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Xcelsius Widget Best Practices for BI Desktop

by Ryan Goodman

Designing for BI Desktop
Creating a desktop widget or dashboard with Crystal Xcelsius will allow you to build and connect robust visual applications without writing any code. Because you will launch the Xcelsius generated SWF inside of the BI desktop framework, there are several best practices to ensure you maximize the integration between Xcelsius and BI Desktop

Choosing a Background
When you load an Xcelsius generated SWF into BI desktop, the existing white canvas background will be removed by BI Desktop. This means that all of the whitespace will remain transparent, so some organic shaped components and text will require you to insert a background. It is recommended that you utilize a Xcelsius background component (located in the art and backgrounds components folder) or import your own background using the image component (.jpg or .swf).

Font settings
When building widget user interfaces that are compact in size, you may decide to utilize smaller font sizes. By default, Xcelsius will embed your chosen font and render it as anti-alias. Smaller font sizes can be more difficult to read with anti-alias turned on. If you use a font size smaller than 10 you may want to use non-embedded font to make the widget easier to read on the computer screen. You also want to keep in mind that your end user will have the option to use the runtime re-size option in BI Desktop To change the font option, navigate to File>Font and click on the “Unicode Font Options” button.  Selecting the “Use non-Embedded Fonts” option will render the text without anti-alias, and “Use Embedded Fonts (Xcelsius default) will render the fonts using anti-alias. Choosing non-embedded fonts will also shave approximately 60K off of the final SWF size.

Designing for BI Desktop Controls
BI desktop will allow the end user to resize the widget during runtime using a handler that is dynamically positioned at the lower right hand corner of the widget (SWF). BI desktop will map this handler for the runtime resize feature based on the original canvas size dictated from Xcelsius. In addition, three additional controls are added to the upper right corner of the widget.
It is important that you use the “Fit Canvas to Components”  toolbar button inside of Crystal Xcelsius to shrink the canvas so there is no margin around your components, specifically on the right hand side. You may also manually change the canvas size in pixels by navigating to File>Document Properties.

Launching a report from a CX Dashboard
There are three fields to configure in the FS Command Component:
1. The “Label” will identify the label inside of the FS Command button.
2. The first “FS Command” field should be set to “DocID”
3. The second “FS Command” field defines the OpenDocument query string where you will define the document type and ID. Depending on the document type, WebI, Crystal Reports, or even a full blown Xcelsius dashboard.
You can dynamically concatenate the OpenDocument URL and bind it to the second FS Command Field. BI desktop requires the iDocID, the document Type, and the ReportName to execute properly.

Example URL Syntax:

openDocument.jsp?iDocID=5179&sType=wid&sReportName=S ales Pipeline

Publishing the SWF
Once you have built you widget inside of Xcelsius, you will navigate to File>Export>Macromedia Flash SWF to publish it as a .swf file. BI Desktop then transforms the standard Xcelsius SWF file into a desktop widget.

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