Service pack 1 of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.3 is to be released in the coming days and will address a few omissions from the base release, fix some bugs and make some useability improvements. Here we look at the main points and what they will mean for users.
WebI Useability Improvements
One of the bigger changes in Web Intelligence 4.3 was the move of the configuration panels from the left of the screen to the right. This brings the tool into line with the layout of SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC). This change also brought in a secondary side panel for the ‘build’ area (equivalent to the designer panel in SAC). Having both of these panels open at once significantly reduces the amount of visible canvas space for report design, compared to previous versions of WebI.
From SP1 onwards you can use new buttons to show and hide both the side panels independently – giving more control over how much screen space you have.
There are also some minor improvements in how lists of objects and options are displayed in these side-panels which will help make navigation easier in complex reports.
The object icons have been refreshed again in SP1 – making them easier to distinguish at a glance, and the colours that they had in previous versions (such as blue for dimensions and green highlight for details) have been brought back.
Another much needed feature of user-interface persistence has bene introduced – where whatever settings changes you make in one session are carried forward to the next session:
- Which of the side panels are open or closed
- Preferred display view of the query objects in the main side panel (eg alphabetic or by query)
- The size of the query panel
- Whether the query panel sections are open or closed – this one is great as I always want the preview panel open when I work in WebI
- The last colours used in the colour palette – another great improvement that will speed up formatting changes
Inserting charts has been made slightly quicker as you can now access the specific type you want from the main menu button rather than having to choose after it has been placed on the page.
This was a big miss from the base release of BI 4.3 and will be a welcome re-addition for users! The ability to easily create links between documents, and within documents, enables great narrative reporting and the creation of easily navigable report sets with depth and richness.
The dialogue boxes and gui that was present to achieve this in 4.2 has been rebuilt now in 4.3 – the same functionality is back with a hint of redesign and some improvement to the flow.
The formula editor has been improved
In the original release the layout of the formula editor window was not good for those users with lower screen resolution or smaller screens.
It has been reorganised to make better use of space and display more items at once. There are also small quality of life improvements to the insertion of some operators and the auto-completion of some functions.
The use of prompts has been adjusted
If your report has multiple prompts you can now display a summary of them all in one cell with a new predefined prompt summary option.
You can also sort the list of values within a prompt or filter dialogue – making finding the required option much simpler.
Back in the launchpad there is a great new addition to the scheduling/instances area. You can now view all of your account’s scheduled instances in a calendar view, along with a key to show if historical ones failed or ran successfully.
This is a great addition for non-admin users who have a lot of scheduled reports as it will be much easier to maintain them and space them apart for efficiency.
A small but appreciated change also allows users to format text in the email message of a scheduled report – such as using colour, and bold or italic fonts.
Navigating the Launchpad
The new Fiori launchpad moved the user settings and preferences to a left hand panel that slid in and out of view. It looked nice but added little to the experience.
Now the user settings and preferences have been placed back in a menu at the top right of the screen – a more natural place for users migrating from 4.2.
The Fiori interface also introduced rows of tiles for accessing tools and content on the home screen. These tiles can now be re-ordered to your preference, at least in the top and bottom rows (the content section and application section).
So SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.3 Service Pack 1 would be something I would install immediately on my 4.3 environment to give me back some important functionality missing since the end of 4.2, but also to improve the work-flows of some tasks and make my job of building and maintaining reports easier. If you’d like to discuss migrating to 4.3 from an earlier version of SAP BusinessObjects, or adding the service pack to your existing 4.3 system then please give us a call at DSCallards.