Tuesday 7 January 2014

NOTE: Broadening Access to the BI Lineage Plug-In

Metacoda's Paul Homes recently wrote a most informative article entitled Providing User Access to the SAS BI Lineage Plug-in. As Paul says in his article, the BI Lineage plug-in can be used to do impact analysis for BI content (reports, information maps etc.) in a similar way that SAS Data Integration Studio provides impact analysis for DI content (jobs, tables, etc).

The plug-in was new with the November 2010 release of V9.2. Its results include lineage and reverse lineage, i.e. predecessor and successor objects.

Developers find this information useful in order to understand the impact of changing an information map (for example) on reports and, contrary-wise, it is useful for understanding what BI objects (such as information maps) will need to be changed in order to add a new column to a report. This information is useful to capture the full scope of a proposed change and hence to more accurately estimate the effort required.

Testers also find this information useful because it helps to gives them a gauge of the amount of coverage their testing is achieving (this week's theme on NOTE:!).

Paul describes how to make lineage reports viewable by any authorised user, but he concludes that only a strictly limited set of users can create the reports, i.e. what SAS calls "unrestricted users". This a shame because the functionality is of broad interest and value. Let's hope that SAS makes the creation of lineage reports more accessible in future. If you agree, hop over to the SASware ballot community and propose the enhancement. If you're unfamiliar with the ballot, read my overview from August 2012.

In addition, the ability to join lineage reports for BI and DI objects would provide the full provenance of data items. Now that's something I'd love to see!