Posts Tagged ‘Xcelsius’

Dec
6

Advanced Printing for Xcelsius is Here… Finally!

A few months ago, I received an email with a subject, “check out this print component” from Gabriel Braun at DataSavvy Tools. When I fired it up, I had a smile ear-to-ear because I was sitting in front of exactly what every customer has been asking me for the last 5 years… A robust print button capable of letting me choose what I want to print, control layout, and print to landscape or portrait. So I am happy to say that thanks to the Data Savvy Tools ingenuity, the community now has a fantastic option for printing: Dash Printer

While we try to keep promotions to a minimum on EverythingXcelsius.com, we could not resist posting about this new component because it is so heavily requested among customers. While some would argue that a basic function like printing should be taken care of by SAP, history has told us that they prefer to use the ecosystem to fill in certain gaps. Frankly, I don’t think that it could have been done any better than this.

After clicking on the print icon, you can click and drag to draw the area for which you will print. This way if you only want a portion of your dashboard printed, you can do so.


While still inside of your dashboard, you can instantly toggle the scale, margins, layout, and alignment of your image to print exactly what you want. This way every user is presented with the same visual print setup regardless of operating system.

So if you need an advanced print button for Xcelsius, you can now look to DataSavy Tools for a sound solution moving forward. Get the Dash Printer NOW!

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.

Aug
11

Understanding BI4 Dashboards and XWIS

If you’re using Xcelsius (now SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards) for your enterprise dashboard projects, by not looking beyond what comes “in the box,” you may well miss out on capabilities which could make a critical difference to your project; even with the advent of BI4.

What you get with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards is one of the best dashboard design platforms because of its free-form design paradigm for rapid dashboard development. Another great thing about SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards is the community of experts and third party providers who fuel adoption, education, and innovation.

A great example of this is XWIS from Antivia. The folks at Antivia say “every connected Xcelsius project could deliver better, faster and at lower cost using XWIS” and I have to say there is good reason for this, having created many connected dashboards over the years. I have taken a stronger stance in the last year endorsing XWIS 2.5 and would agree that XWIS can deliver between 10 and 20 times productivity improvement to Xcelsius projects. “Production dashboards in days not weeks or months” can actually be achieved, which is why XWIS has become a tool of my dashboard design trade!

Having said that, over the last few months I have been asked a number of times if the value of XWIS diminishes now that BI 4 is about to go to GA. My short answer is “no” for XWIS 2.5 and “absolutely not” for the recently announced XWIS 3.0. To elaborate, I wanted to share both XWIS and BI4 capabilities so you can determine for yourself.

What do I get in the box with BI 4?

BI4 is a significant upgrade to the SAP BusinessObjects product suite, perhaps the largest in its history, and has customers eagerly awaiting the GA (some details of the new capabilities of BI 4 can be found at SCN in Pierre Leroux’s blog: “Innovations SAP BusinessObjects 4.0“).

Included in the upgrade are a number of enhancements specific to SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0, the most significant being:

Embedded Query Designer

The embedded query designer is a great new way of streamlining the existing Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) process. Now it is possible to design your queries using a standard BOBJ query panel inside the Xcelsius environment. No more needing to reach for the stand-alone QaaWS front end. It currently only works on the new “unx” universes but expect that to change in the future. So, for people who are using QaaWS today this represents a great step forward in terms of developer workflow and productivity.

Direct binding

For queries which are created with the new embedded query designer, it is now possible to bind the results directly to chart and selector components, without having to go through the spreadsheet. This is yet another important step forward for the maturity of this dashboard development platform, alleviating traditional workflow and performance implications of spreadsheet binding.

Parameter Selector Component

Working in tandem with the previous two features the parameter selector component makes it simpler to add query parameterization capabilities to your dashboard so that the end-user can see different slices of data by selecting a new parameter for the underlying query.

What are you missing by staying inside of the box?

There are many compelling reasons to use XWIS with both XI 3 and BI 4, including long standing XWIS features, such as:

Content re-use:

One of the strengths of XWIS is that is lets you reuse existing BI content (WebI reports, Crystal reports (on a universe or not), JBDC queries …). It is almost certain that you already have the data you need for your dashboard in an existing, managed price of content already governed under SLAs. XWIS allows you to re-use this content rather than having to create new queries.

Hierarchies and auto-drill:

XWIS natively supports hierarchies from your universe, but even better, it also provides an interface to edit and persist new hierarchy definitions, so you can re-use them on other dashboard projects. Furthermore, through its hierarchical data support, XWIS also supports auto- drill both within its own components and also in native Xcelsius components using its innovative Autowire feature (see below).

Cached Data Sources:

Because XWIS can leverage Crystal or WebI as a data source (in addition to JDBC), you can leverage BOE scheduling to offload complex number crunching, and then push scheduled data to your dashboard that you can drill and filter through.

Dynamic Measures and Dimensions:

One of the really powerful features of XWIS is the possibility to change the dimensions and measures (and even the underlying report) dynamically at run-time depending on end-user actions. This is a game changing feature for developers; with a flick of a switch you can increase the sophistication of your dashboards to answer more end-user requirements more easily.

Design-Time Variables

If you require a custom variable in a dashboard, you don’t have to go back to the universe designer or bind your data to the spreadsheet, in XWIS, you can create custom variables right inside of the property sheet while maintaining its hierarchical relevance and drill path.

Autowire:

Bypasses the spreadsheet for charting components and allows XWIS components to directly connect to Xcelsius charts complete with support for hierarchies and auto-drill.

And now in XWIS 3.0, there is even more capability, including:

Live preview

The latest version of XWIS allows you to see your data immediately at design time, in tables, charts, and even GMaps Plugin. This is a huge timesaver and changes the whole dynamic of creating a dashboard by eliminating the need to continually go to preview mode to see how the dashboard will look to end users. This feature really does have to be seen to get a full appreciation of how radically it alters the design experience.

Data Sync:

Keeping a number of components in sync whilst navigating around a dashboard, is often a key requirement (and one that some niche dashboard providers have done a good job at), the new data component in XWIS 3.0 brings this capability to Xcelsius.

Data Merge:

With many organizations needing to combine BusinessObjects data with other sources (e.g.  SQL, OLAP, spreadsheet), XWIS allows you to merge data from multiple sources, within your dashboard, and then take advantage of all the XWIS capabilities (auto-drill, slice and dice, etc) using the combined dataset.

Where do you go from here?

When the rubber meets the road and stakeholders are accountable for delivering dashboards back to the business, developers need confidence to deliver a wide range of capabilities. This is where tools from partners within the SAP eco-system can make the difference to your XI3 and your BI4 projects.

When it comes to a complete dashboard lifecycle, I have always believed that Antivia approaches BusinessObjects connectivity and integration the way that it should have been done in the first place with Xcelsius. New BI4 enhancements illustrate that SAP is committed to improving enterprise integration and connectivity. If your company is already building dashboards with success using QaaWS for your enterprise initiative, SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 will certainly be a breath of fresh air. However, if you really want to get the most from your dashboard development investment, I suggest that you give XWIS a serious look.

Feel free to post questions and comments here, as I would love to get the community’s feedback on this topic.

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

Apr
28

What are Dashboards really for?

Dashboards are for Action, Not Information!

Given how much has been said about Business Intelligence over the years, it is hard to imagine that someone could, within the 140 character constraint, use a single post on Twitter (I still can’t quite bring myself to say “tweet”) to impart real wisdom about BI, but a few weeks ago I saw something from Gartner analyst Andreas Bitterer which did exactly that. He wrote :

Ironically, the timestamp on the post was April 1st, but I very much hope that this was not meant as an April fool because it cuts right to the heart of what effective BI is all about.

Business is not about knowing, it is about doing.

A good business intelligence system should reflect this. Unfortunately, there is a large part of human nature which is reassured simply by knowing. This tends to spawn BI systems which help people feel that they are in control, rather than do anything useful to actually drive the organization forward.

So for EVERY report, spreadsheet, dashboard, query, visualization, or whatever other form your BI takes, I would encourage you to make sure that there is a clear line of sight from the information you are delivering, to an action someone is going to take to move your organization forward. If you can’t make this connection, I would question the business value being delivered.

This is particularly true in the world of dashboards.

Dashboards are too often limited to simply giving an overview of the current situation.

It helps people to know what is happening, but offers nothing to help them drive action. This misses a huge opportunity, as a well-designed dashboard should provide interactivity to allow its users to drill into the data to help them decide what to do next.

A sales dashboard that only indicates you are on track for the quarter is of very-limited value, one which simply tells you that you are behind plan is not much better, but one which allows you to find out, based on past evidence, which customers in which region are most likely to buy which products is a huge step forward. Now it is much easier to take immediate and effective action (regardless of whether you are behind plan or not).

So, if your dashboards are simply single-screen windows onto the current state of play, perhaps you should consider adding a little well thought out interactivity to better direct end-user activity.

Donald MacCormick is the Chief Product and Marketing Officer at 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.

Apr
22

NEWS ALERT! Xcelsius 2008 Fix Pack 3.5 (FP3.5) his now available!

Hi Everyone,

We are happy to announce the release of Xcelsius 2008 Fix Pack 3.5 (FP3.5). The Fix Pack must be applied to Xcelsius 2008 SP3 (version: 5.3.0.0) or any of the previous fix packs. If you don’t already have it installed, please click here.

You can Download FP3.5 now by clicking here. Please be aware…there are two different versions available to download:

  1. The Xcelsius Present 2008 Fix Pack 3.5 patch is for Xcelsius 2008 SP3 Present only
  2. The Xcelsius Enterprise 2008 Fix Pack 3.5 patch is both for Xcelsius 2008 SP3 Engage and Enterprise.

The documentation is also available on the SAP help portal. There are two different documents available:

If any of you decide to download FP3.5 this weekend, please let us know! We look forward to your feedback!

Want to keep up with all the latest Xcelsius news, follow us on:

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

Apr
21

Xcelsius and Business Intelligence Web Services (BIWS)

With the limited availability of scalable data connectivity options for Xcelsius, are you constantly seeking  to improve your dashboard performance?  If your answer is ‘YES’, then this post is for you.

Easily connecting to an ‘Enterprise database’ is a well known problem when using SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly known as Xcelsius). Let’s refer to it as ‘SCDD’ from here on. Traditionally you have two main data connectivity options, namely Live Office and Query as a Web Service, that is until the release of Business Objects 3.1 SP2 which included a 3rd option named BI Web Services.

With BI Web Services (referred to as BIWS going forward), you leverage the web service engine available in Web Intelligence and connect it directly to your dashboard utilizing the QaaWS connector in SCDD.

5 Reasons why you should consider using BIWS:

  1. You can gain simple access via the QaaWS data connection interface
  2. Your data can easily be filtered using the filter properties in the report
  3. You can connect to cached reports to facilitate faster response times and dashboard overall performance
  4. You can filter, drill and prompt from your dashboard without the need to go back to the universe
  5. It will also be available in BI 4.0 (which is what I used for these examples)

To provide insight into the process, I broke it down into a 2 part step-by-step process that includes screenshots.  Keep in mind this was done in a BI 4.0 environment but should work the same in BOE XI 3.1 which is where I originally tested it.

PART 1: SETTING UP YOUR WEBI REPORT AND WEB SERVICE

1.  Launch the Web Intelligence Rich Client. Create your query and basic report. NOTE: Don’t be too concerned with formatting the report at this stage, just make it viewable so that you can review the output.

2.  Save and export the report to the CMS.

3.  In the Webi Rich Client, Highlight a report block and right-click then choose Publish as Web Service. (Note: Report web services are mapped to a report block just like Live Office objects are.)

4.  The Publish Content wizard is then displayed.  Click Next.

5.  Enter the Name of your web service to and click Next.

6.  Define the name of the content block, Set your Filters then Click Next.

7.  Click Publish, and voila! Your web service is created.

8.  Copy the WSDL url and place in a Notepad.  You will need to paste this into the QaaWS data connection in SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards.

The next step is to access the web service from your dashboard.

The BI web service is exposed as the same SOAP interface used by QaaWS. To use the service in your dashboard, you will add a QaaWS connection, Import the wsdl, choose a method and then define the input and output parameters.

PART 2: HOW TO CONNECT TO THE WEB SERVICE FROM YOUR DASHBOARD

1.  Launch SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards.

2.  Open the Data Connection Menu and add a QaaWS connection.  Paste URL into the wsdl URL box and then click Import.

3.  For this example, choose the GetReportBlock_State_Sales_Service from the Method dropdown list.

4.  In the Output Values, bind the table cell to the same number of columns as your web service report block. (Note: Choose as many rows as you think you may need)

5.  Bind the Header cell value to a single row of cells to hold your report block header.

6.  Change the usage to refresh when loaded.

7.  Preview your dashboard.

CONCLUSION: In reviewing the Connection options, you see that using the BIWS is more powerful than using the basic Qaaws connection. You have two methods to use, one for retrieving the full report block the other is for drilling. We will cover drilling in a future post.

TIP: If you want to search for a specific row value, you can set the value to be read from your spreadsheet and bind the operator to the word ‘equals’. There are other options for operator such as ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’.

With BI Web Services and SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards you have a lot of flexibility to provide fast and robust data access to your dashboards, hence improving the performance which is your main goal.

Scott Strool is a Senior BI Consultant for Benchmarkers Business Intelligence, where he helps customers obtain their BI visions. He presented at the 2010 SAP BusinessObjects User Conference in Orlando, FL, and has led many dashboard initiatives. You may follow him on twitter at @scott_strool.

Feb
15

Will you be at our Xcelsius Training? (April 19-20, 2011)

Hey Folks,

We’re doing it again in April!  I’d like to formally announce open registration for our highly successful Xcelsius Advanced Developer Workshop (aka Training) that will take place in Miami, FL on April 19-20, 2011. Conducted by Mike Alexander (author, Crystal Xcelsius for Dummies) and myself, this 2-day event is jammed packed with content and always sold out within a few weeks of announcing.

Last year (see pics below) the training sold out (we even had a waiting list, see how packed it was by viewing our album here!), so we encourage everyone to Register before March 31st , to secure your seat and receive the early bird special SAVINGS OF $200.

On the 1st day, the training will cover Basic Data Connectivity Techniques, including, Advanced Dashboarding Techniques. On the 2nd day, we will cover Advanced Data Connectivity Techniques and much more! We will be also be covering SAP Crystal Dashboard Design. To view the entire agenda go to http://xcelsiustraining.com.

Follow us on Twitter or FaceBook for special announcements, as we will be giving away a free seat again this year. Don’t forget the early bird special ends on March 31st, so register today and save $200.

We look forward to seeing everyone there!!  Email us at gurus at everythingxcelsius.com with any questions.

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

Jan
4

Xcelsius Gurus Top 10 of 2010

To say that 2010 was a very memorable year for the Xcelsius Gurus community is an understatement.  To see what I mean, take a minute to read my 2010 Top 10 list below.

#10 SAP TechEd Conference

Coming in at #10 is the SAP Teched conference in Las Vegas.  There I had the pleasure of co-hosting the Xcelsius hands-on sessions with 2 of my favorite technical guys from the SAP Xcelsius and RIG team, Matt Lloyd and Patrice Lebhan. The event drew in such a crowd that we had to turn away attendees.  I also had the pleasure of doing a live interview with fellow mentor Jamie Oswald (a must watch for those considering attending TechEd in 2011) and former SAP Executive Marge Breya. There aren’t enough lines to explain how great this event was so click on the links below to see firsthand.

  • Click here to see pics of the event!
  • Click here to view interview #1 with Jamie Oswald and Jason Cao (SAP BusinessObjects Community Leader)
  • Click here to view the interview #2 with former SAP Exec Marge Breya and fellow SAP Mentor Karin Tillotson

#9 Xcelsius Advance Training in Dallas

Hosted by Mike Alexander and myself in Dallas, TX this was a jam packed fun event.  This event is traditionally sold out with a waiting list, so if you are interested do write us an email early to get on the list. We are considering doing one on the West and East coast this year due to popular demand.

#8 EverythingXcelsius Blog Design Update

If you visit our site often enough, and our Google statistics show that many of you do, you have probably noticed that a few months ago we made some small updates to the blog’s design. Two major updates include our sleeker image enriched front page now with enhanced social media buttons and our new ‘Resources’ tab which is a one stop shop for Xcelsius related links on the web. You will also notice that our ‘Showcase’ tab now takes you directly to our commercial website to see examples of some of our guru dashboards which takes us to #7!

#7 Launch of our Commercial Website Benchmarkers Business Intelligence

If you’re wondering why this is so far down the list, it’s because we have yet to do an official launch, as we are still making some small adjustments. Expect to hear more about our official commercial website Benchmarkers Business Intelligence, where we work with some of the world’s biggest companies to deliver state of the art BusinessObjects deployments, migrations and implementation being sure to include our well known and best designed dashboards. We will do an official company launch in Feb 2011, but those who wish to find out more can visit our site http://benchmarkers.com to see how other companies are benefiting from our services.

#6 My SAP Mentor Nomination

It is no secret that the acquisition of BOE by SAP took the BOE community by storm in 2008, me included. I was again taking by a storm when I was informed that I had been nominated by the SAP BOE community to become an SAP mentor.   There isn’t enough space in this blog post to document my adventure in the first year as an SAP Mentor, but I will do a better job to document the journey in 2011.

#5 SAPPHIRE / ASUG Conference

Making our Top 5 is SAPPHIRE, the biggest SAP sales event of the year. Unfortunately, it was not an option for many BOBJ folks who shied away from the heavy SAP ERP presence. Teaming up with ASUG, SAP managed to pull together one of the best events that we ever attended. There was no shortage of BusinessObjects information, just BOE attendees!

#4 Reportapalooza

Coming in at #4 has to be the first official BusinessObjects virtual competition (at least that we know of). With a name like Reportapalooza how could we forget? We emailed asking for your votes and entries, you won prizes, saw some really cool dashboards and then forgot it existed. While the event may have lasted for a bit too long, we do give SAP an A+ for wanting to engage the community with their software. Recruiting big BOE community names like SAP Mentor Jamie Oswald, known author and blogger, Jim Brogden, and myself, it was the first of its kind. Big KUDOS to the winner, Brian Durning at PepsiCo (also ASUG Crystal Reports Chair). Will SAP do another one next year? Guess we’ll have to wait to see.

#3 EverythingXcelsius Social Links reach 1000+

Making the top 3 has to be the fact that our Twitter and Linkedin Group both exceeded 1,000+ followers this year. We are delighted by the tremendous growth and look forward to having you be a part of our community’s evolution in 2011. Lots of exciting changes in 2011. We truly feel that we host the most passionate community members in the SAP BusinessObjects realm and we appreciate all of you!

#2 SAP BusinessObjects User Conference (aka SBOUC) / 2nd Annual Xcelsius Gurus Reception

As the only BusinessObjects conference that currently exists (though more are popping up in 2011) this event took off in Orlando with over 1600+ attendees, a far cry from its despicable attendance in Dallas the year before. On-site was the “Who is Who” in the BOE world, along with tons of informational sessions, and keynote demos of the upcoming BOE XI 4.0 release. Most shocking however was the formal announcement by Steve Lucas, SVP for SAP Business Objects North America that BOE had accounted for 52% of SAP sales up to Q3. We also co-hosted the wildly successful 2nd Annual Xcelsius Gurus Reception with the help and support of the SAP Xcelsius Marketing Team. Pics can be seen here.

#1 SAP Renames Xcelsius

Topping the charts at #1 is of course the Xcelsius name change to SAP Crystal Dashboard Design or #SCDD depending on what day you look on twitter. While some who are in emotional distraught blogged and tweeted that the “Xcelsius name will never die” it is clear that SAP is moving forward with it in an effort to consolidate their Crystal product portfolio. If it is any consolation, SAP took it one step further to leave no rock unturned by also changing the names of long beloved products such as ‘Infoview’ to ‘BI Launchpad’ (1/10/11 Update. Correction – Web Intelligence will not be remained and hence the statement has been removed. Refer to the comments below). They even managed to gain accolade from Gartner who openly criticized SAP for their frequent name changes.

** Just for fun we had to add this video done by fellow SAPMentors Jon ERP & Dennis Howlett on this phenomenon!

What to expect in 2011?

  1. More Conferences, more coverage…
  2. More Gurus covering more topics and products …
  3. More Webinars and Collaberations …
  4. New Community aka “The Evolution” …
  5. Official launch of commercial website Benchmarkers Business Intelligence!

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.

Oct
11

NEWS ALERT! Xcelsius 2008 FP3.3 is out (with support for Windows 7)

Hi Everyone,

Last week we announced the release of Crystal Dashboard and Presentation Design (Xcelsius 2008) Fix Pack 3.3 (FP3.3) on twitter and wanted to follow up with an official post. (See the official post by Matt Lloyd here on the SCN Forums) The Fix Pack must be applied to Crystal Dashboard and Presentation Design (Xcelsius 2008) SP3 (version: 5.3.0.0), FP3.1 or FP3.2. If you don’t already have it installed, please click here.

To download FP3.3 now, click here. Please be aware…there are two different versions available to download:

  1. The Xcelsius Present 2008 Fix Pack 3.3 patch is for Xcelsius 2008 SP3 Present only
  2. The Xcelsius Enterprise 2008 Fix Pack 3.3 patch is both for Xcelsius 2008 SP3 Engage and Enterprise.

After FP3.3 is applied, the version number should change to version: 5.3.3.0

The documentation is delayed, but will be available shortly from the SAP help portal. All your Crystal Dashboard and Presentation Design (Xcelsius) guides can be found by visiting the SAP BusinessObjects Solution Portfolio Knowledge Center. As soon as the documentation is available, we will know, so YOU will know as well!  STAY TUNED!!

Want to keep up with all the latest Xcelsius news, follow us on:

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

Sep
28

Xcelsius Party RSVP Begins

Hi Everyone,

We are excited to formally announce the SAP Xcelsius Community Party, hosted by the Xcelsius Gurus, at the SAP BusinessObjects User Conference in Orlando, FL, on October 5th at 7pm in the Oceanic 3, Lobby Level.

This invitation-only event promises to be much bigger and better than last year, with a chance to network with Xcelsius users, experts, and other folks from the BusinessObjects community. To RSVP, please send an email with ‘RSVP’ in the  subject line, to aundrea.lacy@sap.com by October 1st.

This year we also want to encourage you to submit your best stories and examples of Xcelsius, to be judged by your colleagues and peers within the community. All submissions should be sent to emily.mui@sap, no later than October 3rd.

For more details about the party and to view the full invite, please click here: SBOUC 2010 Xcelsius Party Invite.

We are super excited about this event and hope to see everyone there.

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