RESTful Services Eases the Documentation of Web Intelligence Reports in SAP BusinessObjects 4.X

  • by Boris Knizhnik, Vice President, BIK Information Services, Inc.
  • April 4, 2017
Documenting Web Intelligence reports can require a great deal of effort, but if this task is combined with exploring internals of Web Intelligence, and learning the basics of Powershell and SAP Raylight Representational State Transfer (RESTful) Web Services API, it can be a fun and very useful experience.
Learning Objectives

Reading this article, you will learn:

  • How to explore the internal structure of Web Intelligence documents using SAP Raylight Representational State Transfer (RESTful) Web Services
  • About the initial library of Powershell functions to document your Web Intelligence reports
  • How to expand and customize this library to suit your documenting needs
Key Concept

Powershell is a free tool that comes as part of the standard Microsoft Windows package. Its latest version has very good integration with the Representational State Transfer (RESTful) Web Services application programming interface (API), which makes it much easier to use than Java for Raylight RESTful Services in SAP. Its rich variety of data types and dot notation allow for easy exploration of complex internal structures of Web Intelligence documents.

Companies often require very detailed documentation of developed Web Intelligence reports and Universes. The object-oriented nature of the BusinessObjects platform makes it difficult to create simple Excel-style documentation for several reasons. First, a Web Intelligence report’s internal structures (e.g., the code used to create the Web Intelligence report) are not published as proprietary information. Second, the idea of exposing the internal structure of reports or Universes flies in the face of one of the cornerstones of object-oriented design: encapsulation.

However, since companies often insist on having report documentation, it falls to developers to produce this kind of document, in many cases requiring a painstaking process of copying and pasting. Not only is this not a very productive use of a developer’s time, this documentation also quickly becomes obsolete since reports and Universes are constantly evolving. Any automation that allows for the quick generation of lists of reports, variables, columns, Universes, SQLs, and data sources used in each Web Intelligence document produced at the last moment would be very useful.

SAP Raylight Representational State Transfer (RESTful) Web Services can sometimes be a bit of an intimidating concept for BusinessObjects developers. In this article, I explain why using PowerShell rather than Java can make concurring RESTful Web Services a lot easier and really open them up as a tool to explore and document Web Intelligence reports.

SAP provides a component object model (COM), application program interfaces (APIs), and Java Software Development Kits (SDKs) to get this information, but no actual documentation utility, so all the details of putting together a script, which uses these methods and creates readable documentation, was left to companies to find on their own.

In BusinessObjects Enterprise (BOE) 4.0, SAP introduced RESTful Web Services APIs to access the internals of their software, but finding good step-by-step instructions for developers is still difficult. 

Boris Knizhnik

Boris Knizhnik was born in the former Soviet Union and has lived in U.S. since 1989. He has over 35 years of IT experience, using different technologies, from Cobol and CA-IDMS to Java and Oracle. He is a Vice President of BIK Information Services, Inc., which provides Business Intelligence solutions.

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