SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio 1.6 is coming up later this quarter so it is time to do a little previewing! You can find the full roadmap for Design Studio here. Below I’ll discuss the highlights of all the new features that we can expect.
New Scorecard component
Design Studio 1.6 brings a new component that we have seen before in Xcelsius (SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards): the Scorecard component, or formatted table. This component can display multiple visualizations on a single table row. A table can display multiple of these rows, for example for each product type or region a separate row. We can show simple numbers but also charts (micro charts/trend lines without x/y-axis). Exceptions as defined in the underlying BEx Query can be shown as trend icons, colored text or colored cell backgrounds.
Very very useful if you want to display a lot of performance indicators in a compact way. Should also be easy to develop as you now only need a single scorecard component to achieve this, instead of using multiple text, chart etc. components to to the same.
New Spreadsheet component
A bit of a surprise is this new Spreadsheet component. It has the same functionality as the Crosstab component, so it can display data and has a context menu with all the OLAP features (filter, sort etc.). Difference is that you can now copy and paste data to and from this component. This is meant for planning scenarios, where you have to enter values (the planning template also uses the spreadsheet component). Now you can copy the data from a Design Studio app to Excel, make some adjustments there, and copy and paste them back into the spreadsheet component in the Design Studio app and use the planning functionality to save the data. The component also really looks like a familiar spreadsheet environment as in MS Excel, so that is also a plus. There is no info on using formulas or such as we are used to in Excel.
Geo pie charts
You can now use custom point markers (images) in the Geo Map component. Also pie charts can be plotted on the geo layers. Don’t use this, as pie charts suck.
Info charts + Chart feeding component
Design Studio 1.6 introduces a totally new charting component called the Info chart. The old chart component is still there, but for new developments we should use the new component. It has new chart types (bullet, combo, stacked), a context menu and support for BEx Query exceptions. It also supports the trellis chart feature we know from SAP Lumira, where you get multiple versions of the same chart to show different parts of a dataset.
The Chart feeding component lets the user set up a chart (Info chart) themselves on runtime.
So it’s a bit weird that they introduce a new component instead of updating the existing one, but anyway, more consistency in looks and usability between different applications (Lumira/Design Studio) is always a good thing.
More context menu options in cross tab/spreadsheet
End users can now add an additional column to a table with a different aggregation of a measure. These are the options:
- Moving minimum value
- Moving maximum value
- Accumulative Sum
- Accumulative Sum of Rounded Values
- Accumulative Count of All Values
- Accumulative Count of All Values that are Not Zero, Null or Error
- Moving Average
- Moving average for values that are not zero, null or error
- Rank number
- Olympic Rank Number
- Percentage Contribution
Users can also create a new calculated measure (column) based on two other measures. The options for this are:
- Percentage Difference
- Percentage Share
In later releases a real formula editor will be added. So this is a nice first start, but probably a bit too limited/simple to be really useful. The column names of these new columns can be edited by the way. Another new feature is that end users can create top/bottom N filters on measures.
In local mode it is possible to use a CSV-file to load data for prototyping. It is even an option to download SAP BW data and use that for your prototype. This is great! This was always an important feature of Xcelsius, where it was easy to enter some dummy data in the spreadsheet to quickly create a good looking dashboard prototype.
Integrated CSS editor
We can finally edit and upload/update the custom CSS file from within the Design Studio client tool, instead of having to use Notepad++ or another CSS editor and manually upload the file to the BI Platform after each edit. Excellent!
This one has been on my wish list for a long time: Drag & Drop between the Navigation Panel and the Crosstab or Spreadsheet component is finally available. This means that the functionality as we know it from BEx Web/Analysis can now be fully replicated with a Design Studio application.
Export functionality has been improved a bit: Export to PDF now supports multi-panels and Export to Excel/CSV includes hierarchies.
There are two more new components that we know from SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards: Timer and Tree component. The Timer component can trigger scripts at a set interval, for example the refresh of a data source. The Tree component can display hierarchical structures.
An icon library is now included.
This is a great update and I can’t wait to try it out! Good stuff. For the next version I expect more on the Geo Map component, commenting in combination with BI4.2 and the formula editor for adding new measures and manipulating data.