Why is SAP BusinessObjects 4.1 SP2 so amazing? “Group By Variables”

SAP recently released SAP BusinessObjects 4.1 SP2. This release helped bring the 4.0 SP5.14, SP 6.6, SP 7.2 and SP 8.0 fixes and features into the 4.1 build. In addition there are also several Web Intelligence enhancements that were obscurely listed in the “SL RESTful section” of the “What’s New” guide. (That is until they recently fixed the document.) After reading the guide, my first impression was that the options listed within only applied to the RESTful SDK. After testing 4.1 SP2, I found that they also applied to the WebI GUI. With that said, below is a top 4 listing of the new Web Intelligence features that are (in  my opinion) “so amazing”.

  1. User can create Web Intelligence reports, based on an Excel document, stored in the BI Launch Pad. This is a real surprise that gives Web Intelligence new life in the self-service BI arena. User can now take an Excel document (formatted like a database table) and create a Web Intelligence report. You can also merge the results with an existing Universe query.
  2. If you ever used Desktop Intelligence and loved the “Group By Variable” wizard, you’re in luck. Web Intelligence 4.1 SP2 now includes the same feature. Users can create their own variables that produce a custom (graphical) grouping based on an existing Dimension’s values. It also works in all three WebI designers. (Web, Java, Desktop).
  3. There are predefined cells for each query Prompt based on the Prompt Text. You can now quickly add a cell to your report that displays selected values from any defined prompt. This is a really great feature that has been needed for over 10 years.If you think about it, this will not only reduce development time but also reduce the time it takes to complete the training course. 🙂
  4. There is a quick Prompt text add dropdown list in the formula editor. The dropdown list automatically adds the precise prompt text for use in the UserResponse(“Prompt Txt”) function. Look for it at the top of the “Available Operators” window in the formula editor.

I have not had time to discover all the changes in 4.1 SP2 but the Web Intelligence specific changes have been needed for severals years. Deski lovers have been begging for the Group By option. Hopefully these enhancements will help more organizations move away from Deski (Die Deski, Die!!!).

Where do you find the Grouping or Group By Variable Option?

Look under the Analysis then Display Tabs for the new “Group” button and dropdown.

Web Intelligence Grouping

The wizard allows you to “Group” values from an existing dimension, enabling you to create a new custom super-grouping.

Web Intelligence Grouping Wizard

Where do you find the Prompt and Prompt Text Helpers?

Look under Report Elements then Cell for the “Pre-Defined” button and dropdown. Choose the Prompt option to list pre-defined cells for each prompt defined in the query.

Web Intelligence Prompt

In the formula editor, look in the Available Operator window for the “Prompts…” option. Double click to get a list of available Prompt Text. It only returns the Text in double quotes, so you will need to type the UserResponse() function.

Web Intelligence Prompt Text

Other BOBJ 4.1 SP2 Links:

Blog Posting on SCN by Patrick Perrier

Blog Posting on SCN by WILLIAM MARCY

 forward fit information (Requires SMP Logon)

Known Issues:

Web Intelligence Java Applet not working: http://service.sap.com/sap/support/notes/1917336

logonNoSso.jsp not working: http://service.sap.com/sap/support/notes/1919245


  1. Thanks for the great summary. Wonder whether we can put the new “group by” variable into drill filters, thus create the cascading filters we were able to get from custom hierarchies before.

  2. For the 1st time since a very long time, I cannot wait to install a new BO version! I had read about the grouping, not about the prompt cells. At last!

    Do you know if the grouping works with delegated measures, or do they still produce the infamous #UNAVALABLE message?

  3. Well, You get the #UNAVAILABLE and sometime you do get #MULTIVALUE error. It appears they (SAP) has not worked that issue out in the context of this new feature. It would not be hard to solve the issue because it would only require pushing the grouping back to the DB query as a SQL CASE Statement.

  4. Peter,

    The Grouping wizard creates a variable object (A special one) that can be used in all report level filtering like any dimension variable. It sounds like it might work if I understand the solution as you stated it.


  5. Thanks for the update Jonathan. There are still a few things that are stopping people killing off Deski (vba aside). The big one for me is hiding objects in the pivot. It’s so useful and the alerters workaround cannot be used in all instances.

  6. Hi Jonathan

    Can you please tell me briefly about the comparison between bobj 4.0 sp8 and bobj 4.1 sp2 as the key features and major issues both have and the advantages and disadvantages of both.


  7. Hey,
    is it possible to make a custom sort for a custom group?? In my case the custom sort for a custom group is gone if close the report.

  8. Be very careful with 4.1 SP2 – this Service Pack is not stable at all – o our system we were facing over 30 crashes of WebI Processing Servers per week! After the crash the Servers were often not starting up properly and manual restart was required.

    If you go for 4.1, I would suggest a higher patch…

  9. Hi Jonathan,
    while moving a group from one source to another, few of the users associated with the group are not moved. it shows partial success. when in checked, it shows the message ‘ dependants are not selected”. This occurs in Promotion management in BO 4.1.
    Any ideas,
    Thank you

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