SAP Press Online Library: A useful resource for an SAP Consultant
Today, I am going to digress from the pure BI/BO related discussion, to a topic of general interest to many SAP Professionals and Consultants. If you are not already aware of the SAP Press Online Library, I will be providing a brief overview of the features of this library and benefits of having such an online resource handy.
Ease of Access
SAP Press has so far provided a great service to the SAP Professionals in publishing quality books written by experienced SAP Consultants. It has gone one step further by providing online access to most of its printed books. The SAP Press website (www.sap-press.com) provides an easy to navigate menu which categorizes books according to area of specialization (i.e. Financials, Business Intelligence, Business Objects etc.).
By having online access to latest books, SAP Consultants can take advantage of the cutting edge information on relevant subjects anywhere, anytime. This helps tremendously if you are consulting on client location and have to do a reference check on a topic. You are alleviated from carrying the books with you. Also, if you are working with a practical case study guide, in my opinion it is much easier to switch between browser (online version of the book) and working environment (e.g. Netweaver BW) on the same workstation, then to juggle between print media and the SAP System at the same time.
A Supplementary Resource
Of course, this does not diminish the importance of helpful forums and articles on SDN, rather it should be considered as a supplementary resource where information is well organized and readily available, provided you have a reliable internet connection. Finally, one might ask, how is it different from Safari or other online libraries? Again, in my personal experience, I have not been able to find every SAP Press book that I needed on other online resources, especially not the most recent books. Further, for a small premium, you can also order a printed version of the book from SAP-Press. You could also review upcoming titles and pre-order online to book your copy in advance!
Figure 1. SAP Press web site
Creating your online library
To begin with, you will need to create an account just as you would in any e-Commerce store. Once you have access to your account, you could browse through the SAP books, preview the material or even order a trial license. You have the options of purchasing online version, printed version or both at varying prices. If you do purchase an online version, your book will be added to your very own library.
Single License or Multiple License
When you purchase a book, you are presented with an option for single license or multiple reader licenses. For example, if you have a team of Consultants that could benefit from same text, you could use the multiple licenses option.
The Book Shelf
The books that you purchase will be stacked in a book shelf where you could sort/order them per your liking. Each book item in your shelf indicates the type of license, the page that you last read and quick links to table of contents and bookmarks.
Navigation (Book Marks, Contents, Chapter, Page Number)
The Navigation toolbar near the top allows you to look quickly move through existing book marks, create a new book mark with free text, skip through entire chapters or move through pages either one at a time or jump to a specific page (See Figure 2). The navigation panel on the left hand side provides quick access to table of contents.
Figure 2. Navigation in your SAP Press online version of the Book
Zoom in (and out) for clarity of figures and diagrams
The Zoom feature on the toolbar allows you to enlarge the text and figures on the page (See Figure 2). I have found it to be particularly useful when there are annotations within illustrations of a figure that are not very legible. If for some reason, you are still not able to view the page or figure correctly, there is an option to notify the SAP-Press near the bottom of every page.
Search (Your Library or SAP Press)
The search feature is really handy because it allows you to search your entire library and also entire SAP Press collection. I have found this to be a very helpful feature in correlating information from multiple titles. (See Figure 3).
Figure 3. Search your book, library or entire SAP Press.
Rate and Review
You could also rate the books after you have read them and provide a critical review on the title’s home page. This helps the author(s) improve upon content in future revisions/editions of the book and your review also assists the prospective buyer in making a decision about purchasing the book.
Discounts and Promotions
Once you are registered at SAP-Press web site, you will start receiving discounts coupons through email or paper mail, depending upon your account settings for promotional marketing. You could use these promotions to offset some of the cost.
Room for Improvement
There are certain titles which come with additional/supplementary files such as Sample Data Files, which are usually found on the book’s home page. However, it would be far more convenient, if these files could automatically be added to library of user after purchasing the book, so the user does not have to go back again to the title’s home page to download these files. These additional documents and files could be presented under a “Supplementary Material” tab in personal book shelf of the user.
It goes without saying that in today’s competitive and fast paced work environment, every little resource that could help you stay well informed and ahead of the curve, is worth exploring. Consider having an online library at SAP Press as an investment in your SAP Consulting Career. Personally, I have found it to be a valuable resource that helps me stay connected with current information, even on the go!