Posts tagged BOBJ

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What’s new in SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0?

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This year, SAP released BI 4.0, the largest release for the SAP BusinessObjects platform in years. Besides much tighter integration with SAP BW, there are loads of new functionalities available in more specific front-end tool areas.

Because it’s very difficult to find the one-stop-shop with an overview of only the new features, SAP has recorded several “What’s new in BI4?” video’s that specifically explain new functionalities, on a high level including screenshots.

At this moment, there are video’s available for:

There are also some complete new products in the BI 4.0 release. Tutorials for these new products can be explored on the following pages:

An overview of all SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.x product tutorials can be found here.
Also follow BI Suite eLearning on twitter for more updates.
Make sure to check this out and get updated with the latest product features.
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New IdeaPlace: SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 integration with SAP Netweaver BW

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Last week, SAP TechED and SAPPHIRE were hosted in Madrid, Europe.
Of course, many sessions and presentations were related to the newest release of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0.

Since SAP has received many client and partner feedback on TechED and SAPPHIRE, they wanted to create a larger platform to provide feedback for the people that couldn’t attend.
Ingo Hilgefort, SAP employee and the expert on the integration between SAP and BusinessObjects (make sure to check out his blog), created a new IdeaPlace specifically for the integration between BI 4.0 and SAP Netweaver BW.

On this IdeaPlace, you can submit your ideas for future versions of the product and have direct influence on the product roadmap. Ideas with the most votes, might be implemented so if you have specific ideas, make sure you post them on this new IdeaPlace.

Amongst others there are ideas in the areas of:
- Meta-Data Support
- Prompting
- Hierarchies
- Data Connection
- Common Topics

You can find this new IdeaPlace right here:
https://cw.sdn.sap.com/cw/community/ideas/businessanalytics/sbobiintegrationnwbw

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Tutorial video: SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (Xcelsius) on your iPad

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A while ago I posted a blog which described how you can use iSwifter to run Xcelsius dashboards on your iPad. Now I’ve made a short movie which actually shows it step by step with an easy listening beat on the background.

In this movie the iPad app iSwifter is used to open webpages that contain SWF files. It more or less works as an internet browser. Check out the movie for the details.

Enjoy and let me know if this is useful.

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Must read: SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

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A couple of years ago Xavier Hacking from www.hackingsap.com and I started exploring Xcelsius at SAP Netherlands’ HQ in the late evening hours while digesting lots of Domino’s pizza slices. We just started to play around with it and did some client projects. The rest is history…

Just a couple of weeks ago, Xavier released his own book on SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 (aka Xcelsius). If you’re an Xcelsius end-user, developer or just a BI enthusiast, make sure you check this out and order it right away.

Last week I was working together with Pieter Verstraeten from www.pieterverstraeten.com on a BI4 ramp-up project for the implementation of Xcelsius, Webi and Crystal reports and one of Xavier’s colleagues walked into the same room with two copies of the book for us.

Of course we let someone take a picture (who obviously didn’t understand the focus function of the iPhone 4) and posted it on twitter :)

You can order it right away here and start benefit from it’s recipes to use advanced Xcelsius functions, create SAP BW connections, integrate twitter tools, the Gmaps plugin etcetera!

By the way, Dallas Marks also wrote a book review.

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SAP BusinessObjects Advanced Analysis test drive

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I’ve been playing around with the SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Advanced Analysis OLAP edition (web version). In the past we had the SAP BEx analyzer and SAP positions Advanced Analysis as the ad-hoc query and analysis solution. Well I spent some time with it now and want to share some thoughts. I used a Dutch installation so sorry for the Dutch labels etcetera.

If you haven’t seen anything of SAP BusinessObjects Advanced Analysis OLAP edition, I suggest you check the following short e-learning video to get an impression of the user interface:

http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/elearn?rid=/library/uuid/30b9bfc2-2815-2e10-feab-912210a1d1e8

Pros:

- Integration with SAP BW queries

It’s real simple to build a BW query in the SAP BW Query Designer, set it as a data connection in the Information Design tool, and make it available as a data source for Advanced Analysis. With just a couple of simple clicks your BW query is available within Advanced Analysis. Next to this, if you change your query, you don’t need to update your connection in the Information Design tool. It’s updated automatically. So adding key figures, changing dimensions or changing structures will automatically be updated.  It’s also possible to select a BW cube for your analysis instead of a BW query.

- Advanced visualizations

Advanced Analysis is packed with visualizations. You can choose bar charts, pie charts, line charts, radar charts and so on. SAP also chose to add 3D graphs. Since I focus on User Experience and meaningful data visualizations they could have let the 3D charts away. It doesn’t make your analysis easier. Another plus of the visualizations is that in, for example, WebIntelligence they look the same. This way you can create a more consistent user experience for users that start in a Interactive Analysis (aka WebI) report and drill down into a Advanced Analysis document.

- Ability to dynamically adjust visualizations

If you want to compare budget versus actual values, you could choose a clustered bar chart visualization to easily compare in which month your actuals were higher than your budget values. Perhaps if you want a visualization to present a trend during the months of the year, it can be helpful to switch from a clustered bar chart to a line chart. With just a single click on the “Transform into” button, you can change your visualization.

- Dynamic range slider

In Xcelsius (SAP BO Dashboards) you have the “combination chart” object. This is the only graphical object that has a “dynamic range slider” which makes it possible to “slide” your X-axis range. In Xcelsius, you need to activate this feature in the properties. In Advanced analysis this is a standard feature of your visualizations. Every bar or line chart has an integrated dynamic range slider without the need of setting user specific settings. The downside of this is that you don’t see the x-axis category labels so you don’t know what you’re looking at. If this is fixed, it definitely adds value. You can also hide this slider by clicking the black arrow in the middle of the slider.

 

- Drag and drop screen elements and easy mouse-click interaction

Your screen is divided into analysis objects. For example one object with a cross-table and one object displaying a bar chart. Just by dragging the objects on your screen you can place them next to each other or on top of each other. You can also choose to maximize your screen for one object just like your used to in windows. This way you have more “pixels” to analyze that specific analysis object. An even more important feature for this kind of analysis solutions is the option to just drag and drop your measures and key figures into your crosstables to support your analysis. In the BEX analyzer dragging and dropping was also available but was a lot harder to use. I ended up too often deleting a dimension instead of switching it with another dimension.

- Ease of use

If you’re new to OLAP tools such like Advanced Analysis, you can start using this tool with only a minimal amount of training. On the left side of the screen you have your measures and dimensions. Next to that your rows, columns and background filters and then you have the rest of your screen available for analysis objects like charts and tables. By simply dragging measures and dimensions onto your visualizations you can build your own analysis document. There is also the possibility to create multiple tabs into one document.

- Performance

My first impressions on performance are quite ok. Since it’s all webbased and runs within your BI launchpad, the application starts quite fast. Within Advanced Analysis the processing time for adding measures etc looks ok. Of course, this heavily depends on your BW data model but if that’s designed in a good way, this is quite a nice performing tool.

- Print to PDF

You can print your analysis results to PDF and set specific comments per analysis object including headers, footers, and so on. This really is a great feature.

Cons:

- Amount of square inches for analysis

Since your screen is loaded with features, you might have about 30% of your screen filled with all kind of filter boxes, property panes and other stuff. Luckily you can hide a lot of these panes but during your analysis, you need the interaction so this costs value screen space so you might start feeling that your screen size is too small. Therefor I can highly suggest to set your screen to a high resolution.

- Remembering labels

If you transform visualizations from a bar chart to a cross table and again to a (for example) bar chart, you’re labels are not saved. This means that if you’ve defined labels for your X and Y axis, they are not saved so you’ll need to be aware of this.

- Custom legenda

Advance Analysis uses your SAP BW masterdata descriptions and key values. This means that if these aren’t self explanatory, it can be quite hard to understand for an end user. You can set X and Y axis labels for your charts, but you cannot add custom agenda labels etcetera. So if your masterdata table in BW uses labels like 10 and 20 for budget and actual, an end user won’t understand what’s displayed. A minor fix for this is the possibility to set a text description for your analysis object in the property pane. However, you don’t want your user to navigate to this point.

- Activated filters

If you’ve got multiple analysis objects on your screen, for example multiple charts or tables, and you’ve set specific filters per object, it can be difficult to see which filters are activated for which specific object. I had some trouble finding out which filter was active for which analysis object. Perhaps there is a trick for this but I haven’t found it yet.

- No alerts

There is no alert functionality in Advanced Analysis like you’re used to in Xcelsius (SAP BO Dashboards) or Webi (Interactive Analysis). There is an option for conditional formatting but this can only be applied on tables, not on charts. This conditional formatting doesn’t make it possible to relate an alert value to a measure or dimension but only to a numeric value. For example, you cannot set conditional formatting on actual values that need to be displayed with a red background as soon as the value is higher than the budget value. You’ll need to enter this manually in numeric values. Since we’re used to this functionality in Xcelsius and Webi, you’d expect this to be available in Advanced Analysis as well. In the end, SAP says that they’re trying to create a generic user experience for the front-end tools by syncing the UI and also this kind of basic features.

- Max 4 analysis objects on one screen

Since the size of your analysis objects is prefixed, you only have space for max 4 analysis objects. You are free to move these 4 objects on your screen but you cannot define the size of the individual components. If you have one chart that is more important than another, you cannot manually set the size of this object. Again, in Xcelsius and WebI this is possible.

 

Concluding bits

I’m quite excited about this new product of SAP BusinessObjects. Its ease of use, broad range of features, good looking visualizations and web app performance make this a real nice upgrade for the former BEX web analyzer. I highlighted some cons on the flexibility to set your personal preferences for chart size, label texts, etcetera but keep in mind that this is a detailed analysis tool, not a dashboarding or interactive reporting tool. With this in mind, it really has some nice features and delivers quite well. I’m sure I’ll come up with more pros and cons in the future and I’ll update this post with new findings during my “journey”.


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