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The latest on SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio: Q&A with SAP mentor Tammy Powlas

September 10, 2013

Bridget Kotelly, Conference Producer, Reporting & Analytics 2013

Curious about what's next for SAP BusinessObjects reporting?  In our recent online chat with Reporting & Analytics speaker and SAP mentor Tammy Powlas, she shared some of her experiences with the latest release of SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio 1.1, as well as how it fits into the current BI tools landscape.  

Tammy covered a wide range of questions in the hour, on topics including using and changing Design Studio templates, BW integration, tools selection. Look for her thoughts on the roadmap for BI and bit of speculation about a future "convergence of tools".

If you missed our live chat, here's our edited transcript. And join us to continue the discussion at Reporting & Analytics 2013 in Orlando, November 20-22.

Bridget Kotelly:

Welcome, Tammy, and thank you for joining us today. We’re looking forward to seeing you this November!

Tammy Powlas:

Thank you Bridget - I am excited to be here and looking forward to November conference. Welcome everyone!

           

Gian Franco Fiorentini:

Hello, talking about the add-On for based on SAP Netweaver BW, from which BW release or support package is the integration supported and available? Which kind of BW objects are available as datasource for a Design Studio application? Thanks in advance.

Best Regards, Gian Franco Fiorentini (Be ONE S.r.l.)

Tammy Powlas:

Hello Gian Franco,

Please see the BW prerequisites at SCN - I recently posted a blog on SCN - it is BW 730 SP9  here and here

           

Gian Franco Fiorentini:

Hello, a few questions about Design Studio server-side installation. Do add-Ons for publication on BI Platform and integration with SAP NetWeaver BW have to be installed only at server-side? Are there any parts that have to be installed client-side, or do the client just have to be configured? Thanks in advance. Best Regards, Gian Franco Fiorentini (Be ONE S.r.l.)

Tammy Powlas:

Hello Gian Franco,

The add-ons need to be installed server side. Client side you need the Designer tool installed. So if you are deploying through BI platform, BW, or locally there are 3 separate installations. Please see this blog.

           

Guest

Tammy, Can we make modifications to the Design Studio templates? And can we use our own templates?

Tammy Powlas:

Hello,

Yes, you can create your own templates. We have examples on SCN where you can do this. If you are just starting I recommend starting with the SAP templates.

           

elenafratini:

I would like to know if SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio 1.1 is in Business Objects XI 3 or not.

Thank you a lot - Elena Fratini , Infogroup (Intesa Sanpaolo)

Tammy Powlas:

Hello Elena,

Design Studio is platform independent. However you cannot deploy Design Studio on XI 3.

Thank you for your question.

 

Gian Franco Fiorentini:

Hello, a few questions about Design Studio licensing. Is the license related in some way to the license of SAP Business Objects BI (4.0 and more), or is it a dedicated license? Do this license include both server and client side installation? Which costs have this license? Are there more kind of licenses?

Thanks in advance.

Best Regards, Gian Franco Fiorentini (Be ONE S.r.l.)

Tammy Powlas:

Hello Gian,

If you have a license for Dashboards, you have a license for Design Studio. Design Studio does not rely on BI4. For other license questions please contact your SAP account rep.

Thank you for your question.

 

Guest:

I need to build a simple chart but on x axis need to display different time period depending on some prompt, how can I achive it? Ex: for 3 years, need every year or every 6 months or every quarter. Has to be just one report that'll allow it. Thank you       

Tammy Powlas:

Thank you for your question. It would help if you could post a link so I could visualize it. On the surface, I believe this can be done using prompts from BEx.

Thank you.

  

Sam P

Is there any way to consume Design Studio reports on iPhone or iPad without using BOBJ platform? By directly connecting to SAP BW?

Tammy Powlas:

Hi Sam,

You can consume it locally on the iPhone/iPad - but that is really prototyping. It is best, in my opinion to use BI Mobile 5.0.

For BW, there is a patch coming, I believe, that will allow you to deploy on a mobile device through the Enterprise portal.

Please see my recent blog (all three parts) for more information.


Guest: Hi Tammy, how does Design Studio work with the other tools, and can you give us a couple of examples of how your organization uses it?

Tammy Powlas:

Thank you for your question -

Yes, it works great with the Analysis Suite, such as Analysis OLAP and Analysis Office.

With Analysis Office you can do a "smart copy and paste" and it will take you to Design Studio.

With Analysis OLAP (BI4.1) and Analysis Office there is a one click option to publish to Design Studio.

Design Studio also works well with BI BusinessObjects Mobile 5.0 (free on iTunes)

 

Gian Franco Fiorentini:

Hello, which way is the add-On for BI Platform publication and Mobile deployment integrated with BI Mobile release 5.0 ?

Thanks in advance,
Gian Franco Fiorentini (Be ONE Srl)

Tammy Powlas:

Hello Gian,

Great question!

With BI 4.1, Mobile 5.0 is automatically deployed - all you need to do is assign your Design Studio application to the Mobile category and you should be all set. Note that Design Studio currently only works with iOS devices.

Tammy

 

Bridget Kotelly:

I know you’ll cover Design Studio uses and features in detail in your presentation. Can you share one or two of the key changes that you appreciate about 1.1?

Tammy Powlas:

What is nice about 1.1 is the new HTML5 display, and you can hover over it to see the values.

Also it has the new feature to deploy to the iPhone.

Great stuff to check out...

                       

Guest

We are moving from BO 3.1 to BI 4.1.We are only using Xcelsius right now. Do you have blog about migration considerations?

Tammy Powlas:

Hello,

Thank you for your question.

Right now there is no migration to Design Studio; SAP recommends if you have a new application that you start with Design Studio if your data sources are from BW or HANA.

Migration from Xcelsius is planned for a future release.

 

Brian Durning:

You mention data sources for Design Studio. Do they support UNV and UNX as well as Query as a Web Service?

Tammy Powlas:

Hi Brian,

Thank you for coming!

Right now it does not support UNV or UNX or Query as a Web Service.

It only supports BW and HANA as data sources.

Tammy

 

Bridget Kotelly

Does it connect to SAP ERP?  

Tammy Powlas:

Yes, it will connect to SAP ERP if you are on SAP Enhancement Package 5 - you can connect to the Transient Provider. Please see SCN or my sessions in November.

           

Bridget Kotelly:

Since you are in the know... can you tell us a bit about what's planned for 1.2 release? 

Tammy Powlas:

Hi Bridget,

The big news about the 1.2 release is the SDK availability; this will allow partners and customers to design their own components. It is exciting news. Dual axis charts are coming too. Note this is planned (subject to change by SAP).        

           

Bridget Kotelly:

Our attendees still struggle with questions about tools selection (and of course, there’s Steve Lucas’ great quote that if SAP were in the war for the most tools, they’d win).

So I’ll start with a few clarifying questions: How does Design Studio relate to BEx Web Application Designer? And does it replace or complement SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (Xcelsius)?   And what kinds of skills should a Design Studio user have to get started?  

Tammy Powlas:

Right now Design Studio does not replace all features of Web Application Designer. Hopefully 1.2 closes the gap.

For customers using BW / HANA as data sources, customers should consider using Design Studio.

Tammy Powlas:

To answer your question about skill set…
If you are doing complex, interactive applications I recommend having some CSS / Javascript knowledge. I do not have those skills so I used the free tutorials on SCN to teach myself.

There is a script wizard that helps you through the scripting process. To me Design Studio is for IT developers or power users.

Please note that Reporting 2013 speaker Ingo Hilgefort has written an eBook on Design Studio - this covers installation, examples, step-by-step to help you get started. It will have free updates for the 1.2 version.

           

You should also consider adding hands-on sessions to your Reporting 2013 agenda - Ingo Hilgefort has a demo session on Design Studio and hands-on sessions that are quite popular.

           

Brian Durning

Does the product roadmap for Design Studio include most of the functionality found in our legacy tools?

Tammy Powlas:

Brian,

I believe that is coming in the future direction and we should hear more from SAP at the TechEd timeframe to close the gap between Design Studio, Xcelsius/Dashboards, and Web Application Designer.

2014 will be a key year to see how SAP closes the gap on these products (my opinion only).

Brian Durning

That is great. I am sure Ingo and you will have a lot of comments on SCN to follow around this.

Tammy Powlas:

Thank you, Brian! Great seeing you online.

 

Gian Franco Fiorentini:

So, we can consider BW support a new feature introduced by the latest version. Any news about functionalities and possibilities regarding HANA integration? Thanks in advance, Gian Franco Fiorentini

 Tammy Powlas:

Hello Gian - I don't have any specifics/news on the HANA integration, but for sure SAP has that as a priority in their roadmap.         

Brian Durning

Gian, Do you mean integration or HANA data consumption?

Gian Franco Fiorentini:

Hi Brian, Excuse me, it was not clear, I mean HANA data consumption.

Thank you, Gian Franco Fiorentini

Tammy Powlas:

Gian - I don't have any specifics on the future of that. Stay tuned for October - the planned release for 1.2 is the TechEd Las Vegas timeframe.

 

Bridget Kotelly:

Tammy, can you talk about your own experience in testing 1.0 and 1.1?

Tammy Powlas:

For the beta program(s) you have the opportunity to work directly with SAP product development and developers on the solution. They are a great way to work with SAP product managers and development on the solution.

 

SAP provided periodic webcasts with us on the Beta program, and used collaboration tools to answer our questions - no OSS/SAP Support notes :)      

Brian Durning

Yes, the Beta Programs are great. And don't forget that if you can't participate in the Beta Programs there is ideas.sap.com

Tammy Powlas:

Brian,

Thank you! Design Studio recently opened a category at Idea Place.

 

Bridget Kotelly:

What did you first test in the Beta program? 

Tammy Powlas:

Hi Bridget,

I first made sure that Design Studio worked with our existing data sources (including SAP ERP). Then, I created detailed test plans to ensure success with the program.

 I had to provide status to SAP. Beta customer validation and ramp-up programs are a nice opportunity to work with SAP.

           

Brian Durning

Tammy, do you have all the products at your company right now from Xcelsius through to Design Studio?

Tammy Powlas:

Hi Brian,

We have many of the tools; we are not actively using Xcelsius and very little Web Intelligence. Crystal Reports is the most used tool...I'll explain...

Crystal Reports has a history of being used here even before SAP and still works with many of our legacy products (especially SAP)

I have an embedded analytics session at Reporting 2013 where I talk about how we integrated Crystal Reports with ERP.

 

Guest

Is there capability to connect to BPC 10 NW with Design Studio? If not, is that planned in a future release?

Tammy Powlas:

Hello,

I am not sure about BPC integration (sorry) - I can find out later. Integration Planning is on the roadmap for a future release.

Editor’s note > Tammy sent us this after the Q&A ended, shared by one of her contacts at SAP:
Via the virtual provider option (BW standard feature), this is possible today. And in BPC 10.1, integration will become even better as BPC cubes become standard BW cubes.
       

           

Brian Aldrich

What are the best resources to learn the scripting that's used in Design Studio?

Tammy Powlas:

Hello Brian,

I used the help at help.sap.com - it uses the BIAL language. I have posted everything I've tried on SCN. Ingo's eBook walks through some examples. Also check sap.com/LearnBI.

 

Brian Durning

I really like the portability or ability to embed in to Crystal Reports and Microsoft Office products. Do you think we will continue to have this ability in future releases?

Tammy Powlas:

Brian - I hope so! We use this ourselves with our financial statements...the interoperability works great

For scripting, I also follow the SCN forum and get some great tips from questions asked/answered.

 

Brian Durning

I like the one click function to send to mobile. I forget are all OS platforms supported at this time? IOS, Windows and Android?

Tammy Powlas:

Hi Brian,

iPhone and iPad are supported. Android is planned for a future release (likely 2014). Not sure about Windows :)

 

Brian Aldrich

This is a little broader than just Design Studio, but have you been able to move completely from BEx tools to the Analysis tools, including Design Studio? If so, what are the things to be mindful of during the migration?

  

Tammy Powlas:

Hi Brian,

I still use the BEx Query Designer as that is your semantic layer. But I haven't used BEx Analyzer in a very long time and was never a big Web Application Designer user.

 

I found the Web Application Designer tough to use; I remember having to write ABAP programs to get the red-yellow-green lights to appear! That's a lot of work.

 Design Studio has the WYSIWYG design time feature which is a huge improvement over Web Application Designer.

The ease of use of the Analysis suite (Analysis Office, Analysis OLAP, Design Studio) makes the tools easy to learn, easy to deploy

 

Carlos Basto:

Hello Tammy, I understand that both following BO tools serves for different purposes, but I've been heard a lot about one point: is there any possibility of Dashboard and WebI be replaced by Design Studio?

Tammy Powlas:

Design Studio will not replace Web Intelligence, to my knowledge. However, SAP's statement of direction says that Design Studio and Dashboards will converge in the future - and we should see that starting to gel in 2014 (my opinion on 2014). Thank you for your question Carlos!


Bridget Kotelly:

Tammy, any suggestions to improve the dashboard performance and to decrease the initial load time?   

Tammy Powlas:

For any Analysis tool, it is always best to try running it on BW using the RSRT transaction; always send small amounts of data to your Dashboards too.

 

Brian Durning

There was a lot of talk at BOUC around the convergence of tools. Definitely keep an eye on SCN through Tammy and Ingo. They have their ear to the ground.        

Tammy Powlas:

Yes, Brian, I believe 2014 is the "year of convergence" :)

Bridget Kotelly: Ingo will have a session on tools selection that we’re looking forward to, and I’m sure that there will be a lot of chatter around the roadmap!

 

Gian Franco Fiorentini:

Hello,

If we have to choose between dashboarding tools like Design Studio, Xcelsius, and Lumira, for example, which one is better in your opinion? Thanks in advance, Gian Franco Fiorentini

 Tammy Powlas:

Hello Gian,

- If you need to develop professionally authored dashboards against BW/HANA/ERP, then look at Design Studio.

Consider Design Studio if you have a mobile-first dashboard. Design Studio was built on a mobile-first mentality - it was designed to deploy on your iPad. There are iPad and iPhone templates to guide you to deploy

- If your data source is universes or multi-source Universes, then use Xcelsius/Dashboards.

- Lumira is great for ad-hoc querying and it does have nice cloud feature (cloud.saplumira.com) - you can author your dashboard on your iPad with Lumira - SP12 is coming soon with some great features. Lumira is more for your analyst/data analyst/business analyst users who need to analyze data "on the fly". Very easy to use and free.

 

Brian Durning:

I don't know if I would included Lumira as I see that as a data cleansing, merging and manipulation tool. The others to me are more visualization   

Tammy Powlas:

Brian,

You are right, it does a great job of data manipulation and cleansing - but I was able to create a dual axis chart this weekend that really helped!

 

Guest:

Will 1.2 open full access to the solution DOM? If so, will that allow a path to build a fully customized solution by providing custom HTML/JS/CSS resources?

Thanks

Tammy Powlas:

I am not totally familiar with the 1.2 SDK limitations, but you can build your own custom components such as sliders, gauges, tiles, export to Excel, etc.

  

Bridget Kotelly:

Thank you, Tammy for joining us! 

I highly recommend following Tammy on Twitter @tpowlas , and we’re looking forward to seeing you at Reporting & Analytics in Orlando.

We will post a blog summary of this chat. (If you have registered for this Q&A, be sure to look for an email alert when the transcript is posted.)

Tammy Powlas:

Thank you Bridget and thank you all for coming - I look forward to Reporting 2013 in November!

Bridget Kotelly:

Tammy, thanks again!   

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