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 BILaunchpad.properties 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"?>
<CONFIG>
<!-- VisualizationConfig.xml -->
<!-- The following section allows to define a corporate palette which will be used by default in all new visualization. -->

<PALETTES>
<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" />
</PALETTE>
</PALETTES>
</CONFIG>

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 global.properties file from <SAP BI Install Directory>tomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigdefault to <SAP BI Install Directory>tomcatwebappsBOEWEB-INFconfigcustom, then raising the value.

max_tree_children_threshold

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

max_tree_children_threshold

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

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 BIlaunchpad.properties file, located at C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP Business Objects\tomcat\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\config\default.

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 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 app.name 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.

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

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.

Conclusion

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?

Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0

Customize the BI4 Launch Pad and brand the user experience for your organization.

UPDATE: Customizing SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.1? Read this article instead.

Today, September 16, 2011, is an exciting day in SAP BusinessObjects history and one we’ve waiting a long time for. SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 is finally GA (generally available) in the SAP Service Marketplace!

I’d like to say a heart-felt “thank-you” to the hundreds of SAP employees who gave blood, sweat, and probably tears to make the release happen.

Since many folks will be downloading the software this weekend, let’s discuss some basic customizations to perform after the installation is complete. In previous posts, I’ve described how to customize previous versions of SAP BusinessObjects on both Microsoft Windows (see related article, Customizing SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1) and Linux (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects on Linux and Unix – part 3). Today, let’s take a look at SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 on Microsoft Windows. I’m using Windows 2003 Server 64-bit in my examples.

Customization Basics

To simplify the customization of the BI 4.0 web applications, SAP now uses properties files that can be easily changed using a text editor, instead of the previous XML files.  A key benefit of the new approach is that properties files aren’t modified by solution packs (service packs) and patches (fix packs). While this should be a huge improvement from previous releases, I still struggle with custom properties files being overwritten by patches, especially from Explorer.

The default location for properties files is the C:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectsTomcat6webappsBOEWEB-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 BusinessObjectsTomcat6webappsBOEWEB-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 <BOE_HOME>SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0warfileswebappsBOEWEB-INFconfig.

BILaunchpad.properties location

Customizing the BI Launchpad Login Page
BI Launch Pad is the name of the BI 4.0 user portal, formerly known as InfoView. Its settings are located in BIlaunchpad.properties.

NOTE: You’ll want to install SAP BusinessObjects Explorer (which has a separate installation program) first before customizing the properties files, as it appears to wipe out the changes.

The first three parameters in the file are app.name, app.name.greeting, and app.name.short and behave identical to their XI 3.1 counterparts.  The app.name.short attribute is used for the “greeting” and the <TITLE> tag of the InfoView home page while app.name is used for the <TITLE> tag of all other BI Launchpad pages. As best as I can determine, the app.name.greeting is unused.

Customizing the BI Launchpad greeting

And here is the result of the changes to my BIlaunchpad.properties file.

Customized BI Launchpad 4.0Although I made my “short” name shorter than my regular name in this example, in real life I would put the longer “Acme Business Intelligence” on the login screen using the app.name.short property and the shorter “Acme BI” on all other pages using the app.name.

You’ll most likely want to make similar changes to the default system (CMS) and authentication related properties in the CmcApp.properties and OpenDocument.properties files.  You can also set a default system and authentication type for the Web Intelligence Rich Client by following SAP KB 1821519.

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>/Tomcat6/webapps/ROOT then restart Tomcat.

Here are the favicon locations for the BI Launchpad, Central Management Console (CMC) and others. 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\Tomcat6\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\eclipseplugins\webpath.InfoView\web\images. Place new explorer.ico in C:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjects\Tomcat6\webapps\explorer.

Be sure to clear Tomcat cache C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\Tomcat6\work\Catalina\localhost before restarting.

Changing the Default Web Intelligence Paper Size
When SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 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.

Previous versions of Web Intelligence stored the default paper size in a file named defaultconfig.xml. This file remains in BI4 virtually unchanged from previous releases, but it is now located at C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\Tomcat6\webapps\BOE\WEB-INF\eclipseplugins\webpath.AnalyticalReportingweb\WEB-INF\classes. But BI4 no longer uses this file to define default paper size. Instead, Web Intelligence 4.0 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 4.0 Launch Pad Default Preferences

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

Conclusion
We’ve looked at customizing the BI Launch Pad home page, the favicons, and the Web Intelligence default paper size. I’ll update this post periodically as I discover useful ways to further customize the default SAP BusinessObjects experience.

Resources

Update History
  • January 5, 2015 – Added link to SAP KB 1586824
  • November 25, 2014 – Added link to SAP KB 1218598
  • August 16, 2013 – Added link to SAP KB 1821519 via Anibal Goicochea
  • July 25, 2013 – Added link to Chris Greer‘s write-up on BI Launch Pad user preferences
  • June 25, 2013 – Added links to Christina Obry‘s tutorials on the SAP Community Network
  • May 7, 2013 – Added SAP Note 1615492 for preserving properties files
  • January 17, 2013 – Added SAP Notes for BILaunchpad.properties
  • January 9, 2013 – Added SAP Notes for logo customization
  • January 2, 2013 – Added resources to some articles by David Lai and updated OEM guide link to SP5
  • December 3, 2012 – Added link to BI 4.0 page size article
  • October 12, 2012 – Added reference for changing default paper size
  • August 29, 2012 – Added link to OEM guide
  • January 24, 2012 –  Corrected post so that changes are made in custom, rather than default, properties directory.

Do you have a favorite customization for BI 4.0? Please share with the world as a comment to this post.

Branding Business Intelligence

Business intelligence teams can avoid being at the mercy of any vendor’s marketing team.

The lone BusinessObjects sign at SAPPHIRE 2011In a recent article, I shared my belief that SAP is phasing out the BusinessObjects brand (see Whistling Past the Brand Graveyard with BusinessObjects). A few weeks later, ASUG News included the following quote in a piece entitled “SAP BI 4.0 Launch: Still Counting Down to GA from John Schweitzer, SVP of Business Analytics for SAP North America:

As to the future of the BusinessObjects brand, Schweitzer is resolute. “The BusinessObjects brand took years to build and has a fanatical following,” he says. “We have no intention to kill it off.”

Regardless of whether the BusinessObjects brand’s days are numbered, we do know that SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 (BI4) has many new product names. For example, “BI Launch Pad” is the new name for the “InfoView” user portal (here’s a helpful SAP Community Network Wiki cross-reference for BI 4.0 names).

Business intelligence teams can avoid being at the mercy of any vendor’s marketing team by building their own business intelligence brand using these three steps.

Create Your Business Intelligence Brand

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Don’t worry if you aren’t creative enough to create a splashy and original name like “Xcelsius” because somebody in your organization will eventually shoot it down and make you change it to something dull like “Dashboards”. Sometimes boring is good. You work for the Acme Corporation? Easy. Call your BI portal the “Acme Business Intelligence Portal”, or “Acme Business Intelligence” for short. Or maybe “Acme Analytics Portal” if the term “analytics” isn’t a loaded term (or somebody else’s turf) in your organization.

Similar branding should occur for your BusinessObjects development team, which should become the Acme Business Intelligence team. If your organization uses multiple information delivery tools or teams, present a single, unified face to the user community regardless of how your development teams are actually structured.

Implement Your Business Intelligence Brand

Once you’ve established your brand, you’ll want to implement it on your SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise server, regardless of which version you are using. I’ve blogged previously about the specific details (see related articles Customizing BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 and Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0, and Customizing SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1), but here are the high-level steps:

  1. Work with your corporate art department to create a suitable and small version of your organization’s logo to replace the default “SAP BusinessObjects” logos in InfoView or the BI Launch Pad. Just like SAP, you might want the image to be mostly text (for example, the “Acme Business Intelligence Portal” or “Acme Business Intelligence”)
  2. Modify the InfoView or the BI Launch Pad home page greeting with your own name for the BI portal.
  3. Create a modified version the default InfoView Cascading Style Sheet (style.css) that aligns with your organization’s color palate.
  4. Add a favicon.ico of your organization’s logo to the appropriate directories of the web application server to replace the default InfoView or BI Launch Pad icon.
  5. Replace any common DNS redirects like http://businessobjects.acme.com with http://businessintelligence.acme.com or http://bi.acme.com, although you might want to defer this step and its complexity until your organization adopts BI 4.

You’ll also want to read Eric Vallo’s post, “Defining a Business Intelligence Branding Strategy“.

Promote Your Business Intelligence Brand

This is probably the hardest step, but it doesn’t require much technical skill. Once you’ve created your organization’s BI brand, you need to promote it. Begin by searching your corporate intranet. Replace any links to “Business Objects” or “InfoView” with “Business Intelligence”. Be sure to look for popular abbreviations like BO, BOBJ, or BzO.

Next, look at internal user documentation.  It’s OK (and helpful) to let your users know that they are using software from BusinessObjects (take a moment to update any vendor references to SAP BusinessObjects). But there will be many references to “BusinessObjects” that should be changed to “Acme Business Intelligence” or “Acme Business Intelligence Portal”. Again, eliminate any references to InfoView.

Finally, review your customer support mechanisms such as a help desk systems and software. For example, instead of a user hearing “Press 1 for BusinessObjects”, they should hear “Press 1 for Business Intelligence, including SAP BusinessObjects”. And tickets logged into help desk software should be classified as “Business Intelligence”, not “Business Objects”.

Some of these changes can be made quietly and without fanfare. But at some point, you’ll want to promote your BI team’s new brand in your organization’s corporate newsletter and on the corporate intranet. Larger organizations usually have a change management team that can assist with the communication effort. This is your team’s big moment, so be sure to remind your readers why they need (and should love) your business intelligence team.

Conclusion

Create, Implement, and Promote your organization’s own internal business intelligence brand. Use the brand to establish a stronger connection to your user community and to reduce the impact of vendor name changes.

Has your organization created its own BI brand?  I’d love to hear your best practices.  Please share your comments.

Extending Auditing in SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise

SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise includes powerful auditing capabilities that allow organizations to perform detailed reporting and analysis of user activity on their business intelligence platform.  SAP includes an Activity universe and sample reports in both Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence formats to get started.

I’ll be presenting “KPIs for Business Intelligence” at the upcoming 2010 SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.  My focus will be on what organizations can build themselves to analyze user activity.  However, many organizations don’t have the time or resources to create their own solutions and there are several packages available in the marketplace for those who would rather buy than build.

I’d like to compile a centralized list of software vendors and their auditing products.  If you are such a vendor, could you add a comment to this post?  Please include:

  • Vendor Name
  • Product Name
  • URL to Product Information
  • Phone and/or e-mail contact to get more information about the product

Remember that I moderate all comments, so don’t panic when yours does not appear right away.  I’ll compile the information into a future blog post and include a summarized PowerPoint slide in my KPI presentation.

Thanks in advance!