Working with InfoObjects

Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Maintain an InfoObject with the BW Modeling Tools in Eclipse
  • Explain the new features of InfoObjects in SAP BW/4HANA

InfoObjects in SAP BW/4HANA

The Role of InfoObjects in SAP BW/4HANA

InfoObjects continue to be important objects in SAP BW/4HANA. InfoObjects play a key role in the support of master data. Using rich meta-data, InfoObjects offer key features to support their role as the building blocks of a sustainable Enterprise Data Warehouse.

Some examples of the features of InfoObjects include:

  • Support texts of different length, languages, and time dependency

  • Support master data attributes with time dependency

  • Support complex hierarchies

  • Support data security via Analysis Authorizations

  • Support planning scenarios

  • Support non-cumulative key figures

  • Support exception aggregation

However, when integrating data in SAP BW/4HANA from any data source, it is no longer a prerequisite to define InfoObjects. Introduced with SAP BW/4HANA is a new, simpler approach using field-based modeling. Field-based modeling means you can integrate data (persistent or virtually) into SAP BW/4HANA with considerably lower effort than with SAP BW. Whether data is loaded into SAP BW/4HANA or resides outside it, you can model field-level data without the need to first define InfoObjects, and then subsequently mapping the fields to the InfoObjects. This field-based approach makes the integration of any data much easier and quicker.

In a later lesson we introduce DataStore Objects (advanced), which can now be defined using fields or InfoObjects, or a combination of both. DataStore Objects (advanced) are used to persist data, but you will also later discover in this course that field-based modeling is also supported by the new Open ODS View to support the virtual integration of source data in SAP BW/4HANA.

So does this mean InfoObjects are no longer recommended?

Although field-based modeling offers simplicity and agility, InfoObjects promote a high re-use within SAP BW/4HANA. Once an InfoObject is defined, it becomes the enterprise-wide definition of a business entity, and this supports consistency which leads to high quality.

Hint

InfoObject Modeling in SAP BW Modeling Tools

For SAP BW/4HANA, you now model InfoObjects in the SAP BW Modeling Tools (BWMT) in Eclipse. SAP BW Modeling Tools (BWMT) provide you with all the familiar functions that were available in the SAP BW Data Warehousing Workbench (for example, transaction RSD1), but also offers new features such as data preview. Master data maintenance is now supported by the SAP BW/4HANA Cockpit.

In this lesson we take a look at modeling InfoObjects with BW Modeling Tools and master data maintenance using SAP BW/4HANA Cockpit, with a dedicated focus on the new features.

Launch the next demo to explore the settings of an InfoObject in BW Modeling Tools:

Explore an InfoObject with BW Modeling Tools

New Features of InfoObjects

Organizing InfoObjects in SAP BW/4HANA

SAP BW used InfoObject Catalogs within InfoAreas to organize characteristics and key figures. In SAP BW/4HANA, InfoObject Catalogs are obsolete.

The project structure is now simplified. We still use InfoAreas as the leading organization structure, but instead of InfoObject Catalogs we now use folders to organize the different types of objects.

InfoObject Master Data Maintenance in the SAP BW/4HANA Cockpit

SAP BW/4HANA provides a new, improved interface to maintain master data (attributes, texts or hierarchies). The new tool can be launched from the SAP BW/4HANA Cockpit or from the BW Modeling Tools (BWMT) in Eclipse.

It is still recommended to load master data from the source systems, but if the volume of data is low or you would like to just change a single record, this new user interface provides many useful features to fulfill that task easily.

Features include:

  • Add records including copy/paste to generate multiple rows

  • Delete records

  • Change values

  • Copy records

  • Display characteristic values that have missing master data

  • Generate a where-used list for specific characteristic values

  • Export the master data to a local CSV file

Enhanced Master Data Update

By default, the standard method for loading data into InfoObject characteristics has not changed. Multiple loads to the master data still have to be executed sequentially. Parallel loading is not possible. Also, if you need to extract data from the master data tables, this is done as a full load. Delta handling of master data extraction from SAP BW/4HANA is not supported.

If you are only loading a small quantity of master data, this approach is not a problem. The data is loaded into the attribute tables or text tables directly and the version is set to 'active' immediately (OBJVERS = A). A separate activation process is no longer required.

However, with SAP BW/4HANA you can now choose a more sophisticated method for loading master data. By enabling the characteristic InfoObject setting Enhanced Master Data Update the InfoObject characteristic then has the same loading structure as a DataStore Object (advanced). There are additional tables such as an inbound table, active table and a change log table. This means you can now implement an activation process after updating the master data. It also means you can execute delta loads from one InfoObject into another InfoObject or DataStore Object (advanced).

The enhanced master data update is also useful if you want to load a large quantity of data or load data from multiple DataSources simultaneously as you are able to parallel load the master data.

These are the new tables created when you enable Enhanced Master Data Update:

  1. Inbound table for attributes: /BIC/D<techn.Name>
  2. Change log for attributes: /BIC/E<techn.Name>
  3. Inbound table for texts: /BIC/F<techn.Name>
  4. Change log for texts: /BIC/G<techn.Name>

The data is initially loaded in parallel into the inbound table. When activated, the change log and the active tables of attributes or texts of the InfoObject are updated. The activation can be processed in parallel in ABAP run-time or in the SAP HANA run-time. There is a new process variant, Activate Master Data, available for this purpose. You can make settings for processing requests in transaction RSDMD_SETTINGS.

Hint
  • Release requirements for non-time-dependent attributes/texts: SAP BW/4HANA 1.0 SP08.

  • Release requirements for time-dependent attributes/texts: SAP BW/4HANA 2.0 SP04.

  • Release requirements for a combination of time-dependent and non-time-dependent attributes/texts: SAP BW/4HANA 2021 SP04
  • There is no change to the handling of hierarchies — the concept of enhanced updates only covers attributes and texts.

  • SAP note 3087135: InfoArea changed to NODESNOTCONNECTED after InfoObject activation

Write Interface-Enabled InfoObject

InfoObject characteristics can now leverage a write interface. The purpose of this is to allow direct loading of master data to the inbound table without the need for a DataSource / DTP / Transformation. To enable this setting you must first enable the Enhanced Master Data Update.

To set this property, go to the corresponding InfoObject in the BW Modeling tools and choose PropertiesEnhanced Master Data UpdateWrite Interface-Enabled. In this case, the data can then be loaded to the inbound table using a tool such as SAP Data Services or via SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI) by PUSH.

The API is open for third-party tools and can also be used by external tools. There is no certification process for this API however. InfoObjects with write interface can have up to two inbound tables, one for attributes and one for texts, each with separate requests.

OData Service for InfoObject

Generating an ODATA service for an InfoObject allows you to access information about this object using an uniform resource identifier (URI) without having to log on to the SAP BW/4HANA system.

The data is displayed in the ODATAV4 Web protocol standard. In the InfoObject maintenance transaction in the BW Modeling tools, you can specify whether an ODATAV4 service is to be provided. The ODATAV4 service is published automatically when the InfoObject is activated.

The ODATAV4 service is based on a CDS view that combines the modeled properties for compounded characteristics, master data, and texts of the InfoObject in a flat structure. If the master data contains further InfoObjects, the ODATAV4 service only contains the definition of these InfoObjects, not their attributes and texts. To obtain this data, the ODATAV4 service can be used for these InfoObjects.

Transitive Attributes for InfoObject Characteristics in SAP BW/4HANA

Attributes are used to describe a characteristic. But attributes can also have attributes.

An example might help: an employee has the attribute job. The attribute job has the attribute pay grade. A transitive attribute is the lower attribute that can be accessed directly from the characteristic employee. Of course technically the middle attribute is also read to reach the lower attribute but the middle attribute does not need to appear in the result. One of the most powerful uses of this feature is to aggregate key figures by the transitive attribute. To do this in SAP BW you would create an InfoSet but performance would usually be unsatisfactory. This new feature is SAP HANA optimized for performance.

In SAP BW/4HANA, you can switch on transitive attributes for InfoObject characteristics that have been defined with attributes. Thus, you can enhance your data model with the attributes of your display attributes or navigation attributes. These can then be defined as display-only attributes or as navigation attributes.

You can find the maintenance function of the feature in the context menu of the Display and Navigation Attributes pane of the Attributes tab in the InfoObject screen of BW Modeling Tools.

Navigation Attributes for Time Characteristics

Navigation attributes can now be specified for time characteristics.

This means you can now aggregate key figures in the BW Query on different time levels (for example, month, quarter and year) even if the data is only stored at a more detailed time level (for example date). The benefit is that you no longer have to store the data at multiple levels of time aggregation.

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