One of the first things that an SAP BusinessObjects administrator will notice after an upgrade to BI4 is that the Import Wizard, the best option for moving BI content from one environment to another, is dead and gone. This is both a blessing and a curse, because although the Import Wizard was easy to use, it was often buggy and slow. However, the Import Wizard has no clear successor in BI4 — instead there are a range of options that each have their pros and cons.  I thought it might be helpful to list all of the current options in one place for easy reference.  Keep in mind that no one option will be sufficient for every situation — they each have their place in the BI Administrator’s toolbox.  That’s not to say a more complete solution from SAP wouldn’t be welcomed!

CMC Promotion Management

The Promotion Management tool found within the Central Management Console may seem like the clear successor to Import Wizard, as it was introduced in XI 3.1 and is featured prominently throughout SAP’s literature. However, this tool is best for small batch promotions — SAP recommends no more than 100 objects per job.

+  Straightforward web-based interface
+  Automatic dependency detection
+  Powerful Overrides capability for connections and web service URLs

-  Practical limit of 100 objects per job
-  Subject to web server timeouts (default 20 minutes)
-  Performance can be slow with larger jobs/more dependencies

Lifecycle Management Command Line

As I covered in a previous post, SAP realized the issue with Promotion Management and have been working on a better option for promoting large amounts of BI content. This solution is the Lifecycle Management Command Line tool, or LCMCLI, which has been included in the product since BI4 and has been vastly improved.

+  Most powerful and flexible option
+  Can promote thousands of objects in a single job
+  Not subject to timeouts

-  Least user friendly option — no user interface
-  Steep learning curve due to use of the BusinessObjects query language
-  Promotion failures are difficult to troubleshoot

Upgrade Management Tool

Out of the box, the Upgrade Management Tool is not able to promote content between BI4 systems. However, with an often discussed command line switch, you can tell UMT to skip the version check. Adding the switch -internal_use_only_noversioncheck to your UMT shortcut will allow you to move content between your BI4 systems, but keep in mind that this is not supported by SAP and could cause unexpected results.  In practice, it has worked pretty well for me and is sometimes your best option if LCM doesn’t want to cooperate with you.

+  Easy to use wizard interface similar to Import Wizard
+  Clearly visible promotion progress indicators unlike LCM

-  Not intended for content promotion between BI4 systems, could produce unexpected results

System Copy

The final option is really intended for creating a clone of an existing BI system. For example, if you wanted to create a Test environment from your existing Production environment, you could use the System Copy approach to achieve this. Explained in detail in the BI Admin Guide, the System Copy involves restoring a backup of one BI system to a second system.

+  Will create a complete copy of your environment including all content

-  Very involved process requiring DBA support
-  The source server has to remain isolated from the target server during process
-  May require modification of the CMS database to avoid the two systems becoming a cluster

With the new year, we here at Altek are looking ahead to the future of SAP BusinessObjects.  I asked around the office and we came up with the list below.  We hope SAP will address all of these in 2015 and make everyone’s lives easier!

  • A thick client tool for Lifecycle Management with a simple interface and great performance for both small and large promotion jobs
  • A true successor to Live Office, with support for both UNV and UNX universes (or full universe support for Analysis for Office)
  • A major release of Design Studio with a leap up in functionality, so we can finally start to say goodbye to Xcelsius
  • Complete the SAP Support Portal upgrade and retire the old one
  • Enable the transition to the UNX universe format by providing a tool to switch reports in bulk from the original UNV to a converted UNX
  • Continue to improve the BI Mobile app, as well as harmonizing the experience with Webi between Web and Mobile (Bring geomapping to Webi online!)
  • Bring a BI Conference to the northeastern US for once!
  • Improve the Platform Search application — too many clients have had issues getting this to work correctly
  • Simplify the client portfolio by retiring older products and rolling functionality into a handful of client tools
  • Standardize the licensing rules across all of the various flavors of BusinessObjects
  • Improve the auditing reports and universe and include them in the installation.  Provide Webi versions of the reports as well.
  • Integrate Explorer into the BI Platform Server install since it is included in every license anyway

We’d like to hear what you think — did we miss anything that you were wishing for in 2015?  Let us know in the comments!

Following the infamous Heartbleed bug earlier this year comes another security issue with SSL known as Poodlebleed. Unfortunately, this one can affect out of the box BusinessObjects installs, particularly if you’re using Tomcat configured with an SSL connector.

From the Poodlebleed link above:

Poodlebleed is a vulnerability in the design of SSL version 3.0. Poodle is actually an acronym for Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption. The vulnerability allows the decryption to plaintext of secure connections.

Newer releases of Tomcat, like Tomcat 7.0 which is included in the SAP BusinessObjects 4.x series, use the TLS encryption protocol by default. However, Tomcat also supports the much older SSLv3 as a fallback option for older browsers, and that’s where the problem lies. The short explanation of how this affects BusinessObjects is that a potential attacker could force this fallback to SSLv3 and then exploit the Poodlebleed bug to decrypt your otherwise secure connection.

So, how do we fix this problem? Thankfully, we can disable just SSLv3 in our Tomcat server configuration. This means that clients with much older browsers may not be able to connect to your BusinessObjects web applications, but newer browsers will be protected from the Poodlebleed vulnerability.

To fix this issue, open your Tomcat server.xml and locate the SSL Connector section. Usually this connector uses port 443 or 8443, so use that to help you identify the correct line. It will look something like this:

<Connector port=”8443″ protocol=”HTTP/1.1″ SSLEnabled=”true”
maxThreads=”150″ scheme=”https” secure=”true”
clientAuth=”false” sslProtocol=”TLS” />

Per the Tomcat 7.0 documentation, we can use the sslEnabledProtocols parameter to disable SSLv3. We just need to add this parameter along with the protocols we would like to use — in this case only the various versions of the TLS protocol. See the parameter in bold below.

<Connector port=”8443″ protocol=”HTTP/1.1″ SSLEnabled=”true”
maxThreads=”150″ scheme=”https” secure=”true”
clientAuth=”false” sslProtocol=”TLS”
sslEnabledProtocols=”TLSv1, TLSv1.1, TLSv1.2″ />

Save the server.xml, restart Tomcat, then use the Poodlebleed site above to test your site. Note that if you’re on an older version of BusinessObjects or Tomcat, the configuration changes are slightly different. Consult the Tomcat documentation online or call your friendly Altek Solutions consultant!

For more information, check out the SAP Support note below:

2083444 – Impact of the POODLE vulnerability on SAP BusinessObjects software


Anyone that has used the Promotion Management tool included in BusinessObjects Lifecycle Management knows that promoting large amounts of content can be an extremely frustrating process. With the death of the old XI 3.1 Import Wizard, and the inability of the Upgrade Management Tool to promote content between two systems on the same BI version, Lifecycle Management is your only real option for moving content from Development to Test to Production. This works for small sets of content, like a few reports or users, but there are some serious limitations that come with LCM.

First, it’s a web-based application, so all the usual timeouts apply. Any action that takes more than 20 minutes will timeout and leave you wondering what to do next. In the early days of BI 4.0, that was a very real problem with no real solution. But now in BI 4.1 we have LCMCLI, or the command line version of Lifecycle Management.

Following recent improvements, LCMCLI is really the go-to tool for doing large batch content promotions. There’s a bit of a learning curve compared to the web version (it is a command line tool, after all), but it’s really worth taking the time to learn instead of struggling with the limitations of its easier-to-use sibling.

Thankfully, SAP has provided us with some documentation on the LCMCLI tool this time around, both on SAP Support and in the BI 4.1 SP4 Administrator’s Guide. Chapter 15 provides a great walkthrough for promoting your full repository content from one system to another. This common approach can be adapted fairly easily to fit other scenarios.

The main difference between Lifecycle Management on the web and LCMCLI is that LCMCLI does promotions based off of CMS queries that you provide. Instead of selecting individual content manually, you write a SQL-like query against your BI repository to return the content to be promoted. This makes LCMCLI extremely powerful, because you can fine-tune your queries to quickly and easily get just the content you want.

For the full system promotion, there are three steps:

  1. Promote all users and user groups
  2. Promote all dependent objects (universes, connections, access levels, etc)
  3. Promote all primary objects (BI content including reports, dashboards, folders, etc.)

The Admin Guide linked above includes the sets of CMS queries needed to complete each step. To use LCMCLI, you create a small file with information about your source and destination systems, as well as your set of CMS queries. In this case, we’ll call the file “” Then, you execute the LCMCLI job by navigating to <INSTALLDIR>\win64x64\scripts directory and running the following command:

Lcm_cli.bat –

LCMCLI has been tested to promote jobs with up to 50,000 objects successfully — much improved over the suggested 100 object limit for LCM on the web. It’s well worth the effort to learn the BI query language and save yourself the headaches!

Continuing our previous post on Input Controls, let’s now look into Element Linking in Web Intelligence Reporting. The combination of Element Linking with Input Control allows developers to create hybrid dashboards using Web Intelligence Reporting tool.

In essence, they allow filtering between report elements thereby facilitating interactivity between one or more elements. This also allows us to show related data by different slices of business restricted by scope of filter parameters passed between navigating elements.

To add an Element Link to a Table or Chart, we can right-click the selected report element which is now defined as the source and select -> Linking -> Add Element Link from context menu or select the buttons from top menu to reach the same action. This opens the Define Input Control Window which shows all objects by default as first, which is updated to select one or more objects as filtering objects from the source table. In short, all report elements dependent on Element Links change the data shown based on value(s) selected in the source Report Element Link.

We can use Tables, Charts, Sections and Page body as dependencies of report element links. The source report element link gets updated to show a small icon at the top of the table or chart indicating it is being used to pass and filter data on dependent elements. This allows the creation of a set of tables and charts all linked to each other to provide a navigation and hierarchical flow of data scoped or restricted to data by user selections at various stages.

The below snapshot shows the left panel with the Input Control on State Object. This input control is a list box with multiple selection allowed. In this case, we choose California and we get back two cities with Sales Quantity By Quarter. Then we can mouse click on one of the intersecting cells of Quarter and City and the Stacked Column Chart is updated with Sales Revenue by Lines and Category for the City and Quarter values passed from the Report Element Link. We can see the right top corner symbol on the table indicating it is an Element Link. The Chart Title contains the values being passed so that the user identifies the scope of  data analysis.













Once user actions are applied and analysis is completed, we can reset the element links so that the dependent report elements are returned to the original data stage. Applied Element Link Sources are specified in the Input Controls tab on the left side page. Here we can select clear filters on source so that all data is restored to the original state.

Input Controls and Element Linking do not function when the report is in Drill Mode. This is because Drill Mode uses the Scope of Analysis to Drill up, down, and across a comprehensive data set, and functionality can be extended to regenerate the SQL to get new data if the old definition does not cover the required level of data. Hence, Drill Mode is different and is active for retrieving from the report data cube or from the database. Whereas Input Controls and Element Links, are acting on data which is already loaded in the report and saved or refreshed and interaction is for displaying related sub-set data rather than retrieving data or stepping into grains or levels of information.

In conclusion, both these methods are great tools to really create a hybrid dashboard. They can be used to explore loaded data and hierarchical subsets of information using Web Intelligence which provides a good alternative to traditional dashboarding tools using these techniques other than traditional ad-hoc reporting.


One of the Features in Web Intelligence 3.x and 4.x version for filtering and interacting on report data elements in the report is Input Controls. In this session, let’s look into the available Input Controls and how they operate.

In Web Intelligence XI R2, developers were allowed to use a blank cell in which JavaScript was embedded to create HTML Components into the report which, with additional programming, allowed interaction. The basic idea was to format the report with saved data to form a hybrid dashboard for interaction. This attempt to use a Web Intelligence Report as hybrid Dashboard is now much easier to create using Input Control Elements in the newer versions.

In short, Input Controls are HTML Elements such as Radio Box, List Box, Combo Box and so on which can be associated with an object(s) to populate a selection list which, when users select value(s), can be passed as filters to other report elements such as tables, charts, sections, reports, etc. as dependents of this Input Control to display values related to selected items only. Input Controls in combination with Report Element Linking, form a great combination of tool sets to create Hybrid Dashboards using Web Intelligence Reports.

First, lets look at the list of Input Controls between 3.1 version and 4.1 version as shown below:











As shown in the figure, we have Input Controls namely, Entry Field, Combo Box, Radio Buttons, List Box, Calendar, Spinner, Simple Slider and Multiple value Input Controls namely Check Box, List Box, Double Slider.

From the Left Pane of the Report Design Mode, we can select Input Controls Section and click on New Button or from Analysis Tab and Filters Sub Tab – Input Controls List we can select an Input Control of choice to create a new Filter. We can also right-click on a Report Element such as a table and from Filter Menu select Filter by a New Input Control to start the Input Control Creation Dialog boxes from the context menu.

We can give a name, description, list of values, default values, condition to satisfy for the value in comparison from the Report Element such as tables or charts and assign which Report Elements are subject to this filter for interactivity and display from the report. Numeric Values can also be used for filtering for desired Measured objects using Input Controls such as Entry Field, Spinner, Simple Slider and Double Slider other than the usual Dimensions. We can create one or more Input Controls in a report and also sort them as per our priority so that most used Input Controls appear first. The RESET button allows us to reset values to the original default values.

The snapshot below shows sample Input Control Elements which can use to filter data in tables, charts and other report elements:


On the left hand side, we see samples for Single Value Selectors such as Combo Box, List Box, Radio Buttons typically used to Filter Dimension objects. For corresponding Measures, we can use Entry Field, Simple Slider and Spinner. In the Center, we see multiple value selectors such as Check Box, List Box for Dimensions and Range selection for Measure values using Double Slider. Finally, on the Right Side, is a sample of Calendar Input Control which can be used to assign a Date Object and use the Calendar to select Begin and End Date to filter the values in the table for that selected Date Range as shown in the table below the calender.

We also have Tree List Input Control which can be used for Hierarchical Cube Data based objects which typically would come from SAP BW Info Providers. In short, Input Controls are great tools to allow additional filtering on the data which is retrieved and saved at the report level. They typically would appear on the left pane of the report panel in the Input Control Section. We can have multiple Input Controls in a report covering multiple Report Elements. In combination with Report Element Linking which we will look into in more detail in the next section we can build comprehensive Hybrid Dashboards using Web Intelligence Reporting Tool.