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For those of you who have been around in the SAP BusinessObjects ecosystem long enough, you may remember an awesome labs feature for Webi called Extension Points. Now it is back in a slightly different form as an officially supported Extension Points SDK. I have been fantasizing about integrating our location intelligence solution into Web Intelligence for years so Evan Delodder (wrote the book on SAP Dashboards SDK) and I dove in head first to give Extension Points a shot. The goal was to integrate SAP Dashboards and CMaps Analytics, which uncovered Extension Points as a hidden jewel inside of the BI4.1 platform!

Untitled-12.jpgWhat is Extension Points?

Extension Points is a brand new SDK that allows developers to create and inject custom visual controls via HTML/Javascript and even custom Functions for processing data. Extension points SDK comes with basic documentation and a sample project. Though it was first supported with BI4.1 SP02 newer versions add more APIs and hooks to accomplish new experiences not possible before with Webi.

What do you need to get started with Extension Points?

Approaching Extension Points is similar to any SAP BusinessObjects SDK project. First and fore most, you need patience. There is not a development community, massive forum with lots of developers, or library of existing examples to work from. The test cycles are fairly slow but the upside and potential once you get through your first extension is well worth the effort. Extension Points is a development SDK, so you need a Javascript developer to bind exposed functions through the SDK to your desired features.

What is possible?

Armed with the right resources, the results can be extremely rewarding for your business users. Extension Points treats a panel as a empty shell, where you can code just about anything you can imagine. This level of control and flexibility is exactly what you want from an SDK. While our initial goals to utilize a narrow span of functionality, we found that with Extension Points SDK you can:

  • Embed new input controls
  • Consume data from Webi report parts into new embedded tools
  • Change the structure and layout of your report document
  • Create new visualizations
  • Integrate third party tools and applications
  • Dynamically control various report behaviors

What did we accomplish?

Rather than re-building 150 input properties for our CMaps Analytics tool in Webi, we wanted to use SAP Dashboards as our initial vehicle for delivering maps to Webi. However the end result needed to look and feel as seamless as possible for end user. In short, we built the beginnings of a deeply integrated bridge between SAP Dashboards and Webi. Currently our CMaps Analytics Extension Point consumes data from a single WebI report part, and then refresh itself as you drill or filter. With a solid foundation in place, we are onto exposing prompts, filters, and refined workflows to create an integrated experience that customers have always asked for.

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I am happy to take your feedback or questions as you approach Extension Points, and will certainly report tricks and tips as we move forward.

ryan@centigonsolutions.com.

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3 Comments

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  1. Romaric SOKHAN

    Good intro in BI4.1 Extension Points! We’ll be submitting a d-code session with the dev mate who delivered this feature, hope it’ll get some interest by then. Thanks for blogging on this!

    Romaric

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    1. Ryan Goodman Post author

      Please excuse the delay in me replying to you. Did you get your session accepted for d-code? Let me know, as I am more than happy to share some of the lessons learned. Have gotten much further with the SDK, and it is way better with SP04. Now we actually provide our extension for free with a CMaps Analytics subscription:

      http://cmapsanalytics.com/webi.html

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  2. Ryan Goodman Post author

    So, a year later and a lot of lessons learned, we are rolling out the next iteration of our extension which uses our Google Maps based maps API and a complete blown data binding property sheet.

    I know that Evan Delodder is working on an article to explain some new best practices learned along the way shortly.. I will link to it.

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