With the introduction of SAP BusinessObjects 4.0, SAP has introduced a new tool for building universes, the Information Design Tool. In just about every way, the Information Design Tool (IDT) is a big step up from its predecessor, Universe Designer. The IDT makes development easier by providing better tools for data profiling, testing, multi-user development, OLAP universes, data federation, security and many other areas directly in the tool.
The Information Design Tool creates universe with the file extension UNX. Designer, which is still alive and has been renamed Universe Design Tool in 4.0, handles universes with the file extension UNV. The Information Design Tool has the ability to convert a UNV universe to the new UNX format.
While working on a migration plan, the question that many will run into is: "Should I convert my universes from the UNV to the UNX format?" As with many questions of this type, the answer is "It Depends".
SAP is clearly signaling that the UNX format generated by the Information Design Tool is the future. The flagship products that are part of the enterprise suite support the UNX format in favor of the UNV format. As of service pack 6, there are still a few stragglers that only support the UNV format.
For most organizations, the decision will be based on what tools you use each universe for and what that file type supports. For instance, if you have Dashboards built using QaaWS and have no plans of using Explorer then you're best served keeping the universe in UNV format. Decisions can get more complex if both tools are needed and could involve upgrading to UNX and redeveloping the reports to use BI Web Services or direct queries.
Organizations not constrained by the tools will need to base their decision off of features available in the two tools. For instance, the IDT has better integration with OLAP data sources, provides enhanced security and provides tools for making multi-developer projects possible. However, the IDT does not allow for universe linking which is a widely used feature in Designer.
There is one extra hurdle to clear if the universe relies on an OLAP data source. The Information Design Tool wizard does not support converting a universe with an OLAP data source. This should not provide a big problem as OLAP universes are auto generated and there is no work on the data foundation layer. The majority of the work will be customizing the navigation of the business layer and can be completed quickly by a developer.
While converting, keep in mind that the conversion process creates a copy of the universe and does not replace the old UNV universe. You will need to identify reports using the old universe and manually change the source from the UNV universe to the UNX. This is where the bulk of your time will be spend when converting universe formats.
The decision to convert the universe is clearly not always an easy decision to make. Most organizations will find themselves somewhere in the middle of the two choices. If all else is equal and given time and budget, I would recommend converting to the UNX format. This lowers the hurdles to start using some of the exciting new Business Objects features and will give you more flexibility in the future.
As with all projects, make sure you test your conversions thoroughly. Although I have found the conversion process to be straightforward, we must remember that a wizard is a tool and might have limits. I cannot stress enough that with all projects, like universe conversion projects, one must always remember to test and validate thoroughly.