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BI 4 How To: Planning the Desktop Intelligence conversion to Web Intelligence


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Converting Desktop Intelligence documents for use in Web Intelligence

This page discusses best practices for converting Desktop Intelligence documents to Web Intelligence formats. More information can be found in the user guides here.

Table of contents

Converting Desktop Intelligence Considerations

End-of-life Desktop Intelligence

SAP has announced the end of life of Desktop Intelligence. The official announcement can be found here.

No future release within the SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite will contain Desktop Intelligence.

Mainstream maintenance for Desktop Intelligence in BusinessObjects XI3.1 will continue until December 31st 2015. Priority One Support for Desktop Intelligence in BusinessObjects XI3.1 will continue until December 31st 2017.

Benefits of conversion

Converting content for use in Web Intelligence can lead to the following benefits:

  • Reduced total cost of ownership (license price, maintenance cost, and so on).
  • Reduced deployment time, resulting in a shorter time to market.
  • Business-user empowerment through ease of use and a large feature set.
  • Support for a more cost-beneficial architecture than Desktop Intelligence

Determining your timeline for conversion

When determining your timeline for conversion, you may want to consider the following factors:

  • The amount of rework required.
  • The total number of Desktop Intelligence documents.
  • Whether to upgrade to BI4.0 or BI4.1.
  • The use of VBA macros within the existing Desktop Intelligence documents.
  • Having insight in the usage of Desktop Intelligence documents.

The Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack

The Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack enables the upgrade of Desktop Intelligence reports into the CMS of BusinessObjects BI4.1 (but not BusinessObjects BI4.0). This can be helpful when upgrading an existing BusinessObjects XI platform to the new BusinessObjects BI platform.

More information on the Desktop Intelligence Compatibility Pack can be found here.

Report Conversion Tool

SAP ships the Report Conversion Tool with the Client Installation of the BI4.1 Suite. This tool supports you in the conversion from Desktop Intelligence into Web Intelligence. More details on the how to can be found later in this article.

Note: You cannot convert Desktop Intelligence documents into Crystal Reports because Crystal Reports has a completely different reporting foundation.

Calculation engine differences

The first and most important difference is the way formula's are constructed within Web Intelligence. Although the logic has not been changed, the construction of the formula has been changed. This means that your report developers must get used to new syntax.

Besides the construction of the formula, there will be differences in the way how formula's are calculated. Further down in this document you can find more details around the changes in the calculation engine. More information can be found here.

Planning the report conversion project

Because converting reports is a big project, it is recommended that you outline a detailed plan to follow.

An overview of report converting is shown below.

Planning considerations

Before converting reports the following considerations have to be made:

  • Assessment / Audit of current report use
  • Gathering requirements
  • Time and deadlines
  • Resources required (IT/Hardware)
  • Revoking Desktop Intelligence rights
  • Training & Education
  • Backup

This article will provide you with the steps for the report conversion planning and execution including best practices and sample conversions.

Planned procedure

For planning the conversion of your Desktop Intelligence deployment in Web Intelligence a number of steps can be follow to enable a successful en non-disruptive conversion process.

  1. Get the list of documents from the various business departments along with their priorities
  2. Set Full Client documents as the source and migrate these with the Upgrade Management Tool of SAP BusinessObjects BI4.x
  3. Run the conversion using the Report Conversion Tool of SAP BusinessObjects BI4.x
  4. Review the conversion results and review the log files if required
  5. Estimate the level of rework for each document. Set categories as: no rework / some rework / a lot of rework / to be recreated / to be dropped
  6. Handle the rework
  7. Involve business owners for validation
  8. Finish document list for each department and deliver packages to the conversion/migration team

Check list for Report Conversion

  1. Review the current BusinessObjects environment
    Review appropriate migration path(s) for the conversion (BusinessObjects 5.x, 6.x, XIR2, XI3.x etc)
    - Newer systems have a direct upgrade path (XIR2 & XI3.x)
    - Older systems may require extra steps (BO5.x & 6.x)
  2. Identify the impact on users
    - Identify frequently-used and important reports
    - Identify pain points
    - Validate if Web Intelligence can address these

    When Desktop Intelligence is end-of-life:
    - Assess the impact of reducing then stopping the usage of Desktop Intelligence
    - Conversion of reports is available, but might require rework
  3. Features
    Gather information on the commonly used features in Desktop Intelligence  (Free Hand SQL, grouping, VBA etc)
    - Some features may be included already in BI4.x
    - The Web Intelligence reporting engine of BI4.x has been enriched with many new features to support the report conversion and closing the feature gap
    - Some features may have been deprecated or replaced.

    A comprehensive overview of Desktop Intelligence & Web Intelligence features, restrictions, and workarounds can be found here
  4. Content Inventory and Clean-up
    It is strongly recommended to do some clean up of the reports before upgrading and converting them to Web Intelligence
    Decide how time should be divided between migration and clean-up?
    Identify unused reports for archiving.
  5. User Acceptance and Validation
    Utilize the Report Conversion Tool (early if possible) to pre-assess the level of rework required.

    Based on the pre-assessment the following activities can provide a smooth conversion:
    - A detailed overview of rework can result in a better estimation for issues, complexity, budget, resources, time frames and success factor.
    - When impacted by deprecated / changed features or conversion issues, workarounds van be defined upfront and implemented consistently with early communication.
    - Find out early if a report can/should be converted or rebuilt due to a high number of complex conversion challenges.
    - Simple categorization of documents.
  6. User Training
    Plan classroom training/e-learning and provide links to SAP SCN articles or forums to support those affected by the conversion.

    Discuss required/needed training and/or support with users

Auditing current Desktop Intelligence Utilization

To gain a strong understanding of your current Desktop Intelligence usage, it is recommended to enable the Auditing engine for a period of time before the conversion period to collect realistic usage statistics.

The auditing engine is capable of recording a large set of events that take place on the Desktop Intelligence content within your deployment.

To enable auditing

To enable auditing for Desktop Intelligence for an XI3.x environment do the following (similar steps can be followed for XIR2): 

  1. Log on to the CMC using an account with sufficient rights for editing application and audit properties
  2. Within the CMC navigate to Applications -> Desktop Intelligence.
  3. In the Desktop Intelligence application, right click, then select Audit Events.
  4. Within the Auditing Settings, ensure  the following checkboxes are selected:
    - Auditing Status (to enable Auditing)
    - All auditable items available
  5. After setting the Audit properties of the Desktop Intelligence, save and close the Audit Settings.
  6. Within the CMC navigate to Servers -> Adaptive Processing Server. Do a right mouse click to get to context menu and select "Audit Events"

    Ensure "Auditing is Enabled" is selected.

    The Adaptive Processing Server configuration enables the Client Auditing Proxy to collect the auditing results from locally installed Desktop Intelligence clients
  7. If you have more than one Adaptive Processing Server, you must apply these settings for each and every one.
  8. In CMC -> Servers -> Adaptive Processing Server > Properties, you should see :

To use auditing data

Once auditing data is collected, it can be retrieved via the shipped universe. The universe can be used by the BusinessObjects Client tools like Desktop intelligence and Web Intelligence.

  1. Within the Client Tool, select the "Activity" Universe:

  2. Build the report containing the data you would like to use for collecting the Desktop Intelligence usage.

Within BI4.x there is no shipment of a default Audit Universe and Reports anymore. Sample auditing universes and reports can be found here.

Report Conversion Tool

The Report Conversion Tool (RCT) is available within the SAP BusinessObjects Client installation and allows you to convert existing documents from Desktop Intelligence to Web Intelligence.

The Report Conversion Tool supports you in the following areas:

  • Gaining insight into the conversion success rate.
  • Gaining insight into the parts that might require rework (via the auditing option).
  • Running a report comparison for successfully converted documents.
  • Converting Desktop Intelligence reports from a source system such as Web Intelligence Reports to a target system (source and target can be the same depending on the version).

Gaining insight into the conversion success rate

Using the Report Conversion Tool, you can gauge a success rate for report conversions.

Reports that are processed by the RCT can be categorized into three available outputs:

  • Fully Converted
    This means that the source report can be fully converted into a Web Intelligence format. A full conversion does not automatically mean that there is a 100% conversion; some manual rework may still be required.

  • Partially Converted
    This means that the source report can be partially converted into a Web Intelligence format. A partial conversion means that some manual reworking is definitely required.

  • Not Converted
    This means that the source report cannot be converted. The main cause of this is a lack of Desk Intelligence features in Web Intelligence.

Gaining insight in the parts that might require rework

While running the Report Conversion, you can record the audit trace for later use. The audit trace shows you the components of the document that requiring reworking. The audit trail stores by document, by layout component the potential rework items.

The RCT audit trail will be stored in a special table located in the default AUDIT database schema and use the connection settings as stored within the CMS. By default a universe and document is provided.

If you are running the report conversion tool incrementally, you should enter a comment, allowing you to easily review the results of a single run.

The setting "Keep previous rows in the audit table" is recommended unless you want to remove all previous data in the table.

Once the Audit data of the report conversion is saved within the Audit Database. You can view the default universe and report provided during the installation of the platform to extract more information.

For Partially Converted Reports, the exact error for the individual object is provided along with the cause of the error. In some case workaround will be provided. Using the audit trail, you can easily gain upfront details on the potential amount of rework and share this with the respective content owners.

Run a report comparison for successfully converted documents

The Report Compare feature allows you to run a comparison on the successfully converted documents against the original documents.  Due to changes in the calculation engine, it is possible that results of local variables and formulas return different values. The Report Comparison feature will provide insight into this.

To compare the execution of data within the report (between original and converted version):

  1. Select "Compare fully converted documents"

  2. Within the Report Conversion Tool you can see changes in your data.

Convert Desktop Intelligence reports and publish them as Web Intelligence reports

As the final step within the Report Conversion Tool you can publish the created Web Intelligence reports to the target BI4.x Server. By default the RCT will publish the reports in the same folder as the original folder, however, you have the option to change the target folder to any folder accessible with your user account.

Report Conversion in XI3.x or BI4.x?

During your upgrade from XI3.x into BI4.x and conversion from Desktop Intelligence in Web Intelligence there are three paths available for the conversion.

  1. Use the Report Conversion Tool from XI3.x and upgrade the XI3.x Web Intelligence reports into BI4.0
  2. Use the Report Conversion Tool from BI.4x

Both paths have their advantages/disadvantages, but the BI4.x path has the highest success rate and a potentially lower amount of manual rework. This is because BI4.x Web Intelligence has built-in features which are often used in Desktop Intelligence but are lacking in the XI3.x engine. The lastest versions of Web Intelligence have a 99% parity with the Desktop Intelligence Client from XI3.1, driving a higher conversion success.

A comprehensive feature comparison between Desktop Intelligence & Web Intelligence features can be found here.

When using the BI4.x Report Conversion Tool, you should begin the conversion with the Upgrade Manager Tool. The Upgrade Manager Tool will ensure that the universes used by the Desktop Intelligence reports are upgraded to BI4.x. Running the Report Conversion Tool of BI4.x with an un-upgraded universe will result in a failed conversion.

The Upgrade Management Tool for BI4.x is enriched with the Desktop Intelligence Plug-In. At the end of the upgrade process the results screen will record the number of excluded objects and a warning that Desktop Intelligence reports were not updated.

Reference Pages

Desktop Intelligence End of Life Announcement

SAP Community Network Wiki - Business Intelligence (BusinessObjects) - Conversion from Desktop In...

DeskI is not back... but here is something that will help you to move to BI 4

Version History

1May 31st 2013First release


June 3rd 2014

BI4.1 Update