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SAP BI 4.1 SP6 - What's New in Web Intelligence and Semantic Layer

The SAP BI 4.1 Support Package 6 will be released later this month. This post describes some of the enhancements and innovations this Support Package provides to Web Intelligence and the Semantic Layer.


Dot / Dash Lines in Web Intelligence Charts

You can set line style for Web Intelligence charts containing line, i.e. Line Charts, Line Charts With 2Y Axes, Combined Column Line Charts and Combined Column Line Charts With 2Y Axes.
The possible styles you can select are dashes, dots, dashes and dots or solid.

You can set this parameter in the Format Chart dialog box.


You can also select a line style for each line by individually selecting a line in the chart and right-clicking it. In the contextual menu, select the Format Data Series command that opens a dialog box from which you can pick the a style for this line.

Print Settings in the Web Intelligence DHTML Client

The Web Intelligence DTHML client Print dialog box supports new parameters for printing.


Multi-Column Selection in Web Intelligence Report Tables

You can select several columns via the usual Shift+click and Control+click keyboard shortcuts.


This is convenient when you want to format a group of cells at the same time, or all text in the cells or simply if you wish to delete all cells in one go.

Export Data in the Web Intelligence Rich Client and Applet Interfaces Reading Mode

In the Web Intelligence Rich Client and Applet interfaces Reading mode, you can use the Export Data functionality. This functionality was only available in Design mode until now.

Hence, even without edit rights, you can use this command to export report data to a CSV file in Reading mode.


Improved Cancel Query Functionality

Some data sources prevent you from canceling a query. In such cases, Web Intelligence abandons the query and gives you back the control of your document while the abandoned refresh action still runs in the background.

Pending abandoned refresh actions have been limited to 10 per document by default, to avoid decreasing database performance.


If you try to cancel a refresh action beyond this limit, Web Intelligence gives you back control of your document when at least one of the other pending refresh actions is complete or when the current query refresh action is complete.


Improved RelativeDate() Function

In the RelativeDate() function, you have more date options in your calculations. A specific additional period parameter allows you to specify the period to add

for Year, Semester, Quarter, Month, Week, Day and Hour.

Previously, you could only add or substract a number of days from a date. To use the RelativeDate() function, you had to convert all periods (week, month, year etc.) in days.

The new signature function is:

date RelativeDate(start_date;num;period)


where period is a value among: YearPeriod, SemesterPeriod, QuarterPeriod, MonthPeriod, WeekPeriod, DayPeriod, HourPeriod, MinutePeriod, SecondPeriod or MillisecondPeriod.

The default value for period is DayPeriod.

Support for SAP HANA Multi-value Input Parameters

Web Intelligence supports SAP HANA multi-value input parameters, not only single-value ones.


Blocking Multidimensional Queries without Measures

On OLAP databases, the execution of queries without measures can cause OLAP servers to fail because of Cartesian products. Universe designers can use the PREVENT_QUERY_WITHOUT_MEASURE parameter to prevent users from executing queries without measures on OLAP databases.

This parameter can be set in the information design tool, in the universes’s business layer’s parameters. By default, it is set to No.


Document Input Control

Web Intelligence input controls are no more limited to one report in a document. You can apply an input control to all reports across the document. Applying an input control to all reports enables global control of the data displayed in the document.


The Input Controls left panel contains two sections, one for the document and one fort the current report.


In the Define Input Control window, when you define an input control, you can decide whether it must apply to the whole document or only to the current report.


[NULL_VALUE] in Lists of Values

The [NULL_VALUE] option allows you to select any void, or blank values existing in a list of values. This option always appears in the report filter list of values, and can appear in a combo box, a radio button, list box, or check box input control if the input control is set to allow selection of null values.  You can hide this label in input control.

For example, if a user wants to see customers who have not paid, [NULL_VALUE] for object “Invoice Date” results in a list showing only customers without an invoice date.

Dynamic Default Value for Universe (UNX) Prompts

You can define dynamic default values for prompts in universes created with the information design tool. These prompts can be based on functions like CurrentDate().


When defining your prompt in the Information Design Tool, select the Set default values and Formula options. Click the button in the text field below to open the Formula Editor, then enter and validate the formula used to compute this default value.


Prompts Variants

If a document contains many prompts and/or large list of values, you can save your frequent answers as a prompt variant in the Prompts dialog box. Later, you can reuse this prompt variant to automatically answer the same prompts.


You can create several variants for the same document. When you answer prompts in the Prompts dialog box, you can select in the Available prompt variants list, one of the variants you have created.

A prompt variant is specific to a pair user/document and available for any data source (including SAP BW). Prompts variants are stored outside the document in the CMS repository.


These prompt variants are very useful to easily and quickly provide an answer to several prompts.


Prompt variants should help reducing the Web Intelligence document multiplication.


Free-Hand SQL

The Free-Hand SQL support has been introduced to allow Web Intelligence to query relational data sources though SQL queries directly.


This support has been partly introduced in Web Intelligence SAP BI 4.1 Support Package 5. In this Support Package, it is possible to convert a Desktop Intelligence based on Free-Hand SQL into a Web Intelligence based on the same SQL. The converted document can then be refreshed using direct access to the relational data sources through the SQL query. However, the creation and modification of the SQL was only possible through the Web Intelligence REST Web Service or through an extension point sample (see http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-59985).

In SAP BI 4.1 Support Package 6, creating and editing FHSQL queries is possible in the Web Intelligence Rich Client and Applet.

When you create a new Web Intelligence document, the Free-Hand SQL option appears as a possible new data source.


Once you have selected it, you need to pick a relational connection in the CMS repository.

Then type the SQL to send to the database.

After you have confirmed your SQL, the Query Panel opens and allows you to define:

  • the object type of each field returned by the SQL (dimension, attribute, measure)
  • the object data type: string, date, number
  • the object aggregation function if it has been selected as a measure.
  • the object associated dimension if it has been selected as an attribute.

Once you are ready to run the query, you click Run Query to send the SQL to the database.

Later on, you can click Edit SQL in the Query Panel to modify the SQL retrieving the data from the database.


Connections to Excel data sources

In the Web Intelligence Applet or Web Intelligence Rich Client interfaces, you can modify the Excel data source (for documents with such an Excel data source) in the following situations:

  • When you upload a local Excel data source to the CMS.
  • When you reconnect to the Excel data source from your document at another location and on the same CMS source.

To do so, in the Query Panel, edit the Source Path field to select the new Excel data source.

Change Source

Some flexibility has been added to the Change Source wizard aiming at replacing the data source used by a given document with another data source.


In addition to the check done on the object ID, it is possible to select further strategies to map objects between the original data source and the target data source:

  • Object name (close or same)
  • Object technical name
  • Object path
  • Removal of the object


You can define not only the strategies to apply but also the order to apply them. When no target object can be mapped to the original object through the first strategy in the list, then the next strategy is applied. The strategies are then listed until an object is found. Ultimately, if no object can be mapped, the object is removed from the query.

Some additional options are also available to fine-tune object compatibility and give flexibility to map objects based on their type or their data type.

These strategies and options are used to compute the default mapping proposed or to find individual compatible objects.

Note that the Change Source capability is still only available in the Web Intelligence Rich Client or Applet interfaces.


Integration with SAP Live Office

In SAP BI 4.1 Support Package 6, Live Office now supports both relational universes created with the universe design tool (UNV) and the information design tool (UNX):

  • You can create and run queries based on relational universes
  • You can add report parts from Web Intelligence documents based on UNV and UNX


Access to the SAP Analytics Extension Marketplace in Web Intelligence

A new icon, located at the bottom of the Web Intelligence interface on the Status bar allows you to quickly go to the SAP Analytics Extension Marketplace (http://www.sap.com/bi-partner-extensions?product=webi).
On this market place, you can browse extensions for SAP Analytics products built by SAP Partners for SAP products.

This button can be hidden via a customization of the Web Intelligence user interface in the Central Management Console (CMC).

Software Development Kit

To allow you to programmatically author or enforce BI resources, the SDK functional coverage was extended to expose new capabilities:

  • Semantic Layer Java SDK – Support of
    • custom navigation path through the class CustomNavigationPath
    • data foundation views and table position and properties in views through the classes DataFoundationView and TablePosition
    • security profile deletion, through the detachSecurityProfile function
  • Semantic Layer REST Web Service – Support of
    • universes created with the universe design tool
    • BOTH, EXCEPT and ranking operators during query creation
    • Get a universe list of parameters (aka prompts).
  • Web Intelligence REST Web Service – Support of
    • new mapping strategies and options in addition to the “change source” introduced earlier
    • New parameters exposed for charts, table layout properties, universe metadata and parameters (aka prompts)
    • document input controls previously described. You can create and edit them, move a report input control into a document input control or vice-versa.
    • inserting or removing a column of a table
    • merging or splitting cells
    • returning a report last page
    • deleting a Microsoft Excel file from the CMS repository
    • searching resources of the CMS repository
    • updating connections and SQL for Free-Hand SQL data providers

Some samples are also provided for Web Intelligence REST Web Service.

There are many innovations and new capabilities underway for SAP BusinesssObjects BI 4.2 as well. So stay tuned, you’ll hear from us soon again.

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