BusinessObjects’ release of Xcelsius 2008 SP3 is a great step forward for customers to benefit from new charting, performance enhancements, and other capabilities that make dashboard development easier. For fellow Xcelsius customers and developers who have been patiently waiting for new functionality, this release is the one we have been waiting for.
Here are my top 10 features to help you jumpstart your exploration of new Xcelsius SP3 enhancements:
- Performance- With a commitment to improve performance, there is a new option to optimize Excel performance in addition to promises of improvements to other previous performance concerns both inside of the Xcelsius design environment and runtime SWF files.
- Bullet charts- A Steven Few inspired component set, the Bullet chart provides a new visualization tool for Xcelsius developers who want to maximize screen real estate while communicating more data.
- Sparklines- Sparklines are the second new charting edition to Xcelsius that also provide significant value for organizations who want to leverage the popular data visualization control within Xcelsius. Previously only attained with add-on components, this functionality comes packaged with Xcelsius.
- Selector Enhancements- In Xcelsius, staging data for visualization has long contributed to the learning curve required for building excellent dashboards. As a step forward to make selector configuration easier, the Xcelsius team has exposed new global properties for selectors. Hopefully this is only the first step to seeing significant improvements to selectors since this is the most powerful yet difficult concept to learn in Xcelsius.
- No selection- Sometimes a developer does not want a selector to trigger until it is clicked on. While this request is simple in concept, this functionality was not available until now. For the casual Xcelsius developer this is not a major feature until it becomes a requirement, but those fellow developers who have experienced this limitation will appreciate this feature.
- Multi-selection- Another developer-centric feature, multi-selection capabilities will enable a dashboard to trigger multiple events which was previously accomplished with workarounds (Excel logic and hidden selectors). The first time you open a standard selector, developers will noticed a revised property sheet UI that is extremely easy to pick up using previous Xcelsius experience.
- Chart Enhancements
- Sorting- The chart sorting requirements traditionally fulfilled with Excel logic or add-on components are now fulfilled for charts using a new sort behavior. Accessible in the chart behavior tab during design time, this functionality is extremely valuable when data is not loaded into a dashboard pre-sorted.
- Labeling- As one of the most commonly requested features for Xcelsius, visible chart labels is now available simply by checking a box in the chart appearance tab under labels. Enable value and series label functionality and format them according to your design specifications.
- Chart slider- To fill in IMT time slider capabilities previously available in BusinessObjects performance manager, developers can extend flexibility for end users to focus on a specific range within a time series using a dual slider. Built directly into the Xcelsius chart components, you can easily enable this functionality in the behavior tab.
- Bindable Colors- As one of my personal favorites, you can now bind any color to the spreadsheet using a simple color binding option.
- Scorecard- For any existing Xcelsius developers who have struggled aligning icons or hidden selectors, a real scorecard component will be a breath of fresh air, making it a relatively simple process for configuring alert indicators within a vertical table. I can instantly see a lot of opportunities to expand on this component, so I am interested to hear the community use cases for this new component.
- Canvas Container Component- This is a nice component for new Xcelsius developers who want to group components without learning dynamic visibility. This component is available with the other container components.
- New Gauge properties- Gauges have long been criticized for consuming a large volume of screen real estate without displaying enough information within the control. For customers who insist on using these controls, Xcelsius offers additional capabilities previously available in BusinessObjects performance manager. Bind multiple values to a single gauge and track them as marker indicators or additional needles. From the second you open the gauge property sheet, you can easily take advantage of these new features using the same paradigm you have always used.