Exporting SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards into Different Environments

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SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

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Over 90 simple and incredibly effective recipes for transforming your business data into exciting dashboards with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Xcelsius with this book and eBook

$32.99    $16.50
by David Lai | June 2011 | Enterprise Articles SAP

After building your dashboard to be the way you like it, you will need to turn it into a format that everyone is able to view on their computers. This is when the developers will export and publish their dashboard.

In this article by David Lai, author of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook, we will cover:

  • Exporting to a standard SWF, PPT, PDF, and so on
  • Exporting to SAP Business Objects Enterprise
  • Publishing to SAP BW
  • Dashboard Builder/Performance Management
  • Building widgets (Adobe AIR)

 

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

Over 90 simple and incredibly effective recipes for transforming your business data into exciting dashboards with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Xcelsius

        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on SAP, see here.)

Introduction

First, the visual model is compiled to a SWF file format. Compiling to a SWF file format ensures that the dashboard plays smoothly on different screen sizes and across different platforms. It also ensures that the users aren't given huge 10+ megabyte files.

After compilation of the visual model to a SWF file, developers can then publish it to a format of their choice. The following are the available choices—Flash (SWF), AIR, SAP BusinessObjects Platform, HTML, PDF, PPT, Outlook, and Word.

Once publishing is complete, the dashboard is ready to share!

 

Exporting to a standard SWF, PPT, PDF, and so on

After developing a Visual Model on Dashboard Design, we will need to somehow share it with users. We want to put it into a format that everyone can see on their machines. The simplest way is to export to a standard SWF file.

One of the great features Dashboard Design has is to be able to embed dashboards into different office file formats. For example, a presenter could have a PowerPoint deck, and in the middle of the presentation, have a working dashboard that presents an important set of data values to the audience. Another example could be an executive level user who is viewing a Word document created by an analyst. The analyst could create a written document in Word and then embed a working dashboard with the most updated data to present important data values to the executive level user.

You can choose to embed a dashboard in the following file types:

  • PowerPoint
  • Word
  • PDF
  • Outlook
  • HTML

Getting ready

Make sure your visual model is complete and ready for sharing.

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

How to do it...

  1. In the menu toolbar, go to File | Export | Flash (SWF).

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  2. Select the directory in which you want the SWF to go to and the name of your SWF file

How it works...

Xcelsius compiles the visual model into an SWF file that everyone is able to see. Once the SWF file has been compiled, the dashboard will then be ready for sharing. It is mandatory that anyone viewing the dashboard have Adobe Flash installed. If not, they can download and install it from http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/.

If we export to PPT, we can then edit the PowerPoint file however we desire. If you have an existing PowerPoint presentation deck and want to append the dashboard to it, the easiest way is to first embed the dashboard SWF to a temporary PowerPoint file and then copy that slide to your existing PowerPoint file.

There's more...

Exporting to an SWF file makes it very easy for distribution, thus making the presentation of mockups great at a business level. Developers are able to work very closely with the business and iteratively come up with a visual model closest to the business goals. It is important though, when distributing SWF files, that everyone viewing the dashboards has the same version, otherwise confusion may occur. Thus, as a best practice, versioning every SWF that is distributed is very important.

It is important to note that when the much anticipated Adobe Flash 10.1 was released, there were problems with embedding Dashboard Design dashboards in DOC, PPT, PDF, and so on. However, with the 10.1.82.76 Adobe Flash Player update, this has been fixed. Thus, it is important that if users have Adobe Flash Player 10.1+ installed, the version is higher than or equal to 10.1.82.76.

When exporting to PDF, please take the following into account: In Dashboard Design 2008, the default format for exporting to PDF is Acrobat 9.0 (PDF 1.8). If Acrobat Reader 8.0 is installed, the default exported PDF cannot be opened. If using Acrobat Reader 8.0 or older, change the format to "Acrobat 6.0 (PDF 1.5)" before exporting to PDF.

 

Exporting to SAP Business Objects Enterprise

After Dashboard Design became a part of BusinessObjects, it was important to be able to export dashboards into the BusinessObjects Enterprise system. Once a dashboard is exported to BusinessObjects Enterprise, users can then easily access their dashboards through InfoView (now BI launch pad). On top of that, administrators are able control dashboard security.

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

Getting ready

Make sure your visual model is complete and ready for sharing.

How to do it...

  1. From the menu toolbar, go to File | Export | Export to SAP BusinessObjects Platform.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  2. Enter your BusinessObjects login credentials and then select the location in the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise system, where you want to store the SWF file, as shown in the following screenshot:

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  3. Log into BI launch pad (formerly known as InfoView) and verify that you can access the dashboard.

    (Move the mouse over the image to enlarge.)

How it works...

When we export a dashboard to SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise, we basically place it in the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise content management system. From there, we can control accessibility to the dashboard and make sure that we have one source of truth instead of sending out multiple dashboards through e-mail and possibly getting mixed up with what is the latest version. When we log into BI launch pad (formerly known as Infoview), it also passes the login token to the dashboard, so we don't have to enter our credentials again when connecting to SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise data. This is important because we don't have to manually create and pass any additional tokens once we have logged in.

There's more...

To give a true website type feel, developers can house their dashboards in a website type format using Dashboard Builder. This in turn provides a better experience for users, as they don't have to navigate through many folders in order to access the dashboard that they are looking for.

 

Publishing to SAP BW

This recipe shows you how to publish Dashboard Design dashboards to a SAP BW system. Once a dashboard is saved to the SAP BW system, it can be published within a SAP Enterprise Portal iView and made available for the users.

Getting ready

For this recipe, you will need an Dashboard Design dashboard model. This dashboard does not necessarily have to include a data connection to SAP BW.

How to do it...

  1. Select Publish in the SAP menu. If you want to save the Xcelsius model with a different name, select the Publish As... option.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  2. If you are not yet connected to the SAP BW system, a pop up will appear. Select the appropriate system and fill in your username and password in the dialog box.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  3. If you want to disconnect from the SAP BW system and connect to a different system, select the Disconnect option from the SAP menu.
  4. Enter the Description and Technical Name of the dashboard. Select the location you want to save the dashboard to and click on Save. The dashboard is now published to the SAP BW system.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  5. To launch the dashboard and view it from the SAP BW environment, select the Launch option from the SAP menu. You will be asked to log in to the SAP BW system before you are able to view the dashboard.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

How it works...

As we have seen in this recipe, the publishing of an Dashboard Design dashboard to SAP BW is quite straightforward. As the dashboard is part of the SAP BW environment after publishing, the model can be transported between SAP BW systems like all other SAP BW objects.

There is more...

After launching step 5, the Dashboard Design dashboard will load in your browser from the SAP BW server. You can add the displayed URL to an SAP Enterprise Portal iView to make the dashboard accessible for portal users.

 

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook Over 90 simple and incredibly effective recipes for transforming your business data into exciting dashboards with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Xcelsius with this book and eBook
Published: May 2011
eBook Price: $32.99
Book Price: $54.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

 

        Read more about this book      

(For more resources on SAP, see here.)

Housing your dashboard in Dashboard Builder

Using Dashboard Builder to organize your dashboards allows users to customize the look and feel to how the dashboards are accessed. In addition, administrators are able to control access to each navigational layout. When we house dashboards in Dashboard Builder, users don't have to navigate through numerous folders in order to get to their desired dashboard, but instead navigate through web page style type logic to access their desired dashboard. In our example, we will set up a Corporate Dashboard using Dashboard Builder, which will contain navigation to three dashboards.

Getting ready

Make sure you have your dashboards created. In our example, we have an executive dashboard and two regional dashboards.

How to do it...

  1. In BI launch pad (formerly known as InfoView), click on Dashboards | Create Corporate Dashboard.

  2. Type a name for the corporate dashboard.
  3. Specify the folder in which you want to save the dashboard.
  4. Select a category and then click on OK.

  5. Next, click on Edit dashboard.
  6. Click on the Toolbox link.
  7. Select the Corporate Analytic icon.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  8. Drag the executive dashboard onto the canvas.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  9. Click on the Add a new tab link and name it Region 1 Sales.
  10. Drag the region 1 dashboard onto the canvas.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  11. Click on the Add a new tab link and name it Region 2 Inventory information.
  12. Drag the region 2 dashboard onto the canvas.

How it works...

As you can see, when we set up the Corporate Dashboard using Dashboard Builder, it is easier to access the dashboards rather than clicking through a bunch of folders. You can think of Dashboard Builder as a container that holds all the dashboards.

 

Creating Adobe Air Applets from Dashboard Design dashboard

Why would one want to export to Adobe Air from Dashboard Design one may ask? Well, here is some background on what a widget is.

Widgets are interactive virtual tools that provide single-purpose services such as showing the user the latest news, the current weather, the time, a calendar, a dictionary, a map program, a calculator, desktop notes, photo viewers, or even a language translator—Wikipedia.
Widgets are:

  • Lightweight
  • Reside on desktop
  • Have a simple, non-distracting interface
  • Provide valuable information in real time
  • Easy interface for performing common tasks

The ability to create Adobe Air Applets from a Dashboard Design dashboard is very important because it allows us to harness the power of Dashboard Design to create simple widgets that connect to live data with the same look and feel we get from our well known Dashboard Design components. An example of a three-gauge widget is shown next:

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

In this recipe, we will create a widget, export it to Air, and then install the widget to our system.

Getting ready

Make sure that the Visual Model is complete and ready to export.

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

How to do it...

  1. Download the Flex 3.0 SDK from the following URL: http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/entitlement/index.cfm?e=flex3email

    Note: The download will say "Download a free trial of Flash Builder 4 Premium Edition", but don't worry, the Flex 3.0 SDK is inside.

  2. Unzip the SDK into the following folder:
    C:\Program Files\Adobe\Flex Builder 3 Plug-in\sdks\3.0
  3. Update the Xcelsius sdkPath.dat to reflect the path above. This is usually located in the following path (you can edit the sdkPath.dat with Notepad):
    C:\Program Files\Business Objects\Xcelsius\assets\air
  4. Download and install Adobe Air from: http://get.adobe.com/air/
  5. On Xcelsius, click on File | Export | Air…
  6. Choose Gauge Air Test for the Name. Choose the air_icon.png found in the source directory for the application icon. Finally, choose whatever destination you want the .air file to reside in. Name it airwidget.air.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  7. Install the Xcelsius widget using the .air file that was created from the export. Do this by double-clicking on the airwidget.air icon. You can choose wherever you want for the Installation Location.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

  8. Run the widget from the desktop shortcut or from the program directory you installed it in.

    SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook

How it works...

Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) is a cross-platform runtime environment developed by Adobe Systems for building rich Internet applications using Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, HTML, or Ajax, which can be deployed as a desktop application.

In steps 1 and 2, we install the Adobe Flex SDK to our system. Then in step 3, we link Dashboard Design to the SDK files.

Note that by default we do not have Dashboard Design linked to the Adobe Flex SDK because if it were included in the Dashboard Design installation, the installation would be about 200 MB larger.

After linking Dashboard Design to the Adobe Flex SDK, we are able to export from Dashboard Design to an Adobe AIR file, where we can then deploy the widget to our desktop.

See also

For more samples on Adobe Air Widgets and best practices on creating Adobe Air Applets from Xcelsius, please download the presentation given by Clifford Alper on the SAP Community Network from the following URL:

http://ecohub.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/402540aa-6790-2b10-5fb3-901f52014d13

Summary

In this article we took a look at some recipes on how to export SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards into different environments.


Further resources on this subject:


SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook Over 90 simple and incredibly effective recipes for transforming your business data into exciting dashboards with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Xcelsius with this book and eBook
Published: May 2011
eBook Price: $32.99
Book Price: $54.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


David Lai

David Lai is an SAP Business Objects Consultant from Toronto, Canada.

He has a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto.

He currently specializes in SAP Business Objects and Data Warehousing work for clients which include SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 (Xcelsius), Universe Design, and Web Intelligence.

David has a passion for data visualization and best design practices with dashboards, which has led him to create his blog (http://www.davidlai101.com/blog) in 2008, as well as co-author http://myxcelsius.com and finally author “SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook”.

David also enjoys speaking at conferences about best dashboard practices and making sense out of data.

In his spare time he loves to spend time on many physical activities such as working out at the gym, salsa dancing, rock climbing, basketball and volleyball.

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