1. What kind of custom components can I build for my Xcelsius 2008 dashboards?
You can build from scratch or extend any existing component that is available in the Flex 2.0.1 SDK. Below are some common cases (just to name a few) for custom component development. You may need to:
- Connect to custom data sources
- Design custom navigational elements and menu systems
- Create custom charts, gauges, heatmaps and other data visualizations
- Develop custom bi-directional application integrations with external business systems (i.e. Salesforce, etc.)
2. What kind of skill set do I need to start building custom components for Xcelsius 2008?
To be able to fully leverage the power of the Xcelsius 2008 SDK, you should be familiar with fundamental software component development principals and the Flex 2.0.1 SDK as well as ActionScript 3 and Flex development practices. You should also have a functional knowledge of Xcelsius 2008 and how various pieces can connect and communicate.
3. How does a custom component integration work?
- First, a Flex component and Flex Property Sheet application must be developed to meet your component specifications based on the Flex 2.0.1 SDK.
- Second, you will need to package your resulting Flex swf application files (your component and property sheet swf’s that are a product of step 1) and generate an .XLX installer file for use in Xcelsius 2008 by using the Xcelsius Add-On Packager utility that comes bundled with the Xcelsius 2008 SDK.
- Third, you will need to install the .XLX component file that the Add-On Packager created in your Xcelsius 2008 environment via the Xcelsius 2008 Add-On Manager (in Xcelsius 2008 via File -> Manage Add-Ons).
There are 3 primary high-level steps for an Xcelsius component integration (illustrated in Figure A) project.
(Figure A – Xcelsius Component Development/Integration Workflow)
4. How do I use my custom component once it has been developed and installed?
Once your custom component has been installed in Xcelsius 2008 via the Add-On Manager, you are free to use it just as you would any other Xcelsius 2008 component. Any installed custom component will reside in the common Xcelsius component library menu or in the connections section of Xcelsius 2008 if you have created a custom connection component.
5. Can I build my component using Flex 3 or greater?
The Xcelsius 2008 SDK currently enables developers to build custom functionality using the Flex SDK version 2.0.1. If you have Flex Builder 3 installed, you’re more than welcome to use that version of the Eclipse plug-in to manage and develop your Xcelsius component projects, you just need to set your project to compile against the Flex 2.0.1 SDK.
- Here’s where you can find the 2.0.1 SDK: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flex/sdk/flex2sdk.html
- To select the Flex 2.0.1 SDK (once the Flex 2.0.1 SDK is installed) version for your project in Flex Builder 3, right-click your project in the Flex Navigator panel, select Properties, select Flex Compiler, then choose the “Use a specific SDK” option and select your 2.0.1 SDK version from the drop-down list. Click OK to apply your changes.
6. When will the SDK be compatible with Flex 3?
There has not been an official announcement regarding the transition from the Flex 2.0.1 SDK to the Flex 3 SDK, but as soon as we get wind of a release date, we will be the first to notify you via the EverythingXcelsius.com blog.
7. Are there any utilities available that enable me to leverage or extend functionality on existing Xcelsius components?
Currently, the Xcelsius 2008 SDK does not enable developers to extend, customize or enhance existing Xcelsius 2008 components.
8. Can I apply themes or theme colors from my Xcelsius dashboard in my custom component?
Your component may not inherent themes or styles from the Xcelsius dashboard that they are being used in. However, with the infinite skinning and coloring capabilities available to you in the Flex SDK, it is certainly an option to bake in your own styling and theme skinning to suit your dashboard design requirements.
9. What essentials do I need to get started?
- Xcelsius 2008 – http://www.sap.com/solutions/sapbusinessobjects/sme/xcelsius/index.epx
- The Xcelsius 2008 SDK – SAP Dashboard Design (Xcelsius Engage) 2008 Component SDK SP3
- Flex Builder 2 or 3 with the Flex 2.0.1 SDK installed – http://www.adobe.com/products/flex/
10.Where can I find some good resources on Xcelsius 2008 custom component development? Are there companies that offer custom component development as a service?
One of the first things that I would suggest is taking a read through the SDK documentation and tutorials that are bundled along with the Xcelsius 2008 SDK download. There are great fundamental tutorials included as well as deep-dive hands-on functioning projects, complete with source code to help get you going. There is also a primer video and other useful resources located on the SAP Dashboard Design (Xcelsius Engage) 2008 Component SDK SP3. If you’d like expert advice or professional development services, you may contact Centigon Solutions or drop the gurus a line at EverythingXcelsius.com. We can always point you in the right direction based on your needs.
To view and download SDK component examples and to see what I’ve been working on with my team, you can visit the Centigon Solution’s Lab page as well as http://gmapsplugin.com/ to view the latest evolution of our Google mapping plugin for Xcelsius/SCDD.