Dec
15

Top 10 Xcelsius 2008 SP3 Enhancements!

BusinessObjects’ release of Xcelsius 2008 SP3 is a great step forward for customers to benefit from new charting, performance enhancements, and other capabilities that make dashboard development easier. For fellow Xcelsius customers and developers who have been patiently waiting for new functionality, this release is the one we have been waiting for.

Here are my top 10 features to help you jumpstart your exploration of new Xcelsius SP3 enhancements:

  1. Performance

    With a commitment to improve performance, there is a new option to optimize Excel performance in addition to promises of improvements to other previous performance concerns both inside of the Xcelsius design environment and runtime SWF files.

  2. Bullet charts

    A Steven Few inspired component set, the Bullet chart provides a new visualization tool for Xcelsius developers who want to maximize screen real estate while communicating more data.Bullet Chart

  3. Sparklines

    Sparklines are the second new charting edition to Xcelsius that also provide significant value for organizations who want to leverage the popular data visualization control within Xcelsius. Previously only attained with add-on components, this functionality comes packaged with Xcelsius.sparkline

  4. Selector Enhancements

    In Xcelsius, staging data for visualization has long contributed to the learning curve required for building excellent dashboards. As a step forward to make selector configuration easier, the Xcelsius team has exposed new global properties for selectors. Hopefully this is only the first step to seeing significant improvements to selectors since this is the most powerful yet difficult concept to learn in Xcelsius.

    • No selection- Sometimes a developer does not want a selector to trigger until it is clicked on. While this request is simple in concept, this functionality was not available until now. For the casual Xcelsius developer this is not a major feature until it becomes a requirement, but those fellow developers who have experienced this limitation will appreciate this feature.
    • Multi-selection- Another developer-centric feature, multi-selection capabilities will enable a dashboard to trigger multiple events which was previously accomplished with workarounds (Excel logic and hidden selectors). The first time you open a standard selector, developers will noticed a revised property sheet UI that is extremely easy to pick up using previous Xcelsius experience.
  5. Chart Enhancements

    Chart Enhancements

    • Sorting- The chart sorting requirements traditionally fulfilled with Excel logic or add-on components are now fulfilled for charts using a new sort behavior. Accessible in the chart behavior tab during design time, this functionality is extremely valuable when data is not loaded into a dashboard pre-sorted.
    • Labeling- As one of the most commonly requested features for Xcelsius, visible chart labels is now available simply by checking a box in the chart appearance tab under labels. Enable value and series label functionality and format them according to your design specifications.
  6. Chart slider

    To fill in IMT time slider capabilities previously available in BusinessObjects performance manager, developers can extend flexibility for end users to focus on a specific range within a time series using a dual slider. Built directly into the Xcelsius chart components, you can easily enable this functionality in the behavior tab.
    Chart Slider

  7. Bindable Colors

    As one of my personal favorites, you can now bind any color to the spreadsheet using a simple color binding option.
    Bind Colors

  8. Scorecard

    For any existing Xcelsius developers who have struggled aligning icons or hidden selectors, a real scorecard component will be a breath of fresh air, making it a relatively simple process  for configuring alert indicators within a vertical table. I can instantly see a lot of opportunities to expand on this component, so I am interested to hear the community use cases for this new component.
    scorecard

  9. Canvas Container Component

    This is a nice component for new Xcelsius developers who want to group components without learning dynamic visibility. This component is available with the other container components.

  10. New Gauge properties

    Gauges have long been criticized for consuming a large volume of screen real estate without displaying enough information within the control. For customers who insist on using these controls, Xcelsius offers additional capabilities previously available in BusinessObjects performance manager. Bind multiple values to a single gauge and track them as marker indicators or additional needles. From the second you open the gauge property sheet, you can easily take advantage of these new features using the same paradigm you have always used.

    Dial and Container

Please download SP3 directly from SAP Software Download Site.

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

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40 Responses to “Top 10 Xcelsius 2008 SP3 Enhancements!”

  1. Don’t forget the ability to have two XML connections now.

    For developers who have struggled to work with the one XML connection provided, this is a HUGE gain. We can now used one connection to send data and one to bring down data.

    Big stuff!

  2. Mark Hudson says:

    Great review Ryan. Well done to the SAP Xcelsius team. To add so many new features in a service pack is fantastic and also a great early Christmas present for us all :)

    All at Antivia are excited about hooking SP3 up to our Xcelsius Web Intelligence Integration Suite.

    Thanks
    The Antivia Team

  3. Thanks for the write-up Ryan! I’m looking forward to hearing more feedback as more people try out SP3.

  4. Scott Strool says:

    Ryan,

    Nice Intro and what a great way to end a great year for Xcelsius.

    Thanks

  5. Charles says:

    Wow, just been through the Component Categories, and that ‘is’ a service pack!!

    I’m very please to see the Chart Sorting options as this removes a whole load of Excel logic. Also a great addition is the Push Button – an excellent addition to those who have battled with the ‘double’ click toggle to get the workflow correct. Great standard functionality updates as well such as better control as to when data is inserted.

    Looking forward to using these things in anger soon.

    Well done the Xcelsius team.

  6. Ryan Goodman says:

    No problem.

    The new ability to add 2 connections in Engage is appreciated, though it would be nice to lift the limitation completely for customers who are building their own web services.

    There are some additional features which I didn’t have in my top 10 that I still think are important:
    Chart Series visibility- This is a nice feature for end users to turn individual series on or off with a checkbox.
    Push Button- Finally!!! I have been asking the developers for this one since version 3.0

  7. Beat says:

    Great – Great – Great!!

    A lot of new stuff!!

    The Values in the chart that a small thing, but very important for the customer.

    Thanks a lot.

    Greeting Beat

  8. Matt Hawkins says:

    Great summary,

    Push Button was robbed of a top 10 finish!

    “Improvements in memory management”
    “Resolved issues that caused Xcelsius to stop responding”

    I’d normally hold back on recommending a service pack so soon, but come on what’s not to like here?!

    Matt

  9. Farhan says:

    Ryan – Thanks for an excellent review. New controls, such as chart slider, will translate to significant savings in development time. SP3 release timing couldn’t have been better given the phase we are in on a critical project.

  10. [...] week. Timo Elliot has an excellent summary of its new features and Ryan Goodman lists his favorite top 10 enhancements.  Service Pack 3 is intended to keep everyone sated until the next major release of Xcelsius [...]

  11. The advancements promised by this service pack are certainly something to get excited about. It looks like SAP has really listened to product feedback. I’m excited by the inclusion of visual design concepts from Tufte and Few and in a number of the enhancements to graphs. I also see the push button as a great timesaver from those developing whatif scenario analysis visualisations.

    If it’s stable, then my hat goes off to SAP on delivering exactly what we’ve all been wishing for. A great XMAS present.

  12. AnjaniKumar says:

    Ryan — First of all i thank you for posting such valuable information. I want to know some more information
    about this SP3. Does this pack has solved the LiveOffice Refresh issues.

  13. Saangiit Srivastava says:

    Thanks for the review Ryan. Very helpful! I am still unable to look at the enhancements myself. When I try to install SP3 (xcelsiusent2008sp3.exe) by double-clicking or by right click and open it does not do anything at all. And when I try to Right click and Run as it gives me error – Cannot open C:\Documents and Settings\ssrivastava\Desktop\xcelsiusent2008sp3.exe.

    Does anyone know why this might be happening?

    Thanks~Saangiit

  14. Ryan Goodman says:

    I have heard a few people having issues running the self extracting zip file. Here is a thread about the install with some notes that may help:

    https://forums.sdn.sap.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1558713&tstart=0

  15. Ryan Goodman says:

    Saangiit ,

    Unfortunately I have not had a chance yet to test all of the functionality and did not see any release notes yet, so I am not quite sure.

  16. The zip file extracts into C:\temp. If you look in the C:\Temp\Documentation\en directory you will find the release notes, what’s new, and the whats fixed pdf files.

    Hope this helps

  17. Cathy Norman says:

    Excited about seeing the new features, however on the SAP Download Site there are only Xcelsius SP3 downloads for Enterprise and Present. We use Engage. Would I use one of these?

  18. Mico Yuk says:

    Hi Cathy,

    SAP actually updated their post to make this clear. Essentially there are 2 version of SP3, one for Present and then one for all other versions (Engage, Engage Server and Enterprise).

    Note: The Enterprise patch is for all versions of Xcelsius 2008 except Xcelsius 2008 Present which has its own patch
    Link to more details – https://forumsa.sdn.sap.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1558713&tstart=0

    Hope this helps.

    Mico

  19. Ryan Goodman says:

    For Engage, you should download the enterprise build.

    thanks,

    -Ryan

  20. Greg Wayne says:

    Great Review Ryan – This is by far the best SP yet. I love the chart slider – I wish it would have come a few weeks earlier – just got done developing a dashboard that utilizes a dual slider on a large dataset – the excel formula kills the loading performance – I’m excited to test the performance with the new slider option and excel performance feature.

  21. Adi says:

    Thanks for doing a better job then SAP on capturing much needed info.
    Was not at all self explanatory that the Enterprise version was for updating the Engage.

    By the size of the package I assume it includes the base product and not an “additive” service pack.

  22. Ryan Goodman says:

    For Xcelsius the service packs are usually a full install, while the hotfixes install over your current version.

    The goal for us is to make information easily available for the community. By the response, we will continue to provide some new tips on using this functionality.

    thanks again to everyone for the kind remarks.

  23. Brian says:

    Has anybody had trouble adding xml data connections with sp3? It runs my previously existing files just fine, but new files/connections so not pull in the data? Any ideas? Thanks

  24. [...] it’s time to enjoy all those new features available from the SAP Download [...]

  25. Filipe says:

    Hello,

    I’m having a problem related to the loading of the dashboard: the loading screen disappears before all components are loaded. This did not happened in previous versions of XCelsius.

    Can anybody help me?

    Regards,

    Filipe

  26. Mehran says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the review. Very helpful!
    I have a problem with refreshing data in the Xcelsius reports. When I have for example 10 Live Office Connections, it took several seconds (10-15 Sec) to load data. I have the same problem when using QaaWS. It is not logically possible to reduce the number of connections. Do you have any idea for enhancing the performance in this case?

    Regards,

    Mehran

  27. Ola says:

    I had to stop using Xcelsius when I realised that, Xcelsius can not support the one function that enables normal professional Excel spreadsheets.

    Is there anyone with enough insight that can explain real reason =INDIRECT() keeps getting neclected?

  28. Simon says:

    The reviews for the SP3 are really good…so keep up the good work. But, I have an issue with this in that I’m unable to install the SP3. I had a problem with Xcelsius 2008 Present for which I had to set permissions in the Registry and which SAP were very helpful – I muddled through and sorted this – but the same procedure won’t change the fact that I get the invalid Keycode error from before. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    kind regards and Happy New Year to all,

    Simon

  29. Sunil says:

    Hey Ryan, I am regular visitor to your blog. I am really happy how sp3 shaped out. most of my work arounds are covered in this service pack.

    Nice brief introduction to SP3.

  30. Ryan Goodman says:

    Simon,
    Is there a link to the suggested resolution that SAP provided? Hopefully SAP support has gotten you up and running by now.

    Thanks for the kind remarks to everyone. We will have plenty of content this year both on EverythingXcelsius.com and my blog ryangoodman.net/blog.

  31. Papuraj Das says:

    There are a lot of developments in SP3 version. But some loopholes which I caught…
    1. The value button/spinner is no longer supporting a cell having some formula. Also the time it is taking to load data which depends on value button/spinner as a result of change in it, is comparably very high as compared to earlier version.
    2. Still there is no component like pre-load animation. So it is difficult to know weather the tool is running or not when one selects an option in some selector.
    3. One still finds it difficult to work with a large range of data/complex spread sheet in xcelsius as it crashes while exporting.
    4. Export to excel still needs Tomcat Web server,Java help. It is not simplified.
    5. No more themes/components/selectors are available, all same a s previous version except 2-3 components.

    6.

  32. M says:

    Something that’s still missing with the scorecards: The ability to define per cell range, what’s good and what is evil. Example: while an uptrend in revenue may be good / green, a downtrend in total days outstanding may equally be considered good / green. If both are in the same scorecard, and uptrend is good, then the total days outstanding will get a down arrow, but red color.

  33. Mico Yuk says:

    Matthias,

    We agree 100%. I hope SAP adds this to their future request.

    Thanks,
    Mico

  34. Yuvraj says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Great Review!!
    I had a small query. This might have been asked earlier in some forums but I might have missed it. How do you find out if you have Engage(now Crystal Dashboard Design) or Present (Crystal Presentation) or even enterprise for that matter.
    The reason I’m asking is I need to install the latest SP3 on the system and I can’t seem to find one for Engage(if I have that one).

    Please advise.

  35. Mico Yuk says:

    HI Yuvraj,

    If you open your Xcelsius software and go to ‘Help’ -> ‘About’ it will tell you what type of license you have (Present, Engage, Enterprise). When downloading SP3 unless you have Xcelsius Present, then use the Enterprise SP3 download for all other versions of the software such as Engage or Engage Server.

    In addition I think they renamed SP3 as it was released prior to the renaming, hence I am using the old names above.

    Hope this helps.

    Mico

  36. shabuddin says:

    Hello Sir, This is Syed Shabuddin working as BO developer
    for uma company. My company has a ERP data and working on BO XI R2
    and we need a Xcelsius 2008 to generate dashboard. I want to know
    which one is suitable for my company (present/enterprise) and how
    can I integrate to my ERP Data Xcelsius Present 2008 Service Pack 3
    Xcelsius Enterprise 2008 Service Pack 3 Please give me suggestions
    regarding this, iam waiting for ur valuable suggestions. Thanks
    & Best Regards, Syed Shabuddin

  37. Ryan says:

    Present is not the correct version for building dashboards and is licensed for personal use only. Technology-wise, Present is restricted in many ways, most notably connectivity to data and export to SWFs. You want to use the enterprise version.

    Hope this helps.

  38. Roberto says:

    Fully agree with M. The Scorecard components is a fantastic tool and was really missed (at least by me), but the inability of selecting different color scheme for the alert depending on the measure is a big limitation. A typical application of a scorecard is an overview if different measures fir the same dimension, where an upward trend can be good for an indicator (revenue) but bad for another (cost). I really hope it is fixed in the next release.

  39. Fouad says:

    Good job, I fully agree, Xcelsius is a fantastic tool for me, I start using it since Xcelsius 3.0, I’m discovering the new version the 2008 SP3, and I like it.
    Unfortunately, the trial version ended, and I can’t use it anymore :( …..
    Can someone tell me if there is any campaign to obtain a free activation code from SAP?
    fouad_zouak@yahoo.fr

  40. Patrick says:

    Ryan, in this article you mention “Multi-selection- Another developer-centric feature”. Does this mean that you can select multiple values in a combo-box? If so, how is it done?

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