SAP established itself as a leader in the Master Data Management (MDM) software arena with the release of Information Steward, the industry's most complete solution for data governance, metadata management, data profiling and data quality. Metapedia, one of SAP Information Steward's four components, enables an organization to establish approved definitions for business terms in the form of a glossary. Terms can be organized in a hierarchical manner that makes sense for the business, and associated with meta objects defined elsewhere within the suite.
SAP Information Steward integration
Version 4.1 of SAP Information Steward introduced support for creating a custom interface to Metapedia content. Specifically, this API grants programmatic access to the definition and other properties of Metapedia Terms - and that allows for integration with other existing systems. The SAP Information Steward Integrator Guide outlines this feature, and it is the place to start for anyone looking to integrate Metapedia. This blog series extends that information by demonstrating how to take advantage of this functionality in a step-by-step guide. By the end, we will have built and deployed a JSP web application that displays the definition of a specified Metapedia Term (resembling the screenshot below):
Web service API
Information Steward is not the first product that SAP has exposed through an API; however, unlike others that support an SDK through published libraries, it provides web services. That means that API calls are made over HTTP using SOAP as the messaging protocol. The upshot is that communicating might require a few more steps, but it can be done from anywhere. As mentioned in the Integrator Guide, the web service model permits integration with anything capable of acting as a web service client - including Microsoft Office applications. Our client will be a simple web page, and we will use the Axis2 library to facilitate the web service calls.
The guide is intended for Business Intelligence professionals familiar with SAP Business Objects in general and SAP Information Steward specifically. It is also assumed that the reader has access to a functional Information Steward environment. It's not necessary for the reader to have java or web development experience - indeed this is meant to help the non-programmer achieve "proof-of-concept" capability. Readers with no SAP software whatsoever, but needing to connect a JSP application to some web service, may find this a useful tutorial as well. The "disconnected" nature of the architecture means that nothing SAP specific is required in the development environment. So technically, the steps and techniques outlined here apply to any similar scenario.
Rather than attempt to cover all possible scenarios, the tutorial makes very specific assumptions with regards to platforms and software versions. Specifically:
- BI Platform (or IPS): Version 4.0 SP5
- Information Steward: Version 4.2
- Application host: Tomcat 6 (installed with BI Platform)
- Java version: JDK 1.6.0_32 (64bit)
- Client OS: Windows 7 SP1 (64bit)
It is very possible that other configurations may work with minor adjustments such as the substitution of 32bit variants or newer software versions. But keep the following in mind:
- This is a solution specifically for Tomcat, not IIS or another web server
- The JDK and Tomcat versions installed in the development environment must be compatible with those on the server
- The web service functionality is not available in Information Steward prior to 4.1
- Different versions of Eclipse may not work with the required Tomcat version
- Different versions of Apex2 may not supply correct or compatible libraries
Tune in to the next post in the series:
We will use SoapUI, a simple query tool for our initial exploration of the Information Steward web service API.