Francois Imberton, SAP Product Management, provided an ASUG Webcast on SAP Dashboard BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3 Webcast.
The usual disclaimer applies that things are subject to change.
Figure 1, Source: SAP
BI 4.0 offers a new panel to create queries inside the Dashboard Designer. This panel is being enhanced for additional data sources such as BW. Figure 1 shows that you can access BW via BEx queries from the Query Panel. Also you can access third party OLAP via universes such SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) and Essbase. The semantic layer will also offer access/connectivity to SAP ERP classic InfoSets and ABAP functions.
Figure 1 also shows there will be new ways to visualize hierarchies. This is shown as part of the demo of this webcast.
Long term, Francois said they want to simplify authoring of design to reduce dependency on Excel. Excel (as part of the Dashboard) will never go away; it introduces an overhead in building and maintaining a solution, to be improved through better binding.
Figure 2, Source: SAP
Figure 2 shows the Query Panel in Feature Pack 3. It enables you to access hierarchies defined in OLAP source. You can select hierarchies as result objects or conditions – it can be level based member selection or value based. Figure 2 shows how it looks in Design Time.
Figure 3, Source: SAP
Figure 3 shows the run time of how the hierarchies look using the tree view prompt selector or the hierarchical table.
In the hierarchical table, using BEx / ECC data sources, the component can act as a Report to Report Interface (RRI) sender to a BEx Web report, an ECC transaction, or trigger another action, as long as the row select fits the context. So you can jump from a dashboard table to a BEx web or an ERP transaction.
Francois said functionality like this allows BI to “close the loop” between BI and business processes.
DEMO of Dashboards 4.0 Feature Pack 3
Figure 4, Source SAP
Figure 4 shows a demo of Dashboards 4.0 FP3 in preview mode
This contains two query prompt components. One is based on a hierarchy based on BEx/BW.
Figure 5, Source: SAP
Figure 5 shows the navigation of the hierarchy and the resulting change in the chart below.
Figure 6, Source: SAP Free Characteristics
Figure 6 shows the selection of Free Characteristics from the BEx Query inside the Dashboard Preview mode and the ability to select multiple values.
On the left of Figure 6 is the hierarchical table where the response time in navigating is fast due to multiple levels of caching.
Figure 7: Source: SAP
Figure 7 shows how the hierarchical table acts like a spreadsheet and when you select a row, it acts as a selector and refreshes the information (chart) below.
Figure 8, Source: SAP
Figure 8 shows a hierarchy example against SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS)
Figure 9, Design Time BI 4.0 Dashboard Feature Pack 3, Source: SAP
Figure 9 shows the design time of feature pack 3
On the left Query 1 and 2 are based on BEx Queries while Query 3 is based on SSAS.
Figure 10, Source: SAP
Figure 10 shows the Edit Query within Dashboards 4.0 FP3 based on a BEx query based on Flex.
Francois said that Figure 10 shows how similar this is to Web Intelligence on top of BEx.
Francois said they wanted to provide a “unified experience” dependent on the source
Figure 11, Source: SAP
Figure 11 shows the member selector that defines the levels you want to select from BW. You can define selection based on values or go into levels and retrieve specific levels of the hierarchy.
Figure 12, Prompts
Figure 12 shows the Prompts; the first one comes from the BEx Query and the second one was defined within the Query Panel. Also notice in the prompt summary there is a dependency (blue arrow). First answer the root and then get a list of values for the dependent prompts.
Figure 13 Preview of Query Result, Source: SAP
Figure 13 shows the preview of query results to show how the results will look like – others in the past did not have these features (QaaWS).
Dashboards 4.0 Feature Pack 3 BW Connectivity in More Details
Figure 14, Source: SAP
Figure 14 covers BW Connectivity, comparing BEx Connector with Xcelsius 2008.
The new connector is to provide consistency across the clients. Another area is consistency across the platform as with FP 3 you do not need BI Java.
“Interoperability” between dashboards and other clients, providing value. The new infrastructure uses new dashboard services, platform services (including monitoring)
Before you had to publish to BW; this limitation is now gone.
To bind data/components to the data, you do not need to go to Excel anymore; you can bind to the query. This simplifies the dashboard authoring and maintenance.
You still need to bind to Excel, however, to define the Chart title.
Figure 16, Source: SAP
Figure 16 shows limitations in BI 4.0 FP 3
BEx variable dependencies are handled at design time – and not at run time
Dashboard audience is casual; BEx variable dependency features work better in Analysis
Other Dashboard FP3 Enhancements
Figure 17, Source: SAP
The upgrade from Adobe Flex 2 to Flex 4 – for customers it has no impact unless you are using add-ons provided by partners
These partner add-ons need to be updated to Flex 4.
If you don’t upgrade add-ons these will not work with Dashboard FP 3.
The upgrade was done at the request of partners to take advantage of Flex 4 features.
When Excel formulas are used over large range of data, performance data has been improved.
Combination charts will have the capability to define alerts with multiple series.
New waterfall chart preview is shown in Figure 17.
Question & Answer
Q: What is the planned release of FP 3?
A: The plan is Q1 2012 – plans are subject to change
Q: Will hierarchical demo work with MSAS cubes?
A: Yes – shown in 3rd tab of the demo
Q: Does the new version support bookmark functionality like Web Application Designer (WAD) does? The user can drill down by hemisphere, region, and when they bookmark it, it saves those variables; they do not have go through drilldown/variable process again?
A: Not offered out of the box; it is about personalization
Dashboard designer has a local scenario specific to a laptop – you can persist values / to retrieve view state but it will not be shareable between users.
Alternative is to persist in XML file on server – but that is custom work
This request is on the list of the backlog; have not discussed post FP 3
Q: What is the minimum version of NW Portal that FP 3 support?
A: In FP 3, to integrate with NW Portal you use the Portal Integration Kit with BI Launchpad – you would need to follow up with that group
Q: Is there an XCelsius to Dashboard migration plan?
A: No migration – no feature being removed.
Q: Does the hierarchy table support BPC hierarchies?
A: Post FP 3, there is a plan to provide universe connectivity on top of EPM cubes. EPM suite, extended analytics package, does provide connectivity from Dashboards to EPM but not what was shown here with hierarchies
Q: Are SWF and XLF be combined?
A: They are, when you publish now you publish one entities – physically they are 2 but appear as one
Q: Does the FP 3 Dashboard come with BI 4.0 FP 3
A: Yes, it is part of the core release – it is the same release
Dashboard is in synch and included in that release
I thank SAP's Francois Imberton for this ASUG webcast. We have two more upcoming BI 4.0 Feature Pack 3 webcasts for ASUG Members: