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Service Pack 3.0 (SP3) for Visualization Solutions by Nakisa (VSN) 3.0 is due out any time now. As usual I’ve put together a brief blog on the features contained in this release.

SP3 is yet again focused on creating stability, optimizing performance and fixing some of the bugs caused by the transition from .NET to Java. It also has a focus on enabling partners, customers, SAP Support and Nakisa Support to better troubleshoot issues.

Some of the new features in SP3 include:

  • Performance
  • Build management features
  • Enhance Log viewer
  • System Information
  • RFC Trace
  • Navigation
  • Loading icon for structure expanding
  • Notes
  • User variables
  • OrgChart filtering
  • Node colour coding
  • Removal of Open Positions from analytics
  • Role-based security for OrgModeler
  • Writeback Refresh (STVN)
  • Removal of the pre-EhP4 Development Plans tab in SuccessionPlanning
  • DataQualityConsole enhancements
  • Languages
  • Various bug fixes

Performance

Performance of both the application and the AdminConsole has been improved. The AdminConsole is now significantly quicker so that making changes is more efficient that customizing, which can sometimes lead to coding errors and instability.

The NakisaRFC function modules used to retrieve data have been fine-tuned. For OrgChart another configuration build has been delivered that only uses SAP function modules to retrieve data. This is much more efficient than using NakisaRFC or custom extraction classes. These function modules are delivered in a new ABAP Add-on and Nakisa Transport Package.

Build management features

2 new features to manage builds have been added. It is now possible to delete builds from the AdminConsole build loading screen, since access to the file system is often unavailable. Another option is the Reset Build functionality, which allows the existing application build to be cleared and restored with the default application so that any “contaminated” files from other builds are removed. The existing build can then be published as if applied to a freshly deployed build.

Enhanced Log Viewer

The Enable/Disable Logs and Log Viewer have been combined into one feature. In this “new” feature all of the functionality from the 2 features is included, plus the possibility to export logs and generate a Performance Report.

System Information

The new System Information feature, located in Application-wide Settings, provides a full output of system information, including:

  • Build Properties
  • Data connections
  • Hardware specification
  • Security settings
  • Enabled Languages
  • Java System Properties

The System Information feature also allows this information to be exported.

1_Sys_Info.png

RFC Trace

A great new feature in SP3 is the RFC Trace. This performs a trace of all user actions that call an SAP function module, as well as calls to databases. It monitors input and output parameters of all standard SAP function modules, Nakisa function modules and customer-specific function modules. Once the RFC Trace is enabled it measures the performance of all function modules called until it is disabled, measuring total time, RFC time and data manipulation time.

The output is listed per function module in either a list view or a table view.

  2_RFC_Trace1.png

  2_RFC_Trace2.png

Each function module can be selected to view a detailed summary of the input and output parameters, the values of each parameter, the returned values and the total times.

  2_RFC_Trace3.png

Navigation

A nice feature for usability is the ability to zoom in and out of the org structure using the scroll button on the mouse. I certainly think it makes a difference when navigating around big structures.

Another piece of functionality that was lost when the Flex version was introduced was accessing node menus with a right-click. Thankfully this functionality is now back, making it less likely that you open the details panel rather than the node menu.

Loading icon for structure expanding

Up until now expanding an OrgUnit or Position would just freeze the screen until the operation was complete. Now the Loading icon will appear while the action is processed.

Notes

Some new frontend functionality included in SP3 for OrgChart and OrgModeler is the Notes feature. This allows the user to enter either public or private notes about the object, either through the box node menu or on the details panel menu. These notes can then be viewed either on the object box in the structure or on the details panel. They can also be printed and exported.

  /wp-content/uploads/2012/03/3_notes_84832.png

User variables

User variables have been introduced in OrgChart and OrgModeler to provide the ability to allow features in the views to be switched on or off, such as colour coding or icons. Once configured, it adds the option into the OrgChart Settings in the Actions menu. I found this to be extremely useful at a client who wanted to be able to identify different types of positions by colours, but didn’t want this option to be enabled permanently for clarity purposes. As this is a “generic” configuration, it can be configured to switch all kinds of data or functionality in the views on or off.

OrgChart filtering

The possibility to filter objects in the OrgChart has been included in this release. The filter allows for a specific view to be used for all objects that do not fit the search criteria. So, while it does not remove objects from the orgchart it does make all filtered objects appear in a predefined way. Currently this functionality only works for Cost Center, but additional filters will be available in future releases.

Node colour coding

Another OrgChart feature is the ability to configure background colour coding for nodes in the AdminConsole. While this was possible previously through customization, new view templates were introduced to handle this in the AdminConsole.

Ability to secure print, exports and basket actions

In OrgChart it is possible to secure several actions for different user groups, including:

  • Printing charts
  • Printing listings
  • Flex Print advanced mode
  • Bulk print from the Selected Items basket
  • Bulk email from the Selected Items basket
  • Export to PDF
  • Export to Image
  • Export to PowerPoint
  • Listing exports

Removal of Open Positions from analytics

In the Demographics Analytics in OrgChart, open positions will be removed. This nearly always causes a problem because the data always displays Unknown.

Role-based security for OrgModeler

OrgModeler now features role-based security, similar to that offered in OrgChart. This has been a requested feature recently on the SDN Forum so it is good to see it make it into the application.

Writeback Refresh (STVN)

CareerPlanning, TalentFramework and SuccessionPlanning now contain an option to refresh the data in the orgchart, searches and details panel with a click of a button. I have heard of situations at some clients where the data does not refresh, often to do with browser or firewall settings. This button, located on the OrgChart bar, provides the user with an option to refresh the data immediately. This option can also be disabled in the AdminConsole if it is not relevant to the organization.

  4_Refresh.png

Removal of the pre-EhP4 Development Plans tab in SuccessionPlanning

The Development Plan tab that was added in SuccessionPlanning SP2 has been removed, since it linked to the pre-EhP4 Development Plan and caused some confusion with customers

DataQualityConsole Enhancements

There are some new changes in DataQualityConsole, namely:

  • Change in Audit rules
  • New listings
  • Company Score Dashboard
  • Position view enhancements
  • Time Lag Report
  • Extract language

The Audit Rules have changed. The following audit rules have been removed: BenefitInformation, AnchorBandInconsistencyPS, AnchorBandInconsistencySC and BonusPayout. 2 new audit rules have been added; one for leave requests that have not yet been approved and one to detect if a position is flagged as chief in an orgunit that has another position flagged as cief.

An Employee listing, Position listing and OrgUnit listing have all been added to help find these objects in the application.

The Score on Company Code (12 Months) dashboard has been added. This provides the score trend for the past twelve months based on company code, in its own dashboard.

The position views have been tidied up slightly, becoming clearer and removing unnecessary characters from the view template.

A Time Lag Report has been provided in some details panels to provide information about the difference between the start time and date of a record and the change time and date.

In the DataQualityConsole extract a single language can be configured, both in the 1-character language code and the 2- character ISO code. The use of the 1-character will eliminate some problems caused by SAP or DataQualityConsole using the first letter of the 2-character ISO code as the 1-character code, which in some cases does not align.

Languages

Some languages that were supported in SP1 but not in SP2 are now again supported. These languages include Chinese (Simplified), Danish, Dutch, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Swedish. Support for Chinese (Traditional) has been introduced in SP3. However, these languages are only fully translated in the Language Pack (LP) for SP3, due out shortly after SP3.

Various bug fixes

As usual, this Service Pack release contains over 1,400 bug fixes that were discovered during various projects in the last few months prior to release. Hopefully the “teething” problems from porting from .NET to Java should be finished and there should be an increase in stability and user acceptance.

Summary

Nakisa continue to increase the usability and administration of the application from an implementation and maintenance perspective, as well as adding some new features for the end user. Stability and usability have been enhanced and overall there are a lot of new features for a Service Pack release. Nakisa have created a solid platform to build on for their 4.0 release, which promises to be rich in features and functionality.

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13 Comments

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  1. Stephen Burr

    Hi Luke,

    Thanks for taking the time to share the info.  As an implementer, I welcome these changes … as always!

    Few questions / suggestions / additional information:

    General

    – How upgradeable is the solution (from 3.0 or SP1 or SP2) … I suspect I know the answer?

    (In my analysis, I noted that between the latest SP2 build I have 0702027700 to the SP3 build, there are over 220 files changed in the build configuration files)

    Performance

    – Have Nakisa quantified the performance improvements being claimed?

    – I believe the new SAP RFC is the recommended build for new installations, but is designed for hybrid approach. 

    Enhance Log viewer

    – The performance report looks a very useful addition and I noted 2 types available – both producing output in CSV format.  Also the ability to force the CDS.log file to roll on … so thereby be able to isolate logging for a particular test if you wish (SAP Support will be happy not to be getting MB’s of log files in future perhaps!)

    Notes

    – The notes rely on DB storage (connection & structure created via AdminConsole)

    – They can be attached any object (e.g. OU, Position, Employee)

    – Via the AdminConsole you can control whether public/private or both are available but can you do this based on the user’s Nakisa role?

    Removal of Open Positions from analytics

    Small note for OrgChart SP2 customers, the “Removal of Open Positions from analytics” was implemented in OrgChart 3.0 SP2 from build 0702026300.

    ChartBook

    I believe there is a small improvement here too so the user can now show additional parent nodes in ChartBook (specifies whether to show an org chart box’s parent when generating a ChartBook of two levels or more).

    Hopefully some of the contributor’s ideas from the SAP Idea’s Place can now be ticked off!

    Best regards,

    Stephen


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    1. Luke Marson Post author

      Hi Stephen,

      Thanks for your comments. I’ll try and answer your questions:

      1. “How upgradeable is the solution (from 3.0 or SP1 or SP2)”
        • I think you do already know the answer! Having started 2 upgrades to SP3 already I have noticed that it is largely upgradable from SP2, with only 1 or 2 minor changes required to existing configurations. From SP1 to SP3, like upgrading to SP2, there are quite a few delta-changes required. I think this is inevitable given the changes introduced in SP2.
      2. Have Nakisa quantified the performance improvements being claimed?
        • I have run the SAP_RFC buld and have noticed the performance enhancements. My understanding from Nakisa is that the RFC build is the go-forward build for Live implementations, although I think they intend to make this the standard from 4.0.
      3. Notes
        • I have implemented the Notes at one customer already and I like the functionality. You are correct that it does require a database and notes exists for all objects available by standard in OrgChart and OrgModeler, although for newly added objects they can be enabled. Under the application authorization mechanism it is only possible to secure the detail panel elements. The buttons on the nodes can only be enabled or disabled across the application.
      4. Chartbook
        • I thought I had included this, but obviously I didn’t – thanks for highlighting it!

      I expect in 4.0 we will see more of the features proposed in the Ideas Place come to fruition, since this release was based more on stability and upgradability (including customers with custom functionality). I certainly hope so!

      Best regards,

      Luke

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      1. Mohammad Shoaib Ali

        Thanks for the info Luke,

        With the enhancements suggested, it would certainly be a plus to move over to SP3 from SP2.

        As for DQC, I plan to shift the SP2 build over to SP3.

        best regards.

        Mohammad

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        1. Luke Marson Post author

          Thanks for your comments Mohammad. Please ensure that you are aware that you cannot guarantee that just copying over your SP2 configuration to SP3 will work.

          Good luck with the upgrade!

          Luke

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          1. Mohammad Shoaib Ali

            Certainly Luke,

            Thanks for reminder. It’s going to be a total switch not an upgrade since we are in process of implementation, thus would be easier to go for a fresh installation.

            regards.

            Mohammad

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            1. Luke Marson Post author

              Hi Mohammad,

              I definitely recommend this approach if possible! SP3 should be on SMP this week, but I wouldn’t guarantee that it makes it this week.

              Best regards,

              Luke

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  2. Stephen Millard

    It’s a little sad I know, but the features that I’m really looking forward to are:

    1. The zooming with the scroll wheel.
    2. The system information summary.
    3. The option to force the start of a new cds.log.
    4. User variables.

    The first three are just nice improvements that will from a personal perspective make my day that little bit easier and more productive – they just fit the way I want to interact with the system.

    The fourth one sounds like it has huge potential. I’ve not had chance to research the limitations just yet, but from the post it sounds like it could open up some really great opportunities to tailor the system without straying too far down the “very” custom solution route.

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    1. Luke Marson Post author

      If you think you’re sad, then that makes two of us 🙂

      The zoom is incredibly useful. I also noticed that it made its way into the last build of SP2, so the benefits can be felt without an upgrade to SP3 – bonus.

      User variables are great. I have implemented these at one client to turn on/off colour coded views and this was very powerful. The client had 4 different type of colours depending on a status of the position/holder (e.g. a newly created positon, vacant position etc). Since this could add a lot of coloured boxes into the org structure, and visually distracted the user, it made real sense to be able to toggle the colour on or off. Now a user can simply turn on the colours and get an overview of the status of positions for part of the org structure, easily and simply.

      One thing I’ve noticed since the migration to NetWeaver CE/NetWeaver 7.3 is that these systems sit on Unix/Linux and many administrators do not want to give access to the file system of these sytsems, even solely to the SOVN/STVN application file system. For a Windows machine they’ll even tell you how to format C:, but when it comes to Unix or Linux they are reluctant to give you anything. Therefore the changes to logging are extremely important for debugging and, as Stephen pointed out, for providing SAP Support with a smaller and more specific log file for reproduced issues.

      I know that Nakisa also want to introduce the possibility of restarting the application from the AdminConsole, since NetWeaver/Unix admins don’t want to give access to this either in a lot of cases.

      Best regards,

      Luke

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  3. Ivan Milkovic

    Thanks for the information Luke. Its really very useful. The section on Removal of Open Positions from Analytics called my attention, I didnt know that was a recurrent issue. I’m working on my first OrgChart implementation currently and facing that same issue. Nakisa told me that importing the latest ABAP Add-On should fix it, hope that is right but after your comments on that I have my doubts now…

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    1. Luke Marson Post author

      Hi Ivan,

      Thanks for your comments. I don’t know a whole lot about the removal of open positions issue, butStephen Burr has some experience of it. I know he’ll be happy to help 🙂

      Best regards,

      Luke

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    2. Stephen Burr

      Ivan,

      This was a small change to the counts.xml introduced in OrgChart 3.0 SP2 from build 0702026300 onwards.  Previously (I don’t know why!) a position with no incumbant (“open”) was counted in the demographics (age, race, etc) and showed as “Unknown”.

      Stephen

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