SAP Insider Reporting & Analytics 2016 INTERACTIVE

Join me and my friends at SAP Insider’s Reporting & Analytics 2016 INTERACTIVE conference.

Join me at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida on November 2-4, 2016 at SAP Insider’s Reporting & Analytics 2016 INTERACTIVE conference. I’ll be there with my co-workers, Chris Bushmeyer and Eric Vallo (see the full EV Technologies speaking roster here). I’m giving two presentations about Web Intelligence and will be sharing the latest visualization enhancements included in the latest SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise 4.2 Support Pack 3 release.

Leverage the newest capabilities of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence to create powerful visualizations for your data

Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM, room TBD

There’s a story in your corporate data, but sometimes it needs an analytic storyteller to bring that story to life. SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.0 introduced a new charting engine, several new chart types, and a redesigned workflow for creating charts. In this session, we’ll look at the features in the latest 4.2 release. Learn not only how to use Web Intelligence charts but when to use them by applying best practices for the display of quantitative information on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

  • Discover Web Intelligence 4.2 charting capabilities, including new geolocation charts
  • Learn best practices for displaying quantitative information
  • Review special considerations for tablets and smartphones

Making mobile magic with SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence

Friday, November 4, 2016 @ 10:30 – 11:45 AM, room TBD

Ready for mobile business intelligence? This comprehensive session teaches you how to create new SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports and tailor existing reports for tablet and smartphone devices. Learn how to configure the BI platform to be mobile-ready as you learn:

  • Techniques to master new mobile-exclusive capabilities, like graphs and scorecards
  • Important differences between card view and page view
  • Using publications to distribute personalized content to users via their mobile devices

Download the presentation slides and sample downloads from the SAP Insider web site.

Image credit: Rosen Shingle Creek

Ten Features That Absolutely Must Be in BI 4.2 SP3

It’s been four years since I published my wish list for BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3. I revisit the list and see what, if anything, has made it into the SAP BI suite.

Four years ago, I wrote an article entitled Ten Features That Absolutely Must Be in BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3. With SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP3 soon going into general availability, I thought it might be interesting to review the current status of my original wish list.

1. Tree control for Web Intelligence universe selection

No improvements here and none expected for the forthcoming SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 Support Pack 3. But perhaps SAP will surprise us with a redesigned universe selector panel in the fully-functional Java-free Web Intelligence coming next year in Support Pack 4?

2. Improved visual distinction between UNV and UNX universes in Web Intelligence

I don’t think there’s been much change here. Still an opportunity for some subtle UI improvements.

3. OLAP universe support for Explorer

Lack of OLAP support for this aging product is by design according to SAP KB 1559221My friend who requested it got tired of waiting and is now a Tableau developer. True story.

4. UNX universe support for Live Office

Fixed. UNX support was finally added to starting with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP6. Live Office isn’t for everyone, but Excel geeks seem to really like it. And Live Office is going to live on in the simplified BI portfolio as its functionality is converged into a future version of Analysis for Microsoft Office.

5. Improved qualification selection in Information Design Tool

Fixed. There have been many usability improvements in the Information Design Tool and this is one of them. If you last took a look at Information Design Tool way back when version 4.0 was released, it’s time to take a second look at the new 4.2 release.

6. Corporate customization of Central Management Console

This request is still unfulfilled but perhaps we’ll see something when the CMC gets the Fiori treatment next year? I’m not looking for robust customization like the BI Launch Pad has. I just want a simple way to change some text strings and colors (using preset themes) to easily distinguish multiple landscapes in the BI lifecycle (Development, Test, Production).

7. No more monolithic Adaptive Processing Server

Fixed. SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 introduced the System Configuration Wizard for APS configuration and some other post-installation tasks, which you can read about here.

My big gripe here continues to be that Design Studio and Lumira both add services to the Adaptive Processing Server. Because these two products are “add-ons”, the System Configuration Wizard doesn’t accommodate them very well. I hope the situation will improve next year when Lumira and Design Studio 2.0 standardize on a single server-size engine.

8. Improved control of Web Intelligence default paper size

Still an open item. Since non-A4 paper size mostly an accommodation for American users, no doubt this improvement is far down on the enhancement backlog, if it’s there at all. Perhaps paper size is less relevant in a greener 21st century?

9. Improved browser support

Fixed. SAP has made major strides in browser support. The biggest obstacle to browser support is how various browsers handle (or refuse to handle) plugins like Adobe Flash and Oracle Java. Fortunately, SAP is working really hard to deliver a plugin-free version of the platform, starting with enhancements to the Web Intelligence HTML panel in the forthcoming BI 4.2 SP3.

10. Improved and better organized sample content

Still as bad as before, except that SAP has added some really nice sample content for mobile devices (see related article, Sampling the Mobile BI Samples with BI 4.1).

Conclusion

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence BI 4.2 Support Pack 3 is almost ready for general availability and contains some really exciting improvements, including four of the items on this wish list. But I hope there’s still time to include the remaining six improvements in BI 4.2 SP4.

What’s on your SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP3 wish list?

Waiting on SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2

Are you waiting, too?

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2, the eagerly awaited update to the BI4 platform, quietly went into beta last week. Gregory Botticchio and Pascal Gaulin from the Web Intelligence product group in Paris, France (see related article, SAP Paris) were on hand to present “What’s New in SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence” (Session 2806). But otherwise, there was barely a word of BI 4.2 news breathed during the recent ASUG SAP BusinessObjects and Analytics User Conference in Austin, Texas.

Web Intelligence 4.2 Innovation Roadmap

Four years ago, I wrote a blog entitled Waiting on SAP BusinessObjects BI4 expressing both excitement and frustration at waiting for the general availability of SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0. Now I find myself eagerly Waiting on SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2 and have shared this sentiment on the SAP Community Network. Check it out!

Read Waiting on SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2 on the SAP Community Network.

 

Web Intelligence and Free-Hand SQL

SAP has put yet another nail in the coffin of Desktop Intelligence.

Prepare Yourself Free-Hand SQL 02

SAP has put yet another nail in the coffin of Desktop Intelligence with Free-Hand SQL in the recent release of Support Pack 6 for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1. Steve Yemm has put together an excellent tutorial on the SAP Community Network (see related SCN article, Web Intelligence Free Hand SQL (FHSQL)/Stored Procedures in BI4.1 SP06). I’d like to show just a couple of extra formatting nuances not in Steve’s article.

Free-Hand SQL isn’t a silver bullet (see related article, Free-Hand SQL Isn’t Free), but it is a bullet. It can help query data that no existing universe can access. Web Intelligence now uses a workflow that will seem very familiar to Desktop Intelligence users.

I’m going to use the Web Intelligence Java applet and choose the new Free-Hand SQL option for creating a new document.
SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_01_A
Next, I’ll choose a universe connection.

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_02_400

For my query, I’ll paste SQL from an eFashion query for Year, State, and Sales Revenue into the Query Script editor, essentially a large text box.

SELECT
Agg_yr_qt_rn_st_ln_ca_sr.Yr,
Agg_yr_qt_rn_st_ln_ca_sr.State,
sum(Agg_yr_qt_rn_st_ln_ca_sr.Sales_revenue)
FROM
Agg_yr_qt_rn_st_ln_ca_sr
GROUP BY
Agg_yr_qt_rn_st_ln_ca_sr.Yr,
Agg_yr_qt_rn_st_ln_ca_sr.State

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_03_400

 

The Query Script “editor” provides the same editing features as its Desktop Intelligence predecessor- none. However, it is possible to validate that the SQL you pasted from elsewhere is valid.

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_04

Notice that Web Intelligence inferred that the aggregate function SUM should be interpreted as a measure object. However, the object naming isn’t terribly creative.
SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_05_400

That is why you’ll want to add aliases to your SQL statement.

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_06_400

You can manually rename objects, which is helpful for setting column headings. Here I changed Sales_Revenue into Sales Revenue.

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_07_400

And voila! The results are exactly what we expect. Except unlike data from the eFashion universe, measures aren’t well-formatted.

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_08

Simply right-click on any value in the Sales Revenue column and choose Format Number. It’s near the bottom of what seems to be the world’s longest right-click menu. Does anyone else hope that Web Intelligence 4.2 will have shorter right-click menus?

 

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_09_A

Choose the desired numeric format.

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_10

And there you have it, a Web Intelligence document that uses Free-Hand SQL.

Some additional observations. The new Free-Hand SQL is also available in the Web Intelligence Rich Client…

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_11_400

However, it is missing from the HTML panel.

SAPBI41_SP6_Webi_Free_Hand_SQL_12_400

This fact isn’t surprising, since Excel, Analysis View, Text and Web Service options are also missing from the HTML panel. Let’s hope that SAP announces some clear plans on how it intends to bring the HTML panel to feature parity with its two peers (see related SAP blog, SAP BI 4.2 SP3: What’s New in Web Intelligence). Someday, I hope that new Web Intelligence features first appear in the HTML panel.

In addition to creating new Web Intelligence reports from Free-Hand SQL, this feature provides new capabilities to the Report Conversion Tool, which were actually introduced earlier in Support Pack 5. Prior to SP5, Desktop Intelligence documents with free-hand SQL were converted by placing the SQL into a derived table of a new universe (see related article, Retiring Desktop Intelligence Free-Hand SQL). This approach could become problematic when hundreds of Desktop Intelligence documents were spawning hundreds of new single-use universes. The Report Conversion Tool no longer needs to create a universe to successfully convert free-hand SQL documents.

Additional Resources

What are your plans for Web Intelligence Free-Hand SQL?

SAP Paris

In May 2015, I accompanied Eric Vallo to SAP’s offices in Paris.

In May 2015, I went to SAP’s office in Paris with Eric Vallo, EV Technologies’ Chief Architect. While our antics were pretty lame when compared to Harold and Kumar, Bill and Ted, or even Jamie and Clint, we had both a productive and poetic visit to one of the great European cities. SAP is a global software company, which I saw first hand. Paris is the original home of BusinessObjects prior to its acquisition by SAP in 2008. It’s presently the current home for the Web Intelligence and semantic layer teams but the BI platform, Crystal Reports, Design Studio, Lumira, and other BI tools are developed elsewhere.

Christian Ah-Soon was our gracious host and we got to see Saurabh Abhyankar, Olivier Duvelleroy, Timo Elliott, Ian Mayor, and so many other great SAP employees in their native habit. They had all just recently relocated from multiple locations around Paris into SAP’s new office building, the Tour SAP.

Tour SAP

EV Technologies’ core product, the Sherlock Inspector Suite for the BI platform, relies on many SDK’s including those for Web Intelligence and the semantic layer, so it’s great to have a face-to-face dialog about what is coming next. We learned about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Support Pack 6, which was released on June 15, 2015. And (shhh!) we learned about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 and its groundbreaking features like [censored] and [censored]. I’d like to share more about [censored] but most of the visit was covered by non-disclosure agreements.

Below is the view from the Tour SAP’s 19th floor. How can you not do your best work with a view like that?

The View

Here’s the Tour Eiffel up close and personal, although not nearly as breathtaking as the photos Timo Elliott takes for his Instagram feed.

Tour Eiffel

The highlight of the trip wasn’t Web Intelligence 4.2. Instead, it was getting to meet my Twitter mate Andrew Fox in person for the first time. In Paris. Below, you can see The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls along with the man himself, The Man Who Could Board a London Train for Paris.

Andrew Fox, the man who could walk through walls

We enjoyed some obligatory pâté and l’escargot before cutting into a fantastic Côte de Boeuf and pomme de terre Lyonnaise. And a nice bottle of Burgundy.

Bons Amis (Good Friends)

 

It was a great trip- my first to anywhere besides the United States or Canada. You can check out some of my other photos on Flickr.

The SAP team is excited about the new Web Intelligence and semantic layer features now available in BI 4.1 SP6 and coming soon in BI 4.2. And I am too.

When I’m Sixty-Four (Bit)

SAP Lumira wonders “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four (bit)”?

Lumira Splash Screen

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four (bit)?

Lennon–McCartney from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

New 64-bit engine leads SAP to sunset 32-bit Lumira Desktop

In a SAP Community Network article entitled 32-bit Lumira Desktop: Direction and Support Going Forward, SAP reveals that Lumira 1.25 (not yet released) will be the last edition of Lumira with 32-bit support.

SAP Visual Intelligence 1.0 (the original product name for what we now know as Lumira) was originally released as 64-bit. SAP Visual Intelligence 1.07 added 32-bit support based on customer feedback. I’m not surprised that SAP acted to meet customers wishes, but I was surprised that giving users, especially power users, a 64-bit operating system was such a large obstacle for SAP customers. Most of these same customers were deploying 32-bit Windows 7 on 64-bit hardware. Starting with the iPhone 5S and iOS 7, even pocket-sized smartphones sport 64-bit processors and operating systems.

SAP introduced its new “in-memory database engine”, formerly known as the much hipper “velocity engine”, in the latest 64-bit edition of Lumira Desktop, version 1.23 (see related SAP Community Network article, What’s New in SAP Lumira 1.23). The 32-bit edition of Lumira Desktop will move into its impending retirement with the older IQ-based database engine. However, Lumira has reached a point in its development where new features (on the Lumira 1.26 desktop and soon to be on the BI 4.1 server) will require this new engine.

The new in-memory database engine will soon come to the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 platform as an add-on, allowing visualizations created with SAP Lumira Desktop to be viewed and refreshed in the BI Launch Pad (see related SAP Community Network article, Planned Native Integration of Lumira into BI Platform Details).

Will SAP BI 4.2 Client Tools Go 64-bit?

With SAP Lumira, SAP Design Studio, and even SAP Data Services Designer already available in 64-bit editions, will SAP BI 4.2 introduce 64-bit editions of “go-forward” client tools like Crystal Reports for Enterprise, Information Design Tool, and Web Intelligence Rich Client? Or does “interoperability” in the SAP BI tool simplification diagram mean that future versions of Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence will receive an adrenaline boost and also take advantage of the in-memory database engine?

SAP BI Simplified Portfolio

At this point, nobody outside of SAP knows but I’m sure we’ll hear more details in the latter half of 2015.

Is Your Organization Ready for 64-bits?

One thing is clear. Now is the time to install 64-bit Windows on the workstations of your Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC) team and the power users you support. Let your SAP Lumira Desktop pilot act as a catalyst in discussions with your enterprise desktop support organization. And while Microsoft is planning a 32-bit edition of its upcoming Windows 10, offer to be guinea pigs for your organization’s Windows 10 pilot, insuring that 64-bit Windows 10 will be the operating system deployed to your core constituencies.

Resources

Are you ready to go 64-bit?

BI to go at SAP Insider’s BI2015

Join me at SAP Insider’s BI2015 conference in Las Vegas.

In March 2015, I’ll be speaking at SAP Insider BI2015 in Las Vegas, a WIS Publishing conference. It’s actually four conferences in one, as HANA 2015, HR 2015 and SAP Admin 2015 will all be going on at the same time. EV Technologies is an event sponsor and I’ll be joined by several of my co-workers (see related EV Technologies article, Viva, Las Vegas!).

SAP Mobile BI to Go at SAP Insider

BI to go! A guide to mobilizing SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM – 6:15 PM
Web and formatted reports track

This comprehensive session teaches you how to create SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports, as well as tailor existing reports, for tablet and smartphone devices. After a brief overview of how to make your BI environment mobile-ready, you will explore:

  • Techniques to master new mobile-exclusive capabilities, like bullet graphs and scorecards
  • Important differences between card view and page view
  • Methods to distribute bursted and personalized content to users via their mobile devices

You can learn more about these events on the SAP Insider web site or follow the BI2015 conversation on Twitter.

See you in Vegas!