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Product versions:
Crystal Reports 2008
NW BW 7.01

In this article you will find guidelines to common decisions you will have to take when designing Crystal Reports off BW.

Crystal Reports Drivers

Crystal Reports provides different database drivers for reporting off SAP data, knowing which one to use to best meet the specific report request, is a key consideration for a successful reporting strategy.

Driver

Best For

Comments

SAP BW MDX Query

Reporting off BW Queries. This is the recommended driver when reporting from BW Queries or Infocubes

BW Only

SAP BW Query

Legacy driver used for reporting off BW Queries

BW Only.Not all BW features are supported (i.e multiple structures, display attributes). Should not be used in new developments

SAP InfoSets

R/3 reporting. Allows direct access to R/3 pre-built business views thereby saving time in reporting as oposed to hunting for the required R/3 data

Familiarity with R/3 InfoSets is required

SAP Operational Data Store

Access to ODS for detailed, transactional level data

By-passes BW Query business logic. BW Only

SAP Table, Cluster, or Function

For R/3 reporting. Access to most R/3 metadata objects for most reporting needs

Familiarity with R/3 data mode is required

InfoCubes or BEx queries

BEx Queries are recommended as data sources versus InfoCubes for the following reasons:

  • BEx Queries offer a flexible extension to the data modeling environment. InfoCubes require more effort to change.
  • BEx Queries offer significant functionality to create customized data sources that meet end-user requirements, such as Calculated Key figures, Restricted Key figures and SAP Variables.
  • In the OLAP BAPI interface, not all BI metadata features can be retrieved on an InfoCube level. The following table summarizes the differences when accesing an InfoCube and a Bex query.

BI metadata feature

SAP OLAP BAPI support level

Characteristics (incl. Time and Unit)

InfoCube/BEx Query

Hierarchies

InfoCube/BEx Query

Basic Key Figures

InfoCube/BEx Query

Navigational Attributes

BEx Query only

Display Attributes

InfoCube/BI Query

Calculated Key Figures Formulas

BEx Query only

Restricted Key Figures

BEx Query only

Custom Structures

BEx Query only

Variables

BEx Query only

What about OLAP Grid and OLAP Universes?

Althoug Crystal Reports provides the option of creating OLAP reports against BW is not a best practice to use this method for BW reporting from Crystal Reports.
Crystal Reports does not support OLAP Universes, when you create Crystal Reports against BW data you use one of the Crystal Reports drivers; these drivers are not using ODA layer like Web Intelligence.

Configuration options in Crystal Reports

Database Options

In the File>Options menu (Database tab) there are 2 options that can help you when designing reports from SAP data.

Turning SAP technical names ON/OFF

When you are designing a report you can choose to view only technical names, view descriptions or both. This can be configured by configuring the Table and Field settings in the Database tab in the File>Options menu.

Filter search for tables, queries, etc.

Your SAP system may contain many tables, queries, etc. each with a predefined technical name, you can filter can filter tables, queries, etc. to limit the number of them you get back when selecting the data source. For example you may want to get only queries that its name starts with PAY. This can be accomplished by entering a filter in the Database tab in the File>Options menu.
You can use a percent symbol or underscores to define the filter. The percent symbol will match any letters from where you use it to the end of a word. The underscore character will match on a specific character.

SAP Toolbar

The SAP Tools toolbar works with the BW Query or MDX Query driver to allow you to report off your BW queries from within Crystal Reports. The toolbar also allows you to save reports to BW and publish them directly to BusinessObjects Enterprise.

File>New or SAP>Create new report from query

When you create a new report against SAP data, you can create the report using File>New menu (New button) or SAP>Create New report from query menu (Create New report from query button in SAP Toolbar).
Which option to use depends on what driver you want to use:

New button

  • When reporting from InfoSet, Table, Cluster, Function, ODS or InfoCube.
  • You can select the specific driver to use.

New button in SAP toolbar

  • When reporting from BEx queries.
  • Crystal Reports automatically uses the SAP BW Query or SAP BW MDX driver depending on the options specified in SAP options, and presents the list of Bex queries available to you.
  • For InfoCubes you use the same driver that you use for BEx queries (SAP BW MDX driver), but you must use New (File>New) so you can see InfoCubes and select the one you want to report off. The SAP toolbar is only for reporting off Bex queries.

Can I use File>New to create reports from Bex queries?

If you create a report from a BEx query using File>New menu rather than the SAP Toolbar, your report will be missing the list of values from the BEx query variables. If there are variables in the BEx querie, the variables will appear as parameters in Crystal Reports, and only if you used the SAP Toolbar a list of values will be created automatically. If you use File>New parameters are created but they won't have list of values.

Configuring SAP Toolbar to alway use SAP BW MDX driver

If you select SAP>Settings menu, you will see the option "Use MDX driver with support for Multiple structures". This option is what determines if when using SAP Toolbar to create a report, Crystal Reports will use the BW Query driver or the BW MDX driver. If this option is not selected, when you use the SAP toolbar to create a new report it will be using the SAP BW Query driver, which is the driver that you should not use for creating reports off BEx queries as this is an old driver that has limtied functionality. Before you start creating reports make sure the option Use MDX driver with support for Multiple structures is checked so you use the recommended BW MDX Driver.

Save As or Save to BW

When you save your Crystal Reports you can choose to save it to BOE or you can save it to BW and publish to BOE. It is not mandatory to save to BW and then publish to BOE, but if you don't do so you miss some functionality such as:

    • Online list of values for prompts
    • Hierarchical display for hierarchical node prompts
    • SAP variable personalization
    • Doing life cycle management of Crystal Reports (from DEV to QA to PROD) with the SAP transports
  • When you select the File>Save menu after you created a report SAP Toolbar you will be presented with the Save to BW dialog, where you will be saving the report to BW with the option to publish the report to BOE at the same time. If in your implementation you are using BW Publisher, then is a good practice to always create your reports with SAP Toolbar when reporting from BEx queries.
  • When you select File>Save menu after you created a report with File>New you will be presented with the regular File>Save menu, which does not give you the option of saving to BW and publishing to BOE. You can still get the Save to BW dialog if you click the Save button in the SAP Toolbar.
  • When you select File>Save As menu after you created a report with SAP Toolbar. SSO won't work because the connection information will be incomplete.
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