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SAP BI 4.2 Beta - What's New in Semantic Layer


Following the enhancements introduced in SAP BI 4.1 SP6, the Web Intelligence and Semantic Layer stack keeps on improving in SAP BI 4.2. This article describes the Semantic Layer new features ~70 beta customers and partners have tested last month during SAP BI 4.2 Beta Program:

• Linked universes

• Universes on SAP BEx queries

• Semantic Layer Java SDK

As this article describes beta material please remember that this presentation and SAP's strategy and possible future developments are subject to change and may be changed by SAP at any time for any reason without notice.

You might also be interested by this other article that covers Web Intelligence new features in SAP BI 4.2 Beta.

Linked Universes

In the information design tool, the main enhancement to universes is the support of linked universes. As for the universe design tool, linked universes allow you to create a derived universe from a core universe. The content of the core universe is available in the derived universe.

In SAP BI 4.2, these linked universes have these limitations:

  • The universes must be single-source, relational and published in the CMS repository.
  • The core universe cannot be a derived universe or created with the universe design tool
  • Core and derived universes must be based on the same relational connection

Creating a Derived Data Foundation and Business Layer

To create a first derived universe, open a session in your CMS repository and select a published universe. Then right-click this universe and select the Create Linked Universe command from the contextual menu.


Create Linked Universe Command.

This creates a derived data foundation and a business layer based on this universe:

  • The tables and joins contained in the core universe data foundation are displayed and available in the derived data foundation. The inherited tables are identified with the name of their core universe. Data foundation contexts and views are not inherited.
  • The objects and folders contained in the core universe business layer are displayed and available in the derived business layer. The inherited objects and folders are identified with the name of their core universe. Business layer views are not inherited.

Derived Data Foundation.

Derived Business Layer.

You can edit and add content in the derived data foundation and the business layer, but you cannot modify the inherited content, except for the object state (Active, Hidden, Deprecated).

When you publish a universe based on a linked data foundation and/or a linked business layer, the universe is dynamically linked to the core universe. If the core universe gets published again with some modified objects, then you’ll benefit from these changes when you query the derived universe.

Managing Core Universes

When editing a business layer, new actions related to core universes can be performed in the Core Business Layers tab. In this tab, you can:

  • Add a new core universe to the business layer and its underlying data foundation
  • Synchronize a core universe content in the business layer and its underlying data foundation
  • Explicitly include the objects from a core universe into the business layer and its underlying data foundation
  • Delete the references to the core universes, and the objects it contains, from the business layer and its underlying data foundation

Core Universes Used in Business Layer.

Universe on SAP BEx Queries

Instead of getting the whole BEx query content in Web Intelligence SAP direct access, you can create a multidimensional universe on top of a SAP BEx query. Through this universe, you can arrange the BEx query content, simplify and present it in a more friendly way.

In the information design tool, in a local project, select a connection shortcut to an OLAP connection that references a SAP server or a SAP BEx query.

Right-click it and select the Create business layer command from the contextual menu. Go through the wizard to automatically generate the business layer, as you would for any multidimensional universe.

The connectivity used is the SAP BICS connector and by default the generated metadata is similar to the metadata displayed when you access the SAP BEx query in Web Intelligence SAP Direct Access.

Business Layer Created from SAP BEx Query.

As for any multidimensional business layer, the information design tool allows you to:

  • Delete objects or rename them
  • Create folders to reorganize objects from the BEx query
  • Set dimension presentation
  • Set aggregation extension
  • Set zero suppression
  • Set relative depth selection
  • Set variable default values or visibility
  • Create business layer views
  • Define business security profiles
  • Create predefined queries (for testing purpose in the information design tool)
  • Set advanced BICS settings: selection variable mapping, BEx Expand to Level, …

Once you have finalized your business layer, you can publish the corresponding universe in the CMS repository to make it available to Web Intelligence and other client tools.

In Web Intelligence, creating a report from such universe is available only in the Rich Client and the Java applet, not the DHTML.

Information Design Tool Query Panel on Universe Authored on a SAP BEx Query.

Semantic Layer Java SDK

The Semantic Layer Java SDK has been enhanced to allow you to:

  • Create and edit predefined and custom object formats (numeric and data-time formats)
  • Get linked universe details, through the derived data foundation and business layer
  • Get/set object technical information, mapping and lineage
  • Get join ID
  • Get SDK version