Microsoft Edge Support for SAP BusinessObjects

According to the most recent Supported Platforms document for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP8, last updated April 16, 2020, the platform supports the Microsoft Edge browser on the Windows 10 operating system.

But not only has Microsoft retooled it’s latest browser with Google Chromium innards, it has extended operating system support to Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and even macOS. This means that most editions of Windows Server can now use Microsoft Edge instead of the creaky, old Microsoft Internet Explorer 11.

Improving Microsoft Edge support in the on-premise BI platform would give customers two excellent browser choices that also support SAP Analytics Cloud. Because Edge uses the same Chromium open-source technology as Google Chrome, adding addition editions of Microsoft Edge to the supported platforms document is hopefully more dependent on SAP’s ability to test all of the new editions of Edge and not a need to make software changes to extend compatibility.

I hope we’ll see broad Microsoft Edge support when SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.3 becomes available later this year. And as a bonus, I hope we’ll see improved Microsoft Edge support added to BI 4.2 SP8 via one of the patches to be released later this year.

Have you tried the new Microsoft Edge browser? Have you stopped using Microsoft Internet Explorer? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

​​Third-Party Connectors to Universes

The power of the BusinessObjects universe, the powerful semantic layer behind Web Intelligence and other SAP analytics tools, is unquestioned. As SAP BusinessObjects customers look beyond SAP for data visualization tools, a cottage industry of third-party vendors have sprung up to bring the power of the universe to non-SAP tools like Tableau, Qlik, and Microsoft Power BI.

UniverseBridge​ by Analytics8

no physical address listed on web site
312-878-6600​

Supports Tableau, Qlik, Microsoft Power BI, and ThoughtSpot.
Used by Nissan USA.

LiveConnect by Kobaltek

1-200 North Service Road, Suite 430
Oakville, Ontario L6M2Y1​
289-259-0488

Formerly TableauConnect, the product now supports multiple analytics platforms including Tableau, SiSense, Microsoft Power BI, and Qlik.

​​​InfoBurst Tab by InfoSol

2340 W. Parkside Lane
Unit H 106
Phoenix, AZ 85027
623-707-7600 phone
623-707-7601 fax

InfoSol exhibited at the Tableau 2017 conference.

​ToreoData by WCI Consulting

WCI Consulting
8240 Preston Road
Suite 200
Plano, TX 75024
214-872-2900​​

An ODBC connector that supports multiple non-SAP platforms.

This is only a list of available software packages and should not be considered an endorsement, either by me or my employer. Message me privately if you have additions or corrections to the list.

Is your organization using one of these solutions to extend universes to non-SAP tools? Share a comment below describing which tool you’re using, which analytics tools you’re connecting universes to, and any success stories or pitfalls.

Sheltering In Place

I’ve been fortunate to have spent the last eight years working from home (WFH) for EV Technologies. So for the most part, the past few weeks of sheltering in place have seemed almost normal. Except that my two school-aged children and my college freshman are now home school kids at least until the end of the school year. And the governor is on television with daily briefings.

The internet is holding up, mostly. I’ve only had to call Spectrum, my internet service provider, once. But I’ve had to reboot my router more frequently, either as a result of my own children’s internet usage or the rest of the children in the neighborhood.

I don’t have any special wisdom for COVID-19 at this time, but I do have a modest request. Many of you are sheltering in place and shopping online. Would you consider making your Amazon visits via links on my web site which help support this blog? Thankfully Amazon carries toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and just about anything else you might need to shelter at home in comfort and style.

We’re in this together!
Socially Distant Dallas

Apollo 11 and First Man

If you think sheltering in-place with your family is difficult, imagine spending nine days in a broom closet-sized hydrogen-powered death trap with two co-workers. July 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11, so it is only fitting that filmmakers have recently given the subject a fresh look.

Apollo 11 is a documentary made from high-resolution 70mm film footage that was recently discovered. There is no narration, other than audio from the actual mission. And an excellent moody soundtrack from Matt Morton. The quality of the digitally scanned film is stunning – the mission looks like it took place yesterday, not 50 years ago. As of this writing, Apollo 11 is currently streaming on Hulu and you might be able to catch it in IMAX once science museums are reopened from the COVID-19 pandemic.

First Man is a film directed by Damien Chazelle and stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and Claire Foy as his wife, Janet Armstrong. The film delves into the human side of the first man to step foot on the moon and his family. It begins with Neil’s career as a test pilot flying the X-15 rocket plane through the historic moon mission. When the film was released, there was a lot of media criticism that the movie wasn’t “patriotic” enough because the camera did not linger long enough on the American flag planted on the moon. Alas, I can assure you that the flag is actually included in the film. As an American, I found the film incredibly patriotic and not some kind of exercise in political correctness. But the goals of the Apollo 11 mission were much larger than an exercise of American patriotism. A plaque mounted on the lunar lander reads:

“Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

And the goals of the filmmakers were larger than simply making a documentary. For most of us, our careers aren’t a matter of life and death. But I think most fathers will relate to Neil Armstrong’s attempts to balance career and family. The standout performance of this film is Claire Foy’s portrayal of Janet Armstrong, Neil’s first wife. Claire Foy, of course, is the Golden Globe winning actress for her performance as the young Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix series, The Crown (also worth putting in your Netflix queue).

As an aside, there is a second connection between The Crown and the Apollo 11 mission. In Season 3, Episode 7 entitled “Moondust”, the Apollo 11 crew visits Buckingham Palace as part of their world tour. Although an older Queen Elizabeth is played by Olivia Colman and not Claire Foy, the episode provides an interesting slant on the Apollo 11 story as it juxtaposes the historic moon landing with Prince Phillip’s midlife crisis and search for significance.

Apollo 11 is suitable for the entire family. First Man, rated PG-13 in the USA, is a bit intense for younger viewers but still an excellent candidate for family movie night.

Book Review: SAP HANA 2.0, an Introduction

SAP HANA 2.0, an Introduction [ISBN 978-1-4932-1838-7 (print), 978-1-4932-1839-4 (e-book), 978-1-4932-1840-0 (print and e-book)], by Denys van Kempen provides a complete and well-organized view of the SAP HANA platform. First launched as an in-memory database in 2010, HANA is nearly a teenager and has made lots of changes over the past decade. I was surprised while reading the book at how much of my HANA product knowledge was obsolete, mostly due to the way SAP has a way of renaming and retiring products as well as introducing new ones.

After presenting a thorough technical overview in Chapters 1 & 2, the author devotes seven chapters to unique personas that will interact with the HANA platform: administration, application development, advanced analytics, security, data integration, data architecture, and data center architecture. While it’s entirely possible that you, like me, will be required to function as more than one persona, it’s unlikely that your organization will be successful with SAP HANA if only one person is expected to be all seven personas.

The author says it best:

“Using personas [to organize the book] also safeguards against the constant change inherent in the software industry. By the time this book is in the online store, new features will have been added, product names may have been changed (again), and older components may no longer be supported. What’s unlikely to change any time soon, however, are the roles of developers and administrators.”

Denys van Kempen, SAP HANA 2.0: An Introduction

Regardless of your role using the SAP HANA platform, this book provides a solid introduction to the platform as a whole and illuminates what topics you should master based on your persona. As for me, I am both a hands-on practitioner as well as a manager of other, better-qualified hands-on practitioners. Having an understanding of the full platform as well as the key responsibilities of each persona is going to be invaluable to me making HANA a success for organizations that rely on it.

There are over 10,000 freely-available pages of HANA documentation available from SAP. So you might ask yourself why do you need a book if there’s so much free information? This book and its author provide an experienced guide – somebody who can keep you safely on the right trail and out of pitfalls as you climb the HANA mountain.

The book concludes with a chapter on Training and Support. As you would expect from a now 10-year-old platform, there are many free and paid options to get your team the education they need to be effective.

If you’re in IT management, this may be the only book about HANA that you’ll need to read. I guarantee you’ll be asking your team hard questions after reading to insure the HANA platform is managed well in your organization. For serious HANA practitioners such as administrators or developers, this won’t be your last HANA book. But it should definitely be the first.

I especially recommend the ebook or hardcover/ebook combination. Whether you read the book on Adobe Reader, Kindle, or a tablet, you’ll be able to utilize your device’s search functionality to quickly refresh your memory.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

SAP HANA Date Functions

Today is January 16, 2020. It’s been 12 years since SAP acquired BusinessObjects (see SAP press release, SAP and Business Objects Unite to Lead Emerging Market for Business Performance Optimization). In honor of the occasion, let’s use SAP HANA date functions to compute the number of years, months, days, seconds and milliseconds since the acquisition.

Let’s begin by determining the current date. Like Oracle, HANA has a dummy table. Unlike Oracle, SAP calls it “dummy” instead of “dual”.

-- Current date and time
SELECT CURRENT_DATE, CURRENT_TIME, CURRENT_TIMESTAMP,
CURRENT_UTCDATE, CURRENT_UTCTIME, CURRENT_UTCTIMESTAMP
FROM dummy

Using the TO_VARCHAR function, we can convert dates to strings.

-- Date Parts as Strings
SELECT TO_VARCHAR(CURRENT_DATE, 'YYYY') string_year,
TO_VARCHAR(CURRENT_DATE, 'YYYY-MM') string_month
FROM dummy

And lastly, it’s possible to use HANA’s date functions to determine the number of years, months, days, seconds, or even nanoseconds between two dates. Let’s see how much time has elapsed since SAP took control of BusinessObjects on January 16, 2008

-- Date Math
SELECT YEARS_BETWEEN(TO_DATE('2008-01-16'), CURRENT_DATE) my_age_in_years,
MONTHS_BETWEEN(TO_DATE('2008-01-16'), CURRENT_DATE) sap_bobj_in_months,
DAYS_BETWEEN(TO_DATE('2008-01-16'), CURRENT_DATE) sap_bobj_in_days,
SECONDS_BETWEEN(TO_DATE('2008-01-16'), CURRENT_TIMESTAMP) sap_bobj_in_seconds,
NANO100_BETWEEN(TO_DATE('2008-01-16'), CURRENT_TIMESTAMP) sap_bobj_in_ns
FROM dummy

Twelve years ago, the BusinessObjects partner summit was held in Las Vegas with the annual field sales kickoff meeting (FKOM), where SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise 3.0 was introduced with great fanfare (see related blog post, 2008 Business Objects Partner Summit). Xcelsius was a really big deal.

What were you doing twelve years ago?

Does Your Database Know Which Week It Is?

Where can you find the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform maintenance schedule calendar?

SAP maintains a release calendar for the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform, indicating by week when various support packs and patches are scheduled to arrive. For example, SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP8 is supposed to arrive in week 7 of 2020.

SAP BusinessObjects Maintenance Schedule

It will be the first release of BI 4.2 that does not sport new features and will only deliver bug fixes and additional platform support (browsers, databases, operating systems, etc.). If you haven’t patched in a while, BI 4.2 SP8 should be a safe place to hang out while you wait for SAP BI 4.3 (currently in beta) to become generally available (GA).

But which week is the current week of the year? Your database has functions that can help.

For Microsoft SQL Server:

SELECT datepart(week, getdate())

For Oracle:

SELECT TO_CHAR(SYSDATE, 'IW') FROM DUAL (ISO week)

OR

SELECT TO_CHAR(SYSDATE, 'WW') FROM DUAL (starts on January 1)

According to Wikipedia, ISO Weeks ‘IW’ “start with Monday. Each week’s year is the Gregorian year in which the Thursday falls.” So for 2020, the ISO week started on Monday, December 30, 2019 while the standard week ‘WW’ started on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

For SAP HANA:

SELECT WEEK(CURRENT_DATE) FROM dummy

According to my databases, we are in week 3 of the year, so four more weeks to go before we can download the next patch release of the SAP BI platform.

Google Chromageddon

June 5, 2019 is a day that will live in infamy for SAP BusinessObjects administrators. It was the date that Google released version 75 of its Chrome browser to the public. And in an instant, nearly every version of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence stopped working.

Experienced SAP BusinessObjects administrators will remember the Javageddon crisis of 2013 (see my related article, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste). In some ways, Google Chromageddon was even worse. With Javageddon, something bad was going to happen in the future so there was time to plan around it. Chromageddon happened without warning and the help desk calls from users started pouring in.

Kudos to SAP for their response. The issue was documented in SAP KB 2801734 (Web Intelligence document hangs or displays no data when opened from Google Chrome version) and a workaround appeared shortly after. And SAP KB 2801625 (Web Intelligence document hangs or displays no data when opened from Google Chrome version 75.0.3770.80) charted the progress of fixes for SAP BI 4.2 SP5, SP6, and SP7, all of which have all been released.

The problem was apparently a pain for more than just Web Intelligence users, as Google halted the rollout of Chrome 75 (see related Chrome Unboxed article, Google Halts Rollout of Chrome 75). Some Web Intelligence customers were going through frantic patch cycles when Google released Chrome 76, which magically resolved Web Intelligence problems without patching. So life goes on and Google intends to release Chrome 77 on September 10 (see Google Chrome Platform Status page).

I’m not entirely sure what we’ve learned from this episode, other than the success of our BI platforms does not rest with SAP alone. The other lesson we’re learning is that we used to live in a world where Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) was the preferred browser for the corporate desktop. We now live in a world where Google Chrome is currently the best browser for SAP analytics customers, with Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox gunning for second place (see my related article, Which browser is best for SAP Analytics?). And this week, Microsoft put their Google Chromium revision of the Edge browser into beta (see Microsoft’s Edge Insider site). If your users still rely on IE, it’s definitely time to work with your organization’s desktop support team to insure better and modern browsers are available to your users.

Resources

What was your organization’s response to Google Chromageddon? Share a comment below.

Which Browser Is Best for SAP Analytics?

For many years, Internet Explorer (IE) was the only browser most organizations cared about. Not anymore.

It seems like it was just yesterday that we were all waiting for SAP to support Internet Explorer 9, but alas that was an eternity ago in 2011 (see related ASUG News article, Waiting on SAP, User Communities Fix SAP BusinessObjects Browser Woes).

Last week, Microsoft published a blog entitled “The perils of using Internet Explorer as your default browser” which among other things states that

 Internet Explorer is a compatibility solution. We’re not supporting new web standards for it and, while many sites work fine, developers by and large just aren’t testing for Internet Explorer these days.

Chris Jackson, The perils of using Internet Explorer as your default browser

In my latest article for the SAP Community Network, Which Browser Is Best for SAP Analytics?, I discuss what the current browser options are for SAP analytics customers.

Which browser or browsers currently reign supreme in your enterprise?

Resources

Zombie Web Assistant in Fiori BI Launch Pad

Starting with SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2 SP5, SAP began shipping a new BI Launch Pad built using Fiori design principals. Currently, the new launch pad only provides document viewing capabilities. A new Fiori-fied Web Intelligence editor won’t make its debut until SAP BI 4.3 next year. But if you’re rolling out analytics to new users, especially casual users, it makes sense to make their first experience the Fiori experience.

However, at the moment, there’s one modest setback. The helpful Web Assistant that pops up is a zombie. Meaning that even if you turn it off, it will be there to greet you the next time you log in.

You can access the new Fiorified launch pad at http://[servername]:[port number]/BOE/BILaunchpad.

SAP BI 4.2 SP6 Fiori Launch Pad

The Web Assistant pops up as a collection of green circles. Click on a circle and a pop-up box appears to explain the feature. There’s also a ribbon at the bottom of the screen that also provides help text. In the example below, I clicked the green circle over the Folders link.

SAP BI 4.2 SP6 Fiori Launch Pad

Clicking directly on one of the ribbon’s description boxes will highlight where the feature is on the screen. In the example below, I clicked on the Recycle Bin description.

SAP BI 4.2 SP6 Fiori Launch Pad

To turn off the Web Assistant, click its icon, which is located in the top right corner of the BI Launch Pad.

SAP BI 4.2 SP6 Fiori Launch Pad

You can now navigate around the new BI Launch Pad. Experienced users will recognize familiar features such as the Inbox, their folders, and the Recycle Bin.

SAP BI 4.2 SP6 Fiori Launch Pad

To exit the new BI Launch Pad, click on the “person” icon in the top left corner (will we be able to add our photo in future versions?).

SAP BI 4.2 SP6 Fiori Launch Pad

Click the Log Out button to exit the BI Launch Pad and return to the Log On screen.

SAP BI 4.2 SP6 Fiori Launch Pad

Depending on which patch level you are using, you may experience a zombie Web Assistant that returns each and every time that you log into the Fiorified BI Launch Pad. According to SAP Note 2723208, the issue has been corrected in SAP BI 4.2 SP5 Patch 800 and the forthcoming SAP BI 4.2 SP7 (currently planned for the week of February 25, 2019). However, the note does not indicate that the issue has been corrected in any of the four released patches for SAP BI 4.2 SP6.

Since I have multiple customers using various patch levels of SAP BI 4.2 SP6, I’ve marked this note as a favorite so I’ll be notified about any updates.

SAP Note 2723208

SAP Note 2723208 – ‘Web Assistant’ is by default enabled for all users in Fiorified BI Launchpad for each login