SAP BusinessObjects

Lets Speak BO… In San Diego!

By | SAP BusinessObjects | No Comments

I can’t believe its that time of year again where I prepare my presentation for the annual IBIS event. This has become one of the premier events for customers to learn and network and focus on 1 topic…. Business Intelligence with SAP BusinessObjects.

IBIS is all about extending the value of the BusinessObjects platform that you own as opposed to hyping up what is coming in the next product releases from SAP. It is a breath of fresh air talking to customers who are succeeding and looking at ways to push more value from their BusinessObjects investment.

The best part, is this conference is set up to bring your family and take a mini-vacation in San Diego. With a late June date, the weather will be absolutely perfect! ¬†Hope to see you there ūüôā

June 22-24, 2015 | Carlsbad, CA | Park Hyatt Aviara Resort

Secure Your Seat Today!

How to Fix a Corrupt SAP Dashboards Project

By | SAP BusinessObjects, Trouble Shooting, Xcelsius | No Comments

You open up your precious Xcelsius dashboard only to have it crash on startup.. The good news is you are not doomed.. If you are like me and run a lot of programs at once and have frequent crashes, it is plausable for your Excel file to go corrupt.

The fix is actually pretty simple. You will crack open the XLF file, open the source Excel, let Excel repair itself, re-save, and then inject it back into your XLF.

I put together a post on SAP Community Network with detailed step by step directions.

Embed Geo Visualizations Across SAP BusinessObjects Suite

By | BI4, SAP BusinessObjects, Xcelsius | No Comments

At the end of the day, it is people who create Business Intelligence, not technology. As such we have witnessed many customers stick with tools and processes that make them successful.

Today, I pushed out a new tutorial on SCN called: “Geo Heatmaps in SAP Dashboards, Design Studio and Webi

The goal was to illustrate a concept where we can use SAP Dashboards as an embedded analytics that can feed both WebIntelligence and Design Studio using the latest BI4.1 SDKs.

While SAP Dashboards is ultimately going to be replaced by Design Studio, this transition is going to be gradual. So why not re-use the investments and skills readily available to drive immediate value today using staples like Webi or emerging tools like Design Studio?

Is this solution for everyone?

This solution is not the definitive path for all customers. It is merely one path that we have made available for customers. Alternatively, we are seeing customers and partners flock to Antivia DecisionPoint to get one consolidated design experience for creating dashboards, ad-hoc analysis, and mobile analytics. This is one technology I am truly excited about as a long time fan of XWIS.

There is no correct or incorrect way to proceed as long as you succeed in arming business users or analyts with information when and where they need it.

Why not create native geo-maps for Webi and Design Studio?

The rational is simple…¬†Rather than providing a limited percentage or sub-set of mapping features, I wanted 100% of our mapping capabilities available on day 1, bug-free. Additionally, I wanted to control the user experience, so it looks identical across all of the BI tools until we see closer alignment in workflows.

SAP Design Studio Shaping Up Sloooow and Steady

By | SAP BusinessObjects, Xcelsius | No Comments

Over the weekend, I was working on a brand new article for SCN where I will demonstrate how to¬†“quickly” create a geo Choropleth / Heatmap in SAP Dashboards and then distribute the embedded location intelligence¬†into Webi and Design Studio. After getting 90% of the way of the way there, I hit a wall trying to expand on a simple example I created in Design Studio, leading to this article..

If I have learned anything, it is that customers are not afraid to look elsewhere for analytics tools if it drives value to the business faster. I think the appetite for lengthy dashboard design projects has shrunk to an all-time low. Speed and ease of delivery are the highest priority for customers today, so finding that balance of simplicity and power is certainly easier said than done.

Here are some thoughts after my Design Studio adventures this weekend

1. I am definitely not the target user for Design Studio– I spend my days running a business and product design / vision. I am conflicted because with Design Studio being pitched¬†to customers as a “premium” alternative to Xcelsius, I feel obligated to learn how to use it and¬†continue this blog… After 2 years, I still don’t get the visceral reaction to Design Studio that I do with other Dashboard Design tools…¬†Being a technologist in 2014 I feel that I should be able to quickly create my own dashboard if I have data readily available.

2. You can not be a casual user of Design Studio… yet– Either you need to be a developer or be a professional Design Studio developer. I have been able to casually learn Tableau, Qlik, DecisionPoint and other analytics tools, but Design Studio¬†seems to be a brick wall for me. It requires too much time and continuous focus to be a casual user.

3. You can’t move fast– At least with my system configuration where I am running on a Windows 7 VM, I grew frustrated waiting for¬†the spinning rainbow¬†with almost every action. Going into a dashboard and knowing exactly what I want to see, I want to move quickly to get to the end result and move onto the next feature I want to create.

4. Today,¬†Design Studio professionals need to know how to use the SDK: There is no way around the fact that if you want Design Studio to meet the wide range of requirements of today’s dashboards, you will need to be a wizard with Design Studio scripting or have the ability to whip up some JavaScript components using the SDK. Additionally, there are amazing extensions from the ecosystem, including Graphomate;¬†Their stuff looks awesome! We have been using APOS Dashboard Migrator as a bridge for CMaps Analytics and it works great.

5. The small Design Studio Community lacks a good platform to thrive: EverythingXcelsius was a fantastic hub for information related to Xcelsius but SCN is absolutely horrible. The Design Studio portal is a single thread of un-organized information related to Design Studio, SDK, Dashboards, SAP Connectivity, and other development related topics directly related to Design Studio. You have some top notch experts delivering extremely useful content but it is going into an SCN black hole.

Additionally the developer base is fragmented from day one so, that creates challenges for knowledge management when you are using one tool for different use cases like Web Apps, Mobile Apps, and Dashboards. These are 3 very different things from a design and execution standpoint.

6. SAP Dashboards (Xcelsius) and Design Studio are two different animals- SAP Dashboards skills do not translate to Design Studio, so you need to re-think how you approach using this new tool. This is a fundamental problem, because the one thing that makes SAP Dashboards incredibly powerful and successful is the ability to design the dashboard and perform a basic level of adoption testing in parallel to ETL, Universe and query development.

I have never been bullish on Design Studio because I have seen what it takes to create a successful dashboard solution and it always starts with the end users. SAP Dashboards is successful not because it was crammed down customers throats, or because it was the best solution to enterprise dashboards. It succeeded because it opens up a process for creating dashboards where the end result is priority #1, and you get to work backwards to fetch data.

The good news is you have an SAP product team who has been along for the same ride and genuinely want Design Studio to be a great solution. It is an uphill challenge because they have to meet the expectations of the most widely adopted BusinessObjects tool after Crystal and Webi and their starting target market (and possibly still their main focus) is BW Web App Designer customers. At the same time SAP has to try and catch up to a marketplace that is accelerating beyond Xcelsius and Design Studio.

Stay tuned for my article on SCN this week:


My first experience with Webi Extension Points

By | SAP BusinessObjects | No Comments

Recently, I had the chance to pick up Extension Points SDK for SAP BusinessObjects with the goal of extending Location Intelligence to Web Intelligence users. I found out immediately that this SDK was beyond my skills so I invoked the help of Evan Delodder (wrote the book on SAP Dashboards SDK). In several late evening coding sessions, we came up with our first extension which bridges SAP Dashboards and Webi. As such we uncovered Extension Points as a hidden jewel inside of the BI4.1 platform!

Read More at SAP SCN to find out what we came up with

UPDATE- 2015

After our first experiments we went all-in and ceated a plug and play maps approach out of the box with our CMaps Analytics template designer. Check this out:

Here is where you can learn more about CMaps Analytics for Webi


Webi Extensions Allows Embedded Dashboards and Maps

By | BI4, SAP BusinessObjects, Xcelsius | No Comments

For those of you who have been using SAP BusinessObjects for a while, you may remember a feature that never made it out of Labs, called “extension points.” With the latest release of SAP BusinessObjects BI4.1 extension was re-introduced in a more stable, SDK format.

Needless to say with the work that I do with location intelligence, my team jumped in crossing our fingers that the result would allow us to embed and consume data from Webi natively.

Lots of Flexibility

Extension points grants an empty HTML container for which we have complete control to load any content we like. In addition, as creators of an extension you can fine tune the experience to display any content. For report designers there is potentially no configuration required to prepare the extension point unless the developer creates such functionality.


Potential Challenges

Extension points is a new set of APIs, so there is not a lot of knowledge, code examples, or documentation above and beyond standard Javascript Docs. As such it takes a little trial and error and patience to build and test with extension points. If you are not a competent Javascript developer, you will need to find one to start building your extension point.

Embed SAP Dashboards Inside Webi

Ultimately, we have created a tool that allows us to embed SAP Dashboards inside of Webi through our CMaps Analytics extension. Upon release, we will make it available to hundreds of customers first and then evaluate the demand for this functionality on a broader scale. If you think this functionality would be useful for your projects, let me know.

Overall, there is a lot of promise and opportunity with this new feature and my team is certainly working to push the envelope of what is possible.

UPDATE- 2015

After our first experiments we went all-in and ceated a plug and play maps approach out of the box with our CMaps Analytics template designer. Check this out:

Here is where you can learn more about CMaps Analytics for Webi

SAP Dashboards Column Insertion to Change Measures

By | Component Best Practices, SAP BusinessObjects, Xcelsius | No Comments

After searching the internet, I couldn’t find an article to explain to a customer how to use Column Insertion feature to dynamically change a measure in a chart. While this may seem basic for the longtime Xcelsius user, I still talk to new dashboard developers every day who are getting through the old SAP Dashboards learning curve, especially when trying to wire up heatmaps with our CMaps Plugin compoent

Source File

1. First you need your data- This simple data set has one dimension (region) and 3 measures (sales, expenses, net income). The goal is to toggle between the measures.


2. Drag and drop a selector component (combo-box, label menu, etc) on to the canvas

3. Open the property sheet for the selector

4. Bind the Labels property to your measure titles (sales, expenses, net income). This is the measures your end users will chose between and view in the chart.

5. Now you will select the insertion type = Column

6. Bind the source data to all 3 columns of data- This is the entire data set that you are selecting from and will include the column titles.

You should always include the column titles so you can re-use them for the chart title / labels. You always want to capture what has been selected so it can be displayed back to the end user.


7. Bind the destination to a single column that is in equal size in rows to the source data (shown in yellow)

8. The last step for the selector is to set the default selection. If you only have 3 measures and sales is the first in the list, why not make it selected by default? Go to the behavior tab, and make Label 1 or Position 1 the default selected item.



Data Mania at SAP BusinessObjects User Conference

By | Events, SAP BusinessObjects | No Comments

It’s that time of year again… SAP BOUC is on the west coast this year in Anaheim, and I am thrilled to make the trip up the coast with my team at Centigon Solutions. I wanted to make sure those of you who are attending know where to catch me:


We are giving away a Google Chromecast every hour, on the hour on the second day of the conference during exhibitor hours at the Centigon Solutions Booth!. If you have been struggling to get your hands on a Chromecast, we have a box full to give away for free!


I am excited to share the stage with Timo Elliot and DonaldMacCormick to show off some killer uses for the latest SAP and Centigon capabilities. Needless to say you may see some maps, but in a way you have never seen before..

Tuesday, Sept 10 at 2:45pm at the Anaheim Convention Center.


Join me for a 30 minute presentation at the SAP Demo theater where I will discuss some of the coolest use cases I have seen for location intelligence within dashboards.

Tuesday, Sept 10 at 11:30-12pm at the SAP Demo Area


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