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SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards

198 Posts

Hi All,

 

 

 

This blog gives an overview and some design tips for designing Dashboards using the BEx query for Beginners.

 

As we all know that the today's requirement for using BEx in Dashboards is steeply increasing and also SAP have made better integration of BEx with Business Objects Dashboards.


It is suggested that we follow a Process in designing Dashboards which will give us the better control and also reduces the unnecessary rework.

 

  • First, getting the Proper Requirements from the Client/Customer  is very essential. If not, you will have to rework in design, logic and also creating unnecessary frustration.
  • Freezing the requirements  is the first step in the Process and  should be given the highest priority. So, it gives us proper direction to get ahead.

        But being a beginner, the probability of interacting with the Customer/Client is low.

 

First, we need to understand the Connection between Business Warehouse(BW) and Business Objects DashBoards.

2.png

BW - Business Warehouse

CMS - Central Management Server

DB - DashBoard

OLAP - Online Analytical Processing

U1,U2,U3,U4 - Users

RC - Relative Connection

 

CMS  is Central Management Server and  the heart of SAP Business Objects Enterprise System which includes User Authentication, CMS

Database, access rights etc.

 

We can create a dashboard in the local Workstation but if we want to publish it in the server then we need to have a user(Named or Concurrent) in the CMS .

A user is created in the CMS by the Administrator. Users are given different access levels. For Example, a beginner is given access to only few folders in the CMS  whereas Admin will have full access.

 

A Session will connect a User to the CMS server by just logging in using the credentials. We can create a Session in IDT( Information Design Tool) or UDT

(Universe Design Tool). Once the session is created and  opened, it will display all your Connections, Universes and files that are under your access levels in the IDT.

 

Now, we need to create a connection between BW server and CMS server to access the Query. So, we will create the connection in IDT as OLAP connection

through  BICS client. BICS interface is the only connectivity to SAP BW from SAP Business Objects.

To connect to other data sources, we shall use the Relational Connection.

Finally, Publish the connection in the Repository so that when you add the query in the DashBoard, you will see this connection and so you can use it.

 

5.png

 

Finally, User is created by the Admin and session is opened in the IDT. An OLAP connection is also established between BW server and CMS through BICS which will interact with the BEx query.

 

 

The below screen shot gives us the simple Process in designing the Dashboards. It starts with 'FREEZE THE DESIGN' . In future, the customer may come with some new requirements so cycle starts again.

 

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Before we open the Dashboards in our Workstation, it is better that we start designing on  a sheet of paper. This makes us to analyze many parameters like

  • Placement of Components
  • Types of Charts
  • Layout Designing
  • Building the Logic for KPI's
  • Where to use Dynamic Visibility for displaying different KPI's
  • How to use less Mouse clicks/operations
  • Less Navigation, More Data Visibility   (etc..)

 

Once we have made  an analysis of the design, then we shall go ahead in designing on screen. Because, designing on a sheet of paper gives us clear idea of

everything we need on DashBoard. This method of Designing on sheet of paper  will make us confident because we are mentally prepared about the design.

 

7.png

Now, it's time to show our creativity on the screen.

User Experience is very Important in dashboards as the Customer expects a pleasant feeling in using it.

Everyone of us are creative and to make the end user addictive to our dashboard, then we shall understand some science behind the User Experience.

 

Check out the  below link  about the "Cognition & Intrinsic User Experience"

http://uxmag.com/articles/cognition-the-intrinsic-user-experience

 

8.png

We know to add and edit  the query but understanding the importance of Filter option is essential.

  • Bex queries may have mandatory fields in the selection screen. So, it's a best practice to use filters to extract only the required data from BW  to dashboards which will significantly reduces the load and provides faster performance.
  • Preview the result and in the final screen try to uncheck "Refresh the query before components are loaded".
  • After you uncheck this option, it  will load all your components first and then refreshes the query so that the end user will not wait with the empty/white screen.  
  • Now carefully bind the data to the excel and take snapshot to check the incoming data.
  • Use different colors  in the Excel sheet to  indicate Incoming Data from Query, data mapped to some components etc... and at the same time use less colors to avoid complexity.
  • Give the description of each color in the excel Sheet so that the other user can understand your purpose.
  • Use description for individual/Group of cells which are used in the query so that any user can understand your excel sheet.
  • Don't perform complex calculations in the Excel sheet as it degrades the performance.

 

9.png

Most of the errors come from incorrect linking of  the components so I suggest you to remember the below three points.

Take a component and

  • Get clear with the Source and Destination of the Component. Map them. If the component has to be interactive, then do the required settings for it.
  • Identify the dependent components of it and do the settings as required.
  • Snapshot it and check the data.

 

 

After all the components are properly mapped, then preview the data.

 

You can select any of the two options depending upon your needs as it gives us perfect sizing and the perfect look on the screen.

  • View ----> Canvas Sizing ------> Fit canvas to components
  • View ----> Canvas Sizing ------> Fit canvas to window

 

10.png

The dashboard can be previewed in different formats.

  • Flash
  • Presentation
  • Word
  • PDF

Then save it to the Repository and also locally in the available formats.

  • SWF (Flash) file is very useful as you can view the dashboard on the fly in your Internet Browser  as you don't need the SAP Dashboards to be installed in your computer.
  • If you want your dashboard to be run only in the Desktop, then choose

          File ------> Save Platform as -------> Dashboard Object as desktop only

  • If you want your dashboard to be run both in the Desktop and mobile, then choose

          File ------> Save Platform as -------> Dashboard Object as desktop and Mobile

  • Check the mobile compatibility of the  components as few are not supported.

 

Finally, launch the 'Launch Pad' and view the Dashboard that you have created.

 

I felt sharing to all of you  which I learnt along the way and also believe  that  this blog gives you some overview/idea and tips about the Dashboard.

 

Thank you a lot  for reading this blog !!!!! 

I am pretty sure that most of us have encountered with the below problem while working with line charts/barcharts in   Dashboards ie, the y-value are repeating for the graph, or the value plotted is not correct.

 

Suppose the values to be plotted in the graph is as shown in below.

 

Excel values.JPG

The value plotted in graph will be as shown below

 

First image.JPG

ie, the value 2 is plotted  in between 2 and 3, instead of plotting at the line of 2 itself.

It is because the height of the graph is less. If we increase the height of the graph, the graph looks like as shown below.

 

Second image.JPG

Here the Y-axis values are repeating.

Giving decimal values to the scale will not solve the problem, and it is not acceptable at certain scenarios (Eg: plotting age, count etc..)

In order to avoid these problems, we have to customize the scale.

Below steps explains how we can customize the scale.

 

1.    Right click the line chart and go to the behavior tab.

       By default, ‘Auto(Y) axis’ is selected. We have to change it to ‘Manual(Y) Axis’ for customizing the scale

2.    ‘Size of Division’ and ‘Maximum Limit’ and ‘Minimum limit’ (If ‘_’ ve values needs to be plotted) are the parameters to be set.

       While selecting the ‘Size of division’ and ‘Maximum limit’ and ‘Minimum limit’ we should be careful.

3.    Below steps can be used to find the ‘Size of division’ and ‘Maximum limit’

       a)    Find the ‘Maximum’ and ‘Minimum ‘values of the numbers to be plotted in the graph.

              Let Maximum be ‘Max’ and Minimum be ‘Min’

       b)   If (Max<10 or ((Max-Min)/2)<10), then S=Max/2

              Else S= (Max-Min)/2,   Where S is ‘Size of Division’

              Round down the value to the nearest integer.

      c)    Find the remainder after the ‘Maximum’ value divided by ‘size of division’

             We can use the ‘mod’ function available in excel for this.

             Remainder (R )=mod('Max','S')

     d)    The Maximum Limit ‘MaxLim’ can be found by using the formula

             MaxLim=Max-R+S

     e)    If ‘-‘ve values needs to be plotted, we have to find the Minimum Limit value .(We can use the steps ‘c’ and ‘d’ with some changes to find the ‘Minimum limit’)

             If '-' ve value are not there, we can set the ‘Minimum Limit’ to 0.

4.    As the last step we have to map the ‘Maximum Limit ‘ to ‘MaxLim’ and ‘Size of Division ‘ to ‘S’

       Manual-Y-aix.jpg

      Now the values in the graph are plotted correctly.By using the ‘Mouse –Over values’ property we can see the exact value of each point as shown below

 

     Mose over image.jpg

The above implementation worked fine, for all scenarios in our recent project.

 

 

Hope this will be useful...

      

     The Dashboards application crashes when we try to launch Dashboard Designer on a machine where secured web access or proxy settings are applied.

error.png

    

 

When the Dashboards application is launched, the startup page of the designer connects to the internet ( www.sap.com, www.businessobjects.com etc) . This causes Designer to crash when security for web access is applied or due to proxy settings.

 

Dashboards_startuppage1.JPG

 

 

     We can disable this security access manually.

 

     Following are the steps which restrict the designer to access the web.

 

  1. Go the following folder Dashboards Installation dir\Program files\SAP BusinessObjects\Xcelsius 4.0\assets\startPage\en\js
  2. Open the javascript file start_function.js
  3. Search for the function onInitialize()
  4. Comment line : InitializeResourcesTag()

Start_function.JPG

 

   5. Save the file.

   6. Re-launch Dashboard designer.

 

Dashboards_startuppage2.JPG

Hello all

 

This post is useful for beginners. After inserting graph,Y axis values will change

depending on the input. Ex : 50000000,20000000,150000000. as shown in column

chart Fig (a). These kind of values reduces the size of the graph.

To solve this problem we have to select the Fixed label size check box in Behavior Tab.

Then values are changes as fallows 50000000=50M,20000000=20M etc.

it will work for both manual and auto value mode.

                                                    Fig (a)

select fixed label size check box as shown in image

 

 

 

Values will display as shown below.

 

In few cases we have to represent 10000 as10T, but by default dashboard will display

10000=10K. To change "K" to "T" we have to fallow the fallowing steps

click on the image as shown below

 

 

Below dialog box will appear

 

click on particular row where u want to change Display sign ,

assign sign depending on requirement Then click OK

 

 

 

Thanks

Dipsy

I'm pretty sure that most of you dashboard developers must have encountered the "Request Processing Failed ( XLS 000009) null" error.

 

Request processing failed - NULL.png

 

Background information:

 

There were certain things that I found strange about this error:

 

a. Lack of proper error description, which made debugging difficult

b. Sporadic occurrence of the defect (say once a day or once in 3 days)

 

When you receive this error, you know for sure at least one of your queries was affected by this, as this affected query would not fetch any results. However the next time you receive this error, some other query must have stopped working. This was when we realized this error had nothing to do with the dashboards queries or dashboard design.

 

Root Cause:

 

After getting in touch with the SAP support team regarding this defect and after proving the necessary background details like the iPad error log, screenshots, product versions etc SAP concluded that this was not a dashboard design issue, rather a network congestion issue.

 

Resolution:

As mentioned earlier, this has nothing to do with the dashboard design. In many other posts, saw comments from other fellow members asking to restart services, create 64 bit DSN entry, update with latest patch etc, none of which worked for us.

 

As per SAP support, this error states congestion in the network. This could mean one of the 3 below:

a. existing servers and not able to bear the load/ requests

b. network issues between the geographical location when server is available and where the request is generated from (say your BO server is in USA and you are trying to run your dashboard from India)

c. network connection speeds across the client location and/ or developer location (office internet speed)

 

for points (b) and (c), there is nothing much that the SAP support/ BO admin can do.

However for the first point (a) SAP asked our BO admin person to add two more servers by cloning the existing DASHBOARD PROCESSING SERVER and DASHBOARD CACHE SERVER.

 

Believe it or not, this resolved the issue.

 

Since the day this resolution steps were implemented in our DEV and SIT environment, we haven't received this error even once. I hope this is a permanent solution that SAP provided. We are constantly monitoring the dashboards in both the environments.

URL Button is a standard component that can be used to fire up a webpage, openDoc URL, etc. This button is used extensively for allowing users to click and open reports and webpages. The same component can also be used to dynamically populate URLs according to the user selections and open them automatically on scorecard, table, list, etc. interactions (using a single URL button component). This reduces the excel logic and the component count in the dashboard. Also, using a single component reduces maintenance overhead.

Let us look at how to use this functionality.

1. Let us start with using a URL button and a scorecard component.

2. Select the scorecard component and bind it to the Display Data and Data Insertion. Set the appearance, general and behaviour properties as required.

6.png

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8.png

9.png

 

3. Now, select the URL button component and map the URL to an excel cell.

10.png

4. This cell will be populated dynamically based on user selection from the scorecard.

5. Go to the Behaviour tab in the URL Button properties and select the Trigger Cell as the same cell in #4. Select “When value changes”.

11.png

6. Now, every time the user selects any of the rows in the scorecard, the respective link will be fed to the URL button and the same will be fired up automatically.

7. You may use the same logic to populate openDoc URL parameters. Eg : Insert plant from the scorecard and populate in the URL accordingly. http://....../&prompt1=Plant1 or http://...../&prompt1=Plant2 , etc.

In one of the ongoing BO implementation projects, we had a peculiar requirement of allowing users to select multiple parameters. In our case, we had to select multiple planners and filter dashboard data accordingly.

Apart from the List Builder component, there is not much scope in the default Xcelsius components to satisfy this requirement. List Builder has its own pros and cons. The user is not very motivated to use List Builders because of the real estate it occupies and its design. 

We bundled some standard components and created a multi-select. It looks like this:

5.png

We have used a combination of multiple check boxes put inside a canvas. This canvas “drops-down” when the “Select Planner” button is clicked and “hides” when the cross button is clicked. We have driven the dynamic visibility of the canvas on the button interactions.

Individual checkboxes are capable of data insertion. These inserted values can be used to drive the excel logic further. An “ALL” checkbox is provided at the top of the stack that supersedes all the other selections.

We all have been extensively using the behind-the-scenes Combo-box and the filtered rows combination to work wonders in filtering the data in the embedded excel and displaying it on the dashboard. But how to achieve the same when we have multiple selections instead of only one? (Combo-box allows only one selection)

 

A possible answer to this is to use List Builder component. You can use it on the same lines as the Combo-box. The properties like Display Labels, Data Insertion, and Behaviour remain same like Combo-Box. The catch is to select – Insert items on Runtime property and map the selected items to a range of excel cells.

 

This range of excel cells will contain the selected items. You can use formulae to achieve this data insertion. The values that are present in this range are automatically selected by the list builder at run-time and the appropriate data is inserted. You may use this destination data to feed other components in the dashboard.

 

4.png

Clients always have the requirements for tooltips on the dashboard. While charting components have the default tooltip available, it is yet not a default functionality for a lot of components like images, buttons, labels, etc.

One of the methods of achieving the tooltip is using a transparent URL button. URL buttons have tooltips. Although this is a long known method, it has a major con – the tooltip font cannot be controlled, it is too tiny to be readable.

Another interesting but tedious way is to use a transparent Toggle component and a label. Let’s look at this approach.

  1. Select a push button, a toggle button and a label.
  2.      1.png
  3. Align the push button and the toggle button completely and make them “same size”.
  4. The toggle button should be on top of the push button and should completely align with it. Off course, it should be transparent.
  5. Place the label according to you convenience and enter the tooltip text in it.
  6. Go to the properties for Toggle button and set the Data insertion values.
  7. 2.png
  8. This destination will be driving the dynamic visibility of the label.
  9. Go to the Behaviour tab of the toggle button properties and set the insertion on “mouse over”. Selected item should be “off”.
  10. 3.png
  11. Now, set the dynamic visibility of the label component to the same cell as the toggle button destination.

Whenever the user hovers the mouse into the push button the tooltip (label) becomes visible and it goes away when the user hovers out of the push button. The aesthetics of the tooltip(label) can be controlled through the label component properties.


We face real estate issue when we design the dashboards such as placing the scorecards, charts and try to squeeze in too many columns. We end up facing challenge like displaying values cut off, or enabling the scroll bar.

 

For scorecards, we need to enable the property "Rows are Selectable" from Behavior -> Common tab.


Scorecard - Selectable.png

 

Find below the example where values get cut off and unable to read the complete text. If required, user tap on the text for 2 seconds, text will be display the entire text as small pop-out.

 

Scorecard1.png

 

When it comes to Line chart, when user have a long press on the chart brings up the legend value which is quite a nice feature.

Chart - Selection.png

<end>

Multi-selection is a widely required feature when it comes to dashboards. We have List Builder for Desktop version of dashboards. However, we dont have any choice for mobile dashboards. Here is the interesting work-around for the multi-select. The out of box property of Line chart helps here.

 

Instead of creating multiple combo-boxes & check-box to enable and disable the selection, the line chart comes handy.

 

Insert the Line Chart and Select the Appearance Tab.


Appearance.png

 

Scroll down and check the Enable Legend property. Check Enable Hide/Show chart series at Run-Time -> "Mouse Click". This property is supported in Mobile.

 

Enable Legend.png

 

Preview the dashboard on iPad. Here you go...

 

Multiselect - 11.png

 

Tap on Market Share (Prior Period) and Quota, so that it will be disable for comparison.

 

Multiselect - 12.png

</end>

One another creative component. Which can be made easily, which looks classy and catchy.

It may be little longer than my other blog posts , but bear with me, because the result of this is worth the pain.

 

So this is how the Component look like.

 

0.PNG0_1.PNG

1.PNG

 

2.PNG9.PNG

2_1.PNG

3.PNG

3_1.PNG

4.PNG

5.PNG

6.PNG

7.PNG

7_1.PNG

8.PNG

 

This one is for the reference. I2 and J2 cells are filled with the corresponding colour of G2 and H2 respectively

where in R is red, G is green and, Y is Yellow.

 

Thats how it is done. !

 

10.PNG

 

Thanks for Reading.

 

.xlf is enclosed for more clearer explanation. Change the extension to .xlf to use the same.

 

Regards,

Sara

Sara G

Creativity With Pie Charts

Posted by Sara G Jun 26, 2014

Creativity in the Charts can make the component look different altogether. Here is one such example.

Follow the screen shots below to achieve the different views of a simple Pie chart.

 

1.PNG

Tube/Donut Chart

2.PNG

Wheel Chart

 

3.PNG

3_1.PNG

Concentric Pie Chart

4.PNG

 

Double Donut Chart

6.1.PNG

 

For the chart representation , suppose here the smaller one shows the Current Year and the Bigger one

shows the Previous year. The legends of this can be taken form the Character Map. The below screen shots

shows the further explanation to this, i.e. How it can be achieved.

6.PNG7.PNG

With that said, the ellipse can be used to have a all selection as well. Just by placing a transparent push button.

Double Disk.PNG

Sample Visualizations :

 

Disk Chart.PNG

 

Double Disk_1.PNG

 

 

Thanks for Reading.

.xlf is enclosed for more clearer explanation. Change the extension to .xlf to use the same.

 

Regards,

Sara

There are many scenarios in which the selections are more, and every time the selections are changed the dashboard get refreshed.

In such cases we can have a Submit / Modify Button placed  with the selection, when the user has made all the selections and clicks on this button the connections are triggered.

 

One additional "Colour Changing" Functionality can be given in it, which will make it better. When the user makes the same selection again (consecutive selection) the submit/modify button should be greyed out and whenever the selection is different from the previous selection the Button should be enabled.

 

Lets follow the screen shots to see how it can be done.

 

1.PNG2.PNG3.PNG3_1.PNG4.PNG5.PNG

6.1.PNG6.PNG7.PNG7_1.PNG

 

RESULT :

8.PNG9.PNG

 

Thanks for Reading.

 

.xlf of it is attached, please change the extension to .xlf and use it.

 

Regards,

Sara

Daniel Davis

BRAZIL 2014 WALLCHART

Posted by Daniel Davis Jun 11, 2014

Hello, It's that time of year again and it would not be a World Cup without a dashboard... so here it is the

 

s2.jpg

Think of the application as an insert in your daily newspaper, download the content, enter the scores and it does the rest. You can save your scores, predict the winners and view match by match analytics right from within the dashboard. If you want to go deeper you can link to the SAP Lumira Soccer Analytics Microsite. The video below gives you an idea of what the application does and you can download the video separately below.

 

 

Please note this is a bit of fun for you and your customers. It's not supported but it has been tested in IE and Chrome. On a serious note it's a great way of introducing the SAP Analytics capabilities. You can choose what to download as there are two links, with and without the video.

 

Enjoy

 

Daniel @mrxcelsius

 

 

DOWNLOAD LINKS

 

Download with Movie (24mb)

 

Download without Movie (3mb)

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