Posts Tagged ‘Xcelsius 2008 Tips’

Mar
2

Where to get SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (Xcelsius) Add-Ons

For those of you who have looked to the “Get More Add-Ons” link inside of Xcelsius, you may have noticed that there are no longer add-ons available. Over the last year, it looks like SAP has been slowly de-commissioning the On-Demand community site to emphasize other communities. While we are sad to see it go, I assume that this link will soon point to another location; hopefully somewhere like Ecohub.

There are some realities when it comes to the Xcelsius marketplace and the SDK. The original vision to foster a marketplace for developers to contribute components never took off for many good reasons. The iStore model only works when there is a critical mass around a platform, a marketplace large enough to support commerce, and a dedicated effort to support and evolve the SDK. Instead, we have small but dedicated group of individuals and software solution providers who currently offer powerful complimentary solutions for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and Xcelsius. I have been fortunate to see many of them in action over the years and believe that the On-Demand store did not provide visibility to these great solutions.

So where do we go now for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and Xcelsius add-on solutions?

SAP ECOHUB

If your organization is deploying enterprise dashboards inside of BusinessObiects using SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, the first place you can look is SAP Ecohub . This website features certified solutions not only for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and Xcelsius, but also other SAP enterprise applications.

VENDOR WEBSITES

The second place, and probably most important are vendor web sites and blogs that provide the level of detail and support that you would require to ultimately make a decision to use or purchase an third party solution.

EVERYTHINGXCELSIUS.COM

A third place to find information about add on solutions for Xcelsius is at EverythingXcelsius.comResources” page. I invite anyone who creates a plugin or complimentary software solutions specifically designed for SAP BusinessObejcts Dashboards or Xcelsius to comment on this post. Perhaps from this, we can generate a permanent list of vendors and products here on EverythingXcelsius.

Hopefully this move will give customers access to certified solutions, and a good venue to host a more complete list of add-ons here to give everyone out there visibility to what is available.

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 Gurus page

Feb
11

Webinar Alert: Facts and Myths about Xcelsius: Creating Enterprise Dashboards

Ever wondered what’s  really a fact or myth when creating enterprise dashboards? If the answer is yes, then attending this webinar by Xcelsius Guru and Author, Ryan Goodman, on February 16th (10 am PST, 1 pm EST) is a must attend.

Ryan will help you separate Xcelsius facts and myths by discussing implementing enterprise dashboards with drill-down, interactive analysis, offline data access, and large data volumes.

Not only will you get to hear Ryan speak, but sign up also gets you EXCLUSIVE access to templates when you attend the webinar. So don’t walk, but run to sign up today as spaces are limited and filling up fast!! See below for registration details.

Webinar Details:

Soo Tang Yuk is the ‘Xcelsius Gurus Network” community manager and evangelist. To find out more about her, please visit the About Us page.

Jan
13

No more QaaWS?

Xcelsius is one of the most innovative business products of the last decade and in combination with the BusinessObjects platform (both XI 3 and BI 4), it provides a world-class, market-leading, enterprise dashboarding solution which is delivering enormous value to thousands of organizations around the world. Given this, it is not surprising that on Twitter and in the blogs, there is a excitement building in Xcelsius circles about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 and Xcelsius 2011.

The focus is mainly on three new capabilities:

  1. The new embedded query creation capability (replacing QaaWS)
  2. The ability to bind these queries directly to components (rather than going through the spreadsheet)
  3. Built in “Query prompt Selector” controls.

As stated in the “What’s New” documentation for BI 4.0 these new features are “focused on improving productivity and direct enterprise data connectivity”. The $64,000 question is “are the productivity improvements they bring marginal or breakthrough?”

As anyone who has been involved in developing Xcelsius dashboards connected to server side data will know, the two key things which hamper productivity are:

  1. The need to manage multiple connections to the server
  2. The need to use many formulas to manage the data from these queries into the components based on end-user selection

These are also key drivers of total cost of ownership because the complexities they introduce to the initial development also, even more dramatically, affect the cost of ongoing support and maintenance.

Multiple Data Connections

The main reason for having multiple data connections is to get data from different hierarchical levels with each level (indeed each combination of levels from different dimensions) requiring a different query. So a dataset with just two hierarchal dimensions, each with three levels of hierarchy, would require 9 (3×3) different connections to get all possible levels of data. However, it goes beyond that, the need to also have “select distinct” queries to populate lists of values and a number of other auxiliary requirements, mean that most non-trivial connected dashboards typically require between 10 and 20 queries to serve the end user needs, even on a single dataset.

Spreadsheet formulas

With multiple datasets comes the need to manage which dataset drives which component in response to the end user selection. The formula engine of the embedded spreadsheet is an incredibly powerful and flexible method for doing this, however, as has been commented on so many times in the past, spreadsheet formulas are incredibly difficult to debug, document, and maintain. This is even more true when the use of complex formulas (e.g. ones using data manipulation functions such as VLOOKUP) is required.

If we combine these two together into an index of Xcelsius complexity it would look something like:

Xcelsius model data complexity = (100 * number of queries) + (10 * number of unique “complex” formulas) + (3 * number of unique simple formulas) + number or repeated formulas

(I have just pulled the factors here out of the air to illustrate the point, but would love to engage with others in the Xcelsius community on a standardization of a measure like the one above)

So the question is: “do the new query and binding capabilities of BI 4.0 reduce this (or any similar) complexity index ?”

Unfortunately, based on what I have seen so far, the answer is “no”. Although the new query capability “replaces” QaaWS, it looks to have pretty much the same level of query sophistication, i.e. fairly static, parameterized queries (although the new capability does add the ability to add static sorting), with no dynamic, hierarchy awareness. This means that it is unlikely that Xcelsius models ported to BI 4.0 would  be able to rescue the key complexity drivers of “number of connections” and “number of data manipulation formulas”.

This in turn minimizes the value of the other new features, because directly binding data from a query to a component and managing that query directly with a prompt selector is only really useful if the query returns all the data you need. Otherwise, you are still left with needing to manage the data through the spreadsheet which disqualifies the use of these new features.

That is not to say that there are no benefits to the new capabilities. They do make the whole process of initial query creation simpler, because you can do it all from within the Xcelsius environment and for simpler dashboards that have static  (albeit parameterized) data requirements the new direct binding and prompt selectors will prove to be a productivity boost. Additionally, they also make demos of data connectivity in Xcelsius much simpler!

If anyone feels differently, or even better, has an example of a real-world Xcelsius dashboard which is much simpler using the new features, I would love to hear about them. I would also love to hear any thoughts people have on the creation of a complexity measurement for Xcelsius dashboards.

Donald MacCormick is a board member and strategic advisor to Antivia, an SAP® software solution partner, and creator of XWIS the Xcelsius-to-SAP BusinessObjects connectivity solution. In past years, he was a long term member of BusinessObjects and Crystal, and part of the team that brought Xcelsius into the BusinessObjects portfolio.

Dec
6

Tips for Emailing from Xcelsius

I often get questions about sending emails from Xcelsius. In fact, I get them so often, I thought I’d take a moment to document what I know. Here, I’ll show you how to :

  • Send a basic email
  • Send an email to multiple recipients
  • Add a Body to you email
  • Prevent that awful Browser window from popping up when sending an email from Xcelsius.

First, you’ll want to add a simple URL button onto your canvas and go to properties:

.

To start a basic email, enter this into the URL input box:

mailto:mike@someaddress.com?subject=Email To DataPig

This will start a basic email when URL button is pressed. The email will have the To line filled in and the Subject line filled in.

If you want to send the email to multiple recipients, you can include other addresses separating each with a comma. Like this:

mailto:mike@someaddress.com, mico@someaddress.com?subject=Email To DataPig

Want to use the CC and BCC lines? That’s easy. Simply add the cc and bcc parameters:

mailto:mike@someaddress.com?cc=mico@someaddress.com&bcc=ryan@someaddress.com&subject=Email To DataPig

Notice that you will need to use the ampersand (&) to separate the parameters

OK, let’s get fancier and add a body.

mailto:mike@someaddress.com?cc=mico@someaddress.com&bcc=ryan@someaddress.com&;subject=Email To DataPig&body=I ate too much salmon.

If you need to add a multi-lined body (meaning the text of your body is on multiple lines), you can use your own carriage return encoding %0D.

To be able to use this, you will need to uncheck the “Encode URL” option. This will tell Xcelsius that you will handle the encoding.

.

Once you’ve disabled Xclesius’s encoding, you can enter something like this:

mailto:mike@someaddress.com?cc=mico@someaddress.com&bcc=ryan@someaddress.com&subject=Email To DataPig&body= I ate too much salmon.%0DNow I have salmonella.

And as always, you can dynamically build your mailto url address in Excel with formulas and simply reference it in the URL button.

So what about that nasty browser window that pops up when you send an email from Xclesius?

You can get rid of it by changing the “Open In” option to ‘This Window’.

After doing this, the extra browser window doesn’t open when you export your final SWF and HTML. You’ll still see it when you are in Preview mode, but rest assured, it will be gone when you go to run-time.

There you have it! Happy emailing!

Mike Alexander is the author of several books on advanced business analysis, including Crystal Xcelsius For Dummies. You can find Mike at Datapig Technologies, where he serves as principle contributor and shares free video tutorials with the Microsoft Office and Xcelsius communities.

Nov
9

Integrating Xcelsius into Crystal Reports Series – 2 of 3

As usual, before getting started I want to provide a quick recap of where we are with the Reportapalooza competition. This is the last week of voting before the final winner is announced on Nov 22th!

  • Challenge #1 (Done) – Winner , Mico Yuk (Check out my Coffee Consumption Calculator)
  • Challenge #2 (Done) – Winner, Mico Yuk (based on traffic sent to Report a Hero Page)
  • Challenge #3 (Done) – Winner, Brian Durning (voted best Crystal Reports Video by Community)
  • Challenge #4 (Done) – Winner, David Deitch (voted best Charity Dashboard by Community)
  • Challenge #5 (In Progress)What this series of blog post is about.
  • Community Dashboard Challenge (In Progress) – Vote until Nov 12th, 2010 for your favorite community dashboard.

In Part 1 of this series I went over some Q&A on what it would take to embed your Xcelsius visualization (in this case a map) into your Crystal Report, as well as some pros and cons.   In Part 2 I am going to cover how to set up your map in Xcelsius so that it can be consumed by Crystal Reports.  For this example we will be using Google Maps (compliments of Centigon Solutions) as it much more robust than the out of box maps in Xcelsius.

5 Simple Step to getting your Xcelsius (aka #SCDD) model ready!

1.       Install Google Maps Plug-in for Xcelsius (more details on how to do this here)

2.       Add the  GMaps Plugin to your Xcelsius dashboard

3. Configure your Excel spreadsheet to hold 2 columns of data for the Google Map: 1) Map Address 2) Map Labels

4.       Go to Data Connections in Xcelsius -> Add the ‘Crystal Reports Data Consumer’ Connection


5.       Configure the ‘Crystal Reports Data Consumer’ Connection so that the ‘Row Headers’ are bound to the  Excel cell area you created in Step #3

In Part 3 I will focus on the final step:  Bringing your Xcelsius Map into Crystal Reports.

One last thing, please don’t forget to cast your votes on the 3 dashboards that were submitted by the community to show your support.

Mico Yuk is a 2010 SAP Mentor and the founder of the Xcelsius Guru Network and the Everything Xcelsius blog. To learn more about her, please visit our About Us page.

Sep
10

The Slow Death of a Gauge

When I started educating customers on business intelligence dashboards in the early 2000s, we used a term “eye candy for executives.” This term was coined thanks to the flashy graphics and over the top shiny look and feel for Xcelsius. This emotional effect that Xcelsius has on customers is amazing and to this day I truly enjoy sharing the technology with new customers. This emotional effect that Xcelsius had on businesses helped propel the Xcelsius forward because it simply looked better. The gauge visual control was certainly the most exciting item that every customer wanted. I am guilty as charged for using these controls over the years, but can’t remember the last time I used one in a customer project… and there is a very good reason.

Dashboards provide an appealing user experience to dive into business information. The customers and professionals who deploy dashboards are collectively more educated, thanks to the specialists who have provided guidance on effective methods for communicating quantitative information. When web 2.0 and business intelligence collided there were only a few places consumers could go to for education on visualization for business intelligence. Now there are large communities focused on this topic, just like EverythingXcelsiusDashboard Insight is my favorite. Though gauges are extremely effective in gaining your attention, it only slows down an you ability to digest the information. Gauges also take up valuable real estate, even when you cut them in half!

So what is the alternative to a gauge? You have a few options:

1. Use a text value- If you create a gauge and can’t figure out what the min and max values should be, delete the gauge immediately. You are best served placing a value or text control on the screen to display the value(s).

Use a bullet chart- If your value has an associated target, the bullet chart is your best bet, especially if you have multiple values that you would like to display with un-like measures or scales.

Use a bar / combo chart- If you have more than 3 gauges with the same measure and scale, you should replace them with a single bar chart or combination chart. With Xcelsius you also have an interesting vertical bullet chart capable of showing actual/target.

Hopefully if your are researching using gauges for your dashboard this article will help steer you clear of dis-servicing your end user. I would love to hear your opinions on this long lasting Gauge debate.

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 Gurus page

Mar
19

Xcelsius 2008 Fix Pack 3.1 (FP3.1) is HERE!!

Hi Everyone,

We want to welcome the much anticipated release of  Fix Pack 3.1 or FP3.1 as it is officially called! We were the first to  announce its release on twitter yesterday and wanted to follow up with an official post. The Fix Pack must be applied to Xcelsius 2008 SP3 (version: 5.3.0.0). If you don’t already have it installed, please click here.

You can download FP3.1 by clicking here, but please be aware,  that there are two different versions available to download:

  1. The Xcelsius Present 2008 Fix Pack 3.1 for Xcelsius 2008 SP3 Present
  2. The Xcelsius Enterprise 2008 Fix Pack 3.1 for both  Xcelsius 2008 SP3 Engage and Enterprise

After the FP 3.1 is applied, the version number should change to version: 5.3.1.0

According to our trusted guys at SAP, the documentation will be available shortly. They were too anxious to release the Fix Pack and didn’t want to wait for the documentation to be ready. Hey, we’re not complaining, Thanks!!  Since we will be first to know when the documentation is ready, You will be first to know as well. Stay Tuned!

Mar
16

Count Down to the Xcelsius Advanced Developer Workshop

Hi Everyone,

So we are officially counting down to the Xcelsius Advanced Developer Workshop in Dallas, TX, on March 24-25. There are less than 9 days left and less than 5 seats available. Mico and Mike are prepared and look forward to the workshop and meeting all the attendees.

For those of you who are just hearing about the workshop, or have never heard of it before, below is a summarized version of the agenda:

Day 1- Advanced Dashboarding Techniques

  • Mico Yuk- Professional Dashboard Design
  • Mike Alexander-  Enhancing Xcelsius Dashboard with Excel Techniques

Day 2 – Advanced Data Connectivity Techniques

  • Mico Yuk- Basic Connectivity Techniques
  • Mike Alexander – Advanced Connectivity Techniques

For a detailed version of the agenda please visit http://xcelsiustraining.com.

During the workshop, there are contests planned with free prize giveaways. You also get a chance to meet and mingle with Mico and Mike each day, before and after.

Spaces are filling up fast, so anyone interested should register today. If you have any questions about the agenda or logistics, please feel free to send me an email directly. For those attending already, don’t forget to walk with your camera’s to share your experience with those not attending.

There is less than 9 days left, so hurry and register today!

Mar
2

FREE Advanced Xcelsius Tips and Tricks Webinar with giveaways!

Join the Xcelsius Gurus Mico Yuk and Mike Alexander, Author, Crystal Xcelsius for Dummies, for a FREE 30 minutes webinar on advanced Xcelsius data management and visualization tips and tricks on Thursday, March 4, 2010, from 1-1:30pm. We only have 100 seats available, so please register today!

Below is the webinar agenda for your reference:

  1. Introductions (Mico)
  2. Data management Tricks (Mike)
    • Copying Formulas from Xcelsius to Excel
    • Dynamcially Resetting Controls to a Default
  3. Visualization Tricks (Mike)
    • Creating Web Style Menus
    • Creating a Pin-Cushion Chart (Simulating Drop Lines in Xcelsius)
  4. Discuss Upcoming Training in March (Mico)
  5. Q&A (Mico)

This webinar is a preview to our Advanced Xcelsius Developer Workshop on March 24-25, 2010, in Dallas, TX. During the webinar we will be offering the following:

  1. Free! Seat Giveaway
  2. Discounted sign ups until 12am EST that day for $949/person instead of $1099/person
  3. More info on what will be covered

For more information on the workshop on March 24-25, 2010, please visit http://xcelsiustraining.com

We only have 100 spaces available for this FREE webinar, so please reserve yours today! Click here to register!

Dec
1

Webinar Alert: Xcelsius Gurus – Top 10 Excel Tips for Success on 12/17 @10am PST



We’ve done a few Xcelsius Webinar Alerts before, but this one is SPECIAL! We would be delighted if you attended. Why you ask?


On December 17th, 2008 at 10am PST two Xcelsius Gurus are getting together to discuss 2 very important topics:

  1. How to Set up your Excel Sheet for Xcelsius Consumption
  2. How to manage your Xcelsius components


It will be presented by 2 Xcelsius Gurus:

  1. Mico Yuk (EverythingXcelsius.com Blog Co-Founder)
  2. Ryan Goodman (Owner Centigon Solutions, Blog: http://ryangoodman.net/blog)


Your next steps:

  1. Click here to Register!
  2. Mark on your Outlook Calendars
  3. Attend webinar with your questions …
  4. Bookmark the SAP Webinar Page for future updates!

We look forward to meeting some of you.

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