BusinessObjects XI 3.1 Features

I haven’t seen a lot of information available that talks about what’s new in the release of the latest version, BusinessObjects XI 3.1, so I thought I would point out some of the highlights I’ve come across.  You may also want read the complete What’s New in BusinessObjects XI 3.1 guide from the website.

Release Highlights

BusinessObjects XI 3.1 is a release that is focused on bringing parity to our platform support for both Java and .NET.  In BusinessObjects XI 3.0 we did not provide a .NET version of our standard BI portal, InfoView.  In BusinessObjects XI 3.1 we have released a native .NET portal which has near parity with the Java version.  I say near parity, because there are a few things missing, namely:

  • Encyclopedia
  • Dashboard Builder
  • Voyager
  • BI Mobile
  • Polestar

For companies who find comfort in an all Microsoft World, this release will be welcomed.  BusinessObjects XI 3.1 has added support for Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Sharepoint Portal Server 2007.  (There is also Microsoft Active Directory Forest Support as well!)  If you are using the SAP Integration Kit, this is also now available on the .NET platform.

Web Application Container Service

One of the way in which BusinessObjects has been able to balance both rich feature sets and cross platform compatibility is through the introduction of a new server to the BusinessObjects Platform.  This service is called the WACS, Web Application Container Service, and is a java container.  What this allows BusinessObjects to do is to run existing java applications through the BusinessObjects framework.

Let me explain how this will work in practice.  The BusinessObjects Administration Console, the CMC, is written in Java.  Instead of rewritting this application in .NET, BusinessObjects simply added the WACS to the BusinessObjects service bus and will execute application via this service.  The beauty of this solution is that the .NET administrator never has to worry about it.  BusinessObjects manages everything.

What other Applications can use the WACS?

Besides the CMC, there are a number of other applications that could within the WACS.  This includes:

  • Interactive DHTML Viewer for WebIntelligence
  • Query as a Web Service (for supporting Xcelsius)
  • LiveOffice

There is an important document that covers what is supported and what is not supported within the WACS framework.  In theory all native java-based aspects of the BusinessObjects application suite could be run through the WACS but the question is whether or not it is officially supported.  This document is called:  Web Application Container Server (WACS): Supported and Unsupported Features for BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1and it explains the details.  You can download it here.

Additional Platform Enhancements

BusinessObjects XI 3.1 supports IPv6 100% across the product suite (except for Desktop Intelligence).  They have also added their first native 64-bit architecture.  Since BusinessObjects XIr2 SP3, the platform has been able to run on 64-bit operating systems however the platform still runs as a 32-bit application.  The first native 64-bit release is an the HP-UX IA-64 Itanium hardware.

Life Cycle Manager

Life Cycle Manager, LCM for short, s a web-based utility that allows the administrator to:

  • Promote BI content from one system to another (without affecting the dependencies of the content)
  • Manage dependencies of BI content
  • Manage different versions of BI content
  • Roll back (yahoo!) promoted BI content

This tool does not install with the platform, but is a separate install.

“So isn’t that what the Import Wizard is for?”, you may be asking?  Well, certainly the import wizard has been used to provide this type of functionality in the past – especially with the introduction of BIAR files in BusinessObjects XI; however I think you’ll see from the list of features in LCM, it is better to have a specialized tool for the LCM process.

Life Cycle Manager provides a number of features over the Import Wizard (besides rollback) including:

  • Granular control over the objects selected (yes, we trust you)
  • Scheduling Promotions Jobs (a job is a collection of BI content or InfoObjects to be precise)
  • Integrated Version Control (via Subversion)
  • Database connection overrides and mapping (Tired of changing database connection strings?)
  • Auditing
  • The ability to “preview” to changes before committing them
  • Rollback, Did I mention rollback?

There is a new LCM Job server which has been added to the platform to manage the promotion process.

Have you ever created a BIAR file and realized you missed a file?  Now with LCM you can save your Promotion job and use it to generate a BIAR file.  If you find that something is missing, you can simply open up the promotion job , select the missing objects and regenerate the BIAR file.

BIAR ≠ BIAR

When is a BIAR file not a BIAR file?  Well, with the LCM tool, the BIAR files which are generated by the LCM tool are LCMBIAR files.  As the name indicates, the LCMBIAR files are NOT compatible with the BIAR files used with the Import Wizard.  Bummer.

Voyager

Voyager was the other biggie.  A lot of work was put into providing interface enhancements and increased performance.  This is probably the last release before the eagerly anticipated release of “Pioneer” in 2009, which will combine Voyager’s intuitive user interface with the powerful OLAP capabilities of the BEx OLAP tools.

Voyager now has a number of new visualizations including Box-Plot, Scatter, Bubble and Radar charts.    There are also a number of features that were in OLAP Intelligence, which were missing in earlier versions of Voyager, namely, Exception highlighting, URL Linking to other BI Content and Favorite Groups.

Have you ever made a mistake when building a Voyager workspace?  Well, now you have full undo/redo capabilities.  After being so used to the undo/redo capabilities in WebIntelligence, I always found the missing feature extremely annoying and I’m sure other did to.

Fly Over Of Additional Features

Rather than talk about additional features in detail, I thought I would briefly mention some of them here and perhaps in the future I can blog about them in detail if there is interest.

Semantic Layer -Support for BEGIN_SQL, Prompt support for codes AND descriptions.

Crystal Reports – Dual Monitor support, flash printing to PDF.

WebIntelligence -Support for Extension Points, Auto-Save, RelativeValue(), Multi-Pass Bursting

SAP Integration – SNC for BusinessObjects Universes (Prior to XI 3.1, this was only available for Crystal Reports), Improve Prompt Support for Hierarchy and Hierarchy Node dependencies.

Dashboard Builder – Printing, Interportlet Communication

Summary

There are some good things that have come out in this latest release.  This release is also the latest ‘reset point’ for BusinessObjects XI 3.X maintenance, so you can expect fix packs for XI 3.0 to no longer be released.

Hope you found this information useful.  I’ve tried to keep it short and sweet.

«Good BI»

  1. October 23rd, 2008 at 13:37 | #1

    David, thanks for this post. Any idea why HP was selected first for 64-bit? Really Big Customer? And is there an official/unofficial timetable to have 64-bit versions on other platforms (Windows 2003 Server 64-bit)?

  2. October 23rd, 2008 at 21:28 | #2

    Dallas – I’m not sure how the priorities were set for this one. I think it was to be a good partner with HP as well as to do a “first migration” into the 64-bit arena. I don’t know an official timeframe for native 64-bit. I can’t say that from my perspective that customers have really needed it. Sure, we should do it, but personally I’d rather see the R&D $$ go into new features. I think for BusinessObjects to do 64-bit right, there will need to be some major work done internally within the software to leverage memory and 64-bit operations optimally.

    What do you think? Where should native 64-bit be on our radar screen?

  3. Andreas
    October 30th, 2008 at 08:24 | #3

    I heard that WACS for Interactive DHTML Viewer for WebIntelligence, Query as a Web Service and LiveOffice will only be available for Edge. Do you know if this is true?

  4. BOB Sweden
    November 5th, 2008 at 04:27 | #4

    When I compare .net version of Infoview and the JSP version of Infoview, there are big diffrences in performance between these two interface, specially when you logged in, it seems be some other type of caching in .net version What is your experience ?

  5. November 6th, 2008 at 10:10 | #5

    I know there were plans around this for the EDGE products and I haven’t see the user manuals for EDGE yet; Based on the documentation for BusinessObjects XI 3.1, WACS: Supported and Unsupported Features for BusinessObjects XI 3.1, it’s clear that they are offering several capabilities as “preview” only features including: WebServices SDK, QaaWS, Business Process BI Web Services, LiveOffice, InfoView, Voyager and Federation.

    I found the document here: https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/70f9e973-4d8d-2b10-27bf-d48189bb10da

  6. casond
    December 12th, 2008 at 14:33 | #6

    You did a wonderful job of keeping it simple yet providing very useful and easy to understand information. We were getting ready to upgrade to BO XI 3.0 and looks as though we were lucky to see that 3.1 is already out. The question that we can not seem to find an answer to is, Can you go from R2.0 straight to 3.1 or do you have to install 3.0 then 3.1? We would appreciate any information you may have in regards to that.

    thanks….donna

    • January 9th, 2009 at 16:24 | #7

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for your question. My understanding is yes, you can do an “upgrade” installation and upgrade your XIr2 environment directly to XI 3.1. The only gotcha is that you will not have the option of switching over from a Java application server to Windows. In XI 3.1, customers can now run BusinessObjects XI without the need for a Java application server. If your organization wants to take advantage of the new .NET version of InfoView, then you must to a “new” installation of XI 3.1 and migrate the contact from XIr2 to XI 3.1 using the Import Wizard.

      I hope this answers your question.

      In the case of XI 3.1, I might recommend doing a fresh install on a new server. Because the interface is significantly different from XIr2, some companies have decided to get the new XI 3.1 environment up and running first. Once there is a good understand of the new features and customers have received some training, or training materials have been updated, then they import the XIr2 content over to the new XI 3.1 server. Either way, it’s up to you.

      Sorry for the delay in answering your question.

      Happy New Year,

      –david

  7. jared
    January 12th, 2009 at 13:09 | #8

    Just thought I’d point out to those who use the SAP Integration Kit, that the kit does not support the WACS…either the bundled Tomcat or other supported Java application server must be used.

    Thanks,
    Jared

  8. Bilal
    January 14th, 2009 at 10:09 | #9

    Hi,

    We are planing to install XI R3 in .NET environment and integrate the reports with our existing web application developed using asp .net and C#

    My question is:
    Does XI R3 in .NET environment provide option for an Interactive DHTML Viewer for WebI reports?

    This is a very important critereon before we go ahead in the project.

    Please advice.

    Many Thanks.

    Bilal

  9. Steve
    February 3rd, 2009 at 18:01 | #11

    David,

    Good info. Do you know anybody who has actually implemented the “Interactive DHTML Viewer for WebIntelligence” in WACS?

    When you say, it could be implemented are you talking about possibly implementing Java InfoView within WACS? (Yes, there is a .NET Infoview) or are you talking about building custom apps using the Interactive wiever and implement it in WACS?

    Appreciate the response.

    Thanks,
    Thiag.

    • February 23rd, 2009 at 18:08 | #12

      Hi Steve – Sorry for the late reply. You’ve brought up a good point. The “Interactive DHTML Viewer for WebIntelligence” allows users to do on-report analysis directly from the browser within the need to “edit” the document. Unfortunately this is a long standing Java-only feature within the SAP BusinessObjects product. It’s theoretically possible that ALL the war files that come with SAP BusinessObjects, e.g. Java InfoView, Web Services, etc. can be run from within the WACS, but it is not recommended. I would recommend running a stand-alone Java application server such as Tomcat before trying to roll those applications inside of WACS.

      Remember… the WACS is more or less a Java application server that sits within the BusinessObjects service bus. Anything you can do with Tomcat, you could do from within the WACS, but it’s not officially supported. Most of the concerns around support come from a lack of clustering and failover that hasn’t yet been worked into the WACS.

  10. February 4th, 2009 at 10:35 | #13

    We have been using BOE XI R1 SP3 for some time now and had been waiting for the Microsoft IIS Web Application Server support.

    Can anyone tell me if this new BOE XI 3.1 release must have a Web application server at all???

    mentioned above in a reply to Donna…

    In XI 3.1, customers can now run BusinessObjects XI without the need for a Java application server. If your organization wants to take advantage of the new .NET version of InfoView, then you must to a “new” installation of XI 3.1 and migrate the contact from XIr2 to XI 3.1 using the Import Wizard.

    Or do you simply install this on a Windows 2008 server and you nolonger need a Web Application Server for CMC and Infoview???

    Can you provide any links documentation or architecture diagrams of this new .net infoview, and java CMC,

    Thanks,

    Randy

    • February 23rd, 2009 at 18:12 | #14

      Randy – thanks for your patience. Finally, the first native .NET release since early XI. Sorry it took so long. It’s a challenge supporting identical functionality on multiple platforms. In BOE XI 3.1 you will need to have either a Java application server (e.g. Tomcat) or IIS with .NET installed. If you run in a pure IIS environment, then we do support that configuration. We have not rewritten our admin console (and other pieces of our application framework) into .NET code however, therefore we have created a WACS service which is basically a Tomcat server running within the BO managed environment (and BO manages it… so you don’t have to).

  11. Rodger
    February 27th, 2009 at 13:16 | #15

    Hi Steve,

    Can an IIS+ WACS installation support Qaaws as well without tomcat ?

  12. Bilal
    March 10th, 2009 at 06:08 | #16

    Hi David.

    Sorry for such a late reply. i have used the openDoc.jsp to call a report from a URL and inetgrated the result in the aplication as a separate frmae with the same browser window. It is still developed in a test application but I hope it will work fine within the live application too. Thanks for all the comments guys. This is a very informative and helpful forum.

    Many Thanks.

    Bilal

  13. Bilal
    March 18th, 2009 at 06:13 | #17

    Hi,

    If anyone knows where may I fid a guide to how to use WACS for webI Interactive viewr in a .NET web application.

    Or how may I use a logon token generated by a .NET code in a Java URL?

    It does not work. Anyone got an idea? Please advise.

    Many thanks.

    Bilal

  14. amjad
    April 11th, 2009 at 13:54 | #18

    Does SAP BusinessObject’s Support Single pass bursting for WebIntelligence XI 3.1

  15. Kevin Okon
    June 11th, 2009 at 15:36 | #20

    I am currently on Business Objects Edge Series 3.0. It’s built with Tomcat and I use Windows AD authentification with SSO. It works great! It took me a while to figure out the SSO with the Kerboros authentification because the documentation was missing some things. But all my Universe rights, folders rights, authentification, etc… works perfect.

    I am at the point to upgrade to 3.1. A couple questions.

    1) Following the doc, I ran the Import Wizard and backed everything up. I’m going to uninstall 3.0 now and then install 3.1. Does this backup actually backup all the Tomcat settings for single sign on or am I going to have to set that up manually again?

    2) Tomcat vs WACS??? Opinons??

    3) Could I convert to WACS from Tomcat without to much of a headache?? Is this documented anywhere??

    Thank you for your time and answers!

    Kevin Okon
    Systems Engineer

    • Ruth Lutero
      October 5th, 2009 at 16:46 | #21

      Hi Kevin,

      Our organization uses business object edge series 3.1, our production was setup by a consultant and AD authentication works without any problem. Unfortunately there was no documentation that was provided. I am in the middle of creating a development environment (using the same licenses that are in production) but I am getting the error message “Account Information Not Recognized: The Active Directory Authentication plugin could not authenticate at this time. Please try again. If the problem persists, please contact your technical support department. (FWM 00005).

      Would you be able to provide me some guidance or document on how to resolve the issue? I tried every possible way to fix it, using a step by step instructions from SAP and Administration Manual – no solution at this time.

      • steve
        July 20th, 2010 at 15:32 | #22

        hello Ruth, did you ever figure out what the problem was with sso “Account Information Not Recognized: The Active Directory Authentication plugin could not authenticate at this time. Please try again”

  16. Amit Misra
    July 15th, 2009 at 14:36 | #23

    Hi,

    Does anyone have any idea about DeskI support in XI 3.1 EDGE Series specifically?
    Is DeskI supported In XI 3.1 Edge and if yes, how much of DeskI is supported?

    Thanks,
    Amit

  17. Ruth Lutero
    October 5th, 2009 at 16:53 | #24

    Amit, I went to recent training. I heard that the DeskI will eventually go away.

  18. Sunshine
    November 2nd, 2009 at 11:54 | #25

    Hi dtaylor92,
    Can you please explain how to implement single-pass bursting in BOXI 3.1 through profiles for reports based on SAP BW? The problem is that the entire row level security is defined at BW level in this case, so I do not know how do the profile work in this scenario.

    Thanks,
    Sunshine

  19. November 4th, 2009 at 13:08 | #26

    We don’t currently support single-pass bursting in BO XI 3.1 against BW. Originally there were plans to automatically create profiles based on ROLE information defined within SAP, but in the end the feature was pulled. If you want to leverage SAP security the best way is to run multi-pass bursting. In extremely simplistic environments it’s possible to still use profiles; however I would not recommend it.

  20. Raj
    January 21st, 2010 at 19:54 | #27

    Hi

    First of all thanks for this wonderful posting. I have got few questions.

    1. Can we get to see how many scheduled instances are getting used by running a query.

    2. Is there any automated way from where we can populate the user list based on there roles?

  21. Vivek Pandey
    February 18th, 2010 at 05:48 | #29

    Hi,

    I just want to know schedule for BO XI 3.2, is there any plan to provide java support for designer?

    • February 26th, 2010 at 12:53 | #30

      I’m not aware of plans to release a java version of the universe designer. We do expect some significant innovations to the semantic layer in XI 4.0.

  22. G S Hiremath
    April 13th, 2010 at 07:09 | #31

    Hi,
    Just wanted to know if in BO XI 3.2 can i update the CMS Configurations using java api’s. Say like updating the request port of Central Management Server.
    Can you please provide some sample codes which does the same.

    • April 24th, 2010 at 18:50 | #32

      I’m sure that’s possible. What’s really nice in XI 3.1 is the ability to setup server templates so you can make sure that settings are the same across servers. I don’t have any samples, but if you call techncial support, they should be able to help you out.

  23. H Sand
    June 16th, 2010 at 15:03 | #33

    Hi,
    Which versions of Java are compatible with BOXI 3.1 and which are not? Thanks.

  24. yoav
    August 1st, 2010 at 13:36 | #36

    Hi,

    Does Voyager supports also in prompts ?

    thanks

    Yoav

  25. tmk
    September 17th, 2010 at 04:59 | #37

    Hi,

    we are planning to implement BOEnterprise XI 3.1. Is it possible to run report created in Crystal Reports Designer (*.rpt file), assuming that Crystal Reports Job Server, Cache Server and Page Server are running ?
    I ask because till that time we were only using reports built in Webi (*.wid) or in Desktop Intelligence (*.rep) file (on our BOEXI r2 environment). Now one of our vendors wants to provide us few reports created in Crystal Designer – will it work ?

  26. ganesh
    June 28th, 2011 at 05:33 | #38

    thanks for sharing this valuable information however i was looking out for BO XI architecture and found on this site-

    http://businessintelligence-businessobjects.blogspot.com/2011/06/business-objects-xi-architecture.html

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