Exploring SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2

BI4.2 beta testing has been very smooth and BI4.2 is now available for all customers to download.
There are numerous performance enhancements to the platform, tools and some very useful features have been implemented. One feature has even been added arising from popular demand via the ‘Idea Place’ portal. 
We have played with the platform and we highly recommend an upgrade. 

Below are a few of the important features we came across that will surely catch your interest. Note that there are many more enhancements but the ones listed below really left an impression on us. 

1. BI Administrators’ Cockpit

BO Administrators can now have a real time view of the infrastructure. This includes Servers, Scheduled jobs, Content usage and Applications. A demo can be found here.
The cockpit accommodates both an overview of the platform and a detailed view of the platform components.  

Location under CMC

Location under CMC

Example of a BI Administrator's Cockpit 

Example of a BI Administrator's Cockpit 

Servers
- High level overview of the actual status of the servers: 

Servers

Servers


- Detailed status of all the servers with different display options: All, Failed and Running.

Server status

Server status

Scheduled Jobs
- High level overview of the scheduled job status with the possibility to filter by time

High lever overview

High lever overview

- Detailed overview of the scheduled jobs status with different display options: All, Failed, Running and Statistics (jobs with most instances and jobs with longest run time).
- Details of the selected instance. From the Failed tab it is possible to execute the failed instance.

2. Recycle Bin

Another great addition to the BI4.2 platform is the Recycle Bin. This comes from popular demand via the ‘idea place’.
Put simply, administrators can now recover deleted content without the need to look into backups (biar files or other possible sources). This feature saves time and provides an addition level of security for those accidentally deleted contents moments.
By default this is disabled and has to be enabled. 
However, there is a limitation of what can be recovered. Documents deleted from public folders may be recovered. Documents deleted from personal folders are not retained by the recycle bin and are not recoverable.

Location under CMC

Location under CMC

Example of Recycle Bin

Example of Recycle Bin

It is also possible to empty the recycle bin, same as in a windows environment context.

3. Notifications

Another great innovation for BI 4.2 are the new user notifications. This allows administrators to easily broadcast information to single user/group or to all users. For example, if there is upcoming system maintenance. Administrators can specify the timeline for the notification to be visible and also send it as an email notification. Notifications will show up in the BI Launchpad and the “My Alerts” area as well. 
In yellow, on the side screen the alert can be seen.

Alert notification when logging in

Alert notification when logging in

Example of notification

Example of notification

4. Webi Comments

The new Commentary feature allows any user with assigned rights to add comments to a report in the form of cell element. The comment appears in a different format from a normal cell and can only be added under “design” mode view. Users can assign the comment a title and corresponding text.
After the initial comment is created and document saved, another user can open the same document and view the comments. They can then reply to this comment thread in the side panel, all categorized under the title, and add additional notes to the comment as well.
Webi comments get exciting in the context where multiple business units need to interact on a single report. Imagine a manager, report designer, data analyst, key user or more stakeholders sharing comments on a WEBI document without a single email!

Commenting directly on webi document

Commenting directly on webi document

5. Parallel Queries in Webi

Parallel queries are now activated by default. There is the option to deactivate and the also number of concurrent refreshes are customizable. 
Before 4.2 queries were run in sequence and the performance was obviously highly affected. 
Now with BI4.2, queries are run in parallel. This has a huge impact on report performance. 
This feature is supported on UNX, SAP HANA direct access (we will come to this shortly). Can be performed via rich client, html and applet. 

The side screen shows an example of the parallel feature which was non-existent before BI4.2.

The side screen shows an example of the parallel feature which was non-existent before BI4.2.

6. Webi Direct access to SAP HANA

Now you can create a document directly on a Hana view as source. Same as you would do for an excel as source. 
All calculations will be done on Hana engine as much as possible adding a great performance touch to the report. 
There is no query panel, only drag and drop. This leverages the full power of SAP HANA on a simple WEBI document.
This is supported on OLAP and relational connection, html interface as shown and with the java applet.

Source of information for this blog can be found here. In case you are thinking about upgrading to BI 4.2 and are seeking the best partner to support you, don’t hesitate and contact us at sales@clariba.com.  We are running time-limited offers on upgrades to BI4.2 which you can review here.