Is Design Studio Prime time ready? :
Design Studio has been GA for more than a year now and has gone thru significant functionality enhancements since the first beta release in late 2012. DS 1.3 was released at the end of May 2014 and has major feature enhancements which make it a serious contender for any Dashboard project you have coming up. Design Studio, with the current release, provides the ability to create great looking dashboards which can be consumed from both desktops and mobile devices.
Design Studio definitely has shortcomings, and whether you can use Design Studio for your project will depend on the specific features you are looking for and also the data sources you are planning to use.
In this blog we will look at the current state of Design Studio (strength, limitations and also some frequently asked questions from customer who are considering Design Studio).
What are the strengths and limitations with the current release of DS 1.3?
- Tight Integration with SAP BW and SAP HANA datasources and the ability to leverage the native datasource functionality for variable handling, filtering, drilldown etc.
- Mobility: You can easily create Design Studio dashboards which can be accessed from your mobile devices. SAP also provides templates which can be used as a starting point for the dashboards, then can be deployed on mobile devices.
- HTML5 Support: HTML5 allows developers to create state of the art UI, leveraging some of the latest functionality available for standard web development.
- Ability to create Planning applications: With the release of Unified BPC, this becomes more relevant for customers who are using BPC and SAP BW-IP.
- Flexible deployment options: Design Studio provides various options for deploying the application (BOBJ BI Platform, SAP HANA and SAP BW/BI JAVA)
- SAP has been providing FIORI based templates which can be used as a great starting point for application design.
- Integration with Lumira (future roadmap)
- Alignment with SAP’s roadmap for Dashboard Design.
- Lack of advanced visualization and customization capabilities:
1. Fewer Chart Types
2. Less control over chart properties at design time and runtime
3. Lack of lasso charts
4. Inability to use themes
- Lack of Out of the box Geo visualization:* (this is planned to be addressed in the next couple of releases). More clarity on the solution details will be helpful, whether this will be based on a 3rd party provider (ESRI, Navteq etc.) where the customer needs to buy additional licenses etc.
- Performance with multiple datasources: Design Studio processes each datasource defined in an application sequentially, and this seems like a major drawback from an application performance standpoint. There are different options to do background processing of datasources to optimize the performance.
- Lack of local calculation: Ability to do calculations at the data source level.
- Lack of seamless integration with other BOBJ BI tools. It will be great to see BW RRI type functionality to integrate various BOBJ tools without having to use custom OpenDoc URLs to pass parameters.
- Limited support for Universe based data sources:
1. Multisource Universe support
- Lack of more data source support.
1. Local Data: This was a great feature in Dashboard Designer where the developer could use local data from a local Excel file to create a rapid prototype. This helps in an agile development environment.
2. Web Service data source
- Lack of ability to schedule in the background and broadcast. *
- Lack of Advanced analysis capabilities*: This is feature lot of BW/BEx Web customers have been waiting for migrating some of the existing BEx Web scenarios.
- SDK Limitations:
1. 10,000 cell limitation
2. Lack of true hierarchy support
3. Ability to manipulate datasources in SDK. Example: It could be used for what-if analysis.
*In the list features available in Design Studio roadmap
See below a comparison of some of the core features between Design Studio and Dashboard Designer
How is Design Studio Performance?: The answer here is “it depends” on various factors:
a. Design Studio Application Design
b. Datasource query design/performance
c. BI Platform performance (or the Platform which you are using for Design Studio deployment)
d. The Version of Design Studio – There have been several performance enhancements available with the latest Design Studio releases.
Please note that Design Studio executes each Data Source defined in the application sequentially, and the performance of the Dashboards depends on the number of data sources defined in the application.
There are also several blogs and OSS notes on this topic available on SCN.
How easy is it to learn Design Studio?
Overall, Design Studio is a great tool with a lot of potential for creating Powerful BI Applications. It is still not at a point where you can cover all the use cases supported in Dashboard Designer/Xcelcius and Web App Designer (WAD). With the enhancements in the current release, we can see SAP’s commitment towards closing these gaps in Design Studio. I am really looking forward to the future releases where we can see the gap becoming narrower and also a tighter integration with Lumira.