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Author's profile photo Ted Ueda

SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise BI 4.0 – What’s New with the SDKs?

I’m a Senior Support Engineer with the SAP Business Intelligence SDK Support Group, specializing in the SDKs provided with SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise, Crystal Report, and Web Intelligence.

My particular interests are in new functionalities, little-known or not-well-documented corners of the SDK, and curiousities that I occasionally come across in my daily life as a Support Guy.

You’re welcome to suggest a topic for me to discuss – I’m always on the hunt for the shiny new or the strange and wonderful.   

SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise BI 4.0, the newest version of the world’s best Business Intelligence suite, is now in Release!  It’s currently in Ramp-Up – meaning limited in availability to a few select customers – but will be going into General Availability soon next year.

I’ve been participating in its internal Beta this past year, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed.  When you start working with it, you’ll see why – there’s marked advancements in new features and usability over XI 3.1 (and that version was pretty impressive in its own right when it came out).

There’d be no way I’d be able to discuss all the cool new things that come with 4.0 in my blogs.  For good introductory material to get you started, I highly recommend Bringing new innovations to the way we learn BI in 4.0 where she describes the fruits of the e-Learning efforts she took part in coordinating.

What’s new in the SDK front?  The SAP BI suite has always accommodated custom coders, integrators, OEM and Partners, and this new version is no different.  Some of the new stuff is just plain awesome!

In this and upcoming blogs, I’ll highlight some of the new features that I particularly find compelling. 

Let me briefly describe some of them here:
 
 

  1. Platform Search API. BI 4.0 Platform Search is the successor to the Content Search functionality introduced with XI 3.0.  There’s vast improvements in searchability, usability and scalability in the search query engine and indexer.  

    But most significantly, from my perspective, there’s now a public API integrated within the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise SDK. 

    I spent a morning reading the API and writing a single page of code, and got what amounts to a Google for your Business Intelligence documents.

    If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to find a particular report within Folders or Categories, you’ll be happy to know that 4.0 now brings a new organizational metaphor – the Search Paradigm.

    Blog SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise BI 4.0 – Platform Search API.

     

  2. Data Access Connection SDK.  A Java-based API for creating and modifying Universe, both old (unv) and new (unx), relational data connections.  

    Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Universe Designer SDK, that was used for this purpose in previous versions. But for a lot of tasks, one doesn’t need all of its functionality, and you often encounter limitations imposed by it being based on COM.

    One common task for which the DAC SDK is ideal is in implemented automated security updates to the data connection identity passwords.

    Blog SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise BI 4.0 – Data Access Connection SDK.

     
       

  3. Crystal Reports export enhancements. (a) New export formats like the read-only RPT (RPTR) format, and (b) ability to modify the export format list in the Crystal Reports viewer.

    The second enhancement is something many customers have asked for – prior versions required a not-too-pretty workaround such as hacking the export JavaScript or implementing a HTTP filter to modify the outgoing HTTP stream.

    Blog SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise BI 4.0 – Modify the Crystal Reports Viewer Export Format List.

     
      

  4. Auditing. One significant feature of 4.0 auditing is the ability to trace workflow via actions.  So if you see that one of the Enterprise servers requested, say, a Crystal Report service, you’ll be able to trace back via auditing to determine what application or other server requested that service.

    This extends to custom applications. An enhancement to the Enterprise SDK allows for registering a custom application with the auditing framework, such that it’ll be able to record which custom application was used to log a User on.  You’ll then be able to trace what services the User requested via the custom app.

    A very useful feature for determining client usage and identifying bottlenecks within your BI system.

    Blog SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise BI 4.0 – Integrate Your Custom Application Into the Enterprise Auditing Framework.
     

  5. Monitoring Probes. The monitoring framework – new with 4.0 – allow for periodically probing the state of your Enterprise servers by periodically scanning server metrics and running reports determining success/failure and performance.  We provide you with a comprehensive set of ‘probes’ for you to utilize.

    But only you would know your BI system the best, and determine what kinds of tests are required to determine the health of your system.

    This is where the Monitoring Probes API comes in – with a bit of code, you can create your own probes.

    Before 4.0, usually this functionality was implemented using a bit of Java Program Object coding, but that never really integrated fully into the Enterprise system, nor did they provide standard interfaces to 3rd party monitoring systems. 
     

  6. Multilingual InfoObjects.  Now, with 4.0, your BI contents may be given locale-dependent names and descriptions, managed by the enhanced Translation Management Tool.  This is certainly a must for any global organization.  

    The Enterprise SDK has been enhanced to work with such multi-lingual InfoObjects. 

 

In subsequent blogs, I’ll give more details concerning each of the above, including bits of sample code.  As I write each blog, I’ll update this one to link it forward.  So keep an eye on this page!

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      Author's profile photo Atul Chowdhury
      Atul Chowdhury
      Thanks Ted -

      These APIs sound very exciting (I've already read through your Platform Search topic; very cool).  It would also be great to know for existing application owners, of any breaking changes that might exist across the certain APIs (eg. "opendocument has been removed/deprecated" or the like).

      For example, this search lists several items in the RESDK that have been reassessed for XI4.0.  Curious to know of any SDK migration/comparison docs being eventually available:

      http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy&hl=en&safe=off&site=&source=hp&q=site:help.sap.com%2Fjavadocs%2Fbip%2F40%2Fre%2Fen%2F+%2B%224.0%22&aq=&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=83f87efc6f926f13

      Author's profile photo Ted Ueda
      Ted Ueda
      Blog Post Author
      Hello Atul,

      Let me know what you think of my most recent blog concerning the Platform Search API!

      Overview of changes in the SDK are described in the Feature Evolution Guide:

      http://help.sap.com/businessobject/product_guides/boexir4/en/xi4_feat_evo_en.pdf

      and each respective SDK Developer Guide, in the What's New section.

      As for the ReportEngine SDK changes - well, the Web Intelligence team was very ambitious in focussing on bringing new usability and features to the product.  Specifically, there was a requirement to bring up a new SDK to manage both new client and semantic layer features.  Unfortunately, timeline issues caused some features in the public API to be descoped for this version.  4.0 ReportEngine SDK wraps the internal new SDK to retain much of the API, but do not allow any report modification/creation features.  The API for viewing is retained.

      Sincerely,

      Ted Ueda

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Ted

      This is an excellent article which explains everything very nicely.

      I need your help w.r.t. our below problem. I would be highly grateful if you could respond to below queries.

      We have a requirement to upgrade our existing ReportEngine BO2 Java sdk compatible code to BO4. But since many classes/interfaces in BO4 are not supported like ReportStructure, ReportElement etc. therefore our code is throwing "NotImplementedException". The complete details are described as under -

      http://scn.sap.com/thread/3230432

      Do you see any alternate way of achieving the same functionality in BO4 which we implemented using BO2 ReportEngine Java Sdk?

      Also do you have any visibility of when these unimplemented ReportEngine APIs in BO4 will be available for developers?

      Any help will be highly appreciated.

      Thanks!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      These seem like great enhancements to the platform.  I can already see immediate uses for points 2-5. 
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Ted,
      Question #1: Given that DeskI will not be available in BOE 4.0, we know that we will have to migrate to WebI. Our power users make use of DeskI VBA macros within the Program Job Server. The macro outputs report results not available with the Xi scheduler. Can we assume that the SDK will allow us to do the same with scheduled WebI reports?

      Question #2: We would like to collect metrics on schedule queue time, the time between a scheduled report is supposed to start and when it actually starts to run. Would an SDK be able to track this?