Skip to Content

What is the difference between filters and prompts?


this is a try to answer the question – Filter down to HANA View through filter and not prompt. But the answer was a bit too long to make a direct reply.


The initial question is coming from HANA, but relevant also for SAP BW and Universes. Keep in mind that Design Studio main focus was SAP BW and this is the most advanced system in terms of work with prompts (BEx Variables). HANA is having a slightly different concept and also functionality is different.


Let us start with BW, this is the system where the difference is the biggest.

The difference in short answer…

the difference between filter and prompts is very important in case you work on SAP BW system. Prompts are more powerfull (customer exit, permission check, merging, etc).

In terms of SAP HANA prompts are based on the parameters – once pre-filled, you cannot filter to something which is not included in the filter selection. you need again to change the prompt. but you can filer down in the space of the pre-selection done by prompts.

Prompts vs FIlters

  • The prompts
    • can be merged or unmerged (valid mainly for BW). in case of merged prompts, all data sources in the same session have always the same values. You cannot merge filters, those are always applied to one data source
    • can be mandatory – if not set with default value, user will always see the prompt dialog. You cannot make filters mandatory.
    • can be pre-filled via customer exits in BEx Variable processing, this is not the case for filters.
    • can pre-select your navigation space before you can start filtering. This is depending on your BEx Query definition. In such case, you cannot even use filtering to change the space – you need to again to change prompts
    • can be dependent on each other (like hierarchy and hierarchy node) and you can propose default values based on the dependency in prompt dialog (also via customer exits)
  • The filters
    • are depending on the data source and do not influence other data sources, changes in prompts are forcing (in merged case) other data sources to reload.
    • are probably cheaper to execute in navigation, as the processing does not have too much machinery behind. This is of course scenario based.

As of today, I have not much more, but perhaps I will actualize later on.

How this behaves in HANA?

It is a good question actually when talking about HANA, as there the input parameters are not yet so powerful as in BW. But, also here some of the differences are matching. Especially important is the difference that you can force the input parameters to be pre-filled and by this you can force the user to pre-select some reporting space to reduce the amount of data pushed to the server.

In which aspect are the filters and prompts equal?

Important aspect is independent if filter or prompts, both are influencing the data source and invalidating the result set, therefore after change ALWAYS a call will be made to the source system (HANA, or BW). And here also, in BW there are more consequences on prompts then filters, eg. when you have merged prompts – other data sources will be forced to reload the data. Filter is working only on one data source. Of course in HANA the behavior is different.


There is a difference, use it wisely 😉

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
  • Thanks for the blog Karol. Please check my understanding wrt this note

    both are influencing the data source and invalidating the result set, therefore after change ALWAYS a call will be made to the source system (HANA, or BW)…

    If in my HANA View or in my CompositeProvider in BW I have the following data

    A B C D E F

    In the prompt of my DS application I selected by default the values

    A B C

    Now my DS application displays me only the values A B C

    Now I go to the Filter of the same DS application. What can values will I have to filter on:

    1. the same as in the beginning – A B C D E F     OR

    2. Only A B C

    If I read correctly your statement, the correct answer is No 2.

    Can you please confirm?


    • Hi,

      to the BOLD part – yes, always when you change something in the data source (drilldown, filter, prompts) the request to the source system will be send for new data set. Design Studio is not filtering on any result sets by it self.

      Now, tho the question what you will see.

      for BW – this depends on the BEx query definition, you can specify a variable in the “space” area (left side of query designer) and then the answer will be 2. But you can specify the variable in the “default” area (right side) and then the answer will be 1.

      for HANA – to be honest, today I do not know the answer. I will try to ask or test by myself.


  • Hi Karol,

    I had already a question about filters and prompts – Design Studio 1.6 ignores Filter Member and changing Prompts, it was answered.

    After it I created several more apps playing with filters and prompts and found out the following (DS is BEx Query):

    1. When “merge prompts = true”, I cannot use Filter Members in the Initial View for the Dimensions that have Bex prompts on them, all changes are discarded after I click OK in the Initial View. Reset Initial View also brings no result. However, I can still use Filter Members in the Initial View for all other dimensions.

    2. When “merge prompts = false”, I can use Filter Members in the Initial View for all the dimensions, but all Prompts values, that are not defined in the Initial View by filters, are not saved as defaults, to do this, I need to use a bit of coding.

    3. When I change “merge prompts = false” to “merge prompts = true”, Filter Members settings for the Dimensions with Prompts on them are saved and I cannot change them till I change to “merge prompts = false” again.

    Could you please confirm that this behavior is a correct one?

    Thanks and Regards,