There seems to be a lot of talk recently around the user experience and usability across SAP suite of software products.  There is even a site dedicated to this topic…

https://experience.sap.com/

The focus seems to be on providing tools to make the end user’s experience with dashboards, reports, mobile apps, etc. more intuitive and friendly.  A post titled Making Good on the UX Promise lists all sort of new things such as tools, processes and personas to make this happen.

That is all well and good, but how about applying some of innovation and resources to make the tools we BI administrators, universe designers, report designers, etc. use all the time?  Rather than creating some new tool that does something amazing how about fixing a tool like Promotion Management to be minimally functional?  What’s wrong with it you ask?  There is so much wrong with it is hard to quantify.  Here are a few items…

  • When trying to add objects to be promoted there is no hourglass or indication that it is working while trying to navigate folders.  Same thing when sorting.  Ideally, navigation would be near instantaneous so an hourglass would not be necessary.
  • After scheduling a job the Status will be updated from “Running” to “Success”, but the last run date and time won’t get updated for another few seconds.
  • Nearly every other screen in the Central Management Console the refresh button is near the upper right corner.  Within Promotion Management the refresh button is near the upper left corner.
  • It can be very slow.  Promoting 15 reports from one environment to another took me about 45 minutes last week and most of that time (75%) was just adding the objects.

Certainly none of these are major items.  It would be frivolous and fruitless to open a support ticket about not getting an hourglass while waiting for a process.  However, collectively these items (among others) make for a tool this is severely lacking in usability which doesn’t inspire confidence in me.  I know that Promotion Management is not a tool that is going to be included in a salesperson slide deck for their next sales call, but that is no excuse for abandoning good design and usability principles.

Anyone else experiencing frustrations with Promotion Manager?  Don’t tell me to upgrade to the latest service pack & patch and maybe it will be better.  We just updated to 4.1 SP01 Patch 2 ten days ago and these issues persist.

Thanks,

Noel Scheaffer

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5 Comments

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  1. Berend Kwant

    My big issue with promotion management is the following scenario: I just developed a new Universe and have made several checkins in Version Management. I’m now on version 12 and everyone agrees, this is the one for production. Then I use promotion management to bring the UNV to my production environment and now I have no way of seeing this ‘version 12’ indicator in production. As far as Version management in Production is concerned, it is now version 1.

    Now if I continue developing in the Dev environment (version 18, 19, 20) there is no way I can spot that when I promoted the universe to Prod, it was once version 12.

    So please, SAP, make it visible for me to spot the version between environments.

    Long winded reply, and it’s really about Version Management – but it’s part of the LCM offering.

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  2. Alastair Gulland

    It depresses me that SAP/BusObj insist on going it alone and writing their own version management tools rather than just make use of any of the mainstream tools available. I don’t quite a bit of development in Java + Eclipse and version management  / team development is so much easier and you can use any number of version control tool – sourceforge, Git, Mercurial. My heart sinks when I come back to a BusinessObjects project and have to struggle through team development and version control.

    Same applies to SAP Data Services – it also uses it’s home made version control tool.

    I can understand the difficulty – both SDS and BusinessObjects are not purely file based and so integration with these tools is not readily available. I know the BusObj version control is a wrapper around subversion but I would have thought it would be a better architecture to move to a file based system and then they can fully exploit the existing version control tools rather than build wrappers that aren’t up to the job.

    Global development projects using a distributed version control and source code management tool such as Git? Maybe one day, hopefully

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  3. Brian Thomas

    Hi Noel,

    Although I cant really speak for the UI problems you’ve brought up, Promotion Manager can have some performance issues if the APS services are not configured properly for your environment.  Out of the box, a single APS service will contain 22+ subservices, including the LCM services.

    Have a look at this document, it may help:

    http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/50e5019f-bfdf-2f10-2188-c40ede52c183?overridelayout=t…

    (Section 6.4)

    As well as Kai’s blog on Performance enhancements for (LCM):

    Promotion Management (LCM): BI 4.1 SP2 has lots of performance improvements

    Also, Not sure about Git, but Promotion manager already does integrate with existing Version Management systems (like Subversion / CTS+ )

    -Brian

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    1. Lee Lewis

      Hi all.

      Noel, thanks for your post. I agree that promotion manager is a pile of junk.  It cannot process more than a dozen objects without endless hour glassing. Forget trying to use it to make a system copy.

      This is on BI 4.o SP7 and BI 4.1 SP3 is no better whatsoever.  And as for APS tuning, the 4.1 tuning wizard was supposed to address APS tuning based on the selected components and number of users… but it doesn’t do anything for promotion manager.

      If there it another way to transport objects through the landscape besides promotion manager, I am interested!

      Lee Lewis

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      1. Greg Wcislo

        Hi Lee.  I’m a little curious about your 4.1 SP3 experience.  In my quick test just now, I’ve added more than a dozen folders and the wait time was very low.  There have been some significant performance improvements with 4.1 SP3, but LCM is NOT a system copy tool.  This is where we keep running into disappointments, because the tool was never designed for system copy, only to promote specific objects to production as part of LCM.

        The system copy as per the administration guide is the correct way to do system copy.

        Because it is a web tool, it is still subject to session timeouts, so using the command line copy as outlined in Kai’s bog (referenced by Brian above) is the recommended approach.

        Using the command line interface, we have a 200x performance improvement comparing 4.0 to 4.1SP3.

        As an example, with 4.0 it took 11 hours to promote 1000 objects.

        With 4.1, we were able to import 200,000 objects in that same time.

        Of course the types of objects and complexity of dependencies may change that a little one way or another, but certainly a significant improvement.

        This sap note has some best practices  https://support.wdf.sap.corp/sap/support/notes/1969259

        And especially relevant if you do need to promote a larger number of objects, again keeping in mind that LCM was not designed s a system copy tool.

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