SAP BusinessObjects Explorer

What’s new in SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 SP5

It’s that time again. SAP has released another “coveted” support pack for BusinessObjects 4.0 with the release of support pack 5 (sp5). However, before you get too excited, SP5 was..well a little underwhelming compared to Support Pack SP4 or Feature Pack FP3. I’m not trying to sell SAP’s efforts short but there were only two big enhancements (in my opinion) with the release. I’ll outline my top picks in more detail below, but the two big changes are the ability to export Dashboard 4.0 to the mobile server as HTML 5 versions and a few needed enhancements for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 4.0. For some, the ability to export a Dashboard to the mobile services is a really big enhancement but as you will find in a upcoming posting, not everything in Dashboards 4.0 (Xcelsius) will export. Again, I’m not selling this feature short either. From what I have seen exporting to mobile is a very much needed enhancement and many of the components will work in mobile. However, don’t expect every aspect of your legacy dashboards to be converted to a mobile version. With that said, let’s get to the good stuff:

My top list of “What’s new” in SP5

  1. Mobile compatibility for Dashboards 4.0 (Formally Xcelsius) with the ability to preview a mobile version directly in the user interface.
  2. The ability to change the data source of an Explorer 4.0 information space. However only information spaces based on BWA (BW Accelerator), SAP Hana, and universes (.UNX) can be changed. Hopefully the ability to change spreadsheets or at least the ability to update a spreadsheet, within an existing info space, will come in the next SP.
  3. Explorer 4.0 facet enhancements. Users will now have preference options to show / hide facets in order to increase the render speed of information spaces.  This is achieved because the aggregations within the facets are only executed as needed by the users. For information spaces that have high cardinality facets or 30+ facets, this will greatly enhance the render speed without the need to remove the facets from the info space. Users can also change the facet display order.
  4. Query Striping for Web Intelligence reports based on BEx queries is now enabled by default. However, only in the query panel level (Query Panel Properties). This is a much needed change in my opinion. Many developers forget to enable this option and consequently consumers of the report suffer poor performance.
  5. Both the MobileBIService and MOBIServer Tomcat WAR files are automatically deployed. These are the Tomcat contexts that manage the BI Mobile services in BusinessObjects 4.0. The MobileOTA14.war file will still need to be deployed manually but it only contains the client applications for Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Symbian OS devices. The PAM now officially lists mobile services as supported on Linux as well. Check out the SAP BusinessObjects Mobile 4.0 SP5 guide. (Requires SMP logon)

This is my personal top 5. However, there are several other enhancements as well. For a complete list of changes check out the SAP BusinessObject 4.0 What’s New Guide. Please post your comments if you find anything important not mentioned above.

Should you upgrade to SP5?

This is not as easy to answer as with SP4. While SP5 has several great new features it is missing fixes found in SP4 Patches 4 through 6+. Before you rush to SP5 check the release notes for SP4 Patch 6 (4.6+) and investigate the ADAPs listed in the 4.4, 4.5 and 4.6+ sections. Make sure there are no listed fixes that would impact your deployment. If you are already on 4.0 SP4 and Patches 4, 5 or 6 you will be downgrading your patch level if you install SP5. See the Release notes for 4.6 for more information. If you don’t need the patch fixes 4, 5 or 6 but need the listed enhancements, SP5 would be well worth the while.

Update (01/10/2013)

I discovered from a contact at SAP (this past week) that they are not including all of the Patches (FPs) or ADAPS from the SP4 patch track in SP5. In short, don’t expect SP5 to ever have all of the fixes that are found in SP4’s patches . However, they are still releasing patches for SP5 with limited fixes. This statement agrees with what is listed in the forward fit document (Requires SMP logon). Those that are on SP5 will have the benefits of it’s new features but they will not have all of the later released fixes of SP2 and SP4 until SP6 (May 2013) or major version 4.1 (Unknown Release Date) is released. This is the first time that I remember something like this occurring with BusinessObjects. Typically each SP will eventually be patched to the same level as its predecessor and it typically lags behind 1-3 patch levels. SP5 will be different in that only major issues will be addressed subjectively by SAP in SP5.  It would have been nice to know this when SP5 was first released as some of the fixes in the SP4 patch line are critical. On the other hand, some of the enhancements in SP5 needed to be released sooner rather then later. I would recommend that everyone review the SP4 Patch 4 through 9+ Release Note (Requires SMP logon) before installing SP5 to make sure your setup will have all applicable fixes. You can also review the SP5 Patch 1 & 2 release notes to see the ADAP’s that are being addressed in SP5’s patches.

As always, I would also recommend that you review the SP5 release notes as there are quite a few Known Issues and Limitations for SP5. SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 SP5 Release Notes (Requires SMP logon)

Important SP5 Links:

Forward Fit Plan Document

SAP BusinessObject 4.0 What’s New Guide

SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 SP5 Release Notes (Requires SMP logon)

SAP BusinessObjects Mobile 4.0 SP5 guide. (Requires SMP logon)