Archive for the ‘FleXcelsius’ Category

May
19

The Future of Flash in the BI Space

With the recent back and forth battle between HTML5 and Flash and their place in the future gaining even more extensive tech-media coverage, we’ve been keeping a close ear to the arguments and have attentively followed both sides of the story since our core products and supporting technology rely heavily on Flash and Flex.

As the marketing and PR battle rages on between Apple and Adobe, blanket statements are being tossed around regarding the viability of both HTML5 and Flash technologies as if they’re competitors. So far, this debate has only served as a disservice the community in general as the misinformation train continues to board people in high places who don’t completely understand the technologies and begin to make decisions for their organizations that are driven by the general influence of external, biased companies promoting their own product interests, as opposed to properly assessing project technology needs based on other factors that have more, real world substance.

Many people have voiced their opinions on this topic and it’s certainly not breaking news though we thought it beneficial to speak directly on the future viability of Flash and Flex for enterprise Rich Internet Applications, specifically in the Business Intelligence space.

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Apr
13

FleXcelsius Boot Camp

Centigon Solutions will soon be announcing a FleXcelsius boot camp training opportunity for a limited number of participants, to take place at our San Diego location.

We wanted to reach out in advance to gather preferences on what you would like to learn and any particular SDK pain points that you would like to have addressed. Please leave comments on this post regarding a preferred agenda and please email me if you’re interested in attending.

Evan DeLodder is a Senior Software Engineer focused on the development and application of cutting edge Rich Internet Application technologies in the Business Intelligence space. To learn more about him, please visit our new FleXcelsius page.

Mar
11

Dynamic Combo Chart and Source Code

I apologize to my Flexcelsius readers for the lack of posts recently. I have been in high delivery mode and I’m finally back down with some time to create some fun and useful add-ons.

My previous post regarding add-ons was based on a very simple column chart that I indicated we would be extending on in subsequent posts. As a long time Flex dashboard developer, I really missed a few things in watching people create Xcelsius dashboards that I considered to be foundational in dashboard charting. To start, namely:

  • Dynamic series colors:  i.e. switching between series colors on-the-fly at runtime
  • Dynamic series types:  i.e. switching between series types on-the-fly at runtime
  • Dynamic series addition and removal at runtime
  • Dynamic series position at runtime
  • Dynamic series alpha at runtime
  • Dynamic HTML tooltips

Custom Xcelsius Combo Chart

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Jan
21

Salesforce.com Integration for Xcelsius 2008

Software as-a-service applications like Salesforce.com and Google Maps Premier enable organizations of all sizes to offload operational and infrastructure costs associated with on-premise software. Organizations that have made significant investments in on-premise business intelligence are now mashing up data from web-based solutions thanks to powerful APIs. In the last year, Salesforce.com and Google Maps integrations for Xcelsius have popped up making it easier than ever to integrate these technologies without any coding. Third party software solution providers like Centigon Solutions and Moss Solutions are bridging the gaps between these powerful web-based platforms and Xcelsius.

For Salesforce.com users, you now have the perfect solution to easily load and analyze data within Xcelsius dashboards. Last year, I was introduced to David Moss of Moss Solutions, who developed the Force.com Integration for Xcelsius. As a technologist I was obviously interested to see how he designed the solution, but as a Salesforce.com customer I was even more excited to see how I could use the integration for my own business. The Force.com Integration for Xcelsius connects directly to Salesforce.com reports, even if your organization uses custom SFDC fields, objects, and report types.  The integration leverages all of the filtering, summarization, layout, etc. defined within the Salesforce.com reports, making the integration extremely simple to implement and manage for the user of the component.

As an Xcelsius developer, you can use either a SFDC Connector within the Xcelsius data manager, or an interactive table component which provides inline drilling, grouping, ad-hoc filtering, and navigation of Salesforce.com report data. This tabular component is rich in functionality providing a simple way to drill through large volumes of data with extremely fast performance. A full list of features is available here at Moss Solutions.

Real-World ROI

David and I collaborated last year on a demonstration that I shared at the BusinessObjects user conference. The story behind the dashboard is a real customer use case to understand campaign effectiveness. Our customer’s campaigns invited targeted members to attend one in a series of local trade shows across the US. With lead information and conversion data captured at the tradeshows, the customer wanted to visually analyze who attended the trade show and to what extent the lead interacted with our customer. With a simple Salesforce.com report we could easily view the regional campaigns and view the leads. The report resulted in pages of data, which provided no insight to performance.

As a first time user of the Force.com Integration for Xcelsius, I was drilling through lead data from each campaign down to its campaign members within no time, but still desired a way to visually digest all of the valuable data. I next added the GMaps Plugin for Xcelsius to the dashboard, and setup the Force.com grid component so that drills and selections on the Salesforce.com data would be output to the Xcelsius model, and drive changes within the map. This allowed all of the leads and campaigns to be shown on the map, with the leads color-coded based on their status. The resulting spatial analysis provided tremendous insight based on lead proximity from the campaigns. From this analysis, the customer can not only measure the relative success of the campaigns that have already taken place, but can also quickly assess other locations for future campaigns. (See .swf below)

Using out of the box Xcelsius functionality, we were able to plug in the campaign costs and dynamically calculate financial ratios related to ROI. Using some more advanced calculations we could actually calculate effectiveness of a campaign based on the lead’s proximity from the event. This is the real value that customers want to uncover from dashboard applications and we are on the right path to make this analysis much easier to create.

If you are a Salesforce.com customer who is seeking a way to extract valuable analysis outside of the web-based tools out there, I highly suggest you take a look at the Force.com Integration for Xcelsius from Moss Solutions. You may sign-up for a trial at http://david-moss.com/registration .  Feel free to ping me with any questions about my experiences with the technology and how I am going to implement it within my own organization.

Ryan Goodman is the Founder of Centigon Solutions, an SAP® software solution partner that is strategically focused on developing add-on products for use with Xcelsius®. To learn more about him, please visit our new Gurus page

Jan
1

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all! We wish you and your families, Prosperity, Health, and Unlimited Happiness for this New Year!!

Nov
9

Start Creating Your Own Custom Xcelsius Charts: Column Chart

As part of a small series that works through building a custom component, from demonstrating very basic functionality to more advanced and detailed property sheet integrations, I wanted to start with a very familiar and simple component concept to get started: A custom Flex-based column chart.

We’ll start by setting up the Flex component, its charting data provider, a few basic styles, and a very basic custom property sheet integration. You can find all of the (xlx, xlp, Flex source) source code here…

We’re working with an MXML-based component to illustrate a rapid way to construct custom charts and also because I prefer markup to pure ActionScript coding for readability and ease of use. I also think that a lot of attendees learning about the SDK for the first time at the BOBJ conference in October looked rightfully frightened seeing pure AS components and 1000’s of lines of code for 1 simple component. Here, we’ve used <100 lines of code for our chart, mostly markup, and we have achieved an impressively rapid custom column chart as the result. Creating this entire project (chart, property sheet, Xcelsius Packager) took under an hour.

LineChart

We’ll keep posting updated source code as this component evolves through the series, including in-line source code comments. Please note* Use the code however you’d like. However, it will be up to you to ensure its stability and is not recommended for a production environment, more as a jump start to inspire confidence and ideas for injecting easy and free custom charts into your Xcelsius projects.

To use the component in Xcelsius, bind the data property to a single row of data, as we only have 1 series at this stage. Then, select your fill type and you’re all set.

**I took the property sheet directly from the BOBJ SDK examples and quickly modified it to meet these requirements. Try it for yourself and see what else you can add on if you’d like.

**Also, remember to set up this project using the SDK fundamentals (i.e. setting the compiler to 2.0.1 HF3, referencing the Xcelsius SDK swc, etc.)

**If anyone has a custom chart they’d like to see, please feel free to comment.

Next, we’ll look at adding multiple series, custom tooltips, number formatting and some additional styling controls.

Sep
3

Formatting, Visibility and Watermarks

First off, there’s a new forum on the SAP site dedicated to the Xcelsius SDK – nice!

https://forums.sdn.sap.com/forum.jspa?forumID=466

After running through the Xcelsius SDK forum, I noticed a few quick-win issues posted that I’d like to lend a hand on.

The issues are:

  1. Dynamic Visibility
  2. Number Formatting
  3. and…Flex Charting Watermarks (a very annoying problem).

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Jun
18

Xcelsius SDK Challenge

This month SAP is holding the Innocentive Xcelsius SDK component challenge, enabling developers to create and submit innovative add-on solutions that bring value to the Xcelsius 2008 environment. This is a great opportunity to earn recognition for your submission(s) and to possibly claim some prize cash should you emerge as a category winner.

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May
26

Getting Started With the Xcelsius 2008 SDK Topic 1: Common Items to Be Aware Of

In this multi-part series, we will enumerate fundamental pieces of the SDK and how to properly use them, including custom component development, property sheet development, component packaging and advanced component integration topics.

Let’s get started with a few common items to be aware of.

Dynamic Visibility

Although there is not a utility available in Xcelsius that can provide you with this common feature as an  inherent part of your component, it is possible to wire up dynamic visibility (albeit not  true Xcelsius dynamic visibility) to some extent.
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May
12

What Is Possible With The Xcelsius 2008 SDK?

I often receive the question “I want to do xyz with a Flex custom component integration in Xcelsius 2008, is that possible?”. Nearly every time, my answer is yes – as long as you’re developing using the proper version of Flex, you can pretty much do anything you want with the following general guidelines in mind.

General component plausibility checklist:

  • You’re using the proper version of the Flex SDK, which currently happens to be 2.0.1 for Xcelsius 2008
  • You’re not trying to reference, modify, or inherit from Xcelsius objects in any way
  • You’re not trying to reference, modify or inherit any Xcelsius styling or themes
  • You’re familiar with Flex and Flash security and your component doesn’t violate security measures (must follow standard security considerations) that are in place in either one of those layers.
  • Always check with known issues and the latest SDK documentation

checklist2

If you follow the general rules above and the guidelines that the Xcelsius SDK has set forth, you should be clear for takeoff and can start exploring options, like the following examples.
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