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SAP BI 4.2 SP3: What's New in Web Intelligence


Following the enhancements introduced in SAP BI 4.2 (see SAP BI 4.2: What's New in Web Intelligence and SAP BI 4.2: What's New in Semantic Layer), Web Intelligence keeps on improving in SAP BI 4.2 SP3.

This article describes its new features in this Support Package:

  • Java/DHTML Clients Parity
  • Cascading Input Control
  • Publication Delivery Rules
  • Merged Variables and Objects Display
  • References
  • Shared Elements
  • Comments
  • Geo Maps
  • Parallel Queries
  • SAP BW
  • Change Source
  • Miscellaneous

To complete this description, you might also be interested by:

Java/DHTML Clients Parity

As some browsers do not support Java anymore, or to avoid Java version update, the functional parity between Web Intelligence Java and DHTML is seen as a priority by customers.

In SAP BI 4.2 SP3, the features that are the most requested have been implemented in Web Intelligence DHTML:

  • Support of Excel data source
  • Query Panel for SAP BEx, UNX on SAP Bex data providers
  • Complex filters in Query Panel
  • Conditional formatting
  • Format number
  • Change Source
  • Export As dialog box

Some features, like Free-Hand SQL support or the Data Manager panel are not yet available and should be released in next Support Packages.

Excel Query Panel in DHTML

Note that since 4.2, all new features are implemented in all Web Intelligence clients, to avoid creating new gaps between Java and DHTML.

Cascading Input Controls

Input controls allow you to filter dataset in a document or one of its report through checkboxes, drop-down menus, sliders…

In SAP BI 4.2 SP3, you can gather input controls into group input control that are logically linked:

  • In the Input Controls side panel, input controls of a group are displayed gathered into a same frame.
  • In a group, when values have been selected for an input control:
    • These values are used to filter the list of values of the other input controls the group contains
    • The answered input controls are collapsed and are displayed with their selected values on top of unanswered input controls. The answered input controls and their values defines the group filter path.

Displaying Two Groups Input Control: Product and Geography

To define a group input control, you must be in Design mode and in the Input Controls side panel, click the Group button. In the Manage Groups dialog box, you can then create a new group, define if it is used to filter the document or a report and assign it at least two input controls.

Creating a Group Input Control

Publication Delivery Rules

In a first step to improve Web Intelligence scheduling and publishing capabilities, some recipient delivery rules are now supported for publication:

  • Do not send the publication if scheduled content has no data
  • Do not send the publication if scheduled content has not fully refreshed

These rules can be defined for each publication source document.

Web Intelligence Publication Delivery Rules

As these rules are checked before the document is sent to individual recipients, these rules can be used to prevent publishing empty or non-meaningful documents.

If the publication contains several source documents, you can also define the behavior for a recipient if one rule is not met:

  • Cancel the publication (Deliver all documents only when all conditions are met)
  • Deliver only the documents that met the rule (Deliver individual document when conditions is met)

Merged Variables and Objects Display

Merged dimensions are helpful to link data coming from two different data sources. But often, the datasets from the two data sources are not identical.

In 4.2 SP3, you can now merge variables; which allows you to modify/cleanse a dataset with the formula language before merging it with another dataset.

In the dialog box used to create merged objects, the Available Objects list now displays also variables that can be selected. To help selecting the right object to merge, variables are displayed by query

Selecting a Variable for Merge

In the Available Objects side panel, objects are displayed alphabetically or by queries.

In SAP BI 4.2 SP3, you can also display these objects by data source. If the data source is a universe, it displays the universe folder path containing the objects.


Available Objects Side Panel: Display by Data Source


Web Intelligence 4.2 SP3 introduces a new variable type: reference. A reference is a variable that returns the value of a specified cell in the document.  To create a reference; in design mode, right-click a cell and in the contextual menu, select the Assign Reference command.

In the dialog box that opens, keep the default Create a new reference for this cell option and enter a name for the reference.

Creating A Reference

Once defined, the reference is displayed in the Available Objects side panel under the References folder.

References In Available Objects

A reference can be used in any formula to define new variable or conditional formatting. It can be handy to directly get a result in the calculation context. Furthermore, as a reference returns the value actually displayed in a cell, it is impacted by report filters or input controls.

Variables Based on References

A reference can be displayed anywhere in the document through a cell. References can be useful to create a summary that retrieve figures or content from other reports.

Shared Elements

Shared elements have been introduced in SAP BI 4.2. They allow a report designer to save in the CMS repository a report element and the data sources, queries, variables, styles… required to create it. This shared element can be reused by other users, if they have the required security rights.

In SAP BI 4.2 SP2, shared elements have been released with some limitations. These limitations are addressed in SAP BI 4.2 SP3:

  • A geographical map chart can be saved as a shared element
  • A report element displaying a custom element can be saved as a shared element
  • Measure’s big number setting is persisted when saved in as a shared element
  • Embedded background image is saved in the shared element (it is possible in 4.2 if the image is referenced through an URL)
  • Categories can be assigned to shared elements. In the Shared Elements side panel, you can browse shared elements by categories.

Browsing Categories in Shared Elements Side Panel

From usability point of view, some enhancements have been done to ease shared elements use:

  • In the SharedElements side panel, additional details are displayed for a shared element: author, last edit date, creation date…
  • When publishing a shared element, the option Link to the source document allows you to link the published shared element to the current document
  • When updating a shared element whose query has been modified, if its query is used by another report element in the document, then a copy of a previous query is kept in the document for this report element. Otherwise, the query is just updated.
  • You can use the document new option Update shared elements to automatically update the shared elements the document uses when it is opened
  • In the CMC, the Check Relationships command allows you to get shared element dependencies


When comments have been released in SAP BI 4.2, only document comments were available: the comments are displayed as free cells in the document and adding such comment can only be done in Design mode.

In SAP BI 4.2 SP3, you can now add comments to any block (tables or charts) or any table cells

This is possible both in Reading and Design modes.

When the comment is created, an icon is displayed on the cell or the block to show that a comment has been added. When hovering the mouse over this cell or block, a pop-up opens to show this comment.

Displaying a Comment on a Cell

Displaying a Comment on a Chart

When saving a document under a different name, you can select to keep its comments. If you do so, these comments are duplicated in the comments database for this new document.

When a document with comments is scheduled, the resulting scheduled instances also share the same comments from the comments database.

The Comments side panel user interface has been redesigned for better clarity. If you have the security right granted to you, you can delete a comment in the Comments side panel.

Geo Map

In 4.2, geo qualifying a dimension is done by mapping data coming from the dimension to the geographical names available in the geographical database embedded in Web Intelligence.

In SAP BI 4.2 SP3, you can geo qualify a dimension with latitude and longitude. The Edit as a geography has now two sub-commands:

  • By Name
  • By Longitude/Latitude

If you select By Longitude/Latitude, you are asked to select two dimensions that contain the latitude and longitude data.

Geo-Qualify by Longitude/Latitude

When geo qualifying a dimension by name, if the location is not known in Web Intelligence geographical database, you can explicitly add it through its latitude and longitude: in the Edit as a Geography dialog box, select the Select location command in the Location drop-down list. Then, in the Select location dialog box, click the Add Location button to add the location’s latitude and longitude.

Add a Location by Longitude/Latitude

In SAP BI 4.2 SP3, you can now also geo-qualify a variable, a merged variable (see Merged Variables and Objects Display) or a merged dimension. The menu Edit as a geography is available when right-clicking any of them in the Available objects side panel.

Geo-Qualified Variable and Merged Variable

Parallel Queries

In SAP BI 4.2 SP3, parallel queries are supported for SAP BW data providers.

Parallel queries settings can be fine-tuned in CMC, information design tool and universe design tool, rather than through configuration files.

  • In universe design tool and information design tool: Max Parallel Queries per connection parameter for relational connections.
  • In CMC and information design tool: Max Parallel Queries per connection parameter for OLAP connections.
  • In CMC: Max Parallel Queries per document parameter and enable/disable parallel queries for scheduling

CMC: Parallel Queries Settings for Web Intelligence Processing Server


Several enhancements for SAP BW have been implemented in SAP BI 4.2 SP3:

  • DHTML Query Panel (see DHTML Catchup)
  • Parallel Queries support (see Parellel Queries)
  • In the formula language, QuerySummary (StatusOfData) returns the SAP BW InfoProvider’s last upload data.
  • SAP BW linked nodes are supported both for SAP BW direct access and UNX based on SAP BW
  • When running a query on a universe based on a SAP BEx query, usage statistics are sent to SAP BW.
  • As described below, the Change Source proposes new paths to move a SAP BW direct access data provider to SAP HANA direct access or to a universe based on a SAP BEx query


In SAP 4.2, two new supports for SAP HANA have been added in Web Intelligence:

  • SAP HANA direct access, where you can directly connect to the SAP HANA view to create a query before running it.
  • SAP HANA Online mode, where you also directly connect to the SAP HANA view but without having to get data in the Web Intelligence cube. This mode takes advantage of the HANA in-memory database and when possible, delegates computation to SAP HANA. In this mode, the query panel is not used since the query is run against SAP HANA each time a new object is added to the document.

For SAP HANA Online mode, the following enhancements are now available in SAP BI 4.2 SP3:

  • When only partial result has been retrieved (e.g. data Max Row), then you are notified through the Partial Result icon.
  • In the Available Objects side panel, a new option (Navigation paths) can be selected to display the objects in their parent hierarchies.

Display by Navigation Paths in SAP HANA Online Mode

In SAP HANA direct access, the Set Variables dialog box that was available in SAP HANA online mode, is now also available in the Query Panel. It can be used to fix variables values and to avoid you to answer them at each refresh.

Set Variables Dialog Box in SAP HANA Direct Access Query Panel

The following enhancements are available for both SAP HANA direct access and online modes:

  • When answering a variable, interval and range are supported. The list of operators are available in a drop-down list. You can also provide several answers.

HANA Interval and Range Operators

  • Dynamic default values for HANA variables. If the variable’s default value is defined as a formula in SAP HANA, then this default value computation is delegated to SAP HANA. This default value is the one set in the Set Variables dialog box, unless you select the Use BEx/HANA defined default values at runtime checkbox and purge the document to make sure it is evaluated at refresh time as well.
  • Conversion for any unit measure is supported (In SAP BI 4.2, only currency conversion is supported). When a measure unit has been defined as a prompt in HANA, Web Intelligence also prompts you for this unit measure.
  • When selecting a SAP HANA view as a data source, the search in the connection dialog box is now case insensitive.

Change Source

In addition to be available in DHTML, the change source has been improved to support new data sources supported in SAP BI 4.2. The new supported paths are:

  • From SAP BW Direct Access to SAP BW Authored Universe
  • From SAP BW Direct Access to SAP HANA Direct Access
  • From SAP HANA Authored Universe to SAP HANA Direct Access

Some enhancements have been done in order to avoid asking for prompts during change source, except for SAP BW and SAP HANA when they require prompt answers to generate metadata.


Some additional changes are available in Web Intelligence:

  • In Web Intelligence calculation engine, a new function returns the members of a level in a hierarchy: MemberAtDepth(Hierarchy, Level)
  • The Web Intelligence charts engine propose the following options:
    • In Pie charts, you can display both value and percentage
    • In Bar/Column charts, you can customize borders of each data series
    • In Bar/Column charts, you can also inverse legend order in stacked
    • In Waterfall charts, you can customize Total value label
  • When exporting a document to PDF or Excel, you can choose the image resolution (DPI)
  • Web Intelligence supports Server Group: