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We’re improving modeling in SAP Analytics Cloud!

Setting up a model can be a bit of a challenging task. We know you have questions about models, like:

“It’s easy for me to understand the structure of a story, or a dataset, but what’s the structure of a model?”

“I know that a model represents my data, but then why can’t I see the data in the model?”

Until now, you’ve had to imagine what the model structure looks like, and what the data contents are. The model consisted of a list of your dimensions, with the side panel giving you details about the model or a selected dimension:

In 2020.QRC3, we’re introducing two new views to help answer those questions. If you have a preview tenant, they’re already there, as of 2020.11!

 

Introducing the new Structure view

 

The Structure view is an easy to understand graphical view that shows you a star schema diagram representing the contents of your model. This view helps you to visualize how your fact data, attributes, and properties all relate to each other. Here’s an example:

At a glance, you can see the Data Foundation (fact data… more on that later), and the model’s dimensions surrounding the Data Foundation.

Here’s another example, showing part of a planning model’s structure:

Notice how the dimension box shows you more information based on the dimension type? For Version dimensions, it shows how many public versions there are, and whether there are any private versions. For Date dimensions, it shows the granularity and default hierarchy, and even whether the Fiscal Year setting has been applied:

If you’ve got a large model structure, the text in the schema diagram might be too small to read. Not a problem. You can change the magnification to zoom in to just the part you’re interested in. And when you’re zoomed in, you can drag the diagram around to look at other areas.

Or, if you want to see the big picture, use the “Fit to Window” icon to scale the whole schema diagram to fit in the Structure view.

If you want to add a new dimension or existing dimension to your model, you can do that from the toolbar as usual, but also right from the Structure view using these buttons:

If you want to see the contents of a dimension, just click this icon to switch to the grid display:

 

“You’ve mentioned the ‘Data Foundation’. What’s that?”

Glad you asked…

 

The new Data Foundation view

 

The Data Foundation view shows you the fact table containing the raw, unaggregated transactional data loaded into your model. Here’s an example:

You can filter and sort the data to see what kind of data there is in a dimension:

The Total Number of Results is the total number of rows of data, not including any filtering you’ve applied, across all versions:

In planning models, you can also switch between the different public versions of your data; for example, to see if data exists for a selected version:

 

Everything works together

 

The Structure and Data Foundation views work together with the dimension list and Details panel to give you a consistent picture of your data. For example, if you click a dimension in the schema diagram, the other views all focus on that dimension:

 

“Hey, these new views are great… But that’s a lot of info on the screen. I can’t see much of the Structure view, or the Data Foundation view either. I’m guessing you have a solution for that?”

We sure do…

 

A flexible, customizable layout

 

Yep, that’s a lot of info displayed on one screen. And imagine if you were looking at the previous image on a smartphone! Often, you’ll want to hide some of the Modeler’s panes, or resize them, to focus on the information you’re interested in. Luckily, that’s easy to do.

To switch the new views on and off, just click these toggle buttons:

Or to resize the panes, just drag or double-click the pane borders:

 

“Okay, but after I’ve customized the Modeler to look just the way I want it, will I have to set it up again next time?”

Don’t worry about losing those settings! We save your settings automatically, so that everything will look the same the next time you log on, or when you switch to another model.

 

Do these changes help you?

 

We hope these improvements help you understand your model better, make you happier, and make your kids clean their rooms. Give the new Modeler a try, and let us know what you think in the Comments!

 

19 Comments
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  • Hi Peter,

    nice overview.Looking forward to test it.

    Will there be also a ways to get hands on a Data Catalogue/Data Dictionary in SAC? Or an API to read which query, universe, table, view,.. is being used in which model/story?

    BR,

    Michael

    • I’m interested as well on accessing SAC’s data catalog/data dictionary/metadata.   Will this be something that can be pulled by “Data Intelligence”?

      Thanks.

      Regards

      Mel Calucin

    • Yes.  The Structure and Data Foundation views are the first part of a series of big improvements upcoming in SAC.  We’re currently planning a QRC4 update, which will allow you to use the planning style account based models, that SAC has always used, a traditional BI measure based model or mix the two.

  • Hi Peter

    To honest – nice overview, but a bit unnecessary. If this does not come with the possibility to rebuild the model – what do we need the overview for. We have to do the model all over as the current situation is. And now you just change the view in order to say something has changed – in my mind – nothing has changed

    Look at the IR site – I do not remember seeing anything about overview of a model, so is this something SAP invented out of the blue again. So please tell me with this new overview – we are able to rebuild the model and the individual data sources inside the model – without destroying the model altogether, and bringing the model back to its very start (who ever decided on some like that – makes no sense). On the IR site – we are all asking for a possibility to rebuild the model

    first rebuild  then overview (you have it in the wrong order)

    So a nice to have – pls show us the need to have in the future

    • Rebuild is being worked on.  The structure view is being introduced in QRC3 introduced for three reasons:

      1- It brings the SAC modeling user  experience in line with that of DWC, so that SAC users can easily pick up modeling in DWC and vice versa.

       

      2 – If all of your models are auto generated, from the wrangler (data-first, when you  create a model from a file or data source), then this might not be so useful.  If you are taking the track where you design your model and only then add data (structure-first), then this is useful.  Planners often do this and it makes the design of complex moddels easier.

       

      3 – These UI improvements were built as part of a larger overhaul of modeling.  They were already finished and work just fine on the classic, purely account based models, so there was no reason to hold them back.

  • Hello,

    we this is nice and all, but when can we except the functionality to add new dimension the model and not break all the existing data import jobs? Its impossible to maintain a single data model comping from multiple data sources, when each new improvement requires a complete rework of existing import jobs.

      • Current roadmap only goes until 2020 Q2 and also the current product plan doesn’t mention that.
        Where or when can customers find up-to-date roadmap items, and more info on these big overhauls?

        • We are often a bit coy about the roadmap, because internally, we only have concrete development plans about 4-5 months before a give QRC hits the customer tenants.  Before that, it’s only a rough idea of prioritization and subject to change.  That being said, the Q3 feature list will be available on May 25.

      • Hi David – To make sure that I understand.  Will you be able to modify a data model once it’s been created.  One big issue with the modeling process is that once you create a new model, you cannot easily make any modifications to it.

        • Yes.  In the universal model, you’ll be able to modify it by adding dimensions and removing dimensions.  We’re (unofficially) targeting Q4 for the initial universal model release, but the removing dimensions feature will likely be early 2021.

  • This will be very helpful. Thank you. I’d also like to know if it will be available for Live Connection as well as Acquired data models.

  • Hi David and SAP

    I would say that I would deactivate this at all times – as when you have many dimensions in the model – you need a very big screen to see anything. And as you are not able to build any logic into a model – say left join on an dimension this view is just annoying – and introduces many more clicks. The task should be to lower the amount of click – not increase it, as you have done in this case

    The viewer of the data is good – but if you had put the development resources into the rebuild of models – the view could be used in a modelling phase. A view without a function – that we can through the story. And if we see something we need to change – then we need the rebuild function

    My question is… Where does these ideas come from? I do not remember this item on the IR platform and if I missed it – well that was just because it had no value to me. And I guess that it would have had a lower vote than the rebuild of models

    And the DWC functions should be native in SAC. Your competitors have this (and a lot more) build directly into their products – so why should we buy additional licences for something that should be in SAC from the start?

    And to comment on the opening statement in this blog

    Setting up a model can be a bit of a challenging task

    No No – the Setting up is easy – changing it to fit the future, that is a challenging task

  • I agree with you! Adding/Deleting model components after the initial model creation is a huge pain to dashboard developers. Wishing SAP would address this sooner.