Very kindly one of Santa’s little helpers gave me a copy of “Mastering SAP Design Studio” by Ingo Hilgefort just before Christmas which encouraged me to use a few of the quiet days over the Christmas break to get started with Design Studio and specifically the Universe connectivity.
My personal SAP background is that of someone who has come from the Business Objects perspective specifically focusing on the front end user applications. I don’t consider myself deeply technical and most definitely leave Production BI4 server installs and configuration to my Technical Architecture team and my level of SQL knowledge is let’s say 2 out of 5. So I thought maybe I personally could be a test case to see where I could recommend design studio fitting into Itelligence UK customers BI Strategies and what technical level of developer is needed to create applications.
Open up the client install of SAP Design Studio, and connect to a BI4.x landscape
Create a new blank application
Next add a new Data Source and select your objects.
It’s great to see a fully featured query panel here unlike the cut down version in SAP Dashboards (Xcelsius)
After clicking OK, as O have a prompt on YEAR the following popups will appear.
Don’t worry here as I did the first time, the OK button stays greyed out even after selecting a prompt value, you need to click BACK on the top left before the OK becomes available.
Let the “Drag and Drop” layout design begin
After dropping the CROSSTAB component on the canvas is appears only to show the Measures you have selected in the Query Panel. You need to right click on the data source and edit the initial view an add in the columns you want visible.
Now to add a chart
Initially this chart doesn’t look great as what I really want is just Country, Resort and Revenue. Easy you’d think?
Firstly select the chart component and in the properties pane on the left find the DATA SELECTION field under DATA BINDING.
You will now go through the workflow of selecting multiple rows or columns from the result set. But, as I have a prompt in my query I get prompted again for the value, which forces a query refresh. Not too troublesome in this example but what if the query takes many minutes to refresh?
I personally find this window not yet optimised for a UNX data source, I just can’t get it to select the 3 columns I want. All you can do is select individual rows, maybe I’m missing something, any suggestions ?
The only way I got my desired results was to add a second data source, select the 3 columns I need and bind the chart component to this new data source with a reduced number of columns. I then set the data series to my companies corporate colour scheme in the additional Properties pane, some nice formatting options in there.
The next logical thing was to want to build a component to activate the prompt and select a different year. This is where I had to do some trial and error development. More errors then success I’m afraid !
I tried a few different ways and I still don’t have really what I want yet, but this give me an excuse to write a follow on blog.
If you just execute the Design Studio application locally using the toolbar button you are prompted for the prompt value. Nice and easy, but I don’t want to have to exit and re-enter the application just to change them prompts.
So the next easiest way I found was to drag onto the canvas the Filter Panel. A great multifunctional component which I’d love to see in SAP Dashboards (Xcelsius). This filter component allows the end user during run time the ability to apply many different selection criteria. Sadly the Filter Panel appears to bind to only one Data Source so in my scenario the crosstab table will have the data restricted based on the users selection but alas not the chart.
Additionally when I try to change my selection on YEAR which is my prompted object the List of Values is empty. There must be a good reason for this in the application but alas this solution doesn’t give me what I want.
I think this is where I will have to seek a solution using different components and Java code. This I will have to research further and share my findings in a second part to this blog.
If any of my steps are incorrect or I have missed something in the workflow please comment below so we can all learn from shared best practice.
Some Ideas for quick wins:
- Until there is parity of functionality in the use of components between BEx and a Universe as a data source could SAP clearly identify the data source in all learning materials to stop you trying to something new only to realise yourself it will not work with your particular data-source, a Universe for example.
- Some example Design Studio applications over eFashion or Island Resorts would be great to show the art of the possible inside working examples
My personal conclusions so far:
- Design Studio is the first reporting tool I have used since Crystal Reports where I have needed to read a manual not just for the harder bits but even to get started with the tool, I think maybe there is a similarity in the user persona in both of them. I would go so far as to suggest that authoring content in both Design Studio and Crystal Reports should be delivered by traditional BI technical developer sitting within a BI team or BICC and any Design Studio Applications are build as part of a structured project delivery. I don’t see Design Studio application authoring being widely adopted by the mythical “Self Service End User”
- It still feels you would get the most out of Design Studio if you are using SAP BW and particularly BEx Queries or SAP BusinessObjects Analysis edition for Microsoft Office as a data source at this time. I hoping this will change in the futire in line with the Dashboard Statement Of Direction