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Author's profile photo Donald Maccormick

The final (HTML5) dashboarding lesson from the BBC Weather site

sunny xcelsius HTML5.pngThis is the third of three posts about the future of dashboards inspired by the BBC weather site. The previous 2 posts can be found here and here.

The final observation I am going to make about the BBC Weather site is that it is written in HTML and JavaScript. The reason this is important is that there is currently a lot of debate about whether HTML5* or native development tools are best for delivering to mobile devices. The fact that the BBC weather site is (as explained in the previous posts) an “interactive”, “big-data” dashboard, and is written in HTML/JavaScript seems to suggest that this is a technology that is suitable for mobile dashboard delivery.

As you would expect with all new technology debates there are strong opinions on both sides. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg recently said “The biggest mistake we made …  was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native” which was then rebutted by Brightcove CEO (and one time Macromedia CTO), Jeremy Allaire who said, “Mark Zuckerberg was dead wrong, and it was shameful for him to throw HTML5 under the bus because Facebook had an outdated and poorly written hybrid app”.

This matters all the more for those of us interested in SAP products because SAP has nailed its dashboard flag firmly to the HTML5 mast. The most recent part of this strategy was the release of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards SP5 which introduced an “export to mobile” capability which is based on HTML5.

For what it is worth, I am very much with SAP. To me, HTML5 seems an almost perfect delivery mechanism for dashboards. I was initially sceptical that it would be up to the job, but there is now pretty much overwhelming evidence that it is.

SAP has done a great job with its HTML5 export in Dashboards SP5 and as you can see from this video of some of the early work** we have done with SAP to embed the capabilities of our XWIS Advantage product into this new world, the results speak for themselves; a completely interactive dashboard, with intuitive navigation around a 10,000 row data set, with better performance on an iPad than the equivalent dashboard running in Flash on the desktop. Proving beyond reasonable doubt that HTML5 is up to the job of rendering dashboards.

But the real value of HTML5 (at least compared with native development) is that it is cross-platform. This is particularly true of mobile devices where support for newer features of HTML is strong, but it is also true on the desktop where most browsers (with the exception of IE8 and before) acquit themselves well. With the use of personal mobile devices in organisations growing all the time (BYOD), being able to cater for cross-platform delivery of BI in general and dashboards in particular is vital, and HTML5 fits the bill nicely.

To explore this topic in more detail, join me for a Webinar on the 13th December, where I will discuss the (HTML5) future of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (and XWIS). Judging by the level of registrations for this Webinar (it’s already our most popular webinar ever, by some margin), it seems there is a huge appetite to learn more about this subject and hopefully hear how HTML5 will breathe a new lease of life into SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards / Xcelsius.

*Whilst it is not really correct to say HTML + JavaScript = HTML5, it does seem to have become commonplace so I have used the two interchangeably for convenience in this post. For those who are worried about the difference, just read “HTML + JavaScript” wherever you see HTML5 in the post.

** Whilst the mobile export in SP5 is generally available, the SDK required to embed third-party components did not make the first release, the capability shown in the video above is work we did with a proof of concept version of the SDK which SAP are refining for release in the next version of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards.

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