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Posts Tagged ‘BusinessObjects 4.0’

Welcome To Crystal Reports for Enterprise

August 30th, 2011 17 comments

So has everyone see the new interface for Crystal Reports?  If not, you’re missing out.  SAP BusinessObjects v4.0 includes a brand new version of Crystal Reports called, Crystal Reports for Enterprise.  This version of Crystal is new in BusinessObjects v4.0 introduces the new tabbed user interface which has been rolled out to all the client tools.

Crystal Reports 2011 and Crystal Reports for Enterprise are both available in BusinessObjects v4.0.

You may be asking:  What is the difference between Crystal Reports 2011 and Crystal Reports for Enterprise?  That’s a great question.

In short, Crystal Reports 2011 is the legacy Crystal Reports 2008 with a few new features.  Crystal Reports for Enterprise is the future of Crystal Reports… and here’ s why it makes sense to have two versions.

The Crystal Reports development team wanted to make sure there was absolutely zero disruption to the use of existing Crystal Reports.   Customers are always #1.  It’s all about allowing customers customers and partners to continue to leverage their Crystal Reports investments, while at the same time laying out a future direction for the product.   Those 1B+ Crystal Reports need to keep running.

The new, future direction means delivering the best possible connectivity to the new semantic layer in SAP BusinessObjects v4.0, together will a new charting engine and much, much more.  As a result, they also released the distinct, next generation version of Crystal Reports called, Crystal Reports for Enterprise.

Version Comparison

Crystal Reports 2011 – All legacy Crystal reports 2008 functionality with read-only report format (.rptr), export to Excel workbook data only (.xlsx), integration with Visual Studio 2010 and integration for WPF apps.

Crystal Reports for Enterprise – Next generation Crystal Reports Designer with streamlined user interface, new charting engine, updated report design, connectivity to the new semantic layer (unx), platform driven alerts and 64-bit processing on the server (although the designer is still native 32-bit).

NOTE:  For all new features please see the
release notes.

Result – This gives customers the best of both worlds.  Both versions of Crystal Reports can run side-by-side on the same desktop client.  The associated processing servers and job servers can also run side-by-side on the same server.  Zero disruptions – tons of new capabilities.

Configuring Crystal Report for Enterprise

The biggest challenge I ran into when first using Crystal Reports for Enterprise was getting connected to my CMS.  I had no idea how to configure my server connections.

1.  When you start Crystal Reports for Enterprise you will see this:

2.  Next you will need to connect to your BusinessObjects Enterprise repository (to access the semantic layer).  Choose File -> Log On to SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise

3.  You can save connections to multiple repositories.  Lets configure the first server connection by clicking on the box to the right of the Server Connections field.

4.  Enter in the following fields.  Note that the Server Context must be entered as /dswsbobje.  After entering the fields, make sure you can test the connection.

If you have a proxy server in play, make sure that this is configured correctly in Internet Explorer.  Crystal Reports for Enterprise will leverage this configuration when attempting to talk to the server.

5.  After entering the fields you should see an entry similar to the following screen:

Click to see a full size view

6.  You should now be able to connect to your repository and begin building content off any of the new UNX semantic layer definitions you have created.  Make sure and play with the new charting engine and report layout controls.  See how much easier it is to drag, drop and align fields onto the workspace.

Future of Two Crystal Reports Versions

More good news.  Within a relatively short time frame, the Crystal Reports teams plans to bring all the capabilities on the classic Crystal Reports 2008/2011 version into Crystal Reports for Enterprise.  So I don’t expect we will have two versions of Crystal Reports for very long.  Here are a list of some of the things that are NOT in the initial release of Crystal Reports for Enterprise v4.0:

  • No direct data support (ODBC/JDBC, etc)
  • No direct OLAP support (other than BEx Queries)
  • No Live Office support
  • No Enterprise Search
  • API/SDK Gaps

These are all the major things that will need to be added before Crystal Reports for Enterprise becoming the only version of Crystal Reports in the BusinessObjects Suite.

P.S.  I love the new abbreviation for Crystal Reports for Enterprise, it’s cr4e.   Very Cute.

«Good BI»

BusinessObjects v4.0 “Looking Good”

February 2nd, 2011 6 comments

I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and spend some quality time with BusinessObjects v4.0… and I like her.

Disclaimer:  Now of course, everything I'm going to be talking about is based
 on the ramp up version, so there may be some differences between what I
 post here and what's in the final release.

Let’s Talk

I don’t mean to be superficial, but she looks so good.

She’s elegant, She’s sophisticated. She’s refined… She’s hot.  And best of all?  Her beauty isn’t just skin deep – but more on that later.

Hopefully you’ve seen a few of the videos on SDN of my new infatuation, but to do her justice, you have to take her out for a spin.  Earlier this week, we went for a drive and there’s a lot to like.  I took all my old BI documents and we moved in together… and although we hit a couple of bumps, overall, I like what I see.

BI Launchpad

The BI Launchpad is the new name for InfoView.  In fact, this is one of many name changes.

The new tabbed design is elegant.  It’s one of those things that you didn’t know you needed until you see it and then you wonder how you ever lived without it.

InfoView is now BI Launchpad

 

The users can easily toggle between the Home Page and the Documents page.  The home page by default is broken down into 5 different areas.

  1. My Recently Viewed Documents – Yes, that’s right.  It keeps a viewing history so that you can quickly return to previously viewed documents.
  2. Unread Messages in My InBox – Here you can see any reports that are unread in your BusinessObjects Inbox
  3. My Recently Run Documents – Now when users log in in the morning, they can see the reports which ran the night before.
  4. Alerts – Not just Crystal Reports Alerts, but real-time operational alerts that were generated by the BI Platform.  (More on this later)
  5. My Applications – a quick, oversized icon list of my available applications.  (This same list of applications is also available from the Applications drop down list at the top of the page.)

The other thing I love about this screen is that as you hover over the objects it doesn’t just tell you the name and description.  For example with the Recently Run documents, it tells you the Title, Type, Owner, Run Time, Duration and Status.  Nice.

Of course, if you don’t like this layout, you can create your own BI Workspace (aka Personalized Dashboard Page) and use it instead.

Here is one I created in the BI Workspace Builder (aka Dashboard Builder)  in just a few clicks.

Creating a Custom Launch Page

You can see that I decided I was only interested in Recently View Documents and Recently Run Documents and so my launch page reflects that.

Documents Tab

This Documents view is similar to the Document List in BusinessObjects XI 3.1, only better.

The Documents View

From the left hand panel, they have broken the screen up into four expandable bars:

  • My Documents – My Favorites Folder, My Inbox, My Alerts, etc.
  • Folders – The Public Folders that my rights give me access to.
  • Categories – All the same documents in the public folders, but just via a categories view.
  • Search – This has been simplified to just one box where you type in text – once you have results you can narrow the results down by type, location, refresh time, data source, etc.

Functionally everything works as you would expect but from a layout perspective, it feels much more simplified and clean.

Pin This Tab

Because of the new interface, you can have multiple documents open at once.  My favorite new feature on the BI Launchpad is the ability to open a report and pin the report so that when you log in, this report is ready to go.  In this screenshot you can see I have two pinned reports: Bill of Materials, Part Availability Report.

Reports Pinned on across the top

Of course if you don’t want to use the tabbed interface and want to open a report on a new browser window for maximum real estate, you can do that too.  That’s the icon just to the left of the pin.

Final Favorite

The great thing about my v40 is that she always lets me know if I’m not giving her enough attention.  In the past I would turn around and before I knew it, she was gone.  My session had timed out.  Not anymore.  Now she warns me and I love her for it!  Now when I’m working and get distracted, she’ll tell me how much longer we have before she has to say good bye.

New Timeout Warning

Lots of New Stuff

As you can see there is going to be a lot of great, new stuff for us to talk about over the coming weeks and I am really looking forward to it.

I know that Ms. 4.0 and I are still on our honeymoon, but we’ve gotten our marriage off to a good start!

«Good BI»

First Release of “Pioneer” for Microsoft Office

October 14th, 2010 No comments

If you are an SAP Customer who has been looking to see how long it will take SAP to fulfill their commitments to the roadmap, you now have your first installment.

SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, Edition for Microsoft Office

During all the roadmap presentations, the product was referred to as Pioneer, but it is now being released under the name: SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Microsoft Office.  (I was hoping for a slightly longer name myself).  What’s great about this product is that you can use it today.  It does NOT require an upgrade to your BusinessObjects Enterprise Infrastructure and it will not interfere with the use of LiveOffice.  It is a completely stand-alone install.

In some future release, I would expect this plug-in to become part of the larger LiveOffice Suite by SAP BusinessObjects.  You will notice that the name indicates that the solution is for Microsoft Office and that’s true.  You can also use the plug-in from within Powerpoint for example.

Advanced Analysis in Powerpoint

BEx and Excel

Excel has long been the primary delivery platform for SAP BW content.  My initial impression of this release was extremely positive.  The navigation panel is extremely intuitive and much easier to use than previous incarnations.  This product using the underlying BICS interface which means that the solution is extremely fast and there a promises of connectivity to Microsoft Analysis Services and Oracle Essbase in the future.

Some of the main highlights (besides a much easier to use tool) are:

  • Runs with all existing SAP BW Cubes and Queries
  • Native Support for BW  Authorizations
  • Native Support for Hierarchies, Multiple Hierarchies, Structures
  • Built-in predictive services
  • Support for “formula mode”

Let me talk about that last feature for a minute.

Formula Mode

You can convert all cells of a crosstab into formulas with one step. This deletes the crosstab object and defines every row in the table as a Microsoft Excel formula. The result values called from the server with the formula are still displayed in the table. The formula of the selected cell is displayed in the formula bar. In formula mode, you can edit the analysis table using Microsoft Excel formatting and formula functions and make further calculations using the existing data.

In formula mode, you can use all Microsoft Excel formatting functions. With the deletion of the design item, the individual formatting of the data will not be overwritten by the standard formatting in the crosstab the next time you update this data. This is great if you want to layout financial data in a specific way.  There are however a few restrictions when using this mode.

Converting to formula mode has the following consequences:

  • Navigation using Drag & Drop is no longer possible.
  • The context menu is not available.
  • The number format in the cells is set to standard.
  • You cannot switch back to analysis mode. To do this, you have to re-open the workbook.

Take A Look

If you have a significant investment in SAP BW, then you should definately have a look at this latest release.  For more information, I also suggest to look to the SAP Developer Network:
http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/boc/analysis

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SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0

October 8th, 2010 8 comments

SAP is closing in on their release date of the next major release of BusinessObjects… and as with any release, marketing want to get the name just right.  We’ve seen quite a few changes over the years.

Evolution of A Name

Remember all those changes in Windows naming? Windows 3.1, Windows 95, then Windows XP?  Now finally it’s back to numbers with Windows 7?  There’s probably someone out there that’s written a book about how to name your next software release.  🙂

Here’s a look at where we’ve come from in the last 7 years of BusinessObjects Product Names… starting back in 2003 with the combination of BusinessObjects 6 and Crystal Enterprise 10 into the new XI… Xtreme Insight!

BusinessObjects Product Names

The More Things Change

… the more they stay the same.  It is so true… and the upcoming release will include some additional name changes.  Here are some names on the horizon.

XI Product Name 4.0 Product Name
SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform
Crystal Reports SAP Crystal Reports
SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence
SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius Enterprise SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards
SAP BusinessObjects Voyager SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP
(Advanced Analysis, Pioneer*) SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for MS Office
SAP BusinessObjects Explorer SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

For more information on the whys check out Jon Reed’s blog post.

It’s amazing how some product names take on a life of their own even before the product is released.  Pioneer is a great example.  It is the first release of the legacy SAP BEx Web Analyzer and SAP BEx Analyzer for Excel.  Pioneer was simply the code name for this yet to be release product.  We can now retire that code name and begin using the actual product name, SAP BusinessObjects Analysis.

Xcelsius

Some name changes like Xcelsius were introduced even before a major new release. Earlier this summer, I had someone call me to ask me about SAP Crystal Dashboard Design.  I’d never heard of it. It wasn’t until I googled it that I discovered that we weren’t offering a new product.  SAP had just renamed some Xcelsius packages.  SAP Dashboard Design and SAP Presentation Design had formally been known as Xcelsius Engage and Xcelsius Present, respectively.

Thinking back, Xcelsius has also been through a number of changes:  Xcelsius 4.5, Crystal Xcelsius 4.5, Xcelsius 2008…  It will be interesting to see if the Xcelsius Designer, aka Xcelsius 2008 keeps it’s name and becomes Xcelsius 2010.

Don’t Wait… Start Today

Did you know that SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Excel has already been released?  Yep!  The plug-in for Excel is completely stand-alone and can be used without interfering with your existing BusinessObjects XI 3.1 environment.  If you have SAP and want to get the best possible connectivity within Excel without waiting for your entire environment to be upgraded, you can.  Today.

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