The following document is intended to give an overview of the SAP BusinessObject Intelligence Platform Publication feature.
Publication is a process that collects many reports (Crystal Reports or WebIntelligence + External Documents), personalizes and distributes them to a mass audience.
Generally we distinguish between three different personas in the publication workflow.
- The administrator, who creates profile names and profile targets, who assigns profiles to specific users or groups and who sets up server configurations needed to run a successful publication.
- The publisher, who creates publications for distribution, selects recipients for the publication, applies profiles to the publication and define target destination of the publication
- The recipients who receive the publication because they were added to the publication by the publisher or because they subscribe themselves to the publication.
When creating a publication you first need to define the name of the publication and select which document(s) you would like to publish. It is possible to mix a set of documents in a publication. For example you could select multiple CR documents as well as a PDF or Word document. Note, you cannot create a publication that contains a CR and WebI report. Additionally it is possible to select/deselect the regeneration option.
Next you need to determine who to send the publication to Enterprise Recipients or external Dynamic Recipients.
For Enterprise Recipients the administrator needs to create profiles prior to you creating the publication. Profile is a key concept of publishing. User can get their own profile values and profiles then are mapped to datafield of the report in order to create the personalized report. The publication will filter all data automatically without parameters in the reports. An example of how to map the report to the profile is shown below. In a nutshell for each report you can choose a report field and map it to the profile that exists on the CMS. In the example below the field customer.country was mapped to the Country profile.
At run time the report for the recipient will be filtered down to their specific profile value and the recipient will receive a personalized report.
For Dynamic Recipients the recipient list and personalization is captured in a separate Crystal Reports or WebIntelligence report. They are useful for users that do not have an account at the BOE system or if the personalization changes dynamically. The dynamic recipient report is refreshed when publication is scheduled ensuring that the recipient list and personalization is updated. A Dynamic Recipient report needs to include a column containing a unique recipient identification, a column for the recipient name (if name is unique it can be used as ID), if distributed to email it needs to contain a column containing the users email address and then the report needs to contain a column for each personalization field. Note, that if a dynamic recipient contains more than one personalization value, e.g. Canada and USA, then the report needs to be designed that this recipient has 2 rows that follow each other, one row with value Canada and one with value USA. The personalization mapping is done on the personalization page in the same way as a profile was mapped to a report field. You basically map the source report field to the dynamic recipient report field that contains the personalization.
Once personalization has been set up you need to specify which format you like to distribute the report in. Publication allows you to create more than one format (formats vary by report type). However, it is not possible to assign a specific format to a specific destination. All destinations will receive the same report formats.
Publication allows you to distribute the personalized report to more than one destination (Email, BI Inbox, FTP, Disk) at once. It is also recommended to use placeholder, such as user name or timestamp, for report name or email body. Placeholder are provided via a dropdown menu on the destination page.
With the SAP BI 4 SP4 release we also added the ability to use personalized placeholders for a publication. Incorporating personalized placeholders into file names, email subject or email body helps recipients to easily identify the data that has been filtered. In particular, recipients that belong to multiple user groups with different personalization values can distinguish between multiple versions of the same report without viewing its contents. The personalized placeholders appear in the Add placeholder list on the Destinations (except Default Enterprise Location) page, after the personalization has been set up for a publication
For every filter of a report, two personalized placeholders will appear:
- One placeholder is for the field name. Represented as %<fieldname>-NAME%, it will be replaced by the name of the field during run time. This placeholder appears the same for all recipients.
- The other placeholder is for the personalized value of the field. Represented as %<fieldname>-VALUE%, it will be replaced by the value of the field used to filter the report. This placeholder is specific for each recipient.
You also have the option to assign unique names to each source document included in a publication when a destination is specified. Naming each
publication source document differently is very resourceful when a user has personalized placeholders and different fields/parameters are used for
As in regular scheduling you have the option to schedule a publication on a recurrent basis. This may be hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, day of month, first
Monday in month, last day of month, day of week of month. Once a publication schedule is successful the recipients will receive their personalized reports.
Above I descried the main aspects of a SAP BusinessObject Intelligence Platform Publication feature. One question I am often ask is what the difference is between scheduling and publishing. Below I listed the main differences as a summary.
- Only one destination (Email, BI Inbox, FTP, Disk) and format per schedule
- Ability to set report parameters/prompts per schedule
- No personalization possible each recipient will see the same data
- Ability to distribute personalized reports to enterprise recipients and/or external recipients
- Multiple reports per publication, including static documents
- Wide-range of output formats (though they differ per reporting type)
- Publish to multiple destinations (Email, BI Inbox, FTP, Disk) at once
- Merge multiple reports into one PDF or Zip file (PDF for CR only)
- Ability to add custom functionality by using publication extensions (Overview, Sample publication extension)
- Ability to use Delivery Rules for Crystal Reports
- Ability for users to subscribe to a publication