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Web AD, Xcelsius, Visual Composer, WebI, Oh My!

by Jacquelyn Howard

November 4, 2010

by Jacquelyn M. Howard, Senior Managing Editor, BI Expert

In his recent blog post, Dr. Bjarne Berg provided a great chart to help you figure out when you should use one of the four available dashboarding applications: BEx Web Application Designer (BEx Web AD), Xcelsius, SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer, or SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence. (As he says, it’s a bit easier to look at his chart than read through 219 slides!)

Reading through his chart, two ideas come to mind. First, apart from BEx Web AD, the other three options can all be considered as part of your long-term strategy. The good news here is that if you do not yet have SAP BusinessObjects applications in place, you can benefit from using SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer, which is standard with SAP NetWeaver BW.

(Look for a new article in December from BI Expert author George Campbell-Kelly to offer tips for creating dashboards with SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer quickly. Campbell-Kelly states that “the only limit to these dashboards is your imagination and time available.”)

In fact, I was a bit surprised how well SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer compares to the two SAP BusinessObjects applications, which is the secon d idea I took away from Dr. Berg’s blog. If you look at Dr. Berg’s chart, SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer scores the best for simplicity. When you are in a time crunch and need to develop a dashboard quickly, simplicity may be just what you need.

Regardless which option you choose, I’d like to leave you with a general dashboarding best practice that BI Expert author Sandesh Darne shares in his article “A Methodical Approach to Creating an Xcelsius Dashboard.”

The accuracy and the value of the information in a dashboard depend on how efficiently you use dashboard development tools. My approach includes a set of activities I describe as process blocks (shown in the figure below). I use a dashboard design sheet to document dashboard development process progress. You record design facts and evaluate them in each process block. The result becomes input for subsequent process blocks. The content largely focuses on dashboard functionality, visuals, and data source definitions.

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