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Making A Mobile HTML5 Dashboard: Follow-Up Q&A

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In my previous post, I showed a dashboard that I created with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, exported to HTML5, and viewed through SAP BusinessObjects Mobile. I thought I’d do a follow-up in Q&A format (none of these questions were asked by real people, but please feel free to ask your own questions in the comment section below!).

Before reading, if you haven’t already done so, you should take a look at the post by Tammy Powlas, Mobilizing Your Dashboards: ASUG Webcast, which answers a lot of the product-related questions you may have.

How hard was it to create the dashboard for HTML5? It was pretty much the same as creating any other dashboard – the main differences were:

  • I started with the right size for an iPad screen, 1024×768
  • I checked that the components/parameters I was using were supported for HTML5 (new settings let you limit the list to only the supported components when creating a dashboard, and check the compatibility of existing dashboards)
  • I chose guaranteed-iOS compatible fonts (Arial, etc. – otherwise, the embedded browser will try to use the best font it can, but spacing might be off)
  • I used the mobile viewer option to see how it would look on an iPad
  • I exported to the server to be able to open view the dashboard using the SAP BusinessObjects mobile application on the iPad (the final result looked and worked just like the preview, except for some tiny differences in spacing)

The only other issue I had was aligning the right versions of full-client designer, server, and mobile client, since they’re all in beta.  My overall reaction was pleasant surprise – the new version did pretty much exactly what I wanted it to do: let me leverage my existing Dashboard skills, but for a mobile device.

What components aren’t yet available that you would have wanted? This was a pretty straightforward dashboard, and with only static data, so I had everything I needed – the development team have clearly started with the most commonly-used components.

One thing I did run into was that not all the parameters are supported in the components you can use. I didn’t care about most of these (e.g. you can’t control the color of scroll bars on text fields), but there was one I found limiting:  you can’t currently have data value labels appear on bar/line charts (they are available with a mouse over – i.e. when you touch the chart with your finger).

Since I didn’t want to always have to click on the charts, I added a few “text label’ components to show some of the key values on the charts as a workaround, (it’s not too bad – if I update the data, the values of the labels will update, too, but the spacing might not be correct).

It is also worth noting that you get some features in the mobile version that aren’t available in Flash – for example you can use a “pinch” gesture to zoom into a chart, then swipe to see different sections of that chart.  You can see SAP’s Matt Lloyd demonstrate that feature and more in his Mobile Minute video.

Did you do anything else differently? To maximize the available space, and make the dashboard as clear as possible, I turned off as many of the chart component defaults as I could (backgrounds, axes, lines, labels, legends, etc.) – but this is pretty much also best practice for non-mobile dashboards, too.

After initial testing, I made all the buttons bigger (and so ditched the default buttons), and I added invisible buttons on the lower left and right-hand corners, to be able to page through the different screens with my thumbs…

Ideally, I also would have liked to be able to use some tablet-specific gestures to control the dashboard – for example, to be able to swipe to move from one “page” to another – maybe in a future version?

What was the beta quality like? Pretty solid — there were some minor screen refresh issues, and a couple of times it somehow substituted the local file name with the DOS filename, or the name I wanted it to appear under on the server. I had one crash — but my computer is cranky anyway, so I can’t really tell if the beta was the cause.. The first version I tested had some old, unused components from a previous project in the background, and I got a memory error on the iPad, but that went away once I’d deleted them.

Did you think about using Design Studio instead? I have been playing around with Design Studio (formerly known as project Zen) and at some point I’d like to write up what I see as the differences. But for this project, I only had spreadsheet data, and Design Studio currently only connects to BW/HANA, so it wouldn’t have been an option.

You used pie charts – what’s wrong with you? Haven’t you ever read [insert viz guru]?! If we’re going to get confrontational, I should start by saying that I’m pretty sure that my library of visualization books is bigger than yours.. 🙂

I did it deliberately (and the completely unnecessary cover art, and the quotes), to annoy the Few people who get really upset about that (and because I’m not trying to run my business with this dashboard!). I’m a big fan of good visualization, but I can’t stand the dogma and polemicists that seem to abound in this area.

Can you view/extend the HTML5? No — you can only access the resulting HTML5 dashboard using the SAP BusinessObjects Mobile client, and there’s no way to see (or tweak/manipulate) any of the actual code generated.

How does it compare to other mobile analytics solutions? I can’t really speak to the solutions from other BI companies, but if you’re looking to leverage your SAP BusinessObjects solutions, then the new version of Dashboards looks like a great choice.  You can also take a look at SAP partners like Antivia, Exxova, Cleartelligence and independent vendors like RoamBI, who have complementary mobile analytic products. SAP intends to work with partners to extend today’s Dashboards extensions to the HTML5 world as appropriate.

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  • Timo,

    Thank you for mentioning Cleartelligence’s HTML5 dashboarding solution!

    I’m also very excited about the new mobile capabilities for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards.  This is a fantastic tool for rapid deployment and I’m sure that customers will be thrilled with the results.


  • Hello Timo,

    Finally will get our dashboards working for iPad 🙂

    but very disappointing that the SDK not supported, i hope it wont take much of time till we have it supported for the Mobile dashboards.

    will it be GA with BI4 SP5? i think its scheduled November, right?


    • Yes, sometime in 4Q, based on the normal criteria… not sure when SDK support will be, but it’s something that is considered a high priority, so fingers crossed…

      • Timo, it seems judging from the generated JS code (yes, I’ve been poking around in the temp dir…), that there are a few code injection spots that SAP is already thinking about exposing for customers/SDKers.  I’m hoping that they follow through with this promise.

    • Hi Amr,

      I can confirm that the SDK is our first priority after getting this initial SP5 release out so you can get your dashboards on the iPad.

      The BI4 SP5 will be GA in Q4 but not necessarily November. Once I get confirmation of a date, I will make sure word gets out.

  • Hi Timo

    Great post.

    Have you been able to connect to a unx universe using query browser and successfully preview in Mobile – fit to screen / original size  mode?

    I am facing this error everytime I preview in mobile mode

    ‘Could not retrieve information from the server. JSON response contained an error.’

    I am hearing the same problem from others too.

    Are you aware of this?



    • Hi Runali,

      This issue has been fixed in September and the query based on unx universe should be worked in Dashboard HTML5 solution now. Did you use an internal build before September? Could you clarify which builds (both Dashboard designer and BI Platform) are you using? Maybe I can take a look at it.


      • Hi Tammy

        Thanks for replying. I have the latest Dashboard designer. I am suspecting it is the BI platform which is older than SP5.  However, in service marketplace I don’t see any version later thna SBOP BI PLATFORM 4.0 SP04


  • Hello

    It is mentioned that HTML5 based dashboards can be access through SAP Business objects mobile client only. As per my understanding, SAP BO mobile client is available only for iPad/iPhones. Please correct me if my understanding is not correct.

    As per my requirements, I want to customize the dashboards using its SDK i.e. I will develop custom components and plug those into dashboard designer. Then I want to show these customized dashboards on different devices having different OS like Android, iOS. I am therefore looking to have HTML5 complaint dashboards which can be launched from HTML5 complaint browsers on any device. Please let me know how much feasible this approach is with Dashboards4.0 or SAP Strategy Manager 10.0.

    Any help will be highly appreciated!


    • Hi Bhavuk,

      Yes you are correct that today Dashboards can be accessed only through the SAP BusinessObjects mobile client and therefore iPad only. It is intended to expand to Android and Win8 but this is not something that can be guaranteed as it is into the future. But it is the first priority of the team to enhance the mobile offering for Dashboards.



      • Hi Anita

        Thanks for your response.

        Is it possible to build custom HTML5 based component and plug them in Dashboards 2011 (SP5)?

        Will those dashboards (having custom components) be visible on Mobile devices using SAP BO mobile client? If yes, then please let me know the process for making it possible.

        In above posts, it is mentioned that there is no SDK available. Does it mean above things are not possible for both mobile as well as desktop in latest release?

        Please clarify.


        • Hi Bhavuk,

          Sorry for the delay, I was out of office. It is not possible to build in SP5 but it is our intent to release an SDK for 4.1 which should be coming in Q2. By the way I can also now tell you that we should have Android support in 4.1 release as well (of course being the future I have to add that things could of course change). So you will have a lot more options shortly. I hope that answers your questions.



  • Hi Timo,

    It’s certainly geat to have dashboard available in HTML5. However, for the current version, it only supports connectivity through Query Browser. Is there any plan to expand the connectivities we have on “Data Connection”?


  • Hi Timo

    Is there any plan to add Map component available for mobile dashboards?

    Is there any good documentation on the caching server? What is the exact of process of caching, If there is a way pre-define in cache etc.



  • Hi,

    I am getting started here. What is the iphone/ipad docTypes setting to apply for Dashboards? The regular default is Webi,CrystalReport. Do we need to add anything for Xcelsius (Dashboard Designer html5 content)?

    Thanks in advance!


    • Hi Phil

      In BI 4.0 SP5 you dont need to modify the file. The installation itself takes care of the dashboards.

      Once you are done building the xlf, save to platform as Mobile Only or Both options in any any folder. The iPad app “SAP BI” (4.4) needs to be configured to access the BI server and once thats done it will read the file and display the html5 dashboard.

      Let me know if you need any further details.