SAP Dashboards and Design Studio have been getting beefy lately with their latest BI 4.1 releases. SAP Dashboards has added the additional capability of connecting cached data to Mobile Dashboards (through Web Services) and SAP Design Studio 1.2 has added the ability to connect to BusinessObjects Universes (albeit only UNX universes, not legacy UNV universes). Many customers have held off upgrading their dashboard development until they received more clarity from SAP in terms of a direction. If you have not yet moved on from Xcelsius 2008, you should probably do so. But should you stay with SAP Dashboards or move on to SAP Design Studio? As always, the answer depends on where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go.
Below are some of the common questions received:
Q: If a customer isn’t using Xcelsius/Dashboards, should they exclusively use Design Studio or are there still reasons to use Dashboards?
As of today, if you are a traditional BW or HANA shop or are only using newly created UNX universes, I would recommend using Design Studio as it seems to be where SAP is putting most of their focus and development resources. If you are not a BW/HANA shop and have existing Xcelsius Dashboards, then you should continue using SAP Dashboards due to the flexibility of supported connection types. You are banking on the premise that SAP will not turn Dashboards into the new Desktop Intelligence. All indications so far is that won’t happen and if anything, you’d be hoping for a future release of a unified tool that combines both Dashboards and Design Studio development.
Q: When moving Xcelsius dashboards to BI 4.x, is there anything no longer supported that MUST be reworked?
If you are moving to an early version of Dashboards 4.0 SP2 or lower, there are a few components that didn’t make it over that might need to be reworked but major functionality and connectivity should remain intact. Simply open up your Xcelsius 2008 XLF source file inside of Dashboards and SAVE AS using the Dashboards tool (remember to ALWAYS BACKUP). If you are moving to Dashboards 4.0 FP3/SP4 or higher, Adobe Flex was upgraded to version 4 up from version 2, which would cause any Flex 2-based 3rd party add-ons to be disabled. Updated versions of these add-ons that support Flex 4 will need to be installed and tested.
Q: When doing maintenance on an old dashboard, should Live Office, QaaWS, etc. be replaced in favor of new connectivity (web service, new UNX data connectivity, etc.) as a best practice, if time permits, etc.?
Ideally, yes, BI services would come to mind as it is compatible with Dashboards on mobile devices (see related article, Video: Create Drill-Down Mobile SAP Dashboards) as of 4.1 SP1 and will allow you to view cached data. Any opportunity to move away from LiveOffice (see related article, Live Office is Dead to Me) or Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) if time permits would be recommended. UNX data connectivity would be recommended only if query run time is short and connectivity can be staggered inside of the dashboard.
If Dashboards are a major driver of your BI and you are an existing XI 3.1 customer, it may serve you better to skip BI4.0 and upgrade straight to BI 4.1 (see related article, State of the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 Upgrade, January 2014) to take advantage of some of these new features within Dashboards.
SAP has done a good job within the last 2 years of keeping the community updated with their direction with Dashboards and Visualizations, especially Anita Gibbings BI Product Marketing for SAP, who has been actively asking for feedback from users.
- Executing on the Statement of Direction for Dashboarding by Anita Gibbings, BI product marketing, SAP Posted in December 2013
- The Future of Dashboards – Strategy and Direction by Adam Binnie, Global VP & GM, Business Intelligence, SAP Posted in April 2012
- The Future of Design Studio (formerly Zen) and Dashboards by Anita Gibbings and Ian Mayor