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SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.3 SP2 is released!

December saw the release of the eagerly anticipated second service pack for SAP BusinessObjects 4.3/SAP Crystal Server 2020. It is the second major release of the year after service pack 1 came out in Q1 and brings with it exciting new options, as well as the return of some functionality that had not yet been ported from later versions of 4.2.

New functionality

The most eye-catching enhancements to the platform are probably the new data-source possibilities: getting data from Google Drive documents and from web services (OData) is now an option. To use Google Drive the administrators of your system will need to configure the authorisation settings in the management console.

A1

Once reports are written they can be scheduled directly to Google Drive locations as well.

There are many new connectivity options for universes, including Amazon Athena and Aurora, PostgeSQL 13, Teradata 17 and more.

Also included is an offer to take a free sample of Need4viz graphic components which would last until at least December 2023.

Useability improvements

There are a raft of smaller changes to the system, with tweaks to several icons and tiles through the platform and especially within Web Intelligence menus. These improvements include the return of a few functions from earlier releases that had not yet been included in 4.3:

  • Add a description to a report (tab) which is exposed as a tooltip to users, and hide or conditionally hide report tabs.
  • Presentation mode is the new name for the auto-refresh functionality introduced with the Fiori interface back in 4.2 SP6, and now it allows for cycling between tabs of a report.
  • Instead of publishing report elements as a web service now you can expose them as OData web services.
  • There is a single style of query panel now, instead of one for universe based queries and another for FHSQL, Excel or Text based queries – this means some of the functionality of the two panels has been moved to within the report itself, such as updating the object properties.
  • Formula and variable editing has been given a facelift, with a new object properties panel in the tools menu so you can edit things on the fly, as well as changes to the variable creation dialogue box. The formula box’s predictive menu has been improved and now there is colour coding on the syntax (like other tools already do). Some the colours are a little hard to tell apart though.
  • Shared elements make a welcome return to the system as do hyperlinking and a proper dialogue box for creating OpenDocument links between reports.
  • Freezing headers on tables has returned, you can now use a format painter option, the prompt dialogue box has been updated for the better, folding and unfolding has been made easier and the tool bar has had a small redesign to make it easier to navigate.

In short, quite a few gripes from 4.3 SP0 and SP1 have been addressed and the experience of using Web Intelligence improved for report builders and consumers.

Deprecated functionality in SP2

Some tools and features of SAP BusinessObjects are being deprecated in this release. For now that means that SAP recommend that they should not be used, as although they will be supported throughout the life of 4.3 they will receive no new enhancements and may be removed entirely in future versions (like Explorer and Dashboards have been already).

These features include:

  • UNV universes – the UDT is still part of the client tool set but SAP recommend all universes are converted to UNX.
  • Data Federation is no longer recommended and with it multi-source universes. The solution to this is more complex and could take many forms, from creating data warehouses to using report level data-merging techniques.
  • Live Office will not see any new development and users are recommended to switch to using SAP Analysis for Office.
  • There is now no support for IE11, which is to be expected and Microsoft no longer support it either – however some users will experience problems here as many organisations still use it for its legacy features.
Summary

SAP BusinessObjects 4.3 SP2 is a great step forward for the platform (especially for users of Google Drive!) which has many quality-of-life improvements for users. If you are considering upgrading from a previous version or applying the service pack to you current 4.3 environment please come and talk to DSCallards to understand the benefits and considerations of doing so.

Posted by Keith Fisher, Senior Business Intelligence Consultant, 6th January 2022

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