.  I appreciate the simplicity that is IW, after trying LCM!

  • @derek — you sure look happy that IW took a neat backup of your 50K+ objects in 45 minutes, but did you try to restore them from that BIAR backup? Trust me, I’ve had one too many experiences with our beloved BIAR file where it craps out after a certain size!!