Best Practices for an Effective Migration to SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio

January 19, 2016

Business intelligence and big data analytics tools are critical components to support an innovative and competitive organization. SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio was first introduced in 2013 as the successor to SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly Xcelsius) and is just beginning to make traction in the dashboard space.

SAP is focusing its development resources on SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio, and companies should begin the evaluation process now, says Ingo Hilgefort, Vice President of Product Management at Visual BI Solutions.

During this recent one-hour live Q&A, Ingo answered readers' questions on the differences between this platform and its predecessor, and discover how best to migrate from SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards to avoid complications.

We invite you to view the online chat replay or read the full, edited transcript below.

Meet the panelist:
Ingo Hilgefort Ingo Hilgefort, Vice President of Product Management, Visual BI Solutions
Ingo has been in the BI industry for over 15 years in a variety of different roles, including engineering, consulting, training, and product management. His experience with SAP and BI started in 2000 with his role as product manager during the integration of Crystal Reports with SAP NetWeaver BW. Ingo has been involved in architecting and delivering deployments of SAP BusinessObjects software in combination with SAP software for a number of worldwide customers and is an SAP Mentor for SAP BusinessObjects and SAP integration-related topics. Ingo is the author of numerous books, including Inside SAP BusinessObjects Advanced Analysis, Integrating SAP BusinessObjects 4.x BI Platform with SAP NetWeaver, Reporting and Analytics with SAP BusinessObjects (2nd Edition), and Mastering SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio with SAP NetWeaver BW.

Live Blog Best Practices for an Effective Migration to SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio


Natalie Miller, SAPinsider: Hello and welcome to today’s live Q&A on SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio. I’m Natalie Miller, features editor of SAPinsider and insiderPROFILES, and I’m excited to introduce today’s panelist, Ingo Hilgefort, Vice President of Product Management, Visual BI Solutions.

Ingo has been in the BI industry for over 15 years in a variety of different roles, including engineering, consulting, training, and product management. His experience with SAP and BI started in 2000 with his role as product manager during the integration of Crystal Reports with SAP NetWeaver BW. In addition to authoring many books on the subject, Ingo has been involved in architecting and delivering deployments of SAP BusinessObjects software in combination with SAP software for a number of worldwide customers and is an SAP Mentor for SAP BusinessObjects and SAP integration-related topics.

Hi, Ingo, thank you so much for being here today to answer readers’ questions!

Ingo Hilgefort, Visual BI: Hello, everyone. I look forward to all your questions.

Natalie Miller: We are so happy to have you here, Ingo. There are a ton of great questions from readers already waiting for you, so I’ll let you get started on answering them now.

Comment from BPavuluru: Can we connect Design Studio to SAP HANA? Does this replace any BOBI tools?

Ingo Hilgefort: Yes. Design Studio is able to connect to SAP HANA views directly. Design Studio is designed to succeed SAP Dashboards (former Xcelsius) and the SAP BEx Web Application Designer.

Comment from Julian D.: Hi! Good morning. Can I migrate my applications created in Dashboards to Design Studio? If so, how?

Ingo Hilgefort: Currently the migration from SAP Dashboards to SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio is a manual process. There is no automatic option for this migration, and so far there is also no migration on the roadmap for Design Studio.

Comment from Iolanda: Do I have to upgrade to SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards before migrating to SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: If you do not have any prior dashboards using SAP Dashboards/Xcelsius, you do not have to migrate first to SAP Dashboards. You can go directly to Design Studio.

Comment from Iolanda: Are these two tools converging or are they completely different, with varied features?

Ingo Hilgefort: Design Studio was announced in 2012 with a three-year roadmap to succeed and replace SAP Dashboards.

Comment from Raj Kosnam: What are the advantages to using the DS1.5 for Integrated Planning? How easy or hard is it to migrate from BEx web to DS1.5? What options do we have for user interface?

Ingo Hilgefort: The advantage to using Design Studio with Integrated Planning is that Design Studio is the strategic tool from SAP and is there to replace the Web Application Designer. The other tool integrated with BW-IP is Analysis Office, which is your typical Excel integration.

A migration from BEx Web to Design Studio depends a little bit on the complexity of your templates. SAP does provide several out-of-the-box templates which provide an easy migration path for the standard BEx template.

In regards to the user interface, you can leverage those templates, which provide a different look and feel. The templates range from a very simple table/chart view to more complex ones that also provide online composition capabilities.

Comment from Iolanda: What are the main differences between SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: The main differences are:

  • SAP Dashboards/Xcelsius is based on Flex, and you always design a dashboard for a specific screen resolution.
  • Design Studio is based on HTML5, and components are able to resize automatically to the screen resolution.
  • Design Studio offers a much stronger integration with BW and HANA and has an understanding of items such as hierarchies, currency translation, and out of the box.

Comment from ZEESHAN: With SAP Lumira as the main face for SAP visualizations, where does Design Studio stand? Please elaborate on the main differences between Lumira and Design Studio.

Ingo Hilgefort: SAP Lumira is a desktop-based tool that focuses on the business user audience and provides a self-service environment for data visualization.

Design Studio is an eclipse-based environment that delivers HTML5-based output, so it’s tailored to a more power user/developer-based environment. But Design Studio can also be used to deliver a self-service environment.

In regards to the actual visualization options, SAP Lumira and Design Studio are close to each other. It’s more a question of who the main audience will be and if this should follow a more governed approach, which would mean Design Studio, or a more pure, self-service approach from the business user, which would mean SAP Lumira.

Comment from Guest: If you own a license for SAP Dashboards, do you need to purchase a new license to use Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: Customers who own a license of Xcelsius/SAP Dashboards “Enterprise” should automatically receive a license for Design Studio. It’s best to reach out to your SAP account manager directly and share what licenses you have.

Comment from Guest: Can end users create their own dashboards, or is it only the BO consultant who would be creating the dashboards?

Ingo Hilgefort: SAP Design Studio does have a functionality called “Online Composition”, which provides some dashboarding capabilities where users can store existing views of charts, tables, etc., and then re-use them in a new page — similar to what SAP BusinessObjects Explorer was offering as Exploration Views.

Comment from LobsterMan: Could you please comment on what recommendations you have for clients who want to convert from Dashboard Design to Design Studio? Is there a standard process, or do most things have to be redone from scratch?

Ingo Hilgefort: Currently there is no out-of-the-box migration. First of all, you want to start to review your existing dashboards to see if all the items and components you are using are available in Design Studio or if you might require Partner Extensions to cover all your scenarios.

You should also use that time to review the overall design, as things might have changed already.

The actual technical migration right now is a manual process.

Comment from Santhosh Batchu: What features will be missed in Dashboards by migrating Xcelsius dashboards to Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: It is important to differentiate between Design Studio “out-of-the-box” and Design Studio with Partner Extensions. Design Studio out-of-the-box is missing a few components that Xcelsius/SAP Dashboards has, such as a slider component and Drill Down Charts.

Those items are available as Partner Extensions for Design Studio, so you might have to look at extensions for some of your Xcelsius dashboards.

Comment from Guest:  Will Design Studio accept all the data sources that are acceptable to Dashboard currently? (I.e., Live Office Objects, QaaWS, etc.)

Ingo Hilgefort: Currently Design Studio supports three data sources: BW, HANA, and Universes (UNX). Live Office and QaWS are not supported today. You do have the option to use the SDK to create a custom data source if needed.

Comment from Joseph P: Can Design Studio use security roles from BW?

Ingo Hilgefort: Yes, Design Studio is able to use SSO (Single Sign On) with SAP BW and therefore also honors the security configured in BW.

Comment from Guest: Is Design Studio supported by SAP Mobile app?

Ingo Hilgefort: Yes. Design Studio is supported by the SAP Mobile BI App.

Comment from LobsterMan: Are there plans to make Design Studio cloud based (if they do not exist already)?

Ingo Hilgefort: So far, this is not part of the roadmap for Design Studio. If you are after a cloud-based solution, then you might want to look at SAP Cloud for Analytics.

Comment from SudiptaDas: One of the issues that we encounter daily is the fact that Design Studio does not have an inbuilt platform to combine sources for a single chart. Any idea when that will be possible? Part of my company runs on BW and the other part on JD Edwards. How can I combine both the sources for a single view in Design Studio without migrating data anywhere?

Ingo Hilgefort: The ability to combine data sources is not available so far. It is mentioned in the roadmap, and most likely the functionality will be based on BW Workspaces. What you can do today is combine information from JDE in the form of Excel/CSV files with existing queries in BW Workspaces and then use the result in Design Studio.

Comment from Guest: Can we consume BPC Queries Source into Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: Design Studio does support BW-IP as well as the “Unified” model with BW 7.4.

Comment from LobsterMan: Can Design Studio dashboards be accessed via Fiori mobile apps?

Ingo Hilgefort: Design Studio generates pure HTML5 output, so you can also integrate that into your Fiori app.

Comment from Guest: Being a finance guy, I don’t know JavaScript, HANA SQLScript or HTML script. Will I be able to create complex dashboards if I don’t know any scripting language?

Ingo Hilgefort: Sorry to say, but most likely the answer will be “No.” Design Studio will require scripting if you want to go beyond basic dashboards.

SAP Lumira is designed for a business user audience to create data visualizations, but the complexity of your dashboards is limited SAP Lumira.

Comment from Guest: Let’s say a customer does not use BW or HANA. What are the advantages compared to SAP Dashboards?

Ingo Hilgefort: SAP Dashboards is not seen as a strategic tool from SAP anymore, meaning the investment in the future will be limited. The strategic tool for professionally authored dashboards from SAP is Design Studio. It’s not necessary only about “advantages” — it’s also about which of the BI tools are the strategic, important tools moving forward.

Comment from Joseph P: Can we install Design Studio before going to SAP HANA?

Ingo Hilgefort: Yes. Design Studio can integrate with three deployment platforms: NetWeaver, HANA, and SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform.

The recommended choice is the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform — so HANA is not a must.

Comment from Joseph P: Are there any training classes for in-house developers?

Ingo Hilgefort: Yes. There are training classes offered by SAP as well as by partners. For example, we, Visual BI, are offering a Design Studio class next week.

Comment from Tammy: What is the best way to learn Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: If you’re looking to start with Design Studio and you don’t have any prior experience with it, there are a couple options:

  1. You can use the online tutorials from SAP available on SCN
  2. You can go to a training class for Design Studio from SAP or from partners

Comment from Guest: By when will Xcelsius and BO Dashboards be outdated?

Ingo Hilgefort: Xcelsius and SAP Dashboards are the same — just different names for the same product. In 2012, SAP announced the three-year roadmap for Design Studio to succeed Xcelsius/Dashboard, and we are now in 2016. My personal opinion is that Xcelsius is now outdated. Just think about the technology using Flex and Design Studio using HTML5.

Comment from Guest: Do we require a license for SAP Lumira?

Ingo Hilgefort: There is a free version of SAP Lumira, which comes with limitations on the data source connectivity. The full version does require a license.

Comment from Madhu Reddy: Someone had a question earlier about combining BW and JD Edwards data. Is it possible to combine them in a UNX universe and Design Studio on top of it?

Ingo Hilgefort: You could combine BW with JDE using a universe, yes, but you would only be able to use a relational view of BW, as the universe talks to the InfoProvider level. This then means that items, such as restricted key figures, calculated key figures, and hierarchies, would not be available.

Comment from Charles D: Regarding the earlier comment on needing multiple data sources, couldn't you use the IDT to create a multi-source data foundation and use that with DS?

Ingo Hilgefort: Yes, you could, but you would have to accept the fact that you would then view BW as a relational data source. This means items like restricted key figures, calculated key figures, or hierarchies would not be available from BW.

Comment from janardhana: Right now we are able to access Design Studio from iPad, but not from mobile. To access from mobile what should we do?

Ingo Hilgefort: When you say you can access from iPad, but not from “mobile,” what are you referring to as “mobile?”

Comment from janardhana: iPhone 5s and any Android phone. We are planning to migrate our dashboard to Design Studio. After that, are we able to access from mobile?

Ingo Hilgefort: Design Studio supports the SAP Mobile BI app, yes. iPhone and Android phones are supported out-of-the-box with the SAP Mobile BI app. You don’t have to do anything “special” for that. It might be that you are missing a configuration on your BI Platform.

Comment from Tammy: Is the expectation to use SDKs where Design Studio doesn’t fit the gaps for WAD/Dashboards? How can you make the case to buy SDKs?

Ingo Hilgefort: When SAP released Design Studio, it did come with the SDK for customers or partners to create extensions for scenarios where Design Studio still has gaps.

Design Studio still has several gaps in the visualization area, mapping area, and other topics — such as, for example, a typical KPI tile dashboard — and that is where the SDK and extensions provided by partners can help to close the gap.

Especially when migrating from Xcelsius/Dashboards, you will notice that Design Studio out-of-the-box is missing some key components, such as a slider, facet navigation, and several chart types. That’s where the extensions can help.

Comment from Joseph P: Can you describe in general how the Design Studio user interface tools work?

Ingo Hilgefort: Design Studio as “designer” is an eclipse-based developer environment. The “user interface” is basically up to you to create. You can define what the user will see in regards to the look and feel and functionality.

Comment from Guest: What is the basic knowledge needed to create the dashboard by Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: Depending on the data sources, the person should know BW, HANA, or Universes (UNX). For more complex scenarios, the person will require JavaScript as well.

Comment from Ramon: Hi Ingo. I have BO 4.1 x86 platform and BW on HANA with NetWeaver 7.4. Do you think there will be any complications with implementing Design Studio in this landscape? I currently use Dashboards.

Ingo Hilgefort: It seems that there is no SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform in your environment. You can implement Design Studio on NetWeaver as a platform, but it does come with limitations. For example, it will only be able to connect to BW.

Comment from Guest: Will future versions of Design Studio include out-of-the-box mapping/KPI tile dashboard, etc.?

Ingo Hilgefort: That is something SAP will have to decide. There will always be gaps in Design Studio’s visualization capabilities when compared to what some of the extensions are able to deliver.

Comment from Guest: Will SAP HANA replace BW in the future? Can we do ABAP coding in Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: In regards to HANA vs. BW, I would suggest you take a look at all the statements that SAP has given out over the years.

Comment from janardhana: While migrating to Design Studio, how long do we need to maintain both Xcelsius and Design Studio systems in parallel?

Ingo Hilgefort: That really depends on two factors: the number of dashboards you have and the overall and complexity of the dashboards. It is up to you to decide if you want to make a cut and move to Design Studio with all your dashboards or if you want to run both items in parallel for some time.

Comment from janardhana: How long will Xcelsius be supported by SAP?

Ingo Hilgefort: You can check the time for the support on SAP Service Marketplace:

Comment from Joseph P: For performance issues, what dos and don'ts are there for setting up dashboard applications?

Ingo Hilgefort: There are several factors to consider, starting with the number of data sources you have, the data volume in your environment, the number of components that you display, the number of items you need to be loaded for the first page of the dashboard, etc. I would go beyond just a simple answer here — there are several resources on performance topics on SCN, and I will be doing a session on this topic at the BI2016 conference.

Comment from Tammy: Do you see Lumira’s interoperability integration with Design Studio as a good requirement?

Ingo Hilgefort: Currently the interoperability with Lumira from Design Studio is very basic. A user could export the data from a Design Studio dashboard to SAP Lumira, but none of the actual design of the dashboard is leveraged.

Comment from janardhana: Can you share few best practices for migrating from Xcelsius to Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: When you plan to migrate from Xcelsius to Design Studio, you first need to do an inventory of your existing dashboards to check on data sources. You also need to check on visualizations to see if Design Studio covers everything out-of-the-box or if you might have to consider purchasing extensions for Design Studio.

When that part has been clarified, you then want to review your dashboards from a design point of view, as requirements might have changed and you most likely have stronger requirements in the mobile area now.

There is no “silver bullet” to migrate all your dashboards in one step — it is a one-by-one process.

Comment from Guest: Can we create Dashboards using WEBI?

Ingo Hilgefort: Web Intelligence is a reporting tool, not a “dashboarding” tool. If you want to create a report that shows a handful of charts, yes, that can be done in Web Intelligence. If you want to create true dashboards with events and true user interactivity, that is not possible in Web Intelligence.

Comment from Guest: Hi, Ingo. You mentioned that migration is manual process. What do you suggest we do if a complex dashboard cannot be recreated with Design Studio due to lack of features? Do we need to look out for other dashboarding tools while also hanging onto SAP Dashboards as much as we can?

Ingo Hilgefort: Design Studio already can create far more complex dashboards than what Xcelsius is able to do. The only scenario you might have to consider is purchasing extensions to close visualization components in Design Studio.

The longer you hang onto Dashboards/Xcelsius, the bigger the migration problem gets.

Comment from Ramon: What is the true potential of communication between Design Studio and BW on HANA?

Ingo Hilgefort: I’m not 100% sure what you mean by “communication,” but Design Studio does fully understand what BW InfoProvider/Queries and HANA models are.

Comment from janardhana: Could you please provide us with a few resources on migration from Xcelsius to Design studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: I will be conducting a session on migration at the BI 2016 conference.

Comment from Guest: What does my company need to migrate to Design Studio?

Ingo Hilgefort: You need the actual license, which allows you to download the software. You also need a deployment platform, ideally the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform.

Natalie Miller: As we come to the end of today’s Q&A, I’d like to again thank you all for joining us. What an interesting conversation this has been! A big thank you to Ingo for all these insightful answers!

Ingo Hilgefort: Thank you everyone for joining the session, and I hope this helped. In case you want to reach out to me, feel free to contact me on twitter @ihilgefort or via email at

Natalie Miller: Thanks again, everyone! For more on SAP Design Studio, we welcome you to check out Ingo’s two sessions at our upcoming BI2016 event in Las Vegas, February 16-19. His first session on Thursday, February 18, will be dedicated to migration from SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards to SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio. His second session, scheduled for Friday, February 19, will focus on performance and design best practices for creating fast, easily consumable dashboards with SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio. 

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Commenting on this article is closed.


1/19/2016 1:28:39 AM

Can we connect Design studio to HANA? Is this replacing any BOBI Tools?

Raj Kosnam

1/13/2016 5:59:00 PM

What are advantages of using the DS1.5 for Integrated Planning? How easy hard it is to migrate from BEx web to DS1.5? What are the options we have for User Interface?

Natalie Miller

1/13/2016 2:43:17 PM

Hi Ajay, Thank you for your question. Ingo will be able to answer questions relating to any version of SAP Design Studio. He will focus on migrating from SAP Dashboards, however we encourage you to ask any question you may have, even if it has to do with migration from another tool. Please feel free to post your questions into the chat module and then come back January 19 to speak directly to Ingo! Thanks again, Natalie, SAPinsider


1/13/2016 8:38:47 AM

Migration to Design studio 1.5? and from which tools?