Halloween is over and visions of turkey and stuffing fill our heads as the finish line is in sight for SAP’s Reportapalooza. This will be the second blog post for the final challenge, Reporting Remix in which I talk more about my experience with SAP Crystal Interactive Analysis Desktop Edition.
You can learn more about the Reporting Remix challenge here: http://bit.ly/brHkOE
First, however, there is another vote underway and one of you could be the big winner of a Zune MP3 player. Reportapaloozainvited you to build a better dashboard or produce a better Crystal Reports tutorial video and not it is time to pick the best entry. Who outdid the experts? Make sure you show your support!
Check it out whose star is shining bright here: http://bit.ly/aI6qn2
Second, Reportapalooza is opening up the phone lines and giving you a backstage pass to the Behind the Reports Webinar. On November 10th at 2pm EDT, all five reporting experts will come together to answer your questions and tell you some behind the scenes stories. Come join the party as we jam it out online!
To evade our bouncers and participate, register here: http://bit.ly/ckXnjO
And now for the main course. According to the marketing materials, SAP Business Objects Interactive Analysis provides an intuitive interface that puts you in control of your data. There are a lot of promises the SAP Technical Brief – Interactive Analysis provides self-service data access, multiple data source analysis, trusted and sharable insight – too many for me to try to experience and evaluate in just a few short weeks. I wanted to start with installing the software and checking out the basics.
When you first open the desktop edition of Interactive Analysis, you get a welcome screen which tells you that you can Create a report, Analyze a report or Create graphical charts. Oh good, I thought, wizards to help walk you through the process. No such luck – these were not links, just text. Next I saw video tutorials, so I thought great, I can see exactly what to do get started. What I found, however, was 5 special subject video tutorials that seemed to presume I already knew the basics of the application. Which, of course, I didn’t.
So I turned to the application itself for guidance, but I could find no link to a tutorial or sample files. I was sure I would find what I needed under the Help menu and the Online Guides looked promising, although a bit cryptic at first. There are three guides available – Performing On-Report Analysis with Web Intelligence, Building Reports with Web Intelligence Rich Client, and Using Functions, Formulas and Calculations in Web Intelligence. OK, hopefully the guides themselves will explain what all that means because if I was a reporting newbie or a manager who bought into the marketing hype, I probably would have no idea.
Once again, there were no actual links to these online guides. I clicked to the next page and finally found some introductory paragraphs. Sort of. How Interactive Analysis performs business intelligence offline, Interacting with Interactive Analysis reports, and Creating and editing Interactive Analysis documents. Still not feeling the love here. Why lead off with using IA offline before I even know how to use IA? How can I view and print IA documents if I do not know how to create them? So far the help system is delivering up a big fat goose egg when it comes to showing me how to get started.
Finally I think I hit pay dirt. Creating and Editing Interactive Analysis documents. Maybe this has the answers I need to get started: Interactive Analysis is a locally installed application that lets you work with Interactive Analysis (WID) documents that are stored locally or on a CMS, whatever a CMS is. IA works in 3 modes. With Connected Mode, IA works with documents on a CMS or locally. With Offline Mode, IA applies CMS security to local documents. And in Stand Alone mode, IA works without any CMS at all. Sounds like I like that last one best since I don’t think I have a CMS.
Next the guide takes me to setting preferences. Kind of strange to be setting preferences before we actually create a document, but I have to remember this is not a tutorial. But at least this section provides steps to follow. General Preferences talks about setting a default universe which sounds like a Business Objects thing but coming from the Crystal Reports side, not assuming the reader knows what a universe is would be helpful. Viewing preferences talks about grids – I know about grids from working with Crystal Reports. The rest of it I didn’t really follow so I just clicked through it.
Finally I get to Launching Interactive Analysis. Turns out I already started the application in Standalone Mode – how smart I am! Next is information on working with universes but still no definition of what one is, but I can only work with local ones in Standalone Mode. Finally I get to a page that tells me I can create an IA document by building a query on a universe stored in a repository, a local universe or local non-universe. I am getting confused again. Let’s move on.
I click to a page that says To Build A Query On A Universe. Now we’re cookin’ with grease. Following the steps I discover I have an existing universe: Island Resorts Marketing. I open that universe find get a Create Query window. Following the directions, I select the objects I want to include in the query and drag them to the Results Objects pane. There appear to be multiple query objects and query filters organized into folders, so I dragged Country, Resort, Year and Hawaiian Resort into the Result Objects and Query Filters panes. Then I clicked Run Query to see what happened.
OK, that was progress – I produced something – but as this blog comes to an end, I am just not getting this intuitive interface. It seems to only be intuitive if you already understand the basics. I can tell from all the menu options and toolbar buttons that Interactive Analysis is a very powerful tool but frankly, I am still at a loss as to how it all works. It doesn’t seem to be a tool that a business executive could just pick up and start using, but one that requires extensive planning and design by an IT expert.
Am I missing something? If so, please let me know by posting comments to this blog, tweet me at @David_Deitch, write on my Facebook wall at http://bit.ly/ciXH0T, look for my discussion thread in the Crystal Reports group on LinkedIn at http://linkd.in/bXu7pS or post to the Crystal Reports Users Group on Yahoo Groups at http://bit.ly/bW2YuN. This may be my reporting journey, but journeys shared are better than taken alone so if you’ve come this far, why not see it through to the end with me?
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and have been following Reportapalooza. If so, I would love to hear from you. If you want to find out more about me, Reportapaloozaor Crystal Reports, you can visit follow me on Twitter @David_Deitch, become my professional friend on Facebook (http://bit.ly/9HaNKj) or connect with me on LinkedIn (http://linkd.in/cBQzEv).
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Finally, if you tweet about this blog (and please do), be sure to include the #Reportapalooza tag in your tweet and help us get the word out. This has been a long post, and if you have read this far (please let me know if you have), thank you. If you have visited the Reportapalooza web site (http://bit.ly/ajKAJF), thank you. And if you voted me in any of the challenges so far, THANK YOU.
Senior Crystal Reports Developer
SAP Reportapalooza Maestro