Here is some additional frequently asked questions while time did not permit answering during the SAP AllAccess webinar held on the Dashboarding Statement of Direction. As further information becomes available we will continue to add new information to the SCN.
1. VERSIONS: Will the HTML 5 components work outside of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 in previous versions of Xcelsius?
In general we do not go back and add innovation to previous versions. The HTML5 components will require SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 and will not work with earlier versions of Xcelsius. In addition the components will require one of the following: SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise, SAP BusinessObjects Edge or SAP Crystal Server.
A platform is required because although Flash can produce self-contained swf files and therefore run without a platform, HTML5 is a rendering technology and is not self-contained. We are currently investigating options for stand-alone and offline support.
2 INTERCONNECTIVITY: Will customers be able to use their existing Dashboard / Xcelsius dashboards in Zen? Which data connectivity options will be supported?
Zen version 1 is really targeted towards the SAP BEx Web application designer (BEx WAD) users and because there are functional differences between this first release and SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, there will be no conversion path at this point. The new technology will bring innovation to both dashboarding solutions, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards as we see in the HTML5 functionality and also to BEx WAD. With each release both solutions will contain additional new technology with the aim of providing innovation without disruption. As these solutions slowly converge together and we equalize functionality and data access we will introduce conversion tools.
At no point will this be a forced migration as both SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and SAP BEx Web application designer will move forward and continue to be supported.
3 SDK: Will Zen have an SDK? If so, when will it be available?
SAP intends to do a SDK for Zen and it is currently in development. We don’t know yet what the exact scope will be in version 1 but we are working to towards a rich, extensible SDK like that for Dashboards. There is a large community of partners and developers which we want to enable them on the new technology as soon as possible.
4 APPLICATION REQUIREMENT: Will an application be required to run HTML5 on mobile devices?
Yes, SAP BusinessObjects Mobile application will be required rather than a browser. SAP intends to fully leverage the MOBI application which is our single hub for all BI content. HTML5 is a rendering technology but an infrastructure is needed to manage and secure the content. Therefore the security, authentication and ability to navigate the content are supported by the platform.
5 NON-ENTERPRISE VERSIONS OF DASHBOARDS: What will happen to the SAP Crystal Dashboard Design, personal edition (formerly Xcelsius Engage) and SAP Crystal Presentation Design customers? Will the same HTML5 features be available for non-enterprise edition Dashboards customers? When?
The HTML5 features will be available for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards only in this initial release.
6 COMPARED TO OTHER MOBILE DEVICE FUNCTIONALITY: How will the HTML5 experience compare with the Flash-based dashboards currently available on devices like BlackBerry PlayBook?
The visual components will have an iPad specific look for example the pinch, zoom, swipe and tool tips. Some of the visualization components will look different from the desktop offering, for example the Combo box has the look and feel of an iPad version. All visualizations will be compatible with the desktop and the excel logic is preserved. One thing to note is that the HTML5 version will only have one theme in the first release and therefore there will be some restrictions, i.e. font sizes, colors, positioning of some labels.
7 VISUALIZATION INNOVATION IN DASHBOARDS: When should customer expect to see new components or visual innovation in SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and/or the HTML 5 version?
There is currently ongoing innovation in SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards with FP3 and also the upcoming HTML5 release expected in Q4. Innovation is in the HTML5 visualization library that is being built out and optimized for HTML5 rendering with iPad specific features such as swipe gestures, zooms, pinches and tool tips. In addition in SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards FP3 there is significant improvement in data access such as expansion of universe connectivity to hierarchical sources.
8 NON-SAP DATA SOURCES: Can you provide some guidance on how non-SAP back-ends such as Oracle or MS SQL will be supported going forward?
In SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 there was significant improvement to data access through the ability to use the query panel to access directly the relational data in the universe and bind data directly to visualizations. This focus on improving the data access for all sources continues with FP3 where native access to hierarchies was added for SQL Server, Essbase and SAP BW.
Zen will be expanded in subsequent versions to match and exceed this data connectivity including direct access to OLAP cubes and access to all relational data via universes. Nearly every company has multiple sources of data and SAP is committed to making all of them easy to consume so decision makers can access all the relevant data to make decisions.
9 ZEN RAMP UP: When will Zen be available for ramp up? How can customers/partners sign up?
Zen version 1 is planned to enter ramp-up later this year. If you are interested in joining the ramp up, talk to your account executive and they will be able to provide details on this tightly controlled process.
The beta of Zen is available now for the development environment as a preview. It does not include the production runtime but does allow you to test the type of applications you can build using Zen and give us some early feedback in the process.
This is already the largest beta that SAP has run. The beta is open to as many people as we have staffing to complete the legal paperwork that is required. Look for the link to sign up on the SCN site (http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-28529)
10 MIGRATION STRATEGY: What is the migration strategy from Dashboards (Xcelsius) to Zen? Can you elaborate?
It is difficult for us to elaborate on something that is so far into the future. The convergence is at the forefront our minds as we develop the Zen technology and we attempting to provide this innovation with as little disruption as possible. It is important to note that this is going to be a convergence, not a forced migration. Dashboards will continue to be supported indefinitely so existing content will continue to function. You will only move to Zen technology if you want to take advantage of some of the new innovations that it will offer and we will provide tools to help in this process. This is a quantum leap in technology from Flash to HTML5 so we won’t be able to guarantee 1 to 1 fidelity and it is likely there will be some manual work required. We will be engaging with the community and our customers to make this as smooth a process as possible.
11 CLIENT TOOL: Dashboards is a client tool, is Dashboards / ZEN in the future also a client tool or can we only develop dashboards using the SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 platform ?
SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards works as a client tool because Flash can produce stand alone swf files which do not need a platform. In the future you will be able to continue to use Dashboards if you want to produce stand alone dashboards. Zen will not work the same was because HTML5 is not self-contained and therefore it requires the platform to run. We are investigating how to enable a container for the Zen dashboards but it will not be available in the first release. So for Zen version 1 the BI 4.0 platform FP3 will be required.
12 INFORMATION ON ZEN: Where can more info found on Zen?
You will find more information on SCN both under the Analysis section. If you do a search on SCN for "Zen" you might need to click on the assets listed on the left hand side to start seeing some of the postings. Once the product enters ramp up it will have its own section.
13 HILO NOW VISUAL INTELLIGENCE: How does the produce SAP internal code name 'HILO' play into the picture?
Hilo has now been released as SAP Visual Intelligence. SAP Visual Intelligence is aimed at the self-service visualization use case whereas SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards is for professionally built dashboards. We are working towards interoperability in future releases.
SAP Visual Intelligence was created to complement and extend the value of SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. With the web and mobile experiences of Explorer, business users can quickly explore their data and build their own dashboards. SAP Visual Intelligence complements these two experiences while offering Business Analysts the ability to perform more advanced analysis by combining data sources, transforming data, and using sophisticated visualizations and graphs.
14 FURTHER ALLACCESSSAP: Is SAP going to have another AllAccessSAP webinar? If so, when and on what topic?
The AllAccessSAP webinar on the Dashboarding Statement of Direction appeared to be useful to our customers and it certainly provided useful feedback directly to SAP. We will definitely be bringing another AllAccessSAP to you but the topic and date are not yet determined.