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Discovering the Newest Developments of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.2

Part 2 of the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 Q&A Series

August 11, 2016

During this live Q&A session, SAP’s Pierpaolo Vezzosi, Gregory Botticchio, and other members of the SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence product management and product development teams discussed the new innovations and enhancements to SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.2.

This Q&A is part of the Q&A and webinar series "Innovating the Core: SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise." Register for the Q&As and webinars today.

For more on successfully moving to the latest BI 4.2 release, check out SAP's new complimentary SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 Upgrade Virtual Technical Workshop.

Live Blog Q&A on Discovering the Newest Developments of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.2


SAPinsiderMatt: Hello everyone! Welcome to today’s Q&A! I’m pleased to be joined today by members of the SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence product management and product development teams. It is my pleasure to welcome SAP’s Pierpaolo Vezzosi, Gregory Botticchio, David Mobbs, Olivier Duvelleroy, Sébastien Gens, and Raphael Geoffroy! Thank you for taking the time today to answer questions. We know that there are a lot of questions around SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.2.

Comment From David: In WebI 4.2, can we build reports directly on SAP HANA analytical or calculated views?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: Correct, from BI 4.2 you can connect directly to SAP HANA views (analytical and calculation) without a universe. You can either run the query as usual and download data in the report, or you can work “online” and each time you ask for new data on the report a new query will be triggered. Universes are still available if you want.

Comment From Shawn Herring SNC: What are the recommended paths to displaying WebI documents in external applications? I am familiar with open doc links, but are there other "out-of-the-box" options not including the use of SDK?

Gregory Botticchio: Hello. Thanks for the question. OPENDOCUMENT() API is one option. A second option would be to use WebI REST APIs.

Comment From Pradeep: Do you have a test environment where we can have a look at the new WebI 4.2?

Raphael Geoffroy: It's available during the Beta Program or Customer Validation Program, but not before or after that.

Comment From Raghav: When creating WebI reports on the SAP HANA view, the "Grouping" function does not work for some calculated measures in the calculation view. It shows "#UNAVAILABLE."

Gregory Botticchio: The Grouping functionality is not available in the WebI SAP HANA online mode. This is a documented restriction. But it is available if you use the WebI SAP HANA direct access mode.

Comment From Brojeshwar: I know in the WebI 4.2 queries you can now run in parallel (4 queries at a time), which mean faster report display. However, in my organization people do a lot of ad-hoc reporting using Microsoft Excel as the data provider. Sometimes the volume could be a few million records. Also there is another part of the user community that does a lot of data extract and merge, and then aggregates at a higher level. Currently our WebI processing servers are set to 7.5 GB max threshold memory limit, and sometimes these reports turn the server health to red. Are there any improvements in WebI processing power? A lot of users are migrating to Tableau for reporting. They want a tool that can handle 10-20 million records and run time that can slide and dice records faster.

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: The parallel query functionality speeds up the query time but requires more CPU and RAM on the server to work well. We are publishing new sizing guides to make sure you have all the information for correctly sizing your machines. With BI 4.2 SP3, you can fine-tune how many parallel queries run in the BI server or on top of the same connectivity (hence on the same database). With this, you can be assured that the system is not asking for too much power. In the meantime, we have introduced some bug fixes and code improvements to reduce the memory footprint and increase performance.

Comment From Chris: What are the limitations (if any) to the geo-mapping capability provided with Web Intelligence in BI 4.2?

Olivier Duvelleroy: Maps in WebI 4.2 SP2 are limited to the offline NAVTEQ maps that are included with Explorer or Lumira. Another limitation is on the geo-coding feature that can match cities that are more than 100,000 inhabitants. You can currently extend geo-mapping by using visualization extensions in WebI. WebI 4.2 SP3 brings new features such as building a geographic hierarchy based on latitude and longitude. The next versions of Web Intelligence will bring support of ESRI maps.

Comment From Mark: How will the upgrade affect my existing content (WebI and Crystal Reports, Dashboards, Lumira documents, and so on)?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: If you are upgrading from 4.0 or 4.1, there is no noticeable change in your existing documents. The new product functionality appear in the client interface and you can enrich your existing reports with this new functionality.

Comment From Craig: Can you discuss the new WebI maps that are available in BI 4.2? How do you geo-encode your data within WebI?

Gregory Botticchio: In BI 4.2 SP2, we provide geomaps from NAVTEQ by default. We have to do a reconciliation with the names stored in the WebI document and the names stored in the NAVTEQ database. We can display cities which have more than 100,000 inhabitants. Starting with BI 4.2 SP3, you will be able to use latitude and longitude directly within the geomaps.

Comment From Rachel: Are there any improvements to platform search?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: Hello Rachel. There were no major changes on the platform search functionality between 4.1 and 4.2. This being said, we are aware of its constraints and that some customers prefer to turn it off. We have an internal project looking into search functionality which might provide some enhancements in future versions.

Comment From Justin: How has auditing functionality been improved in 4.2?

Olivier Duvelleroy: Performance has been improved for writing the audit logs to the audit database. Also tools like Lumira and Analysis Office are now plugged into the auditing framework.

Comment From Clemens P: A question regarding Java: We are facing issues with WebI 4.2 (applet) and Java 8. Is there an official document on which Java version to use with WebI 4.2?

Gregory Botticchio: The information can be found into the product availability matrix (PAM). Moreover, starting with the next BI 4.2 SP3 (which is planned for August 19, 2016), you will be able to use only the WebI DHTML viewer, which will have caught up on 80% of the missing functionalities compared to the Java applet.

Comment From Alan: We're looking to integrate WebI with SAP BW and SAP HANA. What are the connectivity options?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: To connect to SAP BW, the best option is to use the BICS direct provider of Web Intelligence. You connect directly to BEx queries, without the need for a universe. From BI 4.2 SP2, you can build a universe on top of a BEx query to simplify the look and feel of the query for end users. You can add folders, change characteristics names, use universe views, and so on. To connect to SAP HANA with BI 4.2 SP2, you can use the direct access (exactly as with SAP BW) where you don't need a universe. You also have the “online access” on SAP HANA where you no longer have the query panel step: You have access to all SAP HANA view objects and queries are triggered transparently when you use those objects in the report. Finally, universes on SAP HANA are still available if you want to connect to views or SAP HANA tables.

Comment From Anonymous: When will Unix support MongoDB?

David Mobbs: Hello. We are aware of this data source. Our development team is working on it, but I cannot commit to a specific release or timeframe for this connector.

Comment From Darinka Petrova: What would you suggest for migrating WebI reports from BO XI 3.1 to WebI 4.2?

Gregory Botticchio: Please have a look at this link on the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 Upgrade Virtual Technical Workshop. It contains details such as:

  1. Why upgrade: key value drivers to move to the latest release
  2. SAP BusinessObjects BI maintenance schedule: how the maintenance schedule helps to understand the importance of upgrade
  3. The new license key requirement in BI 4.2 release
  4. The new features and functionalities in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 release — the platform side and as well client tools (including Web Intelligence and Semantic Layer)
  5. Best practices and guidelines around deploying and configuring SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 release
  6. Tips and tricks to successfully update from BI 4.0 / 4.1 to BI 4.2 release
  7. Things to consider while upgrading from BO XI 3.x / R2 to BI 4.2 release
  8. Why it is important to migrate from Classic BOBJ / BO XI R1 / CR x to BI 4.2 release
  9. List of useful resources to help upgrade to BI 4.2

Moreover, this is a free virtual technical workshop.

Comment From Sadiq Mirza: Most of the features in Xelcius/Dashborad tool are made available in WebI 4.2 tool. They also look cool and things will be much easier from a development stand point. Having said that, should the average enterprise get a package of Dashboards along with Client tools package?

Olivier Duvelleroy: Xcelsius Dashboards are still being maintained and supported but our product direction is to cover the scenarios with Web Intelligence or Design Studio, as they have a more robust architecture. We are recommending you use Web Intelligence for simple interactive dashboards and Design Studio for more complex dashboards and custom applications.

Comment From Boaz: Is there a document that describes what the supported features of WebI DHTML in 4.2 SP3 are and what is still only in applet?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: In this SCN article, SAP BI 4.2 SP3: What's New in Web Intelligence, there is a specific section about DHTML vs Java.

Comment From Anonymous: Does 4.2 support the PostgreSQL?

David Mobbs: Yes, BI 4.2 supports a few releases of the PostgreSQL database. Please refer to the PAM for specific details of database releases and platforms.

Comment From Britt: Can our users easily share comments on content in their reports?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: Yes, with BI 4.2 you can create comments in a Web Intelligence report. Comments are either “free cells” (they look like Post-Its), can be put into specific cells (à la Microsoft Excel), or inside a chart. Each comment can contain a discussion between different users of the report so that you can follow it in time.

Comment From Liana: We have an older version of SAP BOBJ. What application security changes should we be aware of (specifically for ebI) in BI 4.2?

Gregory Botticchio: Between BO XI 3.1 and BI 4.2, regarding WebI security: Basically, you can do the same, and we have extended the rights to control the design mode.

Comment From Sadiq Mirza: Is UDT available in 4.2?

Sébastien Gens: Thanks for your question. Yes, UDT is still available in 4.2. You are able to do universe UNV with UDT and UNX with IDT.

Comment From Mark: Many of our customers have complex WebI reports that take time to edit in BI 4.1. Are there any specific improvements for this in BI 4.2?

Gregory Botticchio: We have continuously improved the performance of WebI. Now, every case is unique. We have created a Wiki explaining things to consider in order to get the best WebI experience: Tips for Optimizing the Performance of Web Intelligence Documents. Hopefully this will help you.

Comment From Sadiq Mirza: Can a 4.2 UDT universe connect to multiple data sources?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: UDT can connect to Data Federator which, in turn, connects to multiple data sources. The problem here is that Data Federator is an end-of-life product. It is not sold anymore and is at end of maintenance. If you have it, then you can use it knowing that no bugs will be fixed. For a fully supported (and more functional) multi-source universe, the recommendation is to move to the Information Design Tool and the native multi-source universe technology (which by the way, is built from the Data Federator code).

Comment From Mark: What are some ways my admins can set up parallel data provider refresh?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: With BI 4.2 SP3, you can define:

  • If parallel queries are enabled or not
  • How many parallel queries can be executed on a connection (you specify this in the connection definition)
  • How many parallel queries can be processed by the BI platform (you specify this in the CMC interface)

Comment From Vanessa L: Can you share any customer use cases for writing custom visualizations?

Gregory Botticchio: Starting with BI 4.2 SP2, we offered our customers the possibility to add new visualization into WebI like gauges — or any other chart types requested by their business users — that we don't provide by default. They can be very specialized charts, such as infographic or a sankey chart for a flow analysis. Moreover, it allows our partners to propose visual solutions to our WebI installed base.

Comment From Anonymous: How do we achieve the input parameters and variables of SAP HANA models in WebI 4.2? Normally, to achieve this we used to create derived tables in the data foundation. Is there any other option from 4.2?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: There’s no need for derived tables anymore! Already in the later BI 4.1 service packs, universes could be generated automatically on SAP HANA views. If those views contained input parameters or variables, then those were directly taken into account. There is a new “variables” property page for each table in the data foundation. From BI 4.2, you can also avoid creating a universe and connect to SAP HANA views directly from WebI. Input parameters and variables are taken into account automatically.

Comment From Sadiq Mirza: What should be the ideal number for “maximum parallel queries per document" setting within WIPS?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: It really depends on the CPU and RAM of your BI server (and on the power of your underlying database). In our newer sizing guides, we are explaining how parallel queries impact the sizing of machines. The Web Intelligence team has done extensive testing and has decided to set the default value for parallel queries per connection to four. This is a good balance between performance and resource consumption.

Comment From Guest: Does SAP provide a free upgrade to 4.2 if we maintain the service contract?

Olivier Duvelleroy: While your maintenance contract is active, you can access and download all the new versions of the software you have licensed, including version 4.2. If you require specific consulting services to perform the upgrade, this is a different question.

Comment From Sinan: Is there any capability to see which user or report(s) are using which process within the CMC? Also can we stop or delete this report rather than all reports because of the processing?

Gregory Botticchio: Starting with BI 4.2 SP3, you can assign a service or process to a user or group of users. Any content (for example, WebI docs) that this user or group of users will open will be assigned to this service or process.

Comment From UofI: Does 4.2 SP3 allow us to limit the ability for users to use Freehand SQL (FHSQL)?

Raphael Geoffroy: In 4.2 SP3, you will have the ability to hide the FHSQL entry thanks to the application customization available on the platform. in a future SP, we will also introduce a security right.

Comment From Boaz: Where can we find the new sizing guide?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: The sizing guide for BI 4.2 SP3 will be published in the standard SAP sites for sizing (it is not available yet). You can look for those guides here once it’s available.

Comment From Umair: When are they going to implement a solution for improving SQL generating run time for prompts within WebI?

Pierpaolo Vezzosi: This time strongly depends on the list of values to retrieve for the prompts. There have already been some enhancements which don't necessarily retrieve the whole list every time, but let the users decide when they want it. It might be necessary to carefully define the LOV in the universe from the Information Design Tool to improve the performance of the prompts.

Comment From Sadiq Mirza: Do you have any improvements related to gauge capacity of the landscape with 4.2?

Raphael Geoffroy: We are currently working to have this new chart in coming releases. It's an ongoing development activity.

Comment From Mark: How can shared elements change the way customers create future WebI reports?

Gregory Botticchio: Instead of letting your end users create the WebI document from scratch, try doing this:

  1. Select universe
  2. Build query
  3. Refresh
  4. Build variables
  5. Add blocks in the report
  6. Assign formatting

All these steps can be done by a power user who can then share the resulting block. The other end users will simply have to drag-and-drop the resulting shared elements on their own reports. And finally, when you want to update something, you update the original shared elements and the modification can be pushed in the documents it is used.

Comment From Anonymous: Are any of the panelists attending SAP TechEd in Las Vegas? I would love to chat face to face on many of these topics!

Gregory Botticchio: Hi. I will attend and present some lectures.

Comment From Anonymous: In an earlier post from Olivier, it was stated that Web Intelligence is recommended for “simple interactive dashboards” while Design Studio is recommended for “more complex dashboards.” What “interactivity” does WebI support in 4.2? For example, can you click on an area in a report which then navigates to another report within the document?

Gregory Botticchio: By default we can't. We can navigate from a document to another document by passing some context (OPENDOCUMENT API). We can select a block in a report that will filter another block(s) in the same report. We can use InputControls (filter) to filter the document and/or the report. But, clicking on an area in a report which then navigates to another report within the same document isn’t possible by default. Some customizations exists, but are not supported.

Comment From Shawn Herring SNC: Is there a way to track how WebI document is used externally? For instance, when a user clicks on an open doc link, where can I find the link they used? If it can't be done with an open doc link (track refer), is there another way to track (via auditing) how users opened a WebI document? Should we use an SDK or a widget?

Raphael Geoffroy: I'm afraid it's not possible to get the user information of who has done an OPENDOCUMENT action.

Comment From Sadiq Mirza: Thanks everyone for your responses. I really enjoyed attending this session. It was an interactive and informative session.

Gregory Botticchio: Thanks. You're welcome! Thanks all for attending!

SAPinsiderMatt: Thank you to Pierpaolo Vezzosi, Gregory Botticchio, David Mobbs, Olivier Duvelleroy, Sébastien Gens, and Raphael Geoffroy for your time and for your insightful answers! There are two more Q&As in this series: Leveraging SAP BusinessObjects Lumira with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 on August 31, 2016 and Advancing Your Analytics for the Digital Age with SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise, Premium Edition on September 27, 2016. Please join us for those events!

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