Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 and BI 4.2

SAP BI 4.1 introduces a new look and a new wrinkle to the customization process.

NOTE: The techniques described here also work with SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2.

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 went into general availability on August 29, 2013 (see related EV Technologies article, SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Now in General Availability). In addition to combining fixes from previous releases and introducing new features and platform support, there were some minor changes in how the BI Launchpad can be customized. I’ll walk through the changes in the properties file in this article and address the CSS customization features introduced in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 Support Pack 4 in a future article.

Apache Tomcat 7

The first thing to notice about SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 is that it installs Apache Tomcat 7 as the default web application server in place of Apache Tomcat 6 (SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 uses Tomcat 8). For upgrades to earlier versions, the installer will leave the Apache 6 files at C:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectsTomcat6 and install Apache Tomcat 7 in the adjacent C:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectstomcat.

Customization Basics

Starting with BI 4.0, SAP uses properties files that can be easily changed using a text editor instead of the XML files used by XI 3.1. These files can be preserved during patch updates by following some simple steps.

The default location for properties files is the C:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectstomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigdefault directory. To modify properties from their defaults, copy the desired properties file from the default directory to the adjacent custom directory, which is C:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectstomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigcustom.  To make sure your changes are preserved and not lost the next time the WAR files are deployed (typically during patch upgrades), be sure to follow SAP Note 1615492 and copy the custom files to SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0warfileswebappsBOEWEB-INFconfig.

Customizing the BI Launchpad Login Page

The new BI 4.1 BI Launch Pad login has been streamlined in appearance from earlier versions. Long-time fans of the BusinessObjects brand will notice that the SAP BusinessObjects logo has disappeared in favor of the SAP logo (see related article, First Impressions of SAP BusinessObjects 4.1). In fact, the only mention of “BusinessObjects” is in a text string that we’re about to customize.

SAPBI41 Customize Launchpad 02

The appearance of the login screen is controlled by the default BIlaunchpad.properties file, located at C:Program Files (x86)SAP Business ObjectstomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigdefault.

SAPBI41 Customize Launchpad 01

In addition to the existing app.name, app.name.short, and app.name.greeting properties from previous releases, BI 4.1 introduces a new property, app.custom.product.name. It’s left unspecified but currently defaults to SAP BusinessObjects, which appears on the first line of the logon screen. The app.name.short parameter is also unspecified but defaults to BI Launch pad. The app.name property is not used on the login screen but instead is used for the <TITLE> of all interior pages of the BI Launch pad.

To customize the properties file, do not modify the original but instead copy it to adjacent directory C:Program Files (x86)SAP Business ObjectstomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigcustom. I’ve shown the modifications below.

SAPBI41 Customize Launchpad 03

After restarting Apache Tomcat, I can see the result of my customizations.

SAPBI41 Customize Launchpad 04

Once I log in, I can see the effect of the app.name parameter.

SAPBI41 Customize Launchpad 05 600 Annotated

 

The rest of the customizations such as system name and authentication type are identical to previous versions.

Adding or changing Favicons
If you want to dress up your users’ browser with a favicon, overwrite the standard Tomcat favicon.ico file with your own at <INSTALLDIR>/tomcat/webapps/ROOT then restart Tomcat.

There are unique icons for the BI Launchpad, Central Management Console (CMC), and Explorer.  I like to replace the BI Launchpad and Explorer favicons. I prefer to leave the CMC favicon as-is, as only a few people see it and it’s easier to find when multiple browser tabs are in use.

Place new InfoView.ico in C:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectstomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFeclipsepluginswebpath.InfoViewwebimages. Place new explorer.ico in C:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectstomcatwebappsexplorer.

Be sure to clear Tomcat cache C:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectstomcatworkCatalinalocalhost before restarting.

NOTE: The favicon can now be set as part of the BI Launch Pad branding kit. See Christina Obry’s article Branding and Theming of BI launch pad for details.

Changing the Default Web Intelligence Paper Size
When SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 is initially installed, the default page size is A4.  This international standard (see Wikipedia) is used nearly around the world but is not the same as the standard Letter size used in the United States and Canada.

Prior to BI 4.0, the default paper size was set in a file named defaultconfig.xml. But BI 4.x no longer uses this file to define default paper size. Instead, Web Intelligence now derives attributes like page size, header size, footer size, and margins from a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS), not the old XML configuration file. The procedure for changing the default paper size from A4 to Letter can be found on this article I wrote for the EV Technologies blog.

NOTE: Existing reports will still have the page size set when the document was saved; however, this modification will change the default page size setting for all new documents.

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 Launch Pad Default Preferences

My colleague Chris Greer has a great write-up on setting default user preferences, either by user or group, which was introduced as a new feature of the BI 4.0 platform.

Conclusion

So that explains the mechanics of customization. But how to use it practically? Use the upgrade as an opportunity to educate your customers about your brand (see related article, Business Intelligence Branding). Don’t lose sleep over retraining users that the InfoView portal has been renamed as the BI Launch pad. Or wondering if and when SAP will finally pull the plug on the BusinessObjects brand.

I’m sure I’ll have more to share about BI 4.1 as I begin working daily with the new release. And I hope to write soon about using the CSS customization features recently introduced in BI 4.0 SP4. In the meantime, Christine Obry has provided some great information on the SAP Community Network and you can find the links below.

Resources

Author: Dallas Marks

I am a business intelligence architect, author, and trainer. I help organizations harness the power of analytics, primarily with SAP BusinessObjects products. An active blogger, SAP Mentor and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting about business intelligence.

59 thoughts on “Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 and BI 4.2”

  1. Hey Dallas,

    Nice work, we use these all the time in our DEV and Testing environment so Content folks don’t get confused!

    I’m currently testing BI 4.1 SP1 Patch 1 (now patch 2!) and noticed that for some strange reason, when we set the authentication.default=secWinAD in the BIlaunchpad.properties file in config/custom, It doesn’t get picked up?!? Everything else does (such as hiding the CMS and Authentication dropdowns and the app. changes!) Have you seen this?

    I’m going to open a case with SAP (just the thought of that makes me cringe!!) if I can’t figure out something soon!

    -Mark

    1. Mark,

      Thanks for writing.

      First, make sure you delete browser cookies (the last system, user and authentication type are remembered using cookies), close the browser, then try again. Second, it doesn’t hurt to stop Tomcat, delete its cache, and restart (although that’s generally not required for the authentication type).

      For BI 4.1 SP1, I’ve already opened a couple of minor support notes for the System Configuration Wizard (and updated that article). We also noticed that the BI 4.0 Home tab in the BI Launchpad worked perfectly with no rights granted to the BI Workspaces application (a decision made by a previous system administrator) but blew chunks (Java stack trace) in BI 4.1 SP1. We simply restored the default View rights to Everyone.

      We’re hoping to stay with BI 4.1 SP1 and wait for SP2 (avoiding the in-between fixes) unless we notice something critical is not working.

      Regards,
      Dallas

  2. Dallas,

    Good luck on that fix in that patch! We feel like the movie Airport with our ADAPTS, “now arriving on SP6, uh, SP7, ummm, SP8, OK now on 4.1, SP1…oops, SP 2…it never stops and nothing seems to ever get fixed anymore.

    If it’s not related to HANA they don’t seem to care…IMHO.

    -Mark

  3. Dallas,
    Have you had any experience with adding a company logo into the BI launchpad home screen in 4.1? I just upgrade from 4.0 and the logo file name has changed, also It looks like the Logo for the login screen is the same as the home screen. Hence the one on the home screen is getting truncated.

    In the end I completed it, but I am sure there is a better way
    -Steve

  4. hi Dallas, I followed your advices and it works great! But I had a question, I would like to modify the Authentication list…I would like to be offered just Windows AD and Enterprise.

    In this file you talk about, I added the line
    authentications=secWinAD,secEnterprise

    But after restarting Tomcat…I still see the full list of authentication modes

    Am I doing something wrong?
    Thanks a lot
    Victor

  5. Hi…Great details…I am looking to add a link on the BI Launchpad logon screen…this link will open a URL where user could change the PW….Could you please help or direct me on how to acheive this.

    Thanks,
    Usman

    1. Usman,

      I haven’t taken a look at trying to add HTML to the login screen because these customizations aren’t supported and are difficult to manage with patches. If your organization has a intranet portal or Sharepoint, I recommend building a BI knowledge base there.

      Thanks for writing,
      Dallas

  6. Hey Dallas,

    I want to add our company logo on the InfoView portal of BI4.1 SP2.

    Some of the blogs advice replacing “login_banner_logo.png” and “banner_logo.gif” under the
    “BOEWEB-INFeclipsepluginswebpath.InfoViewwebimages” directory, but they don’t even exist. I added the logos under these names anyway and it doesn’t work. Is there something different in BI4.1 SP2?

    Thanks
    Suryesh CHATWANI

    1. Suryesh,

      Thanks for writing. To customize images, take a look at Christina Obrey’s SCN articles that I’ve linked to at the bottom of this page. She describes how to modify the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS).

      Good luck!
      Dallas

  7. Hi alltogether,
    having a problem with the user attributes using Enterprise Security.
    Taking the variable to a data security pofile has no effect in the report.
    If doing so I am allways asked for adding a value for the user attribute variable
    when executing the Report Dataprovider allthough the variable is set for the corresponding user in CMC.

    Thx for your help in advance.

    Matthias

    1. Matthias,

      Thanks for writing. I’m not familiar with that particular issue. I recommend that you open a support incident with SAP. It might be a defect that is fixed in a later patch level.

      Best wishes,
      Dallas

  8. Hi Dallas! Thanks for your article!
    May I ask if we can customize the default output page?
    Currently on a new report, when you first run a query from query panel, what will display on the result page by default is the automatically generated table and a default Title Cell with “=ReportName()” already defined.
    Is there a way to customize this default output page? ie. changing “=ReportName()” to “=DocumentName()” or make the headers include Company Logo by default?

    Thanks for your time!

    1. Randy,

      You can modify the default Web Intelligence style sheet (see SAP tutorial) to match your corporate color scheme, but I believe what you are looking for is a Web Intelligence “template”, something that we’ve requested for years. Take a look in the SAP Idea Graveyard, uh, I mean Idea Place.

      Thanks for writing!
      Dallas

  9. Hi Dallas, Great blog, thank you for sharing your expertise, one quick question, can you please help me on how to disable one SAVE AS button on the Exploration View Page when using Explorer.Need to know this as a business requirement, they want only one save button enabled.

  10. Hi Dallas,

    This article is very helpful. Thank you for publishing it.
    I need to replace the help link on the BILaunchPad, do you know how I can replace this help link?

    Thanks,

    1. Ilyas,

      I’m unsure how to replace the help link without hacking the JSP code. Obviously, a hyperlink inside the BI launch pad isn’t as useful but is an option.

      Regards,
      Dallas

  11. HI Dallas.
    This article is awesome!
    I want to customize the default Tomcat Error page in Business objects 4.1; Tomcat 7; Could you please share your idea about how to do and on which file do I need to do the changes?

    Thanks,
    Bill

  12. Dallas, we are using Single Sign On authentication to bypass BI Launch pad. However, in case of any error such as user not set up, we are ending on BI Launch pad with corresponding error.
    We do not want to show User Id and password fields to the user (since she/he got in via SSO).
    We could hide these fields in case of any error, but is there an option to redirect to custom,jsp instead of logon.faces?

    1. Ladislav,

      I’m not aware of a capability to do this. I recommend opening a support incident with SAP. If a solution is available, they’ll recommend it. If not, they’ll refer you to the SAP Idea Place.

      Good luck,
      Dallas

  13. Hi Dallas,

    I created a bi workspace with a dashboard inside and its the default Home tab when users log on to the launch pad, works great but when the users change tabs inside the launch pad and return to the Home tab the dashboard its reloaded.

    How can i avoid this? , it is possible?

    thanks.

  14. Hi Dallas,
    Did you experienced hiding Application menu in Launchpad zone ?
    I know how to do it by avoiding explicitly the connexion to Web Intelligence (in CMC) but this gives collateral issues like: the document don’t open anymore and try to start Java applet indefinitely.

    Thanks in advance for helping hand, best regards.
    Bogdan

  15. Hi Dallas,
    Thanks for sharing all this useful information. I have done most of your suggested customization, like changing names, logos and favicon, hiding texts. All of them successfully in IExporer, but I don’t know what’s happening in my firefox because I only can see the changes in .properties or .jsp files.

    Firefox it’s not showing the code added to the customize.css
    Is it a common issue? Do you have any idea? Thank you again!

    Regards,
    Guillermo

  16. I have a folder structure that is required to be deployed as a part of BOE folder. I am unable to deploy that on the TOMCAT. Could you please help me out with it.
    directory structure :

    BOEBOBrowser|*.jsp

    I have to access this jsp. I Am unable to access this jsp through web URL. Please help me out

  17. Is there anyway of customizing the appearance of the crystal reports parameter form in BI Launchpad 4.1? When a crystal report is run,and the user is prompted to enter parameter values, the form appears central in the screen, and users would like to make it a little wider so that the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom is not present.

    1. Julian,

      Thanks for writing. I am not aware of a way to alter the Crystal Reports parameter display, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. I’d encourage you to open a support incident. If the answer is “no”, consider writing up the suggestion in the SAP Idea Place.

      Regards,
      Dallas

  18. Hi Dallas,

    I have an issue where I am placing 3 entries in the my bi launch pad custom config file:

    authentication.visible=true
    authentication.default=secWinAD
    url.exit=https://

    I have an actual url in the url.exit entry.

    I run wdploy . I check the sight and hte first 2 entries are working as expected. but the last is not ( this is my prod enviroment). this same setting work in my QA enviroment.

    When I check the custom config the url.exit is missing.

    I thought at first i must have not save it . so I re applied the value save and reopend the config to confirm. ran wdeploy . and the first 2 values work fine but not the url.ext, I check and once again it is missing in the custom config.

    I am not understanding what is causing this.

    Any suggestions would be great.

    1. Jon,

      Make sure that any customizations that you place in C:SAP BusinessObjectstomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigcustom are copied to C:SAP BusinessObjectsSAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0warfileswebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigcustom because the C:SAP BusinessObjectsSAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0warfileswebapps is where wdeploy looks for source files. Keeping files there also insure that any patches (which also invoke wdeploy) do not forget your customizations.

      Hope this helps,
      Dallas

  19. Hi Dallas,

    I hope you can help me here.

    I want to be able to change the text on the Logon Page that says

    “Enter your user information, and click “Log On”.
    If you are unsure of your account information, contact your system administrator.”

    This used to be possible with BOE XI 3.1 using the PlatformResources_en.properties within the PlatformServices_en.jar file located at E:\Tomcat7\webapps\PlatformServices\WEB-INF\lib

    I’m able to add Custom Message on the Home Page so, I would like to remove these lines from the Home Page or replace it with a custom message.

    Also, I haven’t found a way to remove “app.name.short”. I don’t really need this, it just duplicates, I thin, we don’t really have short name (internal) for the application.

    Any thoughts for BI 4.2?

    Thank you.

    1. It’s a great question but I haven’t had a customer ask me to dig in and figure out how to add a custom message. It might be worth opening a support incident to see if SAP has a recommendation. Also, there’s probably several suggestions along these lines in the SAP Idea Place- adding your vote increases the odds of adoption.

      I’ve tried to stick with “supported” customizations that don’t get wiped out by patching, etc.

  20. Hi Dallas,

    Thanks for sharing the knowledge. It’s very helpful.

    I am trying to add a button on the BI Launchpad, on click of it leads to another page or site.

    Is that possible to add a button on BI Launchpad? Please let me know.

    Thanks,
    Sarthak Chhabra

    1. Sorry for the delay in replying. I am not aware of a way to do what you propose without custom coding. One possibility would be that you use the BI Workspace feature and create a custom BI Workspace that replaces the default BI Launch Pad home page. Among other things, the BI Workspace could include a link (or even a panel) to the other web site.

  21. Hi ,We are planning to directly land on to Query panel in BI 4.2 from custom application , instead its land us to page where we can design and add data provider and then land to query panel. Could you please help on this

    1. Thanks for writing. I’m not a developer, but I do know that you’ll want to use the Web Intelligence SDK’s to include the Webi query panel directly into your custom application, not simply point to it externally. You should be able to find custom code examples on the SAP web site.

    1. I’m not aware of an out-of-the-box way to do that without custom coding. Actually, you want to train your users to log off “properly” (even though many won’t) as it improves SAP session management.

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