Student BI Club: Class is in Session for Best Practices for Integration Crystal Reports with SAP ERP and BW, including 4.0 No Homework Hero needed here
The first topic earlier this month was Crystal Reports.
- Crystal Reports 2008 and SAP ERP
- Crystal Reports 2008 and SAP BW
- Crystal Reports for Enterprise 4.0 and SAP BW
- Crystal Reports Highlighted Functionality
Crystal Reports for Enterprise 4.0 is in ramp-up with 50 customers worldwide to give feedback.
Crystal Reports 2008 and SAP ERP
Figure 1:Source: SAP
What is Crystal Reports? As shown in Figure 1, it is a tool for enterprise, formatted reporting. Create reports, define layout and the person who consumes the report does not have the full bandwidth to change the report. The person who creates report is not the same person who consumes the report.
Figure 2 Data Connectivity with ERP – Source: SAP
In Figure 2 Ingo explained you need 3 pieces of software to run Crystal Reports to talk to SAP ERP. The Edge version is made for mid-market. BusinessObjects Integration for SAP provides single signon and data access. Crystal Reports 2008 can “talk” to the Classic InfoSets, SAP Queries, ABAP Dictionary, ABAP Functions and transparent tables. Not talking to underlying relational database; still talking to SAP system honoring security authorization.
Figure 3 InfoSet SFLIGHT -Source: SAP
In Figure 3, on the left, you see the SAP ERP InfoSet. On the right you see what Crystal Reports makes out of it. Notice that the field airline code on the left comes over to Crystal as 2 fields on the right – key and text.
The other part is creating the selection: on the SAP side “parameters” (lower left section of Figure 3) are honored in Crystal Reports as well (lower right side of Figure 3). They do not need to be rebuilt – the information is received from underlying ERP system.
On the SAP side, if you are building an InfoSet, you must remember to assign an InfoSet to a user group and assign the user to it before using it. A lot of customers forget to do this. If you need to use 2 InfoSets to build a report, you should create a new InfoSet to provide all the data and avoid client-side linking.
Figure 4:ABAP Functions Source: SAP
On the left side of Figure 4 is ABAP coding/functions and Crystal Reports can leverage this as well. All prompting in the coding becomes input fields in Crystal Reports which you can use to filter down the records as if you run the ABAP function as part of the SAP system. The export is a structure which becomes a list of tables and names to be used inside Crystal Reports.
Figure 5:Crystal Reports as an output of ALV in Enhancement Package 5 – Source SAP
Currently this in testing will arrive in June/July this year. In SAP there is an ABAP List Viewer (ALV) – a technology that allows you to take an output of ABAP code and present it in different layouts – Excel, Word document and will allow using Crystal Reports as an output. This new feature will allow a Crystal Report to be output from the ALV – there is no need for the customer to create a Crystal Report.
If the customer created subtotals, then those subtotals will automatically be generated in Crystal Reports.
Crystal Reports 2008 and SAP BW
How does Crystal Reports talk to a BW system?
Figure 6:How Crystal Talks to SAP BW – Source: SAP
On the top of Figure 6 is the different software components needed, same as what was needed when connecting to an ERP system.
In terms of metadata mapping between Crystal and BW:
Crystal is able to leverage hierarchies from BW in the form of a parent-child relationship – this is a benefit because if your hierarchy changes you do not need to change the report design.
Figure 7 – Custom Structures – Source: SAP
Figure 7, on the left displays a custom country structure of USA, Europe and Asia Pacific from a BEx query. In Crystal Reports, this is turned into one field and will receive 3 rows of information.
Figure 8 SAP Tool Bar – Source: SAP
As shown in Figure 8 the customer has a choice of UI when installing SAP integration: use SAP tool bar or use standard Crystal menus. Customers who have been using Crystal for a long time and now moving into SAP may want to use right side of Figure 8. Those coming from SAP and now going to using Crystal will feel most comfortable with the left side. Some terms are different – on the right hand side there are folders/categories; SAP calls them roles.
Crystal Reports for Enterprise 4.0 and SAP BW
Figure 9: Source: SAP
Figure 9 shows 2 versions of Crystal Reports in BI 4.0. Crystal Reports 2011 is the successor of Crystal Reports 2008 in terms of technology. The designer tool is based on C++.
Crystal Reports for Enterprise is a complete redesign of the designer and is based on Java. This is the go-forward direction.
The plan is for these two to be merged and move forward with the Java environment.
1) Tabbed approach: All of tools in BI 4.0 use the tabbed approach on the top for all menus around insert, formatting, data.
2) Huge step is Smart Guidelines. Smart guidelines – give you formatted layout driven design environment. Want to move header and complete set of fields to the right – current version – need to move every single field. Crystal for Enterprise is able to identify patterns to move the formatting.
Figure 10 Common Semantic Layer: Source: SAP
As Figure 10 shows, Crystal for Enterprise 4.0 is integrated with the Common Semantic Layer. The Semantic Layer is a product that hides technical items from end user and provides a business oriented view . The SAP ERP has over 30,000 tables – no one who is building a report wants to see all that, so a semantic layer is built on top providing a more business oriented view of underlying structure.
Figure 11 Hierarchy: Source: SAP
The demand for hierarchy features in Crystal went up after the SAP acquisition. Crystal for Enterprise allows the use of hierarchies in crosstab, charting and parameters.
Figure 12 Translation: Source: SAP
Before 4.0 we had to rely on other systems for translation. In 4.0 Translation Manager will translate objects and store it in the repository – do not need to create 5 reports. It uses standard industry interface XLFF format so customers who already have translation agencies to send and receive.
Figure 13: Source: SAP
In 4.0 Crystal can connect to the queries and the cubes and the DSO layer. In 4.0 able to leverage more of what the SAP BW system provides. All available hierarchies – person decides at report design time what hierarchy and therefore query is then reusable.
Crystal Reports Highlighted Functionality
Crystal is able to support conditions and display settings (how data gets sorted, scaling factor, # of decimals) – customers had to do inside report in past but now Crystal honors the BEx query inside report. Structure elements- before if have 50 item financial structure – receive all 50 items. In latest version you can select which elements you like to have in the report.
Figure 14: Source: SAP
In Figure 14, Crystal can provide one report that can be interactive. As an example, Crystal 2008 can provide the end user the capability to control to sorts “live”.
Figure 15: Source: SAP
Figure 15 shows that Crystal can provide different parameters to the user – do they want to see the report as a table or a chart?
Figure 16 Creating a Combination of Crystal Reports and Xcelsius – Source: SAP
Xcelsius is use for interactive models such as What-if analysis – for example, if production goes up and what happens to costs? The embedding of Xcelsius inside Crystal was done at the request of customers who wanted to see operational numbers but still leverage that interactivity. It uses Adobe flex-based integration; you can embed flex code, meaning you can write back information back to system inside report. As an example, say Kirby wants a new laptop – click approve inside report and not open up another system for approval.
Figure 17 – Embedding BusinessObjects Explorer – Source: SAP
Click on BusinessObjects link shown in red on Figure 17 and all data inside report is sent to BI On Demand environment and displayed in the Information Space.
Figure 18: Source: SAP
Figure 18 is the initial screen for Crystal Reports for Enterprise.
In 4.0 you logon to the BusinessObjects Enterprise System to see list of connections inside system.
Figure 19: Smart Guidelines Example – Source: SAP
In Figure 19, select Region and the columns with gridlines are automatically highlighted. In the previous version if you wanted to move Region to the right you would move it and then move Calendar Year and Net Value. In this version, you can move Region to the right and it will move to the columns to the left.
Figure 20 Hierarchies – Source: SAP
In the hierarchy demo, you can select all children or descendants or select certain “members”.
As shown in Figure 20 Crystal can use the subtotals calculated by BW – “delegated aggregation”.
Figure 21:Hierarchy Output: Source: SAP
In Figure 21, notice in the report you cannot open/collapse hierarchies; Ingo suggested using WebIntelligence instead.
Figure 22 Chart Hierarchy – Source: SAP
Figure 22 shows a hierarchy chart, where you select which hierarchy to use. Charting does not provide the grouping of the hierarchy.
Figure 23 Helpful Prompts – Source: SAP
In Figure 23 you can see helpful prompts if you are trying to put a total in the page header the prompt will say “the measure “Net Value” has no meaningful value in this location”.
Key Takeaways from Ingo:
1) is able to connect to SAP ERP and SAP NetWeaver BW, providing you multiple choices
2) is becoming the standard reporting tool for Enterprise Reporting as part of the SAP Business Suite
3) is able to be integrated with Xcelsius and act as a ―”data source” for your Xcelsius Dashboard, allowing for dashboards with SAP ERP data
4) is able to provide formatted reporting, but also provides limited user interactivity
5) is able to leverage SAP NetWeaver BW queries or SAP ERP sources in a one-to-many relationship, meaning no need for one SAP NetWeaver BW query for one report
Start your BI projects
1) with the business users and spend more time in understanding their requirements
2) with the BI part, not with the data warehouse
Question & Answer
Q: Edit Query within CR is not able to edit the BW query or is it?
A: It is to edit the definition of Crystal Reports and not change BW query
Q: Are there any enhancements on the 4.0 side for ECC integration?
A: Integration with ALV will work with 4.0 release. 4.1 release will have CommonSemantic Layer on top of an ERP landscape
Q. When will 4.0 be available?
A: General Availability is 2nd quarter this year
Q: When will 4.0 demo versions be available?
A: As soon as 4.0 is GA, a demo version of Crystal 2011 will be available.
Link to slides:
Crystal Reports and SAP Landscapes