Making the Most of Metadata: Techniques for Extraction

  • by Doug Childs, Principal Consultant, Enterprise Data Group
  • May 1, 2003
Knowing how BW handles metadata can make you a better BW developer. This article illustrates its importance by showing three ways of extracting source system metadata.


So far, no one has come up with a definition for metadata more elegant than “data about data.” It's a little more helpful to say that metadata can be broken down into two categories: descriptive (such as long text descriptions or categories) or functional (such as file permission codes or field-type codes used by a program generator).

Understanding how to use metadata and how it relates to BW will make you a better BW developer, whether you are on the technical or functional side. BW or any data warehouse exists to publish business data. Any supporting information from your BW system that you need to retrieve, prepare, or share is metadata. R/3 systems, and BW especially, actively manage a lot of metadata. When you print an InfoSource description, browse through your InfoObject definitions, or even review your Monitor to see last night's data loads, you are viewing metadata—the data about the data, the system-handling information that describes the business information loaded into your system.

If BW actively manages its own metadata, why do you need to worry about it? Why not just let the wizards of Walldorf do their work? Here are three reasons: access, control, and environment.

Doug Childs

Doug Childs is a principal consultant at Enterprise Data Group. Originally a mainframe consultant, trainer, and data warehousing analyst, Doug has been working with BW since the initial 1.2B release.

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