HTML5 Faster than Flash ?
Back in April, SAP announced that they were taking SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (Xcelsius) down a mobile friendly route with a new “Export to HTML5” feature. I initially wrote about this in a blog post “A New lease of (HTML5) life for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards” and as the title of that post suggests, I think this is a great direction for SAP and the tweets coming out of the recent SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards Bootcamps (e.g. here and here) suggest that SAP are making good progress on their promise to deliver this functionality by the end of this year as part of BI 4 Service Pack 5 (SP5).
IS HTML5 READY FOR DASHBOARD PRIME-TIME?
Initially, there were some questions about HTML5 as a technology direction. Would it mature quickly enough? Would it get mainstream browser support soon enough? Would the W3C standard be ratified before 2020? These types of issues are addressed well in Dan Rowinski’s article “HTML5: Don’t believe the Hype Cycle” – with thanks to Mico Yuk (@Micoyuk) for the link.
However, there is one concern which lingers … will HTML5 be able to render dashboards with enough performance to make them usable for the type of BI Applications which have become the typical output of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (for more on BI Apps see here, here, here and here)?
My initial feeling was that it would be some time before HTML5 would be able to cope with the more complex dashboards created by SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards. However, I have recently seem something which suggests that this will happen faster than I thought.
XWIS HTML5 PROTOTYPE – BETTER THAN FLASH PERFORMANCE
As many people reading this post will know, we at Antivia produce an extension for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards called XWIS Advantage which solves key issues that SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards designers face when creating BI Apps (coping with large data volumes, enabling drill-down, slice and dice, offline access etc). To prepare for the new version of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards we have been doing some HTML5 prototyping with an XWIS dashboard based on a 10,000 row WebI report with drill down over 3 hierarchies and the results are, quite frankly, remarkable.
Although we cannot yet plug these prototype components into the HTML 5 version of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (SAP are still working on the SDK) we have pulled them to together using a standard HTML5 development environment to simulate the final output and compared it to equivalent Flash-based dashboards produced using the current version of XWIS and SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and initial tests are amazingly showing better-than-Flashperformance on both the desktop and on the iPad.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SAP BUSINESSOBJECTS DASHBOARDS?
This is the first time I have seen anything in HTML5 delivering the type of sophisticated dashboard which users seem to crave and for our customers it is a concrete indication that we will be able to allow them to take their XWIS dashboards into the new HTML5 SAP Dashboards world.
For SAP Dashboards itself this also provides the best indication I have seen to date that HTML5 is going to be a suitable technology for delivering dashboards into the future. I have not yet seen a complex model exported from a preview release of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards SP5 (for the moment SAP are keeping that under wraps, unless they have been showing it at the bootcamps), so I cannot say for sure that the same remarkable performance is true of models based around complex Excel formulas, but given our results I would expect it to work well.
I really hope it does, despite the fact that the performance of Excel formulas is not that relevant for XWIS (one of the key features of XWIS is that it removes the need for such formula complexity), it is vital to the future of SAP Dashboards itself and as I said in my previous post I would love to see the new HTML5 capabilities breathe new life into what is one of the true software innovations of the last 15 years.
SEE FOR YOURSELF AT THE ASUG SAP BUSINESSOBJECTS USER CONFERENCE
If you would like to see the results of our prototyping for yourself, we are planning to demonstrate them at the upcoming ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference in Orlando – 10th – 13th September. If you are at the exhibition, come to one of our sessions (see below for details) or visit us on our stand (#305) to witness what is possible, first hand. If you are not able to make the show, we will post a few videos on-line in the next couple of weeks (UPDATE: The video of the demo is now posted here).
When you see the XWIS HTML5 prototypes they should dispel any lingering doubts about HTML5 as a delivery mechanism for dashboards, reinforce the viability of the new path SAP is taking for dashboards and, once again, demonstrate the innovation of XWIS made possible through the SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards SDK.
Antivia Sessions at SBOUC (click the titles for more details):