SAP BusinessObjects Explorer is a new addition to SAP Crystal Server 2011 and was previously only available with the higher-end server products. Explorer is not installed by default when you install SAP Crystal Server 2011, but if you have installed it, you will be able to access Explorer from the Applications menu, as shown below in Figure 1:
Figure 1: Explorer launch option
Explorer is a tool that you can use to explore and analyze data sets . These data sets can be sourced from Excel spreadsheets, or alternately from Universes (.UNX) created using the new semantic layer available with SAP Crystal Server 2011.
Since this is just “BusinessObjects Explorer 101”, this blog is not intended to be an exhaustive reference on BusinessObjects Explorer, but does provide the basic skills to get you up and running with the tool, with an Excel spreadsheet as the data source for your first Information Space.
For more of the unabridged user guide to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, visit http://help.sap.com and navigate to the BusinessObjects documentation, where you will find the user guide, administrator’s guide and installation guide for Explorer – over 300 pages worth!
When you first open Explorer, you will be presented with a home page showing a list of “Information Spaces” as shown below in Figure 2:
Figure 2: Explorer home page
To start your exploration of data, you have three options:
1. Enter a search term in the box at the top of the screen — this will search through all of the Information Spaces and find the data that references your search term. For example, if you were to search for “California”, Explorer would find all of the Information Spaces where this is a data element. You can then use the Explorer UI to filter the results, analyze data, etc.
2. Click to explore an existing Information Space — this will take you to the Explorer UI and allow you to filter and analyze the data within that Information Space.
3. Upload a Spreadsheet — this will allow you to upload and configure an Excel
spreadsheet to do ad-hoc data exploration and analysis.
Note: Using this method will not actually save the Excel spreadsheet as an Information Space, so only use this technique if you want to do ad-hoc analysis and not save the results.
In the following section, we are going to look at how to configure an Excel spreasdheet an Information Space for use with BusinessObjects Explorer.
Configuring an Excel Spreadsheet as an Information Space
To configure an Information Space based on Excel spreadsheet data, first we need to check that the Excel workbook is formatted correctly for use with Explorer. To start, the spreadsheet should have a first row that contains the column names and the structure of the spreadsheet should be a simple column-based layout, like the spreadsheet shown below in Figure 3:
Figure 3: Spreadsheet formatted for Explorer
The Excel workbook can have more than one spreadsheet tab, but when configuring the Information Space, we can only use data from one spreadsheet at a time. For large data sets, it is better if the spreadsheet data is summarized, but this is not always a requirement as Explorer has its own indexing functionality built in.
Note: This Excel spreadsheet and dataset is included with the downloadable files that are available from http://www.kuiperpublishing.com/assets/explorerdata.xls so you can follow along with the instructions below.
Once you have confirmed that your spreadsheet has the correct layout and attributes, you will need to upload your spreadsheet to BI launch pad. To upload your spreadsheet, follow these steps:
1. Login to BI launch pad.
2. Click on Documents > Folders > Public Folders and click to select a folder where you want to store the uploaded Excel file.
3. Right-click on the folder and select New > Local Document, which will open the dialog shown in the figure below:
Figure 4: Local document upload dialog
4. Browse to where your Excel spreadsheet is stored and then click the “Add” button to upload your spreadsheet to the folder you have selected.
Now that your spreadsheet has been updated, we need to create an Information Space and configure the options. To configure a new Excel-based Information Space, follow these steps:
1. Launch BusinessObjects Explorer from BI launch pad by selecting Applications > Explorer.
2. From within Explorer, click the option to “Manage Spaces”.
3. Navigate through the node marked Excel Spreadsheets > Public Folders to the folder where you uploaded your Excel spreadsheet.
4. Click on the Excel spreadsheet and then click the “New” button which should now be enabled. This will open the dialog shown in figure below:
5. Using the dialog, enter a name for your Information Space and then click the tab marked “Configure Excel File” to open the dialog shown below:
6. From this dialog, select the Worksheet that contains your data and the option for
“Headers are provided by first row” is ticked on by default.
7. Using the drop-down menus, select the options for each column, indicating the type of field it will be. The options are:
- Label as Text
- Value (SUM)
- Value (MIN)
- Value (MAX)
- Value (AVG)
If you select “Label” or “Label as Text”, these columns will be considered to be Dimensions or “Facets”. Columns set as “Value” will be considered to be Measures in your Information Space. And if you select “Hide” the field will not be available for use.
8. Click on the Scheduling tab and select your options for how often the data will be reindexed. The scheduling process will re-run the index as aone-off or on a regular basis. The options here will be determined by whether you are uploading this data as a “one-off” or whether you will be updating it periodically. You can also re-index at any time without scheduling from the “Manage Spaces” menu.
9. Once you have finished setting your options, click OK to return to the list of Information Spaces. To make your Information Space available immediately, click the “Index Now” button from the dialog shown below (it is one of the four small icons on the right-hand side.)
Figure 7: Index now button
To consume your new Information Space, you can return to the Home tab in Explorer and then click the “Refresh” icon on the Information Space listing. Your new Information Space should be listed and you can click to open the Explorer UI and start using it to explore your data, as shown below:
The Explorer interface can be used to filter data by dimensions (or “facets”) as well as to visualize data, export and e-mail the data to other users and more. For the complete SAP BusinessObjects Explorer User’s Guide, visit http://help.sap.com