SAP BI 4.2 SP4: What’s New in Web Intelligence and Semantic Layer
This document summarizes the planned enhancements in the next SAP BI4.2 Support Package 4 for Web Intelligence, Semantic Layer and some BI Platform Tools.
Following the enhancements introduced in SAP BI 4.2 and SAP BI 4.2 SP3 (see here for more details), we continue to enhance and innovate in Web Intelligence and the Semantic Layer for the next SAP BI 4.2 SP4. Currently, several customers and partners have entered the SAP BI 4.2 SP4 Beta program and shares positive feedbacks on the planned capabilities:
- Web Intelligence
- New Web Intelligence Interactive Viewer
- Parity in Web Intelligence dHTML and Web Intelligence Java Applet
- New Charts Type (Gauges, Tiles) and Charts Properties
- BI Variant: Exclude Prompts from BI Variant
- Cumulative Enhancements for Objects, Variables and Functions
- New FHSQL Security Right
- Semantic Layer
- BI Sets
- Information Design Tool: Usability Enhancements and Check Integrity New Options
- SAP variables for SAP HANA and SAP BW
- New Supported Data Sources Support
- Web Intelligence and Semantic Layer SDK
- Web Intelligence REST Web Services
- Web Intelligence Custom Elements
- Web Intelligence Calculation Extensions
- Semantic Layer Java SDK
- Subset of BI Platform Tools enhancements
- Search: Performance Enhancement
- Promotion Management
- BI on BI Universe and Web Intelligence Documents Sample
- Web Intelligence Change Source Utility
You might also look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUI-LrJlnBI
New Web Intelligence Interactive Viewer
To propose a simplified experience, new modernized interfaces are now proposed for both Web Intelligence and BI Launch pad:
- A new BI Launch Pad that can be accessed through the http://<server>:<port>/BOE/BILaunchpad URL
- For Web Intelligence, a new interface named Web Intelligence Interactive Viewer.
These new interfaces have adopted the new FIORI style; FIORI is the graphical library used in SAP to standardize all its applications. It is agnostic, designed to work on mobile device (like a tablet) for touch application or on classic desktop.
Web Intelligence Interactive Viewer
Both these classic and new versions can co-exist on the same repository. They are only front-end user interfaces and there is no CMS or document conversion required to use these new interfaces. The Web Intelligence back-end services remain the same; all your existing Web Intelligence documents can be opened in this new interface and will continue to behave as in the Web Intelligence dHTML, Applet or Rich Client.
With the new Web Intelligence Interactive Viewer, you can open and refresh any existing documents and benefit of these features:
- Navigation by report, section or page
- Refresh documents with the support of all types of parameters and BI variants
- Display comment
- Drill, if the document has been saved in drill mode
- Element linking
- New integrated Filters bar integrating:
- Prompt summary
- Input controls and group input controls
- Element linking
- Sort and rank report elements dataset
- Collapse/elapse hierarchies
- Save as, export as PDF, export as Excel, send to
Comment Displayed in Web Intelligence Interactive Viewer
Interactive Commands: Sort and Rank
In this first version, the Web Intelligence Interactive View won’t be at parity with its classic versions (dHTML, Java or Rich Client):
- Some features are not supported in the interactive viewer: Fold/unfold, frozen headers, reply/create comments …
- This interactive viewer does not allow you to create or edit a document. For design mode, you’ll have to use the classic Web Intelligence dHTML, Applet or Rich Client versions.
This parity is planned in future versions.
- The new BI Launch Pad and Web Intelligence Interactive Viewer rely on REST Web Services. In the CMC, make sure the Access URL is properly set in Applications > REST Web Service > Properties.
RESTFul REST WS Properties
- To log into the new BI Launch pad, you need to have the BI Launch Pad’s “Logon to new Fiorified BI Launch pad” security right.
Parity in Web Intelligence Java and Web Intelligence dHTML
Following the effort done in SAP BI 4.2 SP3 to achieve parity between Web Intelligence dHTML and Java, two new features are now also supported in dHTML:
- Free-Hand SQL support: It is now possible to create a document based on Free-Hand SQL and to edit the query in the Query Panel. For both dHTML, Applet and Rich Client, the ability to use Free-Hand SQL is now controlled via a security right set at connection level—see “Relational Connections: FHSQL Security right” below for more details.
- Right to Left Display: For languages that require right to left display, the document content is now displayed in the proper direction.
Free-Hand SQL Editor in Web Intelligence DHTML
Right to Left Display in Web Intelligence dHTML
As this is the case since SAP BI 4.2, to avoid creating new gaps, all new features introduced in Web Intelligence are supported in both dHTML and Java.
Web Intelligence New Charts Types and Properties
New charts are now available out of the box:
- Gauge, through 3 sub-types:
- Speedometer to represent data on a radial scale between a lower and upper limit.
- Angular gauge, to represent data on a radial scale, compared to other values: mandatory maximum and optional target and minimum.
- Linear gauge, like the angular gauge but on a linear scale.
- Tile, through 2 sub-types:
- Tile, to display a measure value.
- Tile with deviation, to display a measure value and its evolution compared to a previous value. The value can be colored compared to a target.
Some new options have been added to existing charts:
- For Waterfall charts, you can modify the Total Value label
- For Bar and Column charts, new options are available for bar width
- You can change the color of the data labels in each data series
- You can display stacked dimensions as a grid (default), a tree or flat list
Customize Total Label in Waterfall Charts
New options for Bar Width
Flat Layout for stacked dimensions
Finally, to display data series, a new palette, called Pastels, has been added.
BI Variants have been introduced in SAP BI 4.1 SP6 and are very useful to pre-fill prompts answers. However, if you have dynamic prompts values, you do not want to save these values in the BI variant.
In SAP BI 4.2 SP4, it is possible to explicitly exclude some prompts answers when saving a BI variant. When you select this BI variant, the prompts that have not been saved in the BI variant are not modified.
When you create the BI variant, in the Create Variant dialog box, you can unselect the prompts values to not save in the BI variant.
BI Variant Creation Dialog Box
Web Intelligence: Objects, Variables and References
To simplify variables and references management, a new Description text field has been introduced where the report creator can add its own comment. This text field is available in variables, references and grouping variables.
In the Available Objects side panel, when you hover your mouse over one of these, this description pops up.
Variable Description in Available Objects
New functions are introduced in the formula language:
- DatesBetween: Returns the number of periods (DayPeriod, WeekPeriod, MonthPeriod, QuarterPeriod, SemesterPeriod, YearPeriod) between two dates, irrespective of the time
- TimeBetween: Returns the number of periods (DayPeriod, WeekPeriod, MonthPeriod, QuarterPeriod, SemesterPeriod, YearPeriod, , HourPeriod, MinutePeriod, SecondPeriod, MillisecondPeriod) between two dates taking the time into account
The PromptSummary gets two new arguments:
- sorting_order (default|ascending|descending): to define how to sort the prompt list
- show_definitive_prompt (Boolean): to show or not SAP BEx definitive prompts/parameters.
Flatten SAP BW Hierarchies
The automatic creation of level dimensions for hierarchies is now supported for SAP BW.
This was previously possible on MSAS through drag and drop or through the MemberDepth ( Name, level ) function that is available for all data sources.
Levels Automatically Created for SAP BW hierarchies
In 4.2 SP4, it is now possible to do it through drag and drop for SAP BW.
When designing the report, some enhancements are available for hidden objects:
- It is possible to hide a measure in a table. This can be useful to apply a sort or a rank based on this measure, without displaying it.
- It is possible to create a reference on a hidden cell
- When you hide an object, its formatting is kept and is restored when the object is unhidden
If you have created a variable based on an object that has been secured for a user in the universe, when you display this variable in a document, the corresponding cells are now filled with #SECURITY instead of #SYNTAX or #ERROR. With #SECURITY, the IsError() function returns true, instead of nothing for #SYNTAX.
Relational Connections: FHSQL security right
To prevent user to create FHSQL queries in Web Intelligence, a new security right “Use connection for Free-Hand SQL scripts” has been created for relational connection. By denying this security right, you prevent your users to create new Web Intelligence document using Free-Hand SQL on top of this connection or to edit the queries of the existing ones.
Until now, it was possible to deny the security right “Edit SQL” at Web Intelligence application level, but it was too strict since this right also disables editing queries created on universes.
Introduced in SAP BI 4.2 SP3, sets are list of business entities (e.g. Customer, Products, Services) based on relational universes created in Information Design Tool (UNX).
They are exposed as filters in Query Panel to identify members, leavers, joiners or stayers out of the box.
BI Sets are persisted back (aka materialized) to the data source; which accelerates complex database queries. BI Sets materialization can be scheduled.
BI Sets Authoring
The main enhancements in BI Sets have been done in BI Sets creation.
- Support segmentation per measures and per attributes Use aggregation across the board to focus on most strategic business items.
Segmentation based on a Measure
- Support query panel to select subject Use business terms to quickly identify targets
- Support prompts/contexts in query panel step.
Enhance Visual Data Steps
- Ability to reorder steps
New Icons in Toolbar to Reorder Steps
- Insert custom values
- Limit distinct values
- Option to display count by step
- By default, propose formula editor for scalar dimension
- Create Processing Group to schedule several sets materialization at once and following dependency chain
Processing Group for 4 BI Sets – NextCampain has a dependency on DormantCustomers (SAP Labs preview)
- A new display is proposed for Venn diagram.
New Venn Diagram display
BI Sets Change Source
Web Intelligence Change Source now supports both static and temporal BI Sets. You can map:
- A BI set to another BI set
- A BI set to a predefined filter
- A predefined filter to a BI set
Information Design Tool
In Information Design Tool, some usability enhancements have been released to simplify working with the tool.
- When creating a session, you can display the password being typed by clicking the button beside the Password text field.
- The system name of a session can be copied to more easily create another session with the same system name:
- In the Repository Resources, you can right click a session name and select Copy System Name.
- In the Open Session dialog box, the System Name can also be copied.
Copy Session System Name
In Information Design Tool Preferences, several new options are now available to fine-tune check integrity processing:
- In Preferences > Information Design Tool > Publish, you can select to not display the Check Integrity panel when publishing a universe. This can be useful when you just drag and drop a business layer from Local projects into a Repository Resources to publish the universe. The publication becomes smoother since the check integrity screen is no more displayed.
- In Preferences > Information Design Tool > Check Integrity, you can disable the checks done on disabled or hidden objects, through the Do not check Deprecated elements and Do not check Hidden elements checkboxes.
- The previous “Check Query” rule has been splitted into two rules, that can be independently enabled or disabled:
- “Check Query”: to check the overall query.
- “Check object execution (DB) “: to individually check that the objects can be run on the database.
Check Integrity Properties in Preferences
SAP Variables for SAP HANA and SAP BW
In 4.2 SP3, the support of complex variables has been introduced for SAP HANA views in SAP HANA Direct Access.
In SAP BI 4.2 SP4, these variables are now supported for:
- SAP BEx queries through SAP BEx Direct Access
- SAP BEx queries through an authored universe
- SAP HANA, through an authored universe
If you access an SAP HANA view through a relational universe created in Information Design Tool, you can set predefined answers to their variables and save them in the universe. You can also define if you want these variables to be prompted in the client tools, or not.
Variables Tab on a SAP HANA View Displayed in Data Foundation (Information Design Tool)
Supported Data Sources
SAP BI 4.2 SP4 supports new relational data sources for:
- DB2 for i7.3
- MySQL 5.7
- Oracle Exadata 12
- SQL Anywhere 17
- SQL Server 2016
For “big data” sources, SAP BI 4.2 SP4 also introduces support for:
- SAP HANA SPS12
- SAP HANA 2
- SAP HANA VORA
- Horton Works HDP 2.3.4
- Apache Spark 2.0
SAP HANA 2 relies on multi-tenancy and you need to know the port used by your tenant. In information design tool, when creating a:
- JDBC relational connection to SAP HANA 2, use Multiserver to enter the server name and this port
- OLAP connection to SAP HANA 2, enter the server name and this port in the Datasource field.
Web Intelligence and Semantic Layer SDK
Web Intelligence REST Web Services
In Web Intelligence REST Web Services, several new APIs have been introduced to support:
- Group input controls
- New options for List of values
- New Save/Save As options
- New options to export doc content and data
- Report navigation enhancements
- Element linking
- Read comments
- More details on report element
- Get security rights for the session
Web Intelligence Custom Elements
In Web Intelligence Custom Elements:
- The Custom Elements service can return a thumbnail to better identify the custom elements in the charts dialog box
Custom Elements Thumbnails
- The render API can identify the custom element instances that call it
- In the CMC, you can deploy a Custom Elements service as a Web Intelligence extension
- Custom elements are better integrated with Web Intelligence extension:
- You can use Web Intelligence extension APIs from Custom Elements
- In Web Intelligence dHTML: Custom Element and its extension can communicate and exchange data
Deployment Mode for Custom Elements Service
Web Intelligence Calculation Extensions
In Web Intelligence, the calculation extension has been updated. Calculation extensions are used to create your own functions in the language formulae.
Web Intelligence Function Extension
A new Visual Studio 2015 project is provided as a sample.
Semantic Layer Java SDK
In Semantic Layer Java SDK, a new class has been introduced to accelerate Data and Business Security Profiles access: UniverseSecurityCache. This cache allows you to work locally on the Security Profiles changes to do before committing them into the CMS repository. This cache is intended to reduce back and forth with the CMS repository that are time-consuming.
SL Java SDK: UniverseSecurityCache Object Model
The Search algorithm has been reviewed and its performances have been highly improved for metadata indexing (from days to minutes basically).
These improved performances are not set by default and you must set the level of indexing to “Platform Metadata”. To do so, follow these steps:
- Go to CMC and logon as Administrator.
- Go to the Applications
- Open the Platform Search application properties.
CMC Applications Tab
- In the Scope of indexing area / Level of Indexing, ensure that Platform Metadata is selected. Be aware that if this option was not previously selected, when you modify the level of indexing, the indexing is initialized for the entire BI platform repository refresh.
Platform Search Application Properties Page
- In this page, click the Stop Indexing
Platform Search Application Indexing
- In the Error Recovery section, select Rebuild index.
Platform Search Application Error Recovery
This option deletes the existing index, and re-indexes the entire repository. You can select the Rebuild index option whether indexing is running or stopped. The existing index is deleted when you save your changes to the properties page. However, if indexing is currently stopped, the index does not start rebuilding until you restart indexing.
If you do not select the Rebuild Index option, and change the level of indexing or selects/unselects extractors, then the index is incrementally updated without deleting the existing index.
- At the top of the properties page, click the Start Indexing
BI on BI Universe and Web Intelligence Documents Samples
In SAP BI 4.2 SP3, a new driver has been introduced for relational connection—CMS repository—that allows you to connect to your CMS repository and query its content.
In SAP BI 4.2 SP4, universe and report samples that take advantage of this connectivity are now installed on your file system as a BIAR file, but they are not deployed on the CMS repository. You need to import them using Promotion Management.
This BIAR file (BI Platform CMS System Database Sample.lcmbiar) is installed in the Samples/bionbi folder in your installation folder.
Web Intelligence Change Source Utility
A sample utility is provided to change the source of a batch of documents from UNV to UNX. This can be useful after you have converted a UNV into UNX and want the documents that were using the UNV to query the converted UNX.
This utility is provided as a set of Web Intelligence and an Excel files contained in a BIAR file. You must import this BIAR file into the CMS repository using Promotion Management. The Web Intelligence document pilots a dedicated component that can:
- Simulate the change source and return expected results
- Perform the actual change source.
This sample utility is available in your installation folder, in the Samples/wics folder that contains:
- The BIAR file named BIAdminWebIChangeSource.lcmbiar
- The PDF documentation. Refer to this documentation for more details about how to use this utility.