Posts by: Xavier Hacking
No, but that’s okay.
Somewhere this quarter we can expect the new Application Design option in SAP Analytics Cloud, which enables us to do the things that we know from SAP Lumira Designer like scripting and setting up more complex custom interactions. I think we should really see this as a sort of preview release to get familiar with the tool and definitely not as a full featured solution that is capable of everything that Lumira Designer already can do. This is also in line with the expectations that were set by the SAP engineers at the announcement in mid-2018, who communicated that it would probably take around two years to catch up with Lumira Designer.
So for me there are a couple of must-haves before this tool is ready for serious usage scenarios. First, without container component the Application Design option will never work for apps that go further than simple one-page demo scenarios. We need options to group widgets that belong to each other so that we can create multiple pages and setup scripts on the whole group at once. Without this it will be a nightmare to build multi layer applications as you’d need scripts to hide/show each widget individually. In addition to this, global scripts are also a must to be able to reuse scripts within the application. Performance is always an issue when applications get more complex. Therefor, we need (scripting) options to tweak the way that data sources are loaded: loading order, background loading, parallel loading, lazy loading etc.
Just a few more days and the year is almost over again, which makes this a perfect time to have a look at what happened in the past 12 months in the world of SAP Analytics Cloud. With all the updates the tool got in 2018 (22 waves!), you’d almost forget that it is just 10 months ago that SAC was pushed forward as the future of BI for SAP. But the question is of course: can it already deliver on this promise? And is it really enterprise ready? So let’s have a look at the state of SAP Analytics Cloud anno 2018. I grouped my observations in a good, bad and ugly manner.
Let’s start with some important signs in addition to the famous strategy blog of February 2018. SAP Analytics Cloud will be turned into the single BI solution for all tooling within SAP. So not only as the front-end solution on top of a SAP BW or HANA system, but it will replace the built-in BI solutions that come with the several cloud solutions SAP has acquired/developed over the years. Think of SuccessFactors, Concur, Fieldglass, Cloud for Customer. This will bring in millions of potential new users. For project Blueberry, which is a future SAP BW4/HANA cloud based offering, SAC will be the BI front-end. For the on-premise tools the future looks pretty sad. They probably will be supported for another decade, but all new innovations will be done in SAC.
I also see that SAC is slowly transitioning from a BI/planning tool into a broad platform that goes further than what the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform ever delivered. Initially it only hosted the models and stories for reporting and planning, then the boardrooms and predictive scenarios were added as separate objects, and next year we will see applications, Roambi templates and Analysis Office workbooks appearing.
The Analysis Office workbooks are an interesting topic in itself and I regard this as a must have for 2019 to completely get SAC to a full “enterprise ready platform” level. Currently, Analysis Office workbooks can only consume acquired data models in SAC. To make this really work we need support for live BW/HANA models, and the option to store these workbooks on the SAC platform from within the Analysis Office software. This is all on the roadmap for 2019.
In 2018 a lot of generic SAC features were released, for example story bookmarks, offline/live data blending and proper platform usage statistics. Also many more specific features were delivered, for example on BW live connectivity where SAC is now very close to supporting the full spectrum of BEx features. This year brought the universal display hierarchy, support for two BEx structures and support for BEx conditions.
To finish the Good section, SAP is doing a lot to support organizations to manage this new normal of cloud. It will offer so-called test tenants that run a preview of the upcoming wave. This allows customers to check out new features so they are prepared for the actual release.
SAP Analytics Cloud Application Design is expected to be available somewhere at the beginning of 2019, so let’s already have a look at some tips to get you started with this first release.
In case you haven’t heard about Application Design, this is a brand new solution within the SAP Analytics Cloud, which allows you to build your own applications. It makes use of the components that we already know from the BI, Planning and Predictive areas in SAP Analytics Cloud, but lets you use scripts to extend these capabilities. It is basically SAP Lumira Designer in the cloud.
1. Fast scripting
For those familiar with SAP Lumira Designer this one won’t come as a surprise. Also in SAC Application Design you can (and should) use the content assistent (CTRL + SPACE) to help you write scripts. It is fast and prevents mistakes. Just hit CTRL + SPACE and you’ll get a list of possible options.
You can find the SAP Analytics Cloud Application Design API Reference with all options here. Note that – just as in SAP Lumira Designer – you can also use “this“, instead of the name of the object that you are adding a script to. This is fast and flexible, as you can easily reuse the same code without having to adjust the name of the widgets. “me” doesn’t work by the way.
2. Debug with console.log();
With console.log(); you can pass values to the console of the web browser. You can use this to debug your application and see what is happening with your code.
3. Info Panel
The built-in Info Panel contains two tabs: Errors and Reference List. The Errors will show you incorrect scripts and scripts with warnings. You can click the error and immediately go to the script and the line.
4. R Visualization widget
Just as in SAC stories you can use the R Visualization widget in Application Design. Very interesting is the fact that you cannot only use this to visualize a custom R chart, but you can also use the variables that you define in the R script editor in your Application Design scripts. You could for example use R to do some advanced calculations, and display the result through another widget.
5. Get the largest monitor you can
Make sure you got a large monitor when you want to properly work with this tool. I was using my 13″ MacBook Pro, but with these massive panels on all sides there isn’t much space left for the actual application canvas and you don’t want to be scrolling and opening/closing panels all the time.
A huge update in SAP Analytics Cloud wave 2018.17 for platform administrators! It is now finally possible to get more insights in the actual usage of your SAP Analytics Cloud environment. Who is using which story at what time. Furthermore, we can now easily see relations between SAC objects. For example, what roles and teams are assigned to a certain user.
This data is made available via a couple of built-in models and you can create your own stories for reporting on it. This is a huge step forward, as before we had to make manual exports of the Activity data into CSV files, clean the data and use MS Excel (or import the data again into SAP Analytics Cloud) to do an analysis. Also we could use the SAC API to get information about objects. Anyway, it was not very convenient to do this on a daily base.
In the video I show you how to activate this functionality and how to use it to create your own monitoring story.
Just weeks after the introduction of the long-awaited bookmarks in SAP Analytics Cloud, the first improvement/extension of this features is already introduced: Bookmarks for Explorer views. In this video I take a look at how this works in SAP Analytics Cloud stories (available from wave 2018.18).