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Quick Tip: How to Configure and Explore Date-Based Data Within Explorer 4.1 Information Spaces

by Adam Getz, Manager, Business Intelligence, CSRA

April 11, 2016

Learn basic concepts of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1. With these easy to follow step-by-step instructions, learn how to configure date-based data within an Explorer 4.1 information space so that date-based data can be displayed and analyzed. Also learn how to configure data-based data fields for analysis.

I demonstrate, using step-by-step instructions, how to configure date-based data within an SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1 information space so that the date-based data, including days of the week and months of the year, can be displayed and analyzed within an information space in chronological order rather than alphabetical order. An alphabetical sort of days or months does not show the user the values in the order that they have actually occurred and makes it difficult to conduct analysis over consecutive periods of time. On the other hand, chronologically sorting days or months does show the user the values in the order that they have actually occurred and allows for analysis over consecutive periods of time.

This article is intended for SAP BusinessObjects developers and administrators who are responsible for developing and managing SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1 applications and for the configuration of Explorer 4.1 information spaces.

There are four steps to this process:

  1. Connect to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1
  2. Explore an Existing Information Space
  3. Modify an Existing Information Space
  4. Explore the Modified Information Space
Step 1. Connect to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1

In order to configure and use the configured date-/time-based data functionality within Explorer 4.1, a user must have the following prerequisites in place:

  • Access to the SAP BusinessObjects BI launch pad application
  • Access to the SAP BusinessObjects 4.1 Explorer application
  • View rights to information spaces

An administrator of SAP BusinessObjects should be able to set these rights for any users of the system as needed.

Once you have the required prerequisites in place, connect to the BI launch pad application using the URL for the BI launch pad application as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1
Open the BI launch pad application

In the screen that opens (not shown), click Applications > Explorer at the top of the screen or click the Explorer icon on the bottom right to connect to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.1

Step 2. Explore an Existing Information Space

This opens the Home page of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer (Figure 2). Click the information space Explorer eFashion-Demo V1.2 link to open and explore this information space (Figure 3).


Figure 2
Open the information space from the Explorer 4.1 home page


Figure 3
Explore the selected information space

Scroll right until you see the Month Name column. Click the Change Current Sort icon  (Figure 4), and select the Left Column Ascending option from the drop-down menu that opens.


Figure 4
Change the current sort option for the Month Name column

The months are re-sorted in ascending alphabetical order with April first and September last, as shown in Figure 5.


Figure 5
Months are sorted in alphabetical order (A to Z)

(Note: By default, Explorer allows facets—such as months—to be sorted in ascending or descending alphabetic order, from A to Z. However, for certain types of date-based data, such as days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on) or months of the year (January, February, March, and so on), an alphabetic sort generates a sort order that is not useful for analysis over time. Rather date-based fields should be ordered in chronological order with the earliest date first and the last date last. Chronological order of date-based fields provides better and more intuitive analysis for the user of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer because it shows the user the values in the order that they have actually occurred and allows for analysis over consecutive periods of time.)

Step 3. Modify an Existing Information Space

Now click the Manage Spaces link at the top of the screen (as shown in Figure 3) to modify an existing information space.

This opens the Manage Spaces page of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer (Figure 6). Here you can configure and index existing information spaces, and create new information spaces.


Figure 6
Configure or edit information spaces

Navigate to the Explorer eFashion-Demo V1.2 information space. To edit/configure the selected information space, either single-click the Title of the information space or choose Configure from the Action drop-down field.

The next screen opens in the Properties tab (not shown). Click the Objects tab to see the objects of the Explorer eFashion-Demo v1.2 information space (Figure 7).


Figure 7
Select the month name facet under the Objects tab

In the middle section, under Preferences, you configure the facet to be a date-based field that can be sorted in chronological order. In this case, you want to configure the Month Name facet so that January is first and December is last. Select Month Name from the list of facets in the middle of the screen as (Figure 7). Then change the dimension type from Standard to Months (Jan..Dec) in the details panel on the right (Figure 8).


Figure 8
Change the dimension facet for the month name field to Months (Jan..Dec)

Click the OK button to continue.

Step 4. Explore the Modified Information Space

This takes you back to the Manage Spaces page of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. From the Action drop-down options (on the right of Figure 9), select Index Now (next the Explorer eFashion-Demo v1.2 information space). This compiles and refreshes the contents of the selected information space (this process may take a few minutes to complete).


Figure 9
Index the selected information space

(Note: The Index Now option updates the data and metadata included within information spaces. Before the information space can be made available to end users and appear on the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer Management Page – Information Spaces subpage, it must be indexed. Information spaces should be also be indexed after any editing so that any modifications are included. If an information space is not re-indexed after reconfiguration, it is not be updated on the Home Tab and changes to the information space are not visible to users.)

Once it is successfully indexed, go back to the Home tab and click the Refresh list button (Figure 2). This updates the list of information spaces and makes the data within the newly indexed information space available to the user.

Click the Explorer eFashion-Demo V1.2 link to open the information space to explore it. Again scroll right to the Month Name column on the right, click the Change Current Sort icon, and sSelect the Left Column Ascending option from the drop-down menu that opens.

In the screen that opens (Figure 10) the months are now sorted in ascending chronological order, with January first and December last. Previously, the months were sorted in alphabetical order with April first and September last.


Figure 10
Months are now sorted in chronological order (January to December)


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Adam Getz

Adam Getz currently serves as a Manager, Business Intelligence for CGI Federal. In this position, he is leading a large business intelligence and data warehousing implementation for a federal client.  He is a thought leader in the field of information technology and an expert in the deployment of leading business intelligence, database management, and data integration products. He has presented at a variety of local, national, and international events, including the 2006 BusinessObjects International Conference, 2007 Oracle BIWA Summit, 2008 Oracle Open World, and 2010 and 2011 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conferences. In addition, Adam is the creator and main author of bi-insider.com, a website, portfolio, and blog that provides rich technical and functional content to business intelligence and data warehousing professionals. He has also published numerous technology white papers that have focused on various topics within business intelligence and data warehousing. Adam currently serves as the chairperson of the Washington DC Business Objects User Group.



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