Xcelsius - Finding the Location of a Click

While developing an Xcelsius dashboard for a Clariba customer, I came across two interesting challenges related to the location of a click on drillable charts.

Finding the location of a click on a drillable chart – Part 1

I was working with a drillable chart with two series and I wanted to know where the user had clicked (i.e. which series and which position).

With only one series there wouldn't be any problem. Xcelsius can send the selected series to a cell, and the selected position to another cell. But with more than one series, each series can still send a position, but Xcelsius does not allow all the series to send the information to the same place. So the information has to be sent to different places. As a result, it's hard for the developer to know which point was clicked last, as the information sent before is not deleted.

Solution The idea is to use the series name in a VLOOKUP function to find out which position was sent last.

For the details, I have used the attached Xcelsius file:

As Xcelsius forces us to send the information from the different series to different places, let's do it.

In the attached file, I sent the positions to two different places (Drill!B2 for section 1, Drill!B3 for section 2). But how did I know which value was sent last? I simply used the series name. I have configured the chart to send the series name to Drill!B5, and I use a VLOOKUP function to find the relevant position (see the formula in cell Results!B4). I can then use this position to find the label (or any other relevant information) with the OFFSET function (cell Results!B1).

Finding the location of a click on two drillable charts  – Part 2

In the second scenario, I had two drillable charts with the same horizontal axes and the same series. I wanted to know where the user had clicked (i.e. which graph and which point - series and position)

With Xcelsius it is not possible to send the name of the clicked graph somewhere. Each series can send a position (or value, row or column), but Xcelsius does not allow all the series to send the information to the same place. This is the same challenge as Part 1 in that the information has to be sent to different places. As a result, the developer doesn’t know which point was clicked last, as the information sent before is not deleted.

Solution The idea is to send rows with position and graph name (instead of sending only the position), and to use the series name in a VLOOKUP function to find out which row was sent last.

For the details of the solution I have used the attached Xcelsius file:

When the user cliced on a dot in a chart, I wanted the graph to send 2 pieces of data: the graph name and the position (in the horizontal axis). Instead of sending only the value or the position, I configured the charts to send a row (columns also work). The sent row had the two pieces of data in it. In the example file I configured the quantity chart to send the data from Drill!E2:F3, and the value chart to send the data from Drill!E5:F6.

When the first series is clicked, the data is sent to Drill!B2:C2; the second series is sent to Drill!B3:C3.

So now we have the chart names in Drill!B2:B3 and the positions in Drill!C2:C3. But how do we know which row was clicked last? For this we use the series name. I configured each chart to send the series name to Drill!B5. Now, if I click in the chart Quantity, on the dot Section 2 / Month 2, then "Section 2" will be sent to Drill!B5, and Drill!E3:F3 will be sent to Drill!B3:C3.

Then I simply put the information together. I found the chart name with a VLOOKUP function on the series name (formula in cell Results!B1), the position with another VLOOKUP (cell Results!B5), and the month with an OFFSET on the position (cell Results!B2).

This has been a quick look at the ways to find the location of a click on drillable charts… I would be interested to hear if anyone else has found a solution for similar challenges. If you have any feedback or ideas, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Integrating BOXI R3 with Microsoft Sharepoint: A Practical Guide to Getting Started

In October I introduced the topic of Integration capabilities between SAP BusinessObjects and Microsoft SharePoint, highlighting the benefits of the integration for those companies that want to streamline their Business Intelligence content through their company portal. In this article I reported a comparison of the integration software that SAP offers to BO customers, based on the different system configurations, and presented the features of the leading product currently available, called Integration Option for Microsoft Sharepoint – IOMS.

In follow up to the initial investigation, one of our customers recently asked us to implement IOMS on an existing BusinessObject XI R3 Edge and Microsoft Sharepoint Server 2007 platform. Based on this customer success story, I will explain the requirements and the steps I went through in order to set up and install the IOMS software.

Choice and download of IOMS

A general note before any installation: the IOMS software obviously needs to be compatible with the current version of BusinessObjects. Several versions of IOMS are therefore available for download from http://service.sap.com according to the following schema:

  • BOXI 3.1 SP1 > Integration Option SP1
  • BOXI 3.1 FP1 > Integration Option FP2
  • BOXI 3.1 SP2 > Integration Option SP2
  • Etc…

Installing the IOMS Package

The first challenge I faced during the installation was related to the fact that Microsoft Sharepoint and Business Objects were installed on different servers. This is a common practice to maximize the performance of each systems, but how do we ensure that this configuration allows for the integration?

One important prerequisite was that the IOMS software had to be installed on the SharePoint Server, but during the first installation attempt, the following error messages appeared.

The issue can be solved as follows:

If you are trying to integrate IOMS with BusinessObejects Enterprise, the .NET SDK has to be installed on the SharePoint Server before installing the integration kit. Note that in addition, the BO Enterprise Web Tier needs to reside on the same server as SharePoint, therefore it is necessary to configure the BO platform accordingly.

If you are trying to integrate IOMS with BusinessObejects Edge, despite what the error message suggests, a full installation of Edge needs to be performed on the SharePoint Server. The same license of the existing operational BusinessObjects Edge can be used. Also if there is a fix pack or service pack on the existing BusinessObjects Edge 3.1 the same should be installed on the SharePoint Server. Do not install the SDK on the SharePoint Server, as this conflicts with Edge. After the installation, all the BusinessObject Services on the SharePoint Server need to be stopped and only then the installation of IOMS can be completed. BusinessObjects Edge will remain a “silent” installation on the server.

Another crucial point we encountered during the kit installation relates to the configuration of the BusinessObjects InfoView interface, and resolves an open question from our previous blog article.

During the installation of IOMS, the administrator is asked to choose the preferred interface for viewing BusinessObjects objects inside SharePoint. Both .NET and Java are available, which confirms that IOMS is not intended to work only with BusinessObjects systems configured with IIS web servers.

The subsequent steps of the installation wizard allow you to specify the server name/IP and authentication settings necessary to connect to the operational BusinessObjects environment. I don’t have a specific recommendation to make about this point; just remember to check the connectivity to the BusinessObjects server (via cmd… ping BO server, or simply test InfoView with Internet Explorer).

Configuring the deployment of the Web Package

After you install the Integration option for Microsoft SharePoint software, the icons or shortcuts are not added to the Start menu. IOMS is not an application, but an add-on software that includes a package of BusinessObjects-specific web parts that are added to the SharePoint deployment.

As a result, eight new BusinessObjects web parts can be selected at any time from the Home Gallery folder in SharePoint:

  • Content Explorer Web Part
  • User Actions Web Part
  • Advanced Search Web Part
  • Dashboard Web Part
  • Document Viewer Web Part
  • Xcelsius Viewer Web Part
  • Crystal Report Viewer Web Part
  • Analytical Report Viewer Web Part

The most important of them is the Content Explorer Web Part. This is the reproduction of Infoview within SharePoint and is mandatory to work with the BusinessOjects content, as it includes the logon window to the operational BO system. Any other Web Part needs to be used in combination with the Content Explorer.

And here is a picture of how the final BusinessObjects-Sharepoint deployment  in use would look like:

After installing the Integration option for Microsoft SharePoint software, the administrator can finally configure additional options that are specific to each deployment. It is also worth mentioning the SSO authentication with AD credentials, allowing you to navigate BusinessObjects within SharePoint without repeating logon credentials at the moment of use.

The details of this configuration are reported in the IOMS Administrator Guide, but based on our experience this is often a tricky configuration that involves the modification of .NET system files. Stay tuned for a complete troubleshooting guide on SSO configuration to be published in future blog articles.

In October I introduced the topic of Integration capabilities between SAP BusinessObjects and Microsoft SharePoint

SAP Introduces BusinessObjects Strategic Workforce Planning Application

SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) has reached another key milestone in its mission to harness the transformative power of in-memory computing with the availability of SAP® High-Performance Analytic Appliance (SAP HANA) software. This first version of SAP HANA is the result of a robust co-innovation program between SAP and key partners and customers. Customers include Coca-Cola Hellenic, Future Group, Hilti and many others. SAP also introduced the SAP® BusinessObjects™ Strategic Workforce Planning application, the first in a new generation of in-memory applications based on SAP HANA. These announcements were made at SAP® TechEd 2010, being held in Bangalore, India from December 1-3.

New Reality of Real Time With Launch of SAP® High-Performance Analytic Appliance

SAP Announces First of a New Generation of Business Applications Harnessing In-Memory Computing, Enables Companies to Re-Think Layers and Complexity of the Traditional IT Stack

BANGALORE, India - December 01, 2010 -

HR professionals can exploit the in-memory computing potential of SAP HANA by modeling in "real" real-time. They can simulate the "true cost" of the future workforce and make informed decisions to close strategic gaps.

SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) has reached another key milestone in its mission to harness the transformative power of in-memory computing with the availability of SAP® High-Performance Analytic Appliance (SAP HANA) software. This first version of SAP HANA is the result of a robust co-innovation program between SAP and key partners and customers. Customers include Coca-Cola Hellenic, Future Group, Hilti and many others. SAP also introduced the SAP® BusinessObjects™ Strategic Workforce Planning application, the first in a new generation of in-memory applications based on SAP HANA. These announcements were made at SAP® TechEd 2010, being held in Bangalore, India from December 1-3.

SAP HANA brings the power of in-memory data processing - leveraging advances in main memory, processor technology and application know-how - to deliver unprecedented benefits to analytics and a new category of applications. The SAP BusinessObjects Strategic Workforce Planning application is the first such application that processes large quantities of data using in-memory computing with an innovative calculation engine that enables application processing to be performed directly "in-memory."

"SAP HANA and the first applications built on it are already showing customers the unprecedented speed of in-memory computing, as well as the latency they have in the layers of their current IT systems," said Vishal Sikka, executive board member, Technology and Innovation Platform, SAP AG. "The customers we are working with are already recognizing the great potential of SAP HANA to deliver solutions that were previously not feasible, and re-thinking how to run their businesses better, now that they can analyze, simulate and react in real time."

SAP Introduces First SAP HANA-Enabled Application SAP HANA provides a foundation on which a new generation of applications can be built, enabling customers to analyze large quantities of data from virtually any source in real time. With the integrative approach of SAP HANA and the new programming paradigm, SAP is simplifying existing computing layers and allowing applications to directly benefit from hardware improvements for the first time. SAP BusinessObjects Strategic Workforce Planning, version for in-memory computing, leverages the in-memory database and calculation engine, allowing managers to simulate scenarios in real time, analyze complex relationships quickly and see how proposed organizational changes will impact the business. Managers and human resources executives can simulate how their workforce would need to grow and change using predictive modeling. This allows them to make intelligent, data-based decisions about allocating or adjusting staff, for example, as a result of an acquisition or to enter a new market.

Working together with its partner and customer ecosystem, SAP plans in the next year to introduce new applications based on SAP HANA that will help utility companies manage power supply in real time, provide retailers more timely analysis of point-of-sale data and enable more accurate sales pipeline forecasting for all types of companies.

Early Results Generate Excitement Among Customers As part of the co-innovation program, SAP has used data from customers to demonstrate how particular business processes could be improved by SAP HANA, and these customers are already seeing valuable results.

"We participated in the co-innovation program for SAP HANA and saw how SAP in-memory computing can dramatically improve our processes," said Martin Petry, CIO, Hilti Corporation. "Hilti provided over nine million customer records to SAP. By loading these into SAP HANA, it was possible to comb through these records in a matter of seconds, versus the days it took previously to extract them from our data warehouse and SAP Business Suite. We're looking forward to further exploring the transformative impact of SAP in-memory computing on our business."

Customers across the globe are evaluating SAP HANA and recognize the benefits to their organization. As the largest retailer with approximately 1,000 stores across India, Future Group needs real-time visibility into sales data so it can better understand customer insights and plan business accordingly. SAP HANA has the potential to provide instant information about which products are selling, promotions that have been effective and stores that are most effective. In-memory computing from SAP may offer a powerful way for Future Group to analyze customer spending and revenue across its multitude of stores and product lines.

During the customer co-innovation program, SAP HANA achieved ground-breaking performance results that are the basis for a new generation of applications with the potential to significantly improve customers' business:

  • Very complex reports and queries against 500 billion point-of-sale records were run in less than one minute, thanks to the unique multi-core processing algorithms. This result was achieved on a system with 10 blades and 32 cores each.
  • SAP HANA scales linearly with performance proportional to hardware improvements so in the future customers will be able to deploy systems with 1,000 or more cores that enable complex real-time analytics.
  • SAP has mastered massive parallelism for enterprise applications (such as aging) with its in-memory computing engine, harnessing these benefits for business applications.

For more information about SAP HANA, please visit the SAP TechEd newsroom. Follow on Twitter at @SAPInMemory and join the conversation around the launch at #sapteched, #inmemory and #hana.

SAP® TechEd 2010 in Berlin, Las Vegas, Bangalore, and Shanghai More than 14,000 SAP customers, partners and technical experts are expected to convene at SAP® TechEd 2010, the company's largest ecosystem education event series. The conference brings IT managers, software developers, administrators, and business process experts together to see, hear, and share how they and their peers can stay one step ahead of business change. Choosing from hundreds of hours of expert-led sessions and hands-on training, attendees can gain the inspiration and skills they need to maximize impact on their organizations. In its 14th year, SAP TechEd 2010 was held in Berlin, Germany, October 12-14, and Las Vegas, Nevada, October 18-22, and is being held in Bangalore, India, December 1-3; and Shanghai, China, December 1-2. Follow SAP TechEd on Twitter at @sapteched and join the conversation at #SAPTechEd.

About SAP SAP is the world's leading provider of business software(*), offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 105,000 customers in over 120 countries, the company is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt stock exchange and NYSE, under the symbol "SAP." For more information, visit www.sap.com.

(*) SAP defines business software as comprising enterprise resource planning, business intelligence, and related applications.

Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "expect," "forecast," "intend," "may," "plan," "project," "predict," "should" and "will" and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP's future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), including SAP's most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.

Copyright © 2010 SAP AG. All rights reserved. SAP, R/3, mySAP, mySAP.com, xApps, xApp, SAP NetWeaver and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP AG in Germany and in several other countries all over the world. All other product and service names mentioned are the trademarks of their respective companies. Data contained in this document serve informational purposes only. National product specifications may vary.

Note to editors: To preview and download broadcast-standard stock footage and press photos digitally, please visit www.sap.com/photos. On this platform, you can find high resolution material for your media channels. To view video stories on diverse topics, visit www.sap-tv.com. From this site, you can embed videos into your own Web pages, share video via e-mail links and subscribe to RSS feeds from SAP TV.

Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

For customers interested in learning more about SAP products: Global Customer Center: +49 180 534-34-24 United States Only: 1 (800) 872-1SAP (1-800-872-1727)

For more information, press only: Scott Behles, +1 (917) 494-2009, scott.behles@sap.com, EST Hilmar Schepp, +49 (6227) 7-46779, hilmar.schepp@sap.com, CET SAP Press Office, +49 (6227) 7-46315, CET; +1 (610) 661-3200, EST; press@sap.com Mike Pilarz, Burson-Marsteller, +1 (312) 596-3568, michael.pilarz@bm.com, CST

SAP Introduces BusinessObjects Strategic Workforce Planning Application

SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) has reached another key milestone in its mission to harness the transformative power of in-memory computing with the availability of SAP® High-Performance Analytic Appliance (SAP HANA) software. This first version of SAP HANA is the result of a robust co-innovation program between SAP and key partners and customers. Customers include Coca-Cola Hellenic, Future Group, Hilti and many others. SAP also introduced the SAP® BusinessObjects™ Strategic Workforce Planning application, the first in a new generation of in-memory applications based on SAP HANA. These announcements were made at SAP® TechEd 2010, being held in Bangalore, India from December 1-3.

New Reality of Real Time With Launch of SAP® High-Performance Analytic Appliance

SAP Announces First of a New Generation of Business Applications Harnessing In-Memory Computing, Enables Companies to Re-Think Layers and Complexity of the Traditional IT Stack

BANGALORE, India - December 01, 2010 -

HR professionals can exploit the in-memory computing potential of SAP HANA by modeling in "real" real-time. They can simulate the "true cost" of the future workforce and make informed decisions to close strategic gaps.

SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) has reached another key milestone in its mission to harness the transformative power of in-memory computing with the availability of SAP® High-Performance Analytic Appliance (SAP HANA) software. This first version of SAP HANA is the result of a robust co-innovation program between SAP and key partners and customers. Customers include Coca-Cola Hellenic, Future Group, Hilti and many others. SAP also introduced the SAP® BusinessObjects™ Strategic Workforce Planning application, the first in a new generation of in-memory applications based on SAP HANA. These announcements were made at SAP® TechEd 2010, being held in Bangalore, India from December 1-3.

SAP HANA brings the power of in-memory data processing - leveraging advances in main memory, processor technology and application know-how - to deliver unprecedented benefits to analytics and a new category of applications. The SAP BusinessObjects Strategic Workforce Planning application is the first such application that processes large quantities of data using in-memory computing with an innovative calculation engine that enables application processing to be performed directly "in-memory."

"SAP HANA and the first applications built on it are already showing customers the unprecedented speed of in-memory computing, as well as the latency they have in the layers of their current IT systems," said Vishal Sikka, executive board member, Technology and Innovation Platform, SAP AG. "The customers we are working with are already recognizing the great potential of SAP HANA to deliver solutions that were previously not feasible, and re-thinking how to run their businesses better, now that they can analyze, simulate and react in real time."

SAP Introduces First SAP HANA-Enabled Application SAP HANA provides a foundation on which a new generation of applications can be built, enabling customers to analyze large quantities of data from virtually any source in real time. With the integrative approach of SAP HANA and the new programming paradigm, SAP is simplifying existing computing layers and allowing applications to directly benefit from hardware improvements for the first time. SAP BusinessObjects Strategic Workforce Planning, version for in-memory computing, leverages the in-memory database and calculation engine, allowing managers to simulate scenarios in real time, analyze complex relationships quickly and see how proposed organizational changes will impact the business. Managers and human resources executives can simulate how their workforce would need to grow and change using predictive modeling. This allows them to make intelligent, data-based decisions about allocating or adjusting staff, for example, as a result of an acquisition or to enter a new market.

Working together with its partner and customer ecosystem, SAP plans in the next year to introduce new applications based on SAP HANA that will help utility companies manage power supply in real time, provide retailers more timely analysis of point-of-sale data and enable more accurate sales pipeline forecasting for all types of companies.

Early Results Generate Excitement Among Customers As part of the co-innovation program, SAP has used data from customers to demonstrate how particular business processes could be improved by SAP HANA, and these customers are already seeing valuable results.

"We participated in the co-innovation program for SAP HANA and saw how SAP in-memory computing can dramatically improve our processes," said Martin Petry, CIO, Hilti Corporation. "Hilti provided over nine million customer records to SAP. By loading these into SAP HANA, it was possible to comb through these records in a matter of seconds, versus the days it took previously to extract them from our data warehouse and SAP Business Suite. We're looking forward to further exploring the transformative impact of SAP in-memory computing on our business."

Customers across the globe are evaluating SAP HANA and recognize the benefits to their organization. As the largest retailer with approximately 1,000 stores across India, Future Group needs real-time visibility into sales data so it can better understand customer insights and plan business accordingly. SAP HANA has the potential to provide instant information about which products are selling, promotions that have been effective and stores that are most effective. In-memory computing from SAP may offer a powerful way for Future Group to analyze customer spending and revenue across its multitude of stores and product lines.

During the customer co-innovation program, SAP HANA achieved ground-breaking performance results that are the basis for a new generation of applications with the potential to significantly improve customers' business:

  • Very complex reports and queries against 500 billion point-of-sale records were run in less than one minute, thanks to the unique multi-core processing algorithms. This result was achieved on a system with 10 blades and 32 cores each.
  • SAP HANA scales linearly with performance proportional to hardware improvements so in the future customers will be able to deploy systems with 1,000 or more cores that enable complex real-time analytics.
  • SAP has mastered massive parallelism for enterprise applications (such as aging) with its in-memory computing engine, harnessing these benefits for business applications.

For more information about SAP HANA, please visit the SAP TechEd newsroom. Follow on Twitter at @SAPInMemory and join the conversation around the launch at #sapteched, #inmemory and #hana.

SAP® TechEd 2010 in Berlin, Las Vegas, Bangalore, and Shanghai More than 14,000 SAP customers, partners and technical experts are expected to convene at SAP® TechEd 2010, the company's largest ecosystem education event series. The conference brings IT managers, software developers, administrators, and business process experts together to see, hear, and share how they and their peers can stay one step ahead of business change. Choosing from hundreds of hours of expert-led sessions and hands-on training, attendees can gain the inspiration and skills they need to maximize impact on their organizations. In its 14th year, SAP TechEd 2010 was held in Berlin, Germany, October 12-14, and Las Vegas, Nevada, October 18-22, and is being held in Bangalore, India, December 1-3; and Shanghai, China, December 1-2. Follow SAP TechEd on Twitter at @sapteched and join the conversation at #SAPTechEd.

About SAP SAP is the world's leading provider of business software(*), offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 105,000 customers in over 120 countries, the company is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt stock exchange and NYSE, under the symbol "SAP." For more information, visit www.sap.com.

(*) SAP defines business software as comprising enterprise resource planning, business intelligence, and related applications.

Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "expect," "forecast," "intend," "may," "plan," "project," "predict," "should" and "will" and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP's future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), including SAP's most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.

Copyright © 2010 SAP AG. All rights reserved. SAP, R/3, mySAP, mySAP.com, xApps, xApp, SAP NetWeaver and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP AG in Germany and in several other countries all over the world. All other product and service names mentioned are the trademarks of their respective companies. Data contained in this document serve informational purposes only. National product specifications may vary.

Note to editors: To preview and download broadcast-standard stock footage and press photos digitally, please visit www.sap.com/photos. On this platform, you can find high resolution material for your media channels. To view video stories on diverse topics, visit www.sap-tv.com. From this site, you can embed videos into your own Web pages, share video via e-mail links and subscribe to RSS feeds from SAP TV.

Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

For customers interested in learning more about SAP products: Global Customer Center: +49 180 534-34-24 United States Only: 1 (800) 872-1SAP (1-800-872-1727)

For more information, press only: Scott Behles, +1 (917) 494-2009, scott.behles@sap.com, EST Hilmar Schepp, +49 (6227) 7-46779, hilmar.schepp@sap.com, CET SAP Press Office, +49 (6227) 7-46315, CET; +1 (610) 661-3200, EST; press@sap.com Mike Pilarz, Burson-Marsteller, +1 (312) 596-3568, michael.pilarz@bm.com, CST

Loading Message Solution for Xcelsius

One of the most challenging issues that Xcelsius developers face everyday is related to the performance of dashboards. Sometimes performance can be improved by changing the connection properties, changing the queries, reducing the Xcelsius components or reducing the formulas within the Excel sheet that populates the dashboard.

However even after making these adjustments, it’s possible that the dashboard may still take longer than expected to load. In fact, the calculation of some critical formulas such as SUMIF or VLOOKUP can take several seconds to update the values. But rather than explaining to users that the dashboard is locally calculating the values and that they simply have to wait for a short while, why not show them the loading progress in action…

What I have created is an “enable” button for our filters that will show the loading message for a defined period of time before showing the data. Please note that this is meant for Excel triggering and not for queries (even if it can be easily adapted by using some of the outputs as triggers for the data connections).

The components I used are as follows:

  • Combobox 1: This is filtering only the labels and sending the selected one to a destination (using filtered rows settings).
  • Combobox 2 (behind 1): This filters the entire table only when the play button sends values greater than 0 (so it is in PLAY mode) and less than our max time (in this case 6 seconds). It uses filtered rows and sends the output to a destination. Note: it filters the value 1 from the column with a formula that says: IF what I selected from combobox 1 is equal to what I see in the related column of my source table, then 1 else 0.
  • Spreadsheet Table: I needed an output control to show the values, but of course in real life this could be any other component.
  • Play control: This manages both our loading message and the combobox 2. It has the auto rewind option enabled but neither the auto play nor the auto replay. We should calculate the time that we need to show our loading message and set the play control to that value (or that value +1. it depends on the logic you want to use).
  • Background: This is meant to create the real loading effect that thanks to the “Block mouse events” option avoids any inappropriate clicks of our users while the dashboard is thinking.
  • Text label: This says “Loading…” but could say something else. The important thing is that the user needs to understand that the dashboard is calculating the values.
  • Horizontal progress bar: I used this control that shows the output values of the play button to have more loading effect.

Note: the last three components have been chosen within the out of the box ones to keep things simple. In a real case I would use some flash animations or the loading component that has been released by Donald MacCormick within the xcomponents solution.

The formula I used to show the loading message (and enable combobox 2 as already explained) says the following: IF the output value of the play control is greater then 0 and less than the maximum I need, then 1 else 0.

I hope you find this solution helpful and easy to implement. Feel free to check out the SWF file to see an example of how the loading message solution works and download the test XLF in the zip file below. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

SWF file: loading message_solution

XLF file: test_v3

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards running on Android

While Apple and Blackberry users struggle to find ways to visualize the latest versions of flash content with their devices through several applications and plug-ins, Google with its open source philosophy, seems to be in first position in this race.

The latest release of Android, v2.2 (“Froyo”) based on Linux Kernel 2.6.32, natively supports the Adobe flash technology used by SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly Xcelsius) and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. The difference is that it allows for the interactive visualization of Dashboards, WebIntelligence reports and exploration spaces without the need for a third-party application, unlike iPhone, iPad and Blackberry.

This means that your company can leverage the effort spent building Xcelsius dashboards by providing mobile employees with a very powerful and interactive interface to make business decisions in the field. It is clear that not all dashboards would be suitable for mobiles and screen dimensions should be taken into account when developing, however below you will see an example which was not specifically designed for mobile but actually fits perfectly in my HTC Legend. This is the real-time dashboard prototype that Clariba developed for Call Centers in order to track the effectiveness of the services provided on a 24/7 basis.

Adobe announced officially on October 25, 2010 that Google's Android OS 2.2 already includes the Flash Player 10.1 plug-in as well as the brand new HP Palm Pre 2, but did not say yet when it will release the versions for the BlackBerry OS, Microsoft's Windows Phone, the Symbian OS, or Nokia/Intel's MeeGo.

Apple has insisted that iOS-based devices like the iPhone and iPod touch will never offer a Flash player. Instead, the company is looking in another direction, surprisingly towards an open standard this time: HTML5.

Finally, on the BI vendor side, it is also interesting to note that as a result of an increasing demand for BI content in Apple devices, SAP BusinessObjects, which used to endorse an application called Roambi Mobile Dashboards by MeLLmo, Inc., is currently developing its own solution for an interactive BI experience which we will certainly have to keep an eye on.

If you have any comments about developing dashboards for mobile devices, feel free to leave a note below.

A Quick Integration of Personal Data with your SAP BusinessObjects Platform

Dealing with personal files has become a harder task with the latest integrated platforms. Higher centralized security together with the presence of web-based tools has reduced the amount of control that users have over the information.

In order to give some power back to users, SAP BusinessObjects has provided rich client tools that enable users to access some of their personal files. However this feature is limited to excel and text formats and causes the corporation to lose control of the files inventory because users are then able to store files in their own machine.

For those companies who wish to have a tight administrative control on their content but at the same time provide quick access to personal files such as text, Excel or even through free hand SQL’s (FHS) , the concept of Universes on top of personal data might be a good solution.

Universes on top of Excel, Text or Free Hand SQL

The concept is simple: the idea is to demand from users which data they want to monitor in their systems and give it back to them in Universe format. They may then use it in their reports as if it was corporate information, either through merging dimensions in WebI or building Queries as a Web Service to populate front-end modules such as WebI itself or Xcelsius.

Universes on top of Excel or Text files will typically have the following features:

  • ODBC generic connections using the Microsoft Excel or Text native drivers
  • Every text file or every Excel tab will appear as a Universe table
  • Tables in Designer do not generally have joins, that is to say, tables show like isolated “islands”
  • A Universe class is typically corresponding with an isolated table and it can be secured so it can be seen for the user only

In the case of FHS, if personalized SQL sentences are needed, we will act similarly but with the following differentiations:

  • The Universe connection is the native connection of the data source
  • Every table in the Universe is a derived table containing the query

Text files Roadmap

Read and apply the following guidelines to use text files as personal data sources:

  • Place all the text files in a common folder
  • Define a Microsoft text driver pointing to that folder
  • The folder acts as a database
  • Text files act as tables
  • The key here is to define well the schema.ini file. Normally the assistant fails to create it so it needs to be adjusted manually (see sample below)
  • Create an empty universe using an ODBC generic connection pointing to the driver, add the text files as tables, link them if necessary, create objects and export (use aliases if format brings Errors)
  • Export the universe

Fig1. A sample of a schema.ini file

Excel files Roadmap

Read and apply the following guidelines to use Excel files as personal data sources:

  • Place all the Excel files in a common folder
  • Define a Microsoft excel driver pointing one of the files in the folder
  • The folder acts as the database instance
  • The Excel files act as the databases
  • The Excel tab files act as the tables
  • Create an empty universe with a Microsoft Excel connection pointing to the driver. Keep in mind that there is no alternative as an ODBC generic connection will not work!!
  • Add the tables, link them if necessary, create Objects and export (use aliases if format brings Errors)
  • Export the universe

A very good feature we can take advantage of is that a driver pointing to one file will be enough to retrieve all Excel files in that folder.

Free Hand SQL Roadmap

Read and apply the following guidelines to use personalized SQL calls as personal data source:

  • Define a native driver pointing to the desired database
  • Create an empty universe with a proper connection pointing to the desired database
  • Create derived tables without linking. The content of them will be the [SELECT XX FROM XX WHERE…] sentences that we want to pull from the database. Use AS command if we want to give a different name to the field
  • Create Objects
  • Export the universe

Conclusions

With these pieces of advice a system to access personal information can be built into your corporation’s BI system. With a minimum of three universes we can query these three types of files. A drawback is that for Excel or text formats only single access is possible, so only one user at a time can access that information. This can be bypassed configuring universe security accordingly so one class can only be seen by one user.

This method provides quick visibility on personal data which is ideal for actions that require a single access like building prototypes & demos or for sequential scheduling and distribution of reports.

If you have any questions or comments about this concept, please feel free to get in touch.

Tips for Installing Xcelsius 2008 with Office 2010

While Microsoft Office 2010 has been available for retail since June 2010, the latest version of Xcelsius (2008 SP3 FP3.3) is not yet officially supported. At the moment you are supposed to run it with Office 2003, XP or 2007. But you may be interested to know what happens if you try to install Xcelsius 2008 on a computer which "only" has Office 2010…

To begin with, you get the following message:

Microsoft Installer Information
Microsoft Installer Information

In reality, Xcelsius 2008 will work fine with Office 2010. The only question is, how do you get rid of this installation problem? A possible workaround is to install an earlier version of Excel, install Xcelsius, then remove the older Excel. But it takes time, and you probably don’t have any installer file for an earlier version of Office.

The purpose of this post is therefore to allow to you to perform the installation of Xcelsius 2008 with Office 2010 in a quick and efficient way. The principle of the workaround is to prevent the installer from checking the presence of Office on the computer by tweaking it.

Prerequisites:

  • An Xcelsius installer file. For this article I’ve downloaded the file xcelsiusent2008sp3.exe from SAP Business Objects Software Downloads.
  • A license key available on service.sap.com/support – Keys & Requests
  • InstEd, a free MSI editor
  • A software able to extract data from zip-formatted files. 7zip works fine and is free – also for commercial use.

Steps:

Extract to Xcelsius
Extract to Xcelsius
  1. The Xcelsius installer file is a zip archive. Extract the data from it.
  2. Download the latest version of InstEd and install it on your computer.
  3. Make a backup of the "Xcelsius.msi" file located in the "package" folder. If you make any mistake with the msi file you'll be able to recover it.
  4. Open with InstEd the" Xcelsius.msi" file. On the left part of the screen, in the "Tables" tab, click on "LaunchCondition". On the right side you’ll see a list of conditions that are checked.
  5. Delete the row which refers to Office (it begins with "(EXCELl10 OR OUTLOOK10") and save the file.
  6. Now execute the "Xcelsius.msi" file you’ve just modified. You shouldn't have any error message regarding Office anymore. Accept the license agreement (although it may not be displayed), enter your name/organization/keycode (license key) and choose the options you need. After copying some files, the program will tell you it's finished installing Xcelsius.
  7. You may meet another problem during the first run of the program: although you entered a valid keycode, Xcelsius considers it as expired. Entering the keycode again won't solve the problem. The trick is to execute Xcelsius as an administrator (display the option by right-clicking on the program icon).

Now entering the keycode will result in the opening of Xcelsius.

Note: the tests were done on Windows 7. If you meet with other behaviors on different platforms, please let me know!

Join us at SAP Forum 2010 in Dubai on November 2

If you are working in or traveling to Dubai, you may be interested in attending the SAP FORUM 2010 at Madinat Jumeirah Hotel on November 2, 2010 to discover how today's new technologies and new strategies can help you drive long-term, profitable business growth. Gain premier knowledge on how to maximize innovative technology and business strategies to help you achieve greater results at every level. Become a best-run business by running your organization with all aspects of your business network - wherever they are in the world - working as one.

Attend SAP FORUM 2010 at Madinat Jumeirah Hotel on November 2, 2010 to discover how today's new technologies and new strategies can help you drive long-term, profitable business growth. Gain premier knowledge on how to maximize innovative technology and business strategies to help you achieve greater results at every level; Become a best-run business by running your organization with all aspects of your business network - wherever they are in the world - working as one.