SAP NetWeaver BW 7.0 Excel Workbook Pre-calculation or Scheduling

10 November 2009

John Appleby

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

I often get requests about NetWeaver BW Pre-calculation Servers.

Why use one? Because you want to send out Excel workbooks with BW content in them on a scheduled basis. You can send them to email or to the NetWeaver 7.0 Portal Knowledge Management engine, which can put them on a network drive, or Sharepoint server, or internal portal KM folders. Your choice.

If you don't need Excel workbooks then you can use precalculation without Pre-calculation servesr, using BI Java to send out PD, XML (Excel style) or HTML documents of queries or web templates.

1.0 Prerequisites

The following prerequisites appear to be necessary to install SAP Pre-calculation Server 7.0. They are absolutely non-negotiable!

  • Windows XP is the only supported platform. Not Windows Vista or Windows 2008. Windows 2003 does work but it is not a supported platform.
  • VMWare is an excellent platform for pre-calculation as you often need multiple servers.
  • Do not install anything else on your precalc server and especially do NOT install it on your BI server if you run on a Windows platform.
  • 1Gb RAM is required minimum, per precalc server. Complex workbooks may require 2Gb.
  • Excel 2003 SP2 or higher, but not Excel 2007. Actually Excel 2007 is now supported as of NetWeaver BW SPS18.
  • .NET Framework 2.0 with latest patches (SP1 or in principle .NET 3.50 which includes 2.0)
  • SAP Front End 7.10 with patches corresponding to SPS level of NetWeaver BI 7.0 server. This can be obtuse, for example the following are self-consistent:
              o NetWeaver Support Stack 17
              o BI Support Package 19
              o SAP Gui 710 Patch 11
              o SAP Gui 710 BI Patch 701
              o Precalculation Server Patch 6
  • must be installed or your BEx toolbar will not work. You will get German lettering and the buttons won't do anything - be warned!

1.1 Download details

  • -> SAP Support Packages -> Entry by Application Group -> SAP Frontend Components - SAP GUI FOR WINDOWS -> SAP GUI FOR WINDOWS 7.10 CORE -> BI 7.0 ADDON FOR SAP GUI 7.10 -> xPreCalServerXXXXXXXXXXXX.msi
  • SapSweep is no longer available but is part of the SAP Front End 6.40 package suite.

2.0 Installation

Note, it is highly recommended NOT to use a server which is in use for anything else, especially for any other SAP applications as the requirements for Precalculation are often in conflict with other applications. It will commonly break other applications run on the same system after installation.

2.1 Remove old versions

Remove all old versions of SAPGui first. If you have an old version installed you also have to run sapsweep and tell it to remove all old versions of SAP front end software. Note that you have to watch out and tell it not to remove your new installation source if it is on a local drive!

2.2 Install prerequisites

Ensure that Excel 2003 SP2+ and .NET Framework 2.0 are installed.

2.3 Install SAP Gui 7.10

Install the SAP Gui 7.10 Compilation 3. Note that it is best to install this with all options even if they are not all needed. Ensure that it installs without error. If it installs with error, remove it, run sapsweep again, and reinstall it. Check your prerequisites are right.

Once it is installed check that you can login to the SAP system. Then check that you can open a workbook. Don't try to go any further until you know that normal BEx functionality is working as expected.

You need to set macro security to Low.

If you find that the toolbar on BEx Analyser doesn't work then it means that your .NET installation isn't patched to the latest levels, or that Excel is not patched correctly. If you use Microsoft Update, this won't be a problem.

2.4 Install SAP pre-calculation server

Install the SAP pre-calculation server with the default options.

3.0 Configuration

3.1 Pre-calculation hostname

The pre-calculation server should have a < 8 character name on the BI server. This can be achieved by adding an alias to the hosts file on the BI server that looks like this (C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts):    PRECTEST

3.2 Pre-calculation config

Go to transaction RSPRECADMIN on the BI system and add a new pre-calculation server - call it whatever you put above, in our example PRECTEST. It will then appear offline.

Open the services console on the precalculation server and open the SAP BW Pre-calculation Service Properties. Tick the tick box as shown on the Log On screen "Allow Service to interact with desktop". Go to the General panel, change the Startup type to automatic and click Start.

3.4 Test pre-calculation server

Press the refresh button and see if the precalc server turns green. If not then continue here!

You can now test the server using transaction SM59. Open up the TCP/IP destination with named PREC_[Servername], e.g. PREC_PRECTEST in our example. Click connection test. You may get an RFC connection error - follow section 3.5.

3.5 Registry entries     

Sometimes the precalc server doesn't register itself correctly. If this is the case then you will have to open regedit and go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SAP.BusinessExplorer.Analyser\BW_PRECALC\Servers.

  • Add a new key with the name of your precalc server PRECTEST and open it
  • Add a new string value with the name GWHOST, value is your BI server
  • Add a new string value with the name GWSERVICE, value is your gateway service which is sapgwXX where XX is the instance number of the BI system
  • Add a new string value with the name PROGID which is the number you see above in the red. You can copy and paste it from the main RFC connection screen

Go back to the RFC test and check that the connection test works fine. Go into transaction RSPRECADMIN and note that it is now green. You are ready to test!

3.6 End-end testing

The best way to end-end test the pre-calculation server is to login to the BI Java portal. You require the Business Intelligence role "pcd:portal_content/".

Login and click on the Business Intelligence Tab and then click on BEx Broadcaster.

Select Workbook and then open. Select a workbook. Ask the BI team if you need help finding one. Select transfer.

Select Create New Setting and then Workbook Precalculation. Note that our new precalculation server is visible there. If you have several then select Special Server and select the one you want to test with.

Go back to the Recipient(s) tab and check that your email address is maintained correctly there (it's held out of SU01). If that's all fine then click Execute.

If you have followed everything in this document correctly then you will get a green light and it will appear shortly in your inbox!

If it is red then go back and read through this again. If it is broken at this stage then generally you haven't got a consistent set of SAP Gui patches relative to the backend version.

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About the author

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

I've always been passionate about new technology. I cut my teeth helping global financial services and consumer goods companies build data warehouses to manage their business - especially when they wanted to run faster.

These days, I travel weekly across continents, helping clients differentiate themselves using analytics technologies. This then involved building a team to design the solution, make it work and lead it through to successful completion.

I believe that in-memory computing is radically changing the face of business so you can ask me about SAP HANA, or about any other data platform like DB2 BLU, Hadoop or MongoDB for that matter.

I'm passionate that giving back to the community reaps long-term rewards and this has shaped the last few years of my career - being a contributor to knowledge sharing websites as an SAP Mentor; and a sometime advisor to Wall Street investors on emerging technologies and those companies bringing to market new innovations.

When I'm not busy designing in-memory apps, you may find me pounding the pavement to the beat of music in the hilly suburbs of Philadelphia, or traveling the world to meet new people and new cultures.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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