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Author's profile photo Donald Maccormick

DesignStudio as a Replacement for SAP Dashboards/Xcelsius

As you plan your move away from Xcelsius/SAP Dashboards (which if you are not already doing you really ought to get started) then I would recommend listening to a recent episode of the Diversified Semantic Layer Podcast* entitled “Is DesignStudio the Dashboard Slayer

The question up for discussion was whether DesignStudio is a suitable replacement for Xcelsius / SAP Dashboards. Key quotes were :-

  • “If [in DesignStudio] you want more than a single chart pointing at a single data source that doesn’t need to refresh or have any interaction … you need to write some sort of code”
  • “If you are a traditional Xcelsius developer I don’t know how you would get started with that”
  • “If you are a BX or BEx shop it makes a lot of sense to use DS, if you are not, good ******* luck for the time being”
  • “turning all your Xcelsius developers into Design Studio developers; that is not going to happen for most customers”

So for non-BW users that sounds like a resounding “no”.

So where should non-BW users turn ?

Well Lumira was quickly ruled out :-

  • “Lumira is not meant to build real applications, I can’t control where filters are applied, can’t have more than one data set show up in one storyboard I can’t have lots of things like that. How many dashboards only live on a single granularity of a dataset.”

Which finally left WebI as what sounded to me like the least bad option !!!

I have to say this frustrated me rather because all the key requirements that the team discussed :-

  1. Xcelsius like visuals
  2. Creating app-like BI
  3. Delivery to iPad
  4. Handling of larger data volumes
  5. Ability to drill and filter data
  6. All without having to write code
  7. Connectivity to the BOBJ data platform

are exactly what our DecisionPoint tool delivers, whilst still preserving the investment already made in the SAP BOBJ Platform.

It really is a compelling answer to the need to find a replacement for Xcelsius / SAP Dashboards. And this is a pressing problem, as one of the team on the podcast said :-

  • “Xcelsius needs to die – we need to build things which go on iPads – Xcelsius solution for that is terrible at best, we need to leave Flash behind”

Unfortunately, one other option is to move away from the BOBJ platform altogether and go with a competitive solution, but that will undo years of investment, hard work and value.

If you are interested, it would take less than 30 minutes to see why DecisionPoint is the natural successor to Xcelsius / SAP Dashboards which retains all the investment you have already made in the BOBJ platform. I would personally be happy to give you a demo of what it can do. The most you have to lose is half an hour, the most you have to gain is a path forward for what is possibly the most critical style of BI we need to deliver to drive our organizations forward.

To request a demo go to DecisionPoint™ – Demo.

Or to find out more about why Lumira in particular is not a good replacement for Xcelsius / SAP Dashboard register for the Webinar Why SAP_Lumira Is Not A Natural Successor To SAP Dashboards/Xcelsius


*The DSL podcast is a regular series of discussions on topics related to SAP Business Objects led by Eric Vallo from EV Technologies ( If you are involved with any of the SAP BusinesObjects technologies, then I would highly recommend subscribing to it for a real world, low down on what is happening in that world.

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      Author's profile photo Mustafa Bensan
      Mustafa Bensan

      Hi Donald,

      The DSL podcast you mention certainly raised some valid and important points.  For those that are interested in a detailed review, I posted a writeup in the blog Design Studio Innovation Series - Topic   2: Takeaways from DSLayer Podcast "Into 2015 - Is Design Studio the Dashboard Slayer?".

      When evaluating Design Studio as a replacement for Dashboards (Xcelsius), I think there are 3 important factors to consider:

      1)  Component Parity

      While Design Studio is still not at parity with Dashboards, it has come a long way since the first release.  Design Studio 1.5 has improved the situation with the addition of new standard components and features, with the Geo Map being a standout.  The standard components are complemented by add-ons from the SCN Design Studio SDK Development Community and SAP Partners as included in the List of Design Studio SDK Components;

      2)  Data Source Connectivity

      As pointed out in the DSL podcast, data source connectivity support for non-BW / HANA users, i.e. BusinessObjects Universe users is still quite limited.  Specifically, the important ones that come to mind are:

      (a)  Data result sets limited to 5,000 rows or 50,000 cells;

      (b)  Lack of support for certain data source manipulation functions such as reloading data sources and cascading filter capability;

      As I understand it, both of the issues above are being reviewed by SAP.  Additionally, one important feature on the Design Studio Roadmap is support for WebI reports as a data source, which hopefully will have the same benefits of using BI Services in Dashboards (Xcelsius) as described in Xcelsius and Business Intelligence Web Services (BIWS);

      3)  Need for Coding

      I think the holy grail for Dashboards (Xcelsius) is the use of the Excel spreadsheet as a "programming" layer for calculations, interactivity and what-if scenarios.  This feature certainly opened up dashboard creation to a very broad audience.  Admittedly, even today Design Studio, in my opinion is certainly more of a developer tool with a heavy reliance on both scripting and CSS coding.  The situation has improved in Design Studio 1.5 with the new data binding feature as described in Getting to know 1.5 : Data Binding - A feature that deserves a lot of attention, which reduces the need for scripting (although not eliminating it completely). 

      There are certainly further improvements that could be made in this regard.  One I'd like to see is less reliance on heavy duty CSS coding via the introduction of a user-friendly style editor.  The Roadmap also shows local calculation capability which may also reduce the need for coding further.

      So all that being said, in the end I think it's important to consider the right tool for the job.  In this respect, particularly for non-BW/HANA shops it makes sense to also evaluate other dashboard tools which integrate with the SAP BI Platform, such as DecisionPoint, even if just for comparison to Design Studio and then decide on one or more of the following options depending on the BI technology landscape and business requirements:

      1)  Continue to use Dashboards (Xcelsius) to maintain legacy dashboards;

      2)  Gradually move to Design Studio for new dashboard development;

      3)  Continue with Dashboards (Xcelsius) for some new dashboard development in cases where Design Studio does not meet requirements;

      4)  Consider adopting an alternative, 3rd-party dashboard solution if it appears that the pace of innovation in Design Studio is not likely to meet high priority requirements in the necessary time frame.



      Author's profile photo Donald Maccormick
      Donald Maccormick
      Blog Post Author


      Thanks for the comments and details. I think you hit the nail on the head, for traditional Xcelsius / SAP Dashboards users (who are typically not using BW or BEx), then looking at third party tools which integrate with the SAP BI Platform is a good first step to understanding your options.

      As I said in my post, I would be happy to demonstrate to anyone in this position how we do this with DecisionPoint, even if you don't end up using our software, I suspect it will be a valuable 30 mins in terms of the current state of the dashboards landscape and the options available.


      Author's profile photo Amr Salem
      Amr Salem

      What could be the issue if SAP has made Xcelsius Publish the dashboards as HTML5 for both Launchpad and iPad (Mobile) Devices, and still invested in more components in Xcelsius rather than coming up with a new tool (Design Studio).

      I dont believe Design Studio will replace the Dashboard Designer (Xcelsius) anytime soon, it will take so much of time.

      Author's profile photo Donald Maccormick
      Donald Maccormick
      Blog Post Author

      I think the dependency of Xcelsius on Flash (which is pretty hard wired into the designer) was a key consideration to not proceed with it.

      Whatever the reason, it is pretty clear that there will be no more functionality updates for Xcelsius / SAP Dashboards, so everyone using it needs to make some alternative plans.