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Author's profile photo John Appleby

SAP NetWeaver BW 7.0 Excel Workbook Precalculation or Scheduling

I often get requests about NetWeaver BW Precalculation Servers.

Why use one? Because you want to send out Excel workbooks with BW content in them on a scheduled basis. You can send them to email or to the NetWeaver 7.0 Portal Knowledge Management engine, which can put them on a network drive, or Sharepoint server, or internal portal KM folders. Your choice.’

If you don’t need Excel workbooks then you can use precalculation without Precalculation servesr, using BI Java to send out PD, XML (Excel style) or HTML documents of queries or web templates.

1.             Prerequisites

The following prerequisites appear to be necessary to install SAP Precalculation Server 7.0. They are absolutely non-negotiable!

    * Windows XP is the only supported platform. Not Windows Vista or Windows 2008. Windows 2003 does work but it is not a supported platform.
    * VMWare is an excellent platform for precalculation as you often need multiple servers.
    * Do not install anything else on your precalc server and especially do NOT install it on your BI server if you run on a Windows platform.
    * 1Gb RAM is required minimum, per precalc server. Complex workbooks may require 2Gb.
    * Excel 2003 SP2 or higher, but not Excel 2007. Actually Excel 2007 is now supported as of NetWeaver BW SPS18.
    * .NET Framework 2.0 with latest patches (SP1 or in principle .NET 3.50 which includes 2.0)
    * SAP Front End 7.10 with patches corresponding to SPS level of NetWeaver BI 7.0 server. This can be obtuse, for example the following are self-consistent:
          o NetWeaver Support Stack 17
          o BI Support Package 19
          o SAP Gui 710 Patch 11
          o SAP Gui 710 BI Patch 701
          o Precalculation Server Patch 6
    * http://support.microsoft.com/kb/907417/ must be installed or your BEx toolbar will not work. You will get German lettering and the buttons won’t do anything – be warned!

1.1          Download Details

    * http://service.sap.com/swdc -> SAP Support Packages -> Entry by Application Group -> SAP Frontend Components à SAP GUI FOR WINDOWS -> SAP GUI FOR WINDOWS 7.10 CORE -> BI 7.0 ADDON FOR SAP GUI 7.10 -> xPreCalServerXXXXXXXXXXXX.msi
    * SapSweep is no longer available but is part of the SAP Front End 6.40 package suite.

2.             Installation

Note, it is highly recommended NOT to use a server which is in use for anything else, especially for any other SAP applications as the requirements for Precalculation are often in conflict with other applications. It will commonly break other applications run on the same system after installation.

2.1          Remove old versions

Remove all old versions of SAPGui first. If you have an old version installed you also have to run sapsweep and tell it to remove all old versions of SAP front end software. Note that you have to watch out and tell it not to remove your new installation source if it is on a local drive!

2.2          Install Prerequisites

Ensure that Excel 2003 SP2+ and .NET Framework 2.0 are installed.

2.3          Install SAP Gui 7.10

Install the SAP Gui 7.10 Compilation 3. Note that it is best to install this with all options even if they are not all needed. Ensure that it installs without error. If it installs with error, remove it, run sapsweep again, and reinstall it. Check your prerequisites are right.

Once it is installed check that you can login to the SAP system. Then check that you can open a workbook. Don’t try to go any further until you know that normal BEx functionality is working as expected.

You need to set macro security to Low.

If you find that the toolbar on BEx Analyser doesn’t work then it means that your .NET installation isn’t patched to the latest levels, or that Excel is not patched correctly. If you use Microsoft Update, this won’t be a problem.

2.4          Install SAP Precalculation Server

Install the SAP precalculation server with the default options.

3.             Configuration

3.1          Precalculation Hostname

The precalculation server should have a<8 character name on the BI server. This can be achieved by adding an alias to the hosts file on the BI server that looks like this (C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts):

192.168.3.160    PRECTEST

3.2          Precalculation Config

Go to transaction RSPRECADMIN on the BI system and add a new precalculation server – call it whatever you put above, in our example PRECTEST. It will then appear offline.

Open the services console on the precalculation server and open the SAP BW Precalculation Service Properties. Tick the tick box as shown on the Log On screen “Allow Service to interact with desktop”. Go to the General panel, change the Startup type to automatic and click Start.

3.4          Test Precalculation server

Press the refresh button and see if the precalc server turns green. If not then continue here!

You can now test the server using transaction SM59. Open up the TCP/IP destination with named PREC_[Servername], e.g. PREC_PRECTEST in our example. Click connection test. You may get an RFC connection error – follow section 3.5.

3.5          Registry Entries     

Sometimes the precalc server doesn’t register itself correctly. If this is the case then you will have to open regedit and go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SAP.BusinessExplorer.Analyser\BW_PRECALC\Servers.

 

    * Add a new key with the name of your precalc server PRECTEST and open it
    * Add a new string value with the name GWHOST, value is your BI server
    * Add a new string value with the name GWSERVICE, value is your gateway service which is sapgwXX where XX is the instance number of the BI system
    * Add a new string value with the name PROGID which is the number you see above in the red. You can copy and paste it from the main RFC connection screen

Go back to the RFC test and check that the connection test works fine. Go into transaction RSPRECADMIN and note that it is now green. You are ready to test!

3.6          End-end testing

The best way to end-end test the precalculation server is to login to the BI Java portal. You require the Business Intelligence role “pcd:portal_content/com.sap.pct/platform_add_ons/com.sap.ip.bi/Roles/com.sap.ip.bi.bi_showcase”.

Login and click on the Business Intelligence Tab and then click on BEx Broadcaster.

Select Workbook and then open. Select a workbook. Ask the BI team if you need help finding one. Select transfer.

Select Create New Setting and then Workbook Precalculation. Note that our new precalculation server is visible there. If you have several then select Special Server and select the one you want to test with.

Go back to the Recipient(s) tab and check that your email address is maintained correctly there (it’s held out of SU01). If that’s all fine then click Execute.

If you have followed everything in this document correctly then you will get a green light and it will appear shortly in your inbox!

If it is red then go back and read through this again. If it is broken at this stage then generally you haven’t got a consistent set of SAP Gui patches relative to the backend version.

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      8 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Great information on a subject where few docs or notes exist.  We're currently running BW 3.5 and PRE CALC, and are facing several intermittent problems.  Do you have any issues or "gotchas" to report with the new system?

      Thanks in advance,

      Jose

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author
      No problems, I get asked a lot of questions about this subject and thought I'd share the knowledge.

      I've implemented quite a few NetWeaver BW 7.0 precalc servers but only a small amount of 3.5 ones.

      What are the problems that you are encountering? It's certainly the case that support package stack levels and Gui patch levels in 7.0 can make a big difference to stability of Precalc.

      We are on EHP1 SPS3 of 7.0 and the precalc version we're on as a result is pretty stable.

      Author's profile photo Bhanu Gupta
      Bhanu Gupta
      John,

      Thanks for a detailed blog. You mention "You can send them to email or to the NetWeaver 7.0 Portal Knowledge Management engine, which can put them on a network drive, or Sharepoint server, or internal portal KM folders." Does that mean that the NW 7.0 Portal Knowledge Management engine can send the precalculated workbooks to Sharepoint server or a network drive? Can you please give more details on how that can be accomplished.

      Thanks,
      Bhanu

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author
      Hi,

      Yes it does, though I've only done it a few times. I'll try to write a blog on this when I get some time but the basics are available in this blog:

      http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/KMC/How+to+publish+contents+available+in+Network+drive+using+KM

      Regards,

      John

      Author's profile photo Bhanu Gupta
      Bhanu Gupta
      Thanks John! I'll take a look at the wiki and also look forward to your future blog post.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      John,
      You mention that: “VMWare is an excellent platform for precalculation”.
      Do you have installed and run “SAP BW Precalculation Service Multi Instance” on VMWare environment?
      I have try this with XP & Win2003 Standard Edition on VMWare with the latest patches and “SAP BW Precalculation Service Multi Instance” start and stoped with following error:
      "Service cannot be started. System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.at com.sap.bi.et.precalculation.BExPrecServiceMulti.OnStart(String[] args)at System.ServiceProcess.ServiceBase.ServiceQueuedMainCallback(Object state)"

      I have run precalculation server on XP & Win2003 SE standalone with no issue.

      As XP & 2003 is supported by SAP for precalculation I asked them for solution but here is the answer:
      "SAP does not recommend using virtual servers for precalculation.
      If you are using a virtual server you should set up only one instance
      of the precalculation server in RSPRECADMIN instead of using Multi Instance."

      Thanks,
      Arek

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby
      Blog Post Author
      Hi Arek,

      You're right and since I wrote this blog, Windows 2003 is now supported by SAP.

      Are you saying that if you do what you describe on a physical environment, the problem goes away? Certainly I've not experienced any differences between physical and virtual precalculation servers.

      However the multi-instance version is very new and probably your problem lies in the environment. I'll see if I can get someone to test the multi-instance version on one of our VMs and get back to you.

      Regards,

      John

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      John, followed your blog, however when I broadcast via the PreCalc Server I get an Excel crash, checked all the pre-requisites and Excel is 2003 SP2. Access to BEx and SAP Gui all work on this Server, can you offer any advise?
      Thanks.