FOR ANALYSTS FOR BI PROS FOR EVERYONE Tableau
Business Objects Universe Connector for Tableau
January 8, 2016
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Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 15.57.37 Analysts in an enterprise environment usually have to deal with data from a multitude of sources. One of the most prevalent is SAP BusinessObjects and while it does provide enterprise level capabilities to IT it might not provide all the capabilities analysts require.  The analyst wishing to leverage the powerful visualization and storytelling capabilities of Tableau in these companies had to go through the tedious process of requesting extracts from the IT/BI department. This can now be mitigated with an SAP Business Objects – Tableau Connector. By using SAP’s own BusinessObjects SDK we can access BO Universes and pass the structure through a gateway into a format that Tableau can reuse. It allows everyone to design new workbooks based on new universe queries without the need of WebI reports or Query-as-a-WebService endpoints.

For free and open source. 

Connector's architecture

Connector’s architecture

The WDC connection essentially generates a user interface that is familiar from SAP BO so the learning phase should be instantaneous – from here the basis of any number of analyses can be generated and further refined in Tableau.

User interface of WDC

Our Web Data Connector’s User Interface is similar as in Business Objects

Minimum requirements

Minimum requirements for the components of the Palette Software’s SAP Business Objects – Tableau Connector:

  • SAP BusinessObjects Universe extraction module:
    • A Windows machine that has SAP BO XI 4.1 Client Tools and has the SemanticLayer SDK from the Developer options installed.
    • JDK 1.7 installed on the same machine (the SAP BO SDK is only compatible with this version
  • Tableau WDC translation proxy
    • A Unix/Linux or Windows with Node.js installed for the WDC translation proxy (can be the same as the SAP BO Universe translation machine) and internet access to download the necessary dependencies

Getting Started

These are steps from download to use it on server side:

1. Download and configure the extraction module: https://github.com/palette-software/business-objects-universe-extractor

2. Download and configure the Tableau WDC translation proxy: https://github.com/palette-software/business-objects-tableau-connector

3. Extract the required universes’ metadata and move them to the WDC proxy location. This process will extract the universe metadata like measures, dimensions and details from the repository and store it as a JSON file. For more help check out this help file.

Extract universe4. Start the WDC proxy and connect it to using Tableau Desktop’s Web Data Connector option. This will manage CORS proxying along with the business logic.

Our connector is up and running

Our connector is up and running

5. Select Dimensions and Measures in the interface familiar from BusinessObjects:

A familiar interface for all BO users

A familiar interface for all BO users

6. Create an extract and publish the Data Source to Tableau Server

Create extract from the data source (default)

Create extract from the data source (default)

Publish the data source to Tableau Server. It will stay refreshable from the Server as well

Publish the data source to Tableau Server. It will stay refreshable from the Server as well

The data source is ready to use

The data source is ready to use

7. Use the new Data Source to create reports and publish them to Tableau Server:

We can schedule the data source's extract to have the latest data from the Universe Query

We can schedule the data source’s extract to have the latest data from the Universe Query

Other connectors

I have an another, more lightweight connector for BusinessObjects Web Intelligence (WEBI) reports or QaaWS (query as a web service) queries. You can read more about that here.

Summary

Using legacy BI tools like IBM Cognos or SAP BusinessObjects from Tableau helps a lot. Eliminating the need to manage the semantic layer two different places not just make the server more manageable and secure but also reduces the cost of maintenance. If you have questions or wanna ask help for try this out in your environment just drop a mail or leave a comment!

 

Tamás Földi

Tamás Földi

Director of IT Development at Starschema
Decades of experience with data processing and state of the art programming. From nuclear bomb explosion simulation to distributed file systems. ethical hacking, real time stream processing practically I always had a great fun with those geeky ones and zeros.
Tamás Földi

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