in Casting Director

What is Casting Director?

Casting Director is an extension to Business Objects XI, designed to remedy some of the shortcomings of InfoView’s scheduling capabilities. It allows administrators to more easily manage report schedules and also provides additional delivery options and formats not available in the core product.

Casting Director is the continuation of the BCAPlus application for Business Objects 5.x/6.x. It has been completely rewritten from the ground up to leverage new functionality in the XI release. It is easier to deploy, easier to use, and even more powerful than its predecessor. Unlike BCAPlus, which used report macros to add functionality, Casting Director is a standalone Java application. The application runs as a “program object” inside InfoView, which allows it complete access to the Business Objects environment via the Business Objects Java SDK. Because of this, Casting Director is able to provide many scheduling features that are not currently available in InfoView.

Centralized, Dynamic Report Scheduling

Scheduling in Business Objects XI is managed primarily via InfoView’s “History” feature, which is found under each report in the system. This means that there is no central location to view and manage report schedules.

Casting Director, on the other hand, can read its scheduling information from any Microsoft Excel file or Business Objects report — Web Intelligence, Desktop Intelligence, or Crystal. This feature allows Casting Director to access its scheduling information from any database that Business Objects can connect to. Also, this allows you to leverage the Business Objects universe semantic layer to combine the scheduling data with other data sources, such as address lists. Using report parameters and prompts, scheduling data can be filtered in almost any way imaginable. Essentially, Casting Director allows you to use all of the power of Business Objects to generate your report schedules.

More Formats, More Destinations

Using a simple and concise syntax, schedule entries can be created to save reports to disk, upload them to an FTP, send them via email, print them to any network printer, or send them to a user’s Business Objects inbox.

Depending on the method of delivery and the type of report, reports can be sent in a variety of formats, including Adobe Acrobat (PDF), Microsoft Excel (XLS), CSV, XML, HTML, and more. This provides for many combinations, such as:

  • Reports sent as HTML emails to mobile devices such as a Blackberry
  • PDFs uploaded via FTP to an Intranet/Extranet web server
  • Paper reports automatically printed overnight

Many of these combinations are not available from InfoView.

Dynamic Report Naming

Casting Director also allows dynamic naming of documents it creates. Dynamic fields such as date/time, prompt values, or report variables can be combined with static values to generate the desired name. These naming conventions can be applied to entire schedule entries or to individual schedule actions, providing a flexible method for naming. For example, one might use the following delivery name:

“Annual Report” + <DateTime_yyyy> + ” for ” + <Customer>

When processed, this delivery name might look something like “Annual Report 2006 for Acme Inc”. This same naming syntax can be applied to report descriptions as well.

Leverages Your Business Objects Deployment

Since Casting Director itself exists as a program object in the Business Objects system, it is run and scheduled using InfoView. The results of each run are contained within the system and are viewable through both InfoView and the Central Management Console. Upgrading to future releases of Casting Director is as simple as uploading a single new file to the Business Objects repository. Security is also handled by Business Objects – give Casting Director to a handful of power users or keep it locked down for just the administrator. However, the scheduling data itself is separate from the Business Objects environment, so changes to the environment do not affect the data. Report schedules are never “lost”.

With Casting Director, you can leverage the complete power of Business Objects to provide simple, easy to manage report scheduling with much more versatility and flexibility than Business Objects offers out of the box.

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