SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector Technical Guide
The SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector is a Web Service API allowing applications to connect to Universe data and metadata. With this connectivity, developers and IT can provide interoperability between SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 environments and other applications.
In this posting I'll explain the key technical considerations for deploying and developing with the SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector.
1. What are the minimum technical requirements?
The SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector requires SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 SP2 or later and a deployed Universe created with the Information Design Tool (.UNX extension).
All SAP BusinessObjects editions containing the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform and Information Design Tool are supported, including SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise and SAP BusinessObjects BI Edge Solutions.
2. Are all Universe Types Supported?
Relational access is supported for any Universe (.UNX only) data source (including SAP BW and SAP HANA) created in the Information Design Tool.
Known Limitations as of 4.1 SP2:
Universes created with the new Information Design Tool are supported (UNX file extension), with the following exceptions:
- Multidimensional Universes are not supported.
- Multidimensional access to SAP BW or SAP HANA through direct access (transient universe) is not supported.
- Relational universes containing prompts, parameters, contexts or advanced filters (ranking) are not supported
We are planning to address many of these limitations in upcoming Support Packs, including support for Universes created with the Universe Design Tool (UNV extension). We are not able to provide specific release dates.
3. How is this different from SAP Netweaver Gateway?
The SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector is a read-only Web Service interface for accessing relational SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe datasources as an OData flow. SAP NetWeaver Gateway Productivity Accelerator for Microsoft is a developer solution for creating and modifying SAP ERP transaction data from Microsoft business productivity tools.
4. How do I create a Universe in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4?
You can either convert a UNV universe created in previous versions of BusinessObjects products to UNX, or design a universe with the Information Design Tool, introduced in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.
Best Practises for converting or designing universes are available at the following links:
- Converting a Relational Universe from UNV to UNX in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4
- Universe Design, The Comprehensive Guide
- Information Designer Tutorials from sap.com/LearnBI
5. What SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform Services are needed?
The SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector requires the following two BI Platform services to be enabled:
- WebApplicationContainerServer hosts the REST Web Services
- WebIntelligence ProcessingServer hosts common services required by Semantic Layer REST Web Services.
6. Do I need to install anything from SAP on the client machine?
No. The SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector is a RESTful Web Service and does not have client-side runtime dependencies. Any product or developer tool capable of making HTTP calls can access a REST API. The data is returned to the client application as an OData flow.
7. Are there any special licensing considerations
The SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector requires a valid deployment of the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform. Users wanting to connect to deployed Universes must be able to login to the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform, and will consume a named user or concurrent session license similar to if they were viewing Universe data through a Web Intelligence or Dashboard client.
There are a few licensing terms specific to this API.
- This API is solely for the purposes of accessing semantic data, so you can’t use the API for mass data/metadata extraction, for bypassing SAP licensing, or for reverse-engineering a Universe.
- A temporary cache is permitted, as described in more detail in the SAP Software Usage Rights agreement. You must maintain a valid SAP BusinessObjects BI session when connecting to the API and when connecting to a cache of the results from the API, as if your application had connected directly to the SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector.
Full terms are described in the SAP Software Rights agreement (look for the section titled “SAP BusinessObjects BI Semantic Layer RESTful Web Service SDK).
8. How does the SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector work?
The SAP BusinessObjects BI Universe Connector accesses the same universes available to SAP BusinessObjects BI client tools such as Web Intelligence and Dashboards, subject to the limitations described in Question #2. User security, predefined filters and database options are all applied when using the Connector.
High Level Architecture:
A typical application or developer workflow would be as follows:
1) Logon to your SAP BI Platform system
2) Get the list of available universes
3) Get the list of objects and folders from the selected universe
4) Send a Query Request to the selected universe
5) Read the returned OData flow metadata and data
9. Where Can I Find More Information?
Sample code and full documentation for using the API can be found at:
- Business Intelligence Platform RESTful Web Service Developer Guide
- SAP BusinessObjects RESTful Web Service SDK User Guide
In a SAP BI 4.1 SP3 installation, in the <INSTALLDIR>\SL SDK\SDK Samples, the SLRESTWebService.zip contains an Eclipse project that illustrates how to use this Semantic Layer REST WebService.
Other helpful links:
- SAP BusinessObjects BI Documentation for Developers
- Using the Web Intelligence and BI Platform RESTful Web Services
Thanks to @Christian Ah-Soon and Frank Prabel from the Semantic Layer Product Team for helping with the content.