New BI Launch Pad Customization in SAP BI 4.2 SP5

A new and much welcome enhancement for the BI Launch Pad logon screen.

Although SAP is spending most of its analytics budget developing SAP Analytics Cloud, innovation is still happening on the BI Platform. In SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP5 (released in December 2017), SAP has introduced a new property for controlling the behavior of the Authentication drop-down box on the logon screen.

The behavior of the logon screen can be customized by copying the default file from C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\default to the adjacent directory C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom (see my original article about BI customization, Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 and BI 4.2).

A new property- logon.authentication.visibleList– now joins authentication.default and authentication.visible that controls which authentication types appear in the authentication drop-down list. By default authentication.visible is set to false, but most organizations have to set it to true so the Administrator can choose Enterprise authentication and everyone else can choose something like Windows AD, LDAP or SAP authentication.

logon.authentication.visibleList property for BI Launch Pad customization

Here is how the default list logon.authentication.visibleList=secLDAP,secWinAD,secSAPR3,secOraApps,secPSE1,secpsenterprise,secSiebel7,secEnterprise appears.

SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 SP5 BI Launch Pad customization

The new logon.authentication.visibleList parameter not only controls which authentication types are displayed, but also the order(!) that they are displayed in. As an example, I’ll move secEnterprise from the beginning to the end of the list.

SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 SP5 BI Launch Pad customization

And here’s what it looks like when I shorten the list to only the desired authentication types.

SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 SP5 BI Launch Pad customization

IMPORTANT: Remember that you must copy the contents of C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom to C:\SAP BusinessObjects\SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0\warfiles\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom before applying any patches, as the latter is the location the patch installer will redeploy web applications from. I also recommend keeping copies of any customized files on a project intranet or some other location that isn’t a SAP BusinessObjects server.

This small enhancement to the BI platform is a big deal that enables BI teams to simplify the interface, reducing both human error and help desk calls. I’m eagerly looking forward to additional BI platform enhancements that we’ll see later this year in BI 4.2 SP6 (July 2018 timeframe) and BI 4.2 SP7 (December 2018 timeframe).

Corporate color palettes in Web Intelligence

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.
Web Intelligence Corporate Color Palette Pie Dark and Bright

Here is the Medium Palette.
Web Intelligence Corporate Color Palette Pie Medium

And finally, here is the Light Palette.
Web Intelligence Corporate Color Palette Pie Light

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. -->

<PALETTE ID="corporate">

<!-- Each attributes must take an integer value from 0 to 255 -->
<!-- The palette ID should not be changed. -->
<!-- Stephen Few Dark & Bright -->
<COLOR R="0" G="0" B="0" A="255" />
<COLOR R="38" G="93" B="171" A="255" />
<COLOR R="223" G="92" B="36" A="255" />
<COLOR R="5" G="151" B="72" A="255" />
<COLOR R="229" G="18" B="111" A="255" />
<COLOR R="157" G="114" B="42" A="255" />
<COLOR R="123" G="58" B="150" A="255" />
<COLOR R="199" G="180" B="46" A="255" />
<COLOR R="203" G="32" B="39" A="255" />
<!-- Stephen Few Medium -->
<COLOR R="77" G="77" B="77" A="255" />
<COLOR R="93" G="165" B="218" A="255" />
<COLOR R="250" G="164" B="58" A="255" />
<COLOR R="96" G="189" B="104" A="255" />
<COLOR R="241" G="88" B="84" A="255" />
<COLOR R="178" G="145" B="47" A="255" />
<COLOR R="178" G="118" B="178" A="255" />
<COLOR R="222" G="207" B="63" A="255" />
<COLOR R="241" G="88" B="84" A="255" />
<!-- Stephen Few Light -->
<COLOR R="140" G="140" B="140" A="255" />
<COLOR R="136" G="189" B="230" A="255" />
<COLOR R="251" G="178" B="88" A="255" />
<COLOR R="144" G="205" B="151" A="255" />
<COLOR R="246" G="170" B="201" A="255" />
<COLOR R="191" G="165" B="84" A="255" />
<COLOR R="188" G="153" B="199" A="255" />
<COLOR R="237" G="221" B="70" A="255" />
<COLOR R="240" G="126" B="110" A="255" />
<!-- The Rest (shades of grey) -->
<COLOR R="247" G="247" B="247" A="255" />
<COLOR R="204" G="204" B="204" A="255" />
<COLOR R="150" G="150" B="150" A="255" />
<COLOR R="99" G="99" B="99" A="255" />
<COLOR R="37" G="37" B="37" A="255" />

You must restart the web application server (Tomcat) for the color palette to take effect.

Here is a stacked bar chart that uses the corporate color palette. More recent support packs will show the corporate palette in the Mobile BI app, too.

Web Intelligence Corporate Color Palette Stacked Bar Webi

2014 ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference

I’m headed to Fort Worth, Texas for this year’s ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects user conference.

Texas Flag

The 2014 ASUG SAP Analytics and BusinessObjects User Conference is coming to the Omni Fort Worth Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas this September. I will be there to present a breakout session, participate in two panel discussions, and hang out in the SAP Press booth for the launch of the third edition of their Web Intelligence book, which I helped co-author (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, Third Edition). Several of my co-workers are also presenting breakout sessions (see related EV Technologies announcement).

Expert Panel: How to get agile with SAP Lumira

a panel discussion with State of Indiana OMB Director Chris Atkins, SAP technology evangelist Timo Elliott, SAP VP Product Management Lumira Ty Miller, and myself. Moderated by SAP marketing director Pierre Leroux.
Monday September 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

In an era in which businesses demand agility and speed and IT struggles to keep up with their demands, com and learn from 5 experts on how data discovery is changing the BI landscape. We will be discussing how best to implement data discovery successfully, with an emphasis on people-focused discussions rather than technical hints and tips. Hear the panelists talk about pulling data quickly from multiple sources, dealing with data governance, and development bottlenecks. Explore how SAP Lumira can complement your existing BI investment. Ask them questions via Twitter using the hashtag #saplumirapanel.

Secrets from the Business Intelligence Baristas

a panel discussion with Dallas Marks and friends
Monday, September 22, 2014 at 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM
Trends and Strategy/Roadmaps and Product Direction – Session 0802

Much has been written about creating a Business Intelligence Competency Center or Center of Excellence. But many BI organizations struggle to move beyond IT’s traditional “utility company” method of delivering services and instead become a customer-focused organization. In this session, our panel will discuss BICC best practices of building a team that is both business savvy as well as tech savvy while looking to the neighborhood coffee shop for inspiration. You’ll be better prepared to build better BI solutions “from the grounds up” by putting the right business intelligence tools on the menu, providing both instant (self-service) and barista (IT supported) offerings, rewarding your best customers, and giving passionate customer support. No green apron required.

Taking SAP BusinessObjects from Stock to Custom

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Session 0307 – BI Platform (Security, Administration) and Server Administration

SAP BusinessObjects administrators will learn the secrets of customizing the BI Launch Pad and in SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1. We’ll also look at new personalization capabilities in Web Intelligence 4.1. With detailed step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to deliver a tailored information portal that meet user needs without custom coding.

  • Build a brand for your Business Intelligence Competency Center
  • Customize the BI Launch Pad portal
  • Personalize the Web Intelligence experience

“Cost Saving” Project Cuts You Can’t Afford

A Diversified Semantic Layer panel discussion with Eric Vallo, Greg Myers, Jamie Oswald and Dallas Marks
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM
Session 0112 – BI Platform (Security, Administration) and Server Administration

Time and time again, pieces of your technology projects drop on the cutting room floor. But do you really know what those items will cost you in the long-term? Come join this sure-to-be lively panel discussion with SAP Mentors and Industry Experts on the good, bad, and ugly of successful SAP Analytics projects. We’ll cover the things we commonly see get cut from projects, and why those things really shouldn’t be cut. We’ll cover topics like Project Management, Master Data Management, Data Quality, Capacity Testing, and whatever other project components you want to discuss. If you are responsible for delivering a successful SAP Analytics project, you don’t want to miss this panel discussion.

  • What makes a SAP BI project successful?
  • What mistakes have other customers made in their projects that I can avoid?
  • What is the value in keeping some of these commonly cut project components?

Too Many Objects in Your BI Launch Pad?

What to do if SAP tells you that you have “too many objects”.

Has this ever happened to you? You finally manage to bring over your old XI R2 or XI 3.1 content into BI 4.1 using the Upgrade Management Tool only to have the BI Launch Pad inform you that you have “too many objects”.

Too Many Objects in BI Launch Pad

By default, the BI Launch Pad can manage 200 folders. But this number can be increased by setting the max.tree.children.threshold property. But which one? You might think of copying the file from <SAP BI Install Directory>tomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigdefault to <SAP BI Install Directory>tomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigcustom, then raising the value.


But to get the effect you want, you should instead modify the file in the <SAP BI Install Directory>tomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFinternal directory.


Don’t worry. Even the developers at SAP appear to be confused as to which one to use. Notice the comment “TODO: we should revisit this.”? No doubt the same comment appears in the code for platform search. But that’s a topic for a future blog article.

If fixing the tree control by a single parameter sounds like too much good news, don’t worry. It is. The Central Management Console tree controls will still be broken and are ignorant of either setting.

Too Many Objects in CMC

Whenever you modify any of the SAP BI properties files, be sure to copy them to the warfiles folder. Copy files from the custom folder to the <SAP BI Install Directory>SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0warfileswebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigcustom folder. And copy any modified files from the internal folder to the <SAP BI Install Directory>SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0warfileswebappsBOEWEB-INFinternal folder. This extra step will insure that these same properties files are used the next time you patch your BI platform.

Even though computers can manage a large number of folders, sometimes humans can find the best-intentioned of folder structures too complicated. As part of your migration planning, consider reducing the number of top level folders, either by combining reports into a smaller number of folders or by using additional sub-folders. You’ll want to make these changes in your old BI platform, not the new one, so users can sign off on the changes prior to any migration. Also, it’s easier to reconcile content between old and new BI platforms if the folder structure matches.

May your tree controls always display your folders!

Recommended Reading

  • SAP KB 1203108 – InfoView or CMC Tree View Shows a “Too Many Objects” Warning and Does Not Display Contents
  • SAP KB 1715385 – BI Launchpad or CMC Tree View Shows a “Too Many Objects” Warning and Does Not Display
  • SAP KB 1730358 – Error ‘Too Many Objects’ in CMC when you have large number of Folders to Display (this implies that the users and groups tree controls are “fixed”, but that’s not my experience in BI 4.1)

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 BusinessObjects\Tomcat6 and install Apache Tomcat 7 in the adjacent C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat.

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 BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\default 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 BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom.  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 4.0\warfiles\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config.

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.



SAP BI Launch Pad customizationThe appearance of the login screen is controlled by the default file, located at C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP Business Objects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\default.

In addition to the existing,, and properties from previous releases, BI 4.1 introduces a new property, It’s left unspecified but currently defaults to SAP BusinessObjects, which appears on the first line of the logon screen. The parameter is also unspecified but defaults to BI Launch pad. The 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 Objects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\custom. I’ve shown the modifications below.After restarting Apache Tomcat, I can see the result of my customizations.



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


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 BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\eclips\plugins\webpath.InfoViewwebimages. Place new explorer.ico in C:Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\webapps\explorer.

Be sure to clear Tomcat cache C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\tomcat\work\Catalina\localhost 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 write-up on setting default user preferences, either by user or group, which was introduced as a new feature of the SAP BI 4.0 platform.


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.


Going from Stock to Custom

Take your BI portal from stock to custom.

Customizing BI 4.0 is one of my most widely read articles.  Next Thursday, November 8, 2012, I’ll be presenting a free webinar entitled Going from Stock to Custom: Customizing BI 4.0.  It’s part of EV Technologies “Be a Better SAP BOBJ Admin” webinar series.  I’ll cover a variety of techniques (many that I’ve not yet written about here) that can be used to customize the SAP BusinessObjects BI Launch Pad and mobile applications like Mobile BI and Explorer into something uniquely suited for your organization.

If you can’t make the November 8 webinar, I’ll be presenting a repeat session one week later on November 15.

Visit the EV Technologies site to register for this webinar and check out the rest of the series.

Exotic Destinations in SAP BusinessObjects BI4

A modest but very welcome enhancement to the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform.

Now is the time of year when SAP BusinessObjects administrators begin daydreaming of exotic destinations like Mediterranean cruises. Or family holidays to Walt Disney World. But the software engineering team at SAP had some different ideas about exotic destinations when developing SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.x.

Sending documents to other users and destinations is one of the features of the SAP BusinessObjects user portal, known as the BI Launch Pad beginning with SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 and as InfoView in prior releases. With sufficient access rights, users can send documents to one of four standard destinations (BI Inbox, Email, File Location, and FTP Location).

One of the frequent criticisms of prior versions was that all four destinations were displayed by default, even if they weren’t enabled or configured. The only opportunity for out-of-the-box customization was to completely disable the Send button via rights- an all or nothing proposition. A popular modification request was to only show destinations that the organization was actually using; however, this modification required customization of the BusinessObjects web application source code. These source code modifications had to be carefully managed externally, as they were always in danger of being overwritten by a service pack (now known as a support pack) or fix pack (now known as a patch).

In a moment of serendipity, I discovered that BI 4.0 includes some helpful improvements. The screen shots below are taken from SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 Support Pack 2 (SP2) Patch 10.

Only Enabled Destinations are Displayed

For the first time in SAP BusinessObjects history, only destinations enabled by the Adaptive Job Server are presented to users. So out of the box, only the BI Inbox is shown.

The BI Launchpad now has intelligence and only shows destinations that have been enabled by the SAP BusinessObjects administrator. For example, our current environment only enables BI Inbox, Email and File Location, leaving the FTP Location disabled.

Because the FTP destination was never enabled, it does not appear on the Send menu.

Now lets enable the FTP Server in the Central Management Console.

As expected, all four destinations now appear in BI Launch Pad, including FTP Location.


Each Destination Can be Individually Secured

So those are unilateral settings for all users of the BI platform.  But what about limiting access to these destination by user or group? For the first time in SAP BusinessObjects, there are individual rights for each of the four destinations. Prior to BI 4.0, there was a single right that controlled whether the Send button was enabled or disabled. The four destinations can be independently configured in custom access levels, then assigned to users and groups per your security requirements.


These enhancements are certainly not marquee features likely to be demoed from a keynote stage. However, they have been on the feature request backlog for some time. It is great to see tangible proof that SAP is listening to business intelligence administrators, not just business users.

A modest but very welcome enhancement to the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform.

SAP KB 1620597 – “Send to” option in BI Launch Pad does not show expected destinations

SAP KB 1603377 – How to enable the option “Send to” within BI Launch Pad

Have you made any serendipitous discoveries of BI 4.0 improvements?