SAP BusinessObjects Support for Java 9

After significant delays, Oracle finally released Java 9 to the general public on September 21, 2017. The release happened without a great deal of fanfare, as the world has mostly moved on from Java applets. Although Oracle Java 9 includes the Java browser API, it is marked as depreciated and will disappear from a future release of the Java JRE.

Oracle’s Java site continues to serve up Java 8, with the latest Java Version 8 Update 151 released on October 17, 2017. I can’t find a public acknowledgement from Oracle when (or even if) they intend to start recommending Java 9 via Java Update.

Browser Support for Java 9

As many SAP BusinessObjects customers are aware, certain browser vendors have already dropped support for the Java plug-in even ahead of Java 9’s release. And given Oracle’s desire to permanently retire Java’s browser API, we can assume that the remaining browser vendors will drop support in the near future.

Microsoft Internet Explorer (yes)

Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) has widespread supported by multiple versions of the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform, including the latest Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 (See my related article, SAP BusinessObjects Support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 11). I could not find any information indicating Microsoft’s plans to stop supporting the Java plug-in in IE.

Microsoft Edge (no)

Microsoft Edge is a Microsoft’s modern and plug-in free browser that debuted with Windows 10. SAP added support in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 and higher; however, because Edge does not support any browser plugins including the Oracle Java Runtime Environment, it is incapable of running the Web Intelligence Java applet.

Mozilla Firefox (no)

Mozilla Firefox no longer supports NPAPI in version 52 or higher (version 57 is the current release). Oracle Java Runtime Environment (and therefore the Web Intelligence Java applet) is no longer supported in Firefox. Refer to SAP KBA 2439342.

Google Chrome (no)

Google Chrome no longer supports NPAPI is not supported in version 45 or higher (version 62 is the current release). Oracle Java Runtime Environment (and therefore the Web Intelligence Java applet) is no longer supported in Chrome. Refer to SAP Note 2196748 and SAP Note 2156305 for details.

Apple Safari (yes)

Apple Safari is generally supported by the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform. Apple Safari 10 is supported by SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 and higher including support for the Web Intelligence Java applet. However, Safari beginning with version 10 behaves as though common legacy plug-ins on users’ Macs are not installed. I could not find any information indicating Apple’s plan to permanently stop supporting the Java plug-in.

SAP Support for Java 9

SAP has no official statement on Web Intelligence support for Java 9 but has no plans to provide it. According to the most recent Platform Availability Matrix documents for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 and BI 4.2, Oracle Java JRE versions 7 and 8 are supported.

What does this mean for Web Intelligence users?

There are two other editions of Web Intelligence – an HTML edition for browsers and a “rich client” for the Windows desktop. Although SAP continues to close the functionality gap between the HTML and Java browser clients, the HTML edition still comes up short in a few areas. In some cases it will make sense for SAP customers to allow their users to choose between the HTML client in their browser and the Web Intelligence Rich Client on their desktop. While IT tends to be adverse to distributing client software, users of other BI tools such as Crystal Reports, Lumira, or even Tableau are already used to having a desktop client and may prefer the Web Intelligence Rich Client over its browser-based HTML counterpart. The Rich Client’s distinguishing feature is supporting offline access for Web Intelligence content, but it also retains the full feature set of the Java applet. Customers can confidently deploy the Rich Client knowing that it will remain part of the SAP BusinessObjects suite for the foreseeable future, even as both it and the HTML edition transition to a Fiori-fied HTML5 look-and-feel already seen in the alternate BI Launch Pad that ships with SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 SP4 and higher.

Some organizations have already taken the step of disabling user access to the Web Intelligence Java applet. We would recommend a more cautious approach of coaching users to begin using the HTML edition by updating their BI Launch Pad preferences but leaving the Java applet available should users want or need to use it (see our related article, Don’t You (Forget About Java)).

Although SAP has made no formal decision on the matter, it is likely that the Web Intelligence Java applet will be absent from SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.3 when it becomes available in late 2018 or early 2019.

We’ll keep this article updated as more information becomes available.

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