Bulk extract data from SAP Business ByDesign

Post describes how Power Query (Get & Transform) can be used as ETL tool for SAP Business ByDesign (SAP ByD).

Purely Self-Service BI solution built on Excel for SAP Business ByDesign (SAP ByD).

Level: Advanced

How to extract master and operational data from SAP ByD using Power Query

Common information can be found in my previous posts, which I’d recommend to go through

Several ways of data extraction from SAP Business ByDesign

Query SAP Business ByDesign Web Services via Power Query

From all possible methods of data extraction, I chose Excel + Power Query as the most simple one for Modern Excel data analysts (non-IT pro).

What do we need to start this journey?

What can help?

Massive data extraction from SAP ByDesign

Let’s start from the most interesting – extract of large data volume from SAP ByD.

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SAP ByDesign + Power BI = cloud friends

In this post you will find an idea how to pull data from SAP ByDesign directly to Power BI. This is a totally self-service solution, which can be built if you have literally nothing. Only you, Excel, free license of Power BI and SAP ByDesign tenant(s).

Samples based on data from test tenants that were opened for participants of openSAP course “Reporting with SAP Business ByDesign“.

Couple of words about SAP ByD for those who are not aware what is this. Cloud ERP system, has own real-time analytics engine, quite powerful, but poor. Poor calculation capabilities, poor visualization capabilities. Handles only basic things, obvious calculations.

Moreover, if you have several SAP ByDesign systems in responsibility you most probably have to consolidate data somewhere. Build sub-regional, regional reports etc.

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Several ways of data extraction from SAP Business ByDesign

There are several reasons to extract data from corporate ERP system.

First one and the most important – reporting. Nicely visualized data, usually pre-calculated using specific logic before. We all want to see beautiful reports.

Second, I think, is a data transfer to: BI system(s), DWH etc. Maybe for some companies this is a first priority instead of reporting.

Third, rare, but happens in my practice – data migration due to system “end-of-life”. Yes, this happens. What to say? In a moment I’m involved in such project, second in my practice.

I would like to share my experience. Hope it will simplify life of many other reporting specialists working with SAP Business ByDesign.
First of all, basic ways of getting data:
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Rename columns of nested tables in Power Query

Typical scenario

You have several data sources – Table1, Table2 and Table3

You want to combine data

Unfortunately, column names are different in those data sources, but structure is similar.

One of possible solutions is to create three separate queries, apply necessary transformations there and combine them after all.

And this would be fine solution. Moreover, it is only possible solution when function of data extraction is different for each data source.

Scalability: when we get another source, e.g. Table4, we will create fourth query and add it in Table.Combine() in addition to previous three.

But! We can slightly simplify scalability process when same extraction function used for each data source.

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Query SAP Business ByDesign Web Services via Power Query

In this post I would like to share my experience about work with web services using Power Query.

Unfortunately, some very important information is not available in data sources, e.g. Accounts Relationships and Pricing Conditions (price lists, customer specific discount lists etc.). Hope someday we will get this in reports.

However, currently, we can get this info only from

  • UI manually, almost impossible to do if you have X tenants and XXX customers with specific price lists
  • Web services – Jedi path, require knowledge and skills, or trustable tools, that can be checked

To our luck, with every new release we get more and more web services.

Basic idea of web service usage

  1. Make POST http request with XML
  2. Parse XML response

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Relative dates and periods in Power Query

Last several months I have worked with OData protocol of SAP Business Bydesign using Power Query. Typical scenario: I pull data of different reports applying filters, then shape and load them to Excel 2013 data model and then do necessary calculations using DAX.

Very common task in such work is to define boundaries of report, what most often related to time frames. Some models require list of dates of last month, some – from start of last year to today, some year to date and so on.

Therefore, when query data using OData, I must generate strings like

“$filter=SOMEDATEFIELD ge datetime’yyyy-MM-ddT00:00:00′ and SOMEDATEFIELD le datetime’yyyy-MM-ddT00:00:00′

where value of ‘yyyy-MM-ddT00:00:00’ should be somehow calculated.

In SAP ByDesign standard reporting functional we have option to use relative selection in date-type fields. E.g. Invoice Date, Calendar Day, Year / Month, Year / Fiscal Period etc. In such fields we can use values like “Today”, “Tomorrow”, “Yesterday”, “Last day of Last Month”, “365 days ago” and so on.

I thought that it would be nice to have something similar in Power Query. Special library of Date.* functions that will extend current list of functions.

Define Today as

Date.Today = Date.From(DateTime.FixedLocalNow())

I expect that function DateTime.FixedLocalNow makes life of data model easier than DateTime.LocalNow. However, I did not any tests of productivity. Another note – I always change data type to Date using Date.From.

Our friends in this task are such functions as

Date.AddDays() Date.AddWeeks() Date.AddMonths() Date.AddQuaters() Date.AddYears()
Duration.Days() Date.StartOfWeek() Date.StartOfMonth() Date.StartOfQuarter() Date.StartOfYear()
Date.EndOfWeek() Date.EndOfMonth() Date.EndOfQuarter Date.EndOfYear()

Let’s start from simple

Date.Yesterday = Date.AddDays(Date.From(Date.Today), -1)

Date.Tomorrow = Date.AddDays(Date.From(Date.Today), 1)

Here I already use Date.Today instead of repeat Date.From(DateTime.FixedLocalNow()). This makes formula more convenient to read.

More common case – “N Days Ago” and “N Days in Future”

In Power Query (M) code we should define N.

N = 3

Date.NDaysAgo = Date.From(Date.AddDays(Date.Today, -N))

Date.NDaysInFuture = Date.From(Date.AddDays(Date.Today, N))

Let’s try something with months

Date.EndOfLastMonth = Date.From(Date.EndOfMonth(Date.AddMonths(Date.Today, -1)))

Date.StartOfMonth12MAgoExcCurMonth = Date.From(Date.StartOfMonth(Date.AddMonths(Date.Today, -12)))

Date.StartOfMonth12MAgoIncCurMonth = Date.From(Date.StartOfMonth(Date.AddMonths(Date.Today, -11)))

where Exc – excluding, Inc -including.

Again, we can easily make more common case – “End of month N months ago”

N = 3

Date.EndOfMonthNMonthsAgo = Date.From(Date.EndOfMonth(Date.AddMonths(Date.Today, -N)))

Something with years

Date.StartOfPreviousYear = Date.From(Date.AddYears(Date.StartOfYear(Date.Today), -1))

// or better to call it Date.StartOfLastYear

Date.StartOfCurrentYear = Date.From(Date.StartOfYear(Date.Today))

Idea is very simple – usage of combination of standard function. However, who wants to do repetitive work? Better to have library of checked and working functions.

More functions can be found in my repository on Github


Seek for Date.* and List.Dates.* functions.

Feel free to contribute your functions.

Excel online. How it works with dates in text format

Using DATEVALUE isn’t a good idea if you publish workbook on SharePoint. You have to be sure that locale at your computer is the same as on SharePoint site, where you publish workbook.


In this example date presented as text. SAP ByDesign always shows dates as text in reports. Text depends on user parameters set in ByD.

It can be DD.MM.YYYY or MM/DD/YYYY, or something else. Unfortunately, from report side we cannot get info about set date format. In our region we agreed that default date format that users should use is DD.MM.YYYY.

Return to DATEVALUE. It is a function that determine date from text string. Reasonable question – what is ‘03.04.2015’ (or ‘04.03.2015’). If you don’t know what date format was used DD.MM.YYYY or MM.DD.YYYY, you cannot answer. But we need answer, therefore Excel uses locale set in “Region and language” parameters.

For example, on your computer date format is DD.MM.YYYY and “28.02.2015” is recognized by DATEVALUE as 28-Feb-2015 – cool.

However, when you upload workbook on SharePoint site where locale set to English (U.S.), DATEVALUE in workbook tries to read date as MM/DD/YYYY, but there is no slash (/) sign in “28.02.2015” – first fail of formula. Even if it would be “28/02/2015”, do we have month “28” in calendar? – second fail.

Instead of using DATEVALUE I would recommend to manually cut string on parts using LEFT, MID, RIGHT functions.

If you are sure that first to characters shows day, month in the middle of string with two characters, year is last 4 characters, then

DATE(RIGHT(A1, 4), MID(A1, 4, 2), LEFT(A1, 2)) – will give you right date. This option works without dependency on locale of computer or SharePoint site.

Dynamic Table Headers in Power Query (SAP ByDesign, Odata)

Another good example of how awesome is Power Query. And again I reference to one of well-known bloggers, Ken Puls’s post describes situation when we have pivoted data and need to unpivot them then rename columns. Fortunalety, in this example not so many columns used and unpivoting + join “rename table” is a solution.
However, in common case when we have table with 20 columns and 100 000 rows (or 2 million) unpivoting will be a very bad decision.
I faced with this challenge when I started to work with Odata protocol in SAP Business ByDesign.

Using Odata we have to provide string with list of fields ID in $select, for example query of Account Contact Data:


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Reporting and modeling for SAP Business ByDesign vol.2

In previous post I described list of ways of data extraction from SAP ByD. Here I continue story about case “ByD to Excel” using SAP ByD Excel add-in.

Currently, I use version 135.0.2109.722 of SAP ByD addin for Excel
ByD Addin Version

In name mentioned that add-in for Excel 2010, but I’m using it for a long time with Excel 2013. From time to time have same problems that I had when used Excel 2010.

This is a basic way that SAP offers to SAP ByD consumers. However, when I opened for myself Power Query and Odata protocol in ByD, I use ByD Excel add-in only for temporary solutions or quick data exploration.

Assume, that you inserted report on worksheet. Say, Invoice Volume.
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Reporting and modeling for SAP Business ByDesign

Last two years I closely was working with SAP Business ByDesign reporting area. Have built data sources, web / Excel-based reports, models, print forms, broadcasts etc. In my responsibility six productive tenants: three of them in Baltics (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) and three in CIS (Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus). I had to build starting package of reports and models to support legal requirements and business processes and worked on improvement of operational / strategic reports, consolidation of data on regional level etc. This post starts series about reporting for SAP Business ByDesign (further: SAP ByD or just ByD). I’m going to tell about problems I had to solve, some tricks and ideas. Hope this will help someone who is restricted in access rights as me and not an SAP ByD developer but going to building efficient reporting solution. So, let’s start. Continue reading