The Oracle 12c 32-bit client requires a little bit of extra attention.
I’ve previously written about best practices for installing the 64-bit and 32-bit Oracle clients on a single Microsoft Windows server that needs to support SAP BusinessObjects BI 4 (see related article, Installing Two Oracle Clients on One Server). Those best practices still apply, but I encountered a small wrinkle with Oracle 12c Release 1 (188.8.131.52.0) and apparently I’m not the only one. To the best of my knowledge, I believe the issue is resolved in Oracle 12c Release 2 (184.108.40.206.0).
The installation of the 64-bit client goes smoothly. It’s only when you attempt to install the 32-bit client that you may encounter the following error, “[INS-10102] Installer initialization failed.”
The issue seems to occur when a previous installation of the Oracle 32-bit client (for example, the older 11g client) was previously installed. The registry key named HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/ORACLE has a value named inst_loc behind, which interferes with the Oracle 12c 32-bit installation.
Simply remove the offending inst_loc value from the registry.
Then you’ll be able to install the 32-bit client successfully.
Additional fun with Oracle 12c SQL Loader
The 64-bit Oracle 12c client tools also have a small issue with the SQL Loader utility (sqlldr.exe). SQL Loader is not required by SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4, but I thought I’d document the issue here anyway – “The program can’t start because oranfsodm12.dll is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem.”
Reinstalling the client tools won’t help because the issue is an Oracle defect, which is described on the Oracle Technology Network. To resolve, make a copy of the oraodm12.dll in the bin directory and rename it to oranfsodm12.dll.
What is your experience with SAP BusinessObjects BI4 and Oracle 12c? Share you thoughts in the comments below.
Microsoft Windows 10 arrives this week, with SAP BI support not too far behind.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 is going to be a big day for Microsoft as it formally releases its latest update to its flagship Windows operating system, Windows 10. Since Windows 7 was released nearly 7 years ago on October 22, 2009, most Enterprises have viewed Windows 8 (released October 26, 2012) or Windows 8.1 (released October 17, 2013) more like Vista 2.0 rather than a worthy successor to Windows 7.
Time will tell if Windows 10 features will prompt enterprises to give up on Windows 7 or hang on until its extended support ends on January 14, 2020. Of great interest to SAP customers will be the new Microsoft Edge browser and how it supports plug-ins like Adobe Flash and Oracle Java.
Jayne Landry, SAP General Vice President and General Manager for Business Intelligence, indicates via Twitter that Windows 10 support will be added first to SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP7 then folded into BI 4.2 later.
@DallasMarks Windows 10 with IE will be first tested on SP7 and if everything is fine brought into 4.2.
SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 is unsupported on Microsoft Windows 10. Although Priority One Support for SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 has been extended to 12/31/2018, it has been out of Mainstream Maintenance support (no more patches) since 12/15/2015.
SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 is unsupported on Microsoft Windows 10.
SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP7 and higher support Microsoft Windows 10.
SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 has Windows 10 support from its initial GA to the current release.
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!).
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
SAP has really done mobile-curious customers a big favor with such a useful starting point.
Two years ago, I took a look at the Mobile BI samples in BI 4.0 (see related article, Sampling the Mobile BI Samples with BI 4.0). Those samples were focused on older mobile devices like the Blackberry and not newer devices like Apple iOS and Google Android phones and tablets. Today, SAP includes tablet-ready samples as part of SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 (also in later support packs of BI 4.0), but you’ll need to complete a few simple tasks to see these reports on your mobile device.
Take a look in the Web Intelligence Samples folder and look in the Mobile Samples subfolder.
Inside are six reports: Chart Demo, Drill Demo, Geo Analysis Demo, Input Controls & Filter Demo, Mobile – Table Demo, and Sections Demo.
Many of these reports look pretty plain in the BI Launch Pad, but they come to life on a mobile device. Out of the box, the documents won’t show up on a mobile device because the categories required by the Mobile BI app do not exist. So take a couple of minutes to create the categories (see related article, Creating Categories for SAP Mobile BI Documents). Next, tag each of the six mobile samples with the Mobile category (at first glance, none of the samples fared better with MobileDesigned, but feel free to compare these two categories yourself).
With the category applied, you should now be able to see these Web Intelligence documents on your mobile device. I’m using my trusty Apple iPad 2 and SAP BusinessObjects Mobile BI 6.1.9 (the most recent release) and SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 SP5. Keep in mind that both the version of the mobile app and the version of the BI platform can affect how Web Intelligence documents are displayed.
The Chart Demo demonstrates how various charts using the new BI 4 visualization engine (aka CVOM) appear on a mobile device. There’s several reports within the Chart Demo document- I’ve chosen one of the more colorful ones here. Notice the bubble and waterfall charts, which we never had in XI 3.1 or earlier.
The drill demo demonstrates how to drill down with tables.
It also shows how to drill down with charts. Clicking on a column of the top chart…
…causes it and the pie chart beneath to drill to the next level of the hierarchy.
Geo Analysis Demo
The Geo Analysis Demo demonstrates how to visualize multiple metrics by latitude and longitude. Mapping is only available on a mobile device- this report looks like a bunch of boring tables in the BI Launch Pad.
Input Controls & Filter Demo
As the name suggests, the Input Controls & Filter Demo demonstrates how input controls and filtering are very nicely supported via the mobile interface.
Mobile – Table Demo
The Table Demo demonstrates how horizontal, vertical and crosstab tables appear on a mobile device. There’s multiple report tabs showing various capabilities- I chose the most colorful one here.
Just a simple report showing how the mobile user experience allows users to navigate sections.
These screen shots only show a fraction of the features SAP has demonstrated with these six samples. I was a bit surprised that there’s no bullet graph in these samples and I hope that SAP will continue to enhance this mobile-ready collection in future releases.
SAP has really done mobile-curious customers a big favor with such a useful starting point. Don’t forget that the mobile app itself has its own samples. But these samples effectively demonstrate what a Web Intelligence developer needs to do. I hope you’ll be encouraged to use the same techniques in your own mobile-ready Web Intelligence reports.
Are you currently using mobile Web Intelligence? I’d love to hear any success stories.
SAP BusinessObjects tool selection, circa September 2014
If you’re not presently using SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, don’t start using it.
As part of the simplification of its analytics portfolio, SAP has decided to fold Explorer functionality into Lumira.
Lumira Server uses the SAP HANA platform, so it’s not going to be immediately attractive to every customer- especially one that doesn’t use the SAP Business Suite. For customers that won’t adopt Lumira Server and SAP HANA, SAP plans to support Explorer “as-is”.
In these situations, like with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, we won’t make you move your existing content. We’ll respect that existing investment, allow you to continue with what you have today, and at the same time start to bring ‘Explorer-like’ capabilities into the converged BI experience (in this case, SAP Lumira).
Explorer as-is for customers on the XI 3.1 platform is a product that SAP stopped developing in 2012 for a platform that won’t officially be retired until the end of 2015. Customers currently patching XI 3.1 to the latest SP6 or SP7 have to cross their fingers and pray that SAP BusinessObjects Explorer XI 3.2 SP4 will still work properly.
Explorer as-is for customers using the BI 4 platform is a product that hasn’t seen a significant update since the addition of exploration views in BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3. Explorer has some clearly unique and attractive features in the larger SAP BI portfolio but is in need of modernization and refinement (see my wish list in related article, Family Planning or listen to the Diversified Semantic Layer podcast, Explorer Gets No Love).
SAP recently announced a HANA-free edition of Lumira Server, to be named Lumira, Edge Edition (see SAP Community Network Article, SAP Lumira, Edge edition: What Is It?). But it remains unclear if Lumira, Edge Edition will provide a HANA-free migration path for existing Explorer customers or merely a server back-end to support SAP Lumira Desktop. Perhaps we’ll learn more about Explorer’s future during tomorrow’s #askSAP community call, How SAP Lumira stacks up against the competition.
Customers already meeting business challenges with Explorer should continue to do so. But I’m still unsure that adopting Explorer is wise for customers who haven’t yet begun to use it, without a clear migration path that doesn’t require SAP HANA. Perhaps “don’t start using it” is too strong advice. But like smoking or using Desktop Intelligence, SAP analytics customers should carefully weigh the risks before starting what could turn into a nasty habit.
What are your thoughts on the roadmap for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer? Would you still recommend it’s first-time use in 2014?
Web Intelligence charts can be displayed using your organization’s colors.
In our SAP Press book, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, the Comprehensive Guide, Third Edition, we describe two ways to create custom color palettes with Web Intelligence. The first method allows you to create custom palettes within a specific Web Intelligence document. The second method, which I’ll cover here, allows a SAP BusinessObjects administrator to create a corporate color palette that can be shared by all Web Intelligence users. In many large organizations, the marketing department publishes a style guide for how to properly use the corporate logo. The style guide typically lists the RGB color codes for the logo as well as a list of secondary colors for use in corporate communications, so it’s an ideal reference guide for creating a corporate color palette.
In his book Show Me The Numbers (see my book review), data visualization expert Stephen Few provides three useful color palettes, which I’ll combine to demonstrate how to create a corporate color palette.
Here is the Dark and Bright Palette.
Here is the Medium Palette.
And finally, here is the Light Palette.
Web Intelligence color palettes contain 32 distinct values; however, most charts will only use a few of them. To create a corporate color palette, use a favorite text editor such as Notepad++ and open a file on the BI platform server named <SAP BusinessObjects install folder>\SAP BusinessObjects\SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0\images\VisualizationConfig.template.xml. Save a copy of the file with the name <SAP BusinessObjects install folder>SAP BusinessObjects\SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0\images\VisualizationConfig.xml. Specify colors using decimal values for red, green, blue, and alpha (transparency).
In the example below, I’ve concatenated Stephen Few’s three palettes together, starting with the Dark and Bright palette. Because the Web Intelligence palette requires 32 colors, I’ve added five shades of grey to the end of the list.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!-- VisualizationConfig.xml -->
<!-- The following section allows to define a corporate palette which will be used by default in all new visualization. -->
SAP isn’t ready for Microsoft Windows 10 but its customers already are.
On Tuesday, Microsoft provided the media with a first look at the next version of its Windows operating system, Windows 10. Windows 10 is currently available as a technical preview for those courageous enough to play with unfinished software. Steph Cowan from IT Performs in Midlands, UK was able to quickly get SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1 SP4 running on the technical preview.
Of course, you won’t find Microsoft Windows 10 on the Supported Platforms/Platform Availability Matrix (PAM) just yet. And no doubt there are issues with any software running on such an early preview OS.
I had so much fun talking about SAP BusinessObjects CMS clustering and Ben and Jerry’s Clusterfluff ice cream (see related article, Don’t Fluster the Cluster). A bit of humor can really help bring a dry technical topic to life. The 2014 conference season is now over for me, but I thought somebody out there would see this and be inspired to use it in their own slide decks about CMS clustering. We wouldn’t want any SAP BusinessObjects installations to turn into a cluster chuck, would we?
Raising my glass to SAP BusinessObjects administrators everywhere. Skol!
Possible to squeeze the entire universe into SAP’s desktop data discovery tool?
When SAP Visual Intelligence was introduced in 2012, it could visualize data from any data source as long as it was SAP HANA. Thankfully, universe support came just a few short months later in version 1.03, opening up a wealth of data sources and allowing customers to leverage their existing investments in SAP’s “agnostic” semantic layer. Universe support in Lumira is interesting because the front-end doesn’t give the full BusinessObjects query panel experience that experienced universe consumers expect. But it’s also interesting because of how data gets from the data source, through the universe, and into Lumira. It uses a Web Intelligence mechanism originally designed to allow Web Intelligence documents to be exported from the browser in Microsoft Excel and text formats.
The SAP Lumira universe query panel
First, let’s take a look at the query panel experience. First, here’s the Web Intelligence Java-based universe query panel (from BI 4.1 SP3).
And here’s the Lumira universe query panel (from version 1.19).
At first glance I assumed that Lumira was offering some kind of reimagined query panel of the future. But upon closer inspection it’s a query panel that’s missing quite a few features from Web Intelligence panel, similar to Explorer (see related article, Family Planning), Live Office, and Query as a Web Service (see related article, What I miss in the Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) and Live Office query panels). Even Design Studio has more query panel functionality (although still a subset of the gold standard Web Intelligence panel). It’s possible that the Lumira product team assumed that its users would want something easier to use. But consider that SAP Lumira already has a free-hand SQL capability that’s still lacking from Web Intelligence. Free-hand SQL provides many things, but “easy business user interface” doesn’t immediately spring to mind (see related article, Free-Hand SQL Isn’t Free).
There definitely is an opportunity here to extend the functionality of the Lumira universe query panel.
UPDATE: Lumira v1.24 will integrate the Information Design Tool’s Query Panel, but only for UNX universes.
Consuming Existing Universe Queries
I’ve already made the unsuccessful pitch that Lumira should be able to extract queries from Desktop Intelligence documents (see related article, True Desktop Intelligence with SAP Lumira). And the longer I work with Lumira, it seems obvious that it should be able to consume a query from a Web Intelligence document, too. There are obvious differences in functionality between Web Intelligence and Lumira. Reporting is not data discovery and I’m not proposing to change that. But whether seconds, minutes, hours, or days were required to create a critical Web Intelligence report, it seems logical that a Lumira user might want to consume the same query logic without reinventing the wheel.
UPDATE (June 9, 2015): This idea was intriguing enough to APOS, who has developed the APOS Data Gateway plug-in for SAP Lumira.
SAP Lumira and the Web Intelligence processing server character stream size
The other issue Lumira users will encounter while squeezing the entire universe into their visualizations is the Web Intelligence Processing Server maximum character stream size. Experienced SAP BI administrators refer to this as the “10 kilograms of universe, uh, DATA in a 5 kilogram bag” problem. Users will see the following message and probably have their own nickname for it.
The following verbiage first appeared in the SAP Lumira 1.17 Release Notes. It was removed from the SAP Lumira 1.18 Release Notes but has been fortunately documented by SAP Note 2020352.
The data acquisition of medium-large, large, and very large datasets from UNV or UNX universes is not supported on default installations of both SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platforms 4.0 and 4.1.
It is recommended for customers that want to acquire such datasets to install a SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform (SAP BIP) server dedicated to SAP Lumira and significantly increase the value of the Maximum Character Stream Size of the Web Intelligence Processing Server on that particular server. Note that increasing this value on a running SAP BIP server can impact the memory consumption and performance of any BI clients tool running on that installation, particularly Web Intelligence. While this practice is not formally discouraged, we advise customers implementing this solution that they might face memory consumption increases and longer document data refreshes so they will need to monitor the SAP BIP server’s behavior adequately to control the impacts.
In an era of “big data” hype, I have no idea what SAP means by the terms medium-large, large, and very large datasets, other than “don’t blame us if you didn’t buy a HANA server”. But as with Mobile BI (see related article, Viewing Large Web Intelligence Documents with Mobile BI), Explorer (see related article, Hacking SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.0) and Live Office, the solution is to increase the Maximum Character Stream Size and to a lesser extent the Binary Stream Maximum Sizeon the Web Intelligence Processing Server. SAP’s documentation is slightly unclear on this point, but it seems that XML and Microsoft Excel XLSX formats (which are zipped XML files- see related Wikipedia article about Office Open XML) are “character” files affected by the Maximum Character Stream Size setting. Adobe PDF and Microsoft Excel XLS formats are “binary” files affected by the adjacent Binary Stream Maximum Size setting. There isn’t an easy way to determine the optimal stream size, other than “keep increasing the value until the error goes away”. Keep in mind that poorly designed universes will return bloated data sets to any client tool, whether it’s SAP Lumira, Mobile BI, or any edition of Web Intelligence. So a code review of existing universes can be a healthy activity in addition to increasing server settings.
Oddly enough, Web Intelligence and its predecessor Desktop Intelligence contain SAP’s first in-memory database- the microcube. Long before HANA was a gleam in Hasso Plattner’s eye, the microcube facilitated multi-dimensional analysis of large datasets (called slicing-and-dicing back in the day) that may have taken a bit of time to be retrieved from the now-obsolete spinning disks in the database server. The Web Intelligence web application requests data from the microcube one viewable page at a time, but modern apps like Mobile BI and Lumira need the entire microcube before they can visualize data. So these apps are riding the coattails of the mechanism SAP originally created for exporting Web Intelligence data to Adobe PDF and Microsoft Excel files.