Dashboards and Data Visualization

Let’s Speak BO Together– Highlights of 2018

by Bree-Anna Mustad on December 19, 2018 No comments

The Let’s Speak BO Webinar series that began in the winter of 2015 just recently concluded its third straight year of bi-weekly Business Intelligence Webinars with a fantastic close. Adam Lange, with A. Lange Consulting, lead a jam packed session dedicated to all of the new things our BusinessObjects community can expect when upgrading to BI 4.2 SP6. From Administrative enhancements to reporting feature releases, our SpeakBO listeners received a wealth of information to consider with their BusinessObjects investment moving forward into the New Year.

For me, it has been a privilege not only hosting the Let’s Speak BO webinar series for three years, but also forming relationships with the vast BusinessObjects community worldwide. Some of my favorite emails and calls have been with devoted listeners expressing gratitude and excitement for the free educational offering, which seems to be quite unique these days in the space of SAP BusinessObjects information sharing when it comes to the original core BusinessObjects toolset.

Here’s a look at some of the topics hosted in 2018 that viewers found very helpful to not only improve their personal work with the tools, but also inspire decision making when it comes to upgrades, looking into third party solutions, leveraging the existing platform and all of its features, assisting group training within organizations, and more.

BusinessObjects Administration:

This year we hosted a variety of topics for BusinessObjects Administrators. The topics include:

...and of course the latest and greatest with the recent release of BI 4.2 SP6.

Inspired by our listeners, the Let’s Speak BO webinar series has put together a new lineup of Administrative topics for 2019.

Topics like:

  • Customizing your BI Launchpad for Global Branding and Organization Synchronization
  • Discovering the Administrative Management Tool in Web Intelligence
  • A Migration look at Converting Desktop Intelligence Reports to Web Intelligence

…and much more!

The World of Web Intelligence in 2018:

One of the most requested, well attended, and popular topics among the BusinessObjects community seems to remain that of the well-regarded reporting tool- Web Intelligence. This year on Let’s Speak BO, we put together more topics on Web Intelligence for our listeners than ever before. And still, they cannot seem to get enough.

In a single hour, our viewers received fantastic deep-dives into topics like:

…and so much more!

The topics didn’t end there.

This year we had fascinating case studies and new topics on:

As a listener myself to these amazing sessions, I have learned a lot about where the community of BusinessObjects is in regards to educating themselves and wanting to improve upon their usage of these fantastic tools. It inspires me to further my relationships with individuals and organizations, large or small, out there who are inspired to grow within their investment by continuing to learn about these tools, and more importantly, help others within their organization expand their reaches by learning and educating themselves as well.

To conclude the year, I would like to thank a special few of our listeners who shared countless calls and emails with me chatting about their experiences with BusinessObjects and sharing their story on how they lead educational sessions and webinars of their own, inspired by our bi-weekly webinar series. Or how a professor of a prestigious university has his students not only listen live to our webinars, but then write papers or conduct group projects on what they learned, to better prepare them for the real world.

These stories, I personally get to leave the year with, have truly inspired what’s to come:

  • 2019’s Line up of Webinar Topics
  • Open Format Discussions
  • Live Q&A’s

…and brand new customer case studies that I hope you all continue to enjoy and benefit from.

Bree-Anna MustadLet’s Speak BO Together– Highlights of 2018

SAP Dashboards – Saving Time by Reusing Dashboards as a Template Solution

by Bree-Anna Mustad on September 17, 2018 No comments

SAP Dashboards – Saving Time by Reusing Dashboards as a Template Solution

As many SAP Dashboard developers can attest to, building out a fully operational and end to end dashboard solution using the longtime BusinessObjects data visualization tool, SAP Dashboards, can be an arduous task. SAP Dashboards, previously known as Xcelsius, takes quite a bit of planning, implementation, and iterations in order to get the final deliverable you and your team were aiming for.

So imagine the idea of building a dashboard once and then reusing it as a template that just populates new data automatically when the new data is ready. Sounds too good to be true? Lori Wagner, Business Intelligence Project Manager takes our audience through a fascinating case study on exactly how her organization implemented such a solution that in turn increased work productivity and efficiency due to their no longer being a demand to create new dashboards per new datasets.


This story incorporates a team of developers and SAP Dashboards consultants that were able to map out a detailed project that based upon the design, look and feel, would accommodate the automation of updated data sets utilizing the third party add-on platform, InfoBurst. Having the ability to schedule and deliver data from multiple sources including SAP Universes, SAP BO reports, database queries and more, allows the developers to sit back and enjoy the production ready dashboard that, based upon a set schedule, will populate the latest data and deliver the custom template dashboard to a variety of end users for consumption.

Bree-Anna MustadSAP Dashboards – Saving Time by Reusing Dashboards as a Template Solution

Welcome to the world of Infographics

by Bree-Anna Mustad on May 4, 2018 No comments

In the SAP Dashboards world, we all have seen at some point an example of just a “cool looking” Dashboard that astonishes us to find out that the Dashboard is 100% native SAP Dashboards.

“How did they get these icons to be clickable?”

“What are these charts they are using?”

These are just some of the questions attendees on our Let’s Speak BO asked our fantastic team from InfoSol UK, when demoing the latest innovations with utilizing native SAP Dashboard components complimented with image-based Infographics.

If you are looking for new clever ways to enhance your SAP Dashboards, I highly recommend tuning into this webinar. Rich Harvey and Mel Sheppard not only demonstrate the construction of these new-age looking Dashboards but also talk to the audience of what considerations took place in constructing these components with Infographic style designs.

The best part is that these Dashboards, given all the time we tend to spend on color schemes and or layout, do not take long to construct. And the immediate benefit is stunning your end user with what appears to be a custom application rather than the components we have all been used to in SAP Dashboards.


Bree-Anna MustadWelcome to the world of Infographics

Developing SAP Dashboards in Half the Time with Better Performance

by Bree-Anna Mustad on February 23, 2018 No comments

If I were to ask an SAP BusinessObjects Dashboard developer what the most time consuming aspect of a dashboard project is, I would most likely get one of three answers: organizing the data for it, the design and aesthetics of it, or the time spent building it due to the difficulty in having multiple developers on a single project.

More often than not, a dashboard project tends to be a group effort; those who have a say in the look and feel of it, those who want to be hands-on in the development process and those who dictate the changes and enhancements for end user consumption. However, anyone who has worked within SAP BO Dashboards may attest to the fact that sharing an .xlf (dashboard file format) is not easy. In most cases, when we attempt to share dashboards with one another, in order to have multiple developers on the project, we risk original file corruption, component failure, and performance issues.

Why does this happen? SAP Dashboards just does not like to be opened on many different machines, within different versions, or many times throughout the day. It was not until recently a solution well worth looking into appeared in the components gallery as a third party add-on to our favorite data visualization tool. This component, appearing similar to a multi-tab selector, is Advanced iFrame.

Runali Ghosh, a long time InfoSol Dashboard developer, consultant, and expert on data visualization projects, hosted a fantastic webinar on February 20th 2018 on this exact solution: How to develop a dashboard in half the amount of time by allowing multiple developers to work on it while improving the performance of the dashboard immensely.

View the Recording

Advanced iFrame is a third party solution which allows multiple developers to integrate a dashboard designed from their individual desktops and bring it together into a single Dashboard model. The concept of how this works stems from a Parent > Child relationship between models so each model can communicate as well as pass parameters to and from one another, regardless if the pieces are developed separately. Because of this, a developer is able to split the development of a complex dashboard project into individual models and then use Advanced iFrame to essentially “stich” them back together into a cohesive, seamless dashboard.

I believe, the best third party solutions out there which integrate with SAP BusinessObjects are the solutions that enable developers to use the fantastic SAP toolset productively and efficiently. These time-saving solutions not only help us develop reports and dashboards in these tools to the maximum of their capabilities but also inspire us to develop creatively. I look forward to seeing more dashboard use cases leveraging Advanced iFrame.

For a list of some of these add-on components and to learn more about Advanced iFrame, visit this page that provides an overview of getdVeloping, Inovista, Centigon and Data Savvy components.

Bree-Anna MustadDeveloping SAP Dashboards in Half the Time with Better Performance

HTML5 - The Future of SAP Dashboards

by Bree-Anna Mustad on February 2, 2018 No comments

This demonstration-based webinar hosted a wealth of information for you SAP Dashboard designers when it comes to the latest features in Dashboards 4.2 SP5. Mel Sheppard, an experienced and innovative Dashboard Developer, showcased a variety of new features as well as limitations in the latest version of our favorite Dashboarding tool, previously known as Xcelsius.

This webinar is well worth listening to for those of you who are considering upgrading to 4.2 SP5 for future Dashboard projects. The primary reason being, the newly added HTML output option is substantially different than the standard mobile option for developing, previewing, and publishing Dashboards using native SAP components.

Mel’s in-depth explanation and demonstrations on the precise differences between the two outputs answers the common question between the differences of publishing for mobile verses HTML.

You can view the webinar by following this link

Developing for mobile in the SAP Dashboard Designer tool has been around since the beginning of SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0. However, with the recent release of 4.2 Service Pack 5, a new option of previewing in HTML has swept the designer tool promoting a new way of approaching the planning stages for Dashboard projects.

SAP Dashboards continues to thrive in the world of data visualization due to the product’s immeasurable, custom-like features. Perhaps this latest release will continue to move us in a direction of HTML5 and mobile-friendly application development which in turn will someday leave its opponent, Flash, behind.

Bree-Anna MustadHTML5 - The Future of SAP Dashboards

The World of HTML5 Dashboards

by Bree-Anna Mustad on December 28, 2017 No comments

Although it was a quiet webinar the day after Christmas, our Speak BO viewers had a lot to say about Taylor Packwood’s in-depth look at what it takes to develop HTML5 Dashboards.

Taylor, having years of custom-coding experience as well as being one of InfoSol’s top SAP Dashboards (formally Xcelsius) developers, shared everything from dashboard design tips to developing challenges and solutions when diving into dashboards project.

In a world slowly moving away from Flash, Taylor showcased the differences in Dashboard display per browser type  and discussed some of the key things to consider when deploying HTML5 Dashboards. He provided an example of this by demoing what a single component looked like housed in Chrome, Firefox, IE, and mobile – and how the same component from SAP Dashboards can actually appear differently depending on which browser is used for the Dashboard output. The important piece to take away from this that Taylor pointed out is that you never know what the end user will see unless you test the display of a dashboard in different modes.

Taylor then dove into what it takes to plan an efficient HTML5 Dashboard project by highlighting the importance of being proactive in your planning; planning ahead regardless of any foreseen (and more importantly, unforeseen) usage of the production dashboard. He explained that one of the things a lot of organizations today do not do, but should consider, is always begin dashboard projects by developing in HTML5 first (rather than Flash first). When doing so an organization would preemptively be ahead of any unforeseen end-user consumption, which in turn will save time. From first-hand experience, Taylor brought up this valuable project-planning suggestion based upon his own personal experience; having spent months assisting an organizations development for Flash to later realize that their customers actually had mobile requirements. Needless to say, the organization then scratched the original flash-based dashboard to begin the process again, this time in HTML5 in order to fit the demand of every end user, rather than the few that were originally planned for.

A design suggestion that was also demonstrated in this fascinating webinar was the use of 3rd party components and the ability to use HTML5-engineered components in order to ensure the display of a dashboard regardless of the end users browser. Taylor noted that most 3rd party components developed in HTML5 seem to be more reliable and display the same while sizing appropriately, regardless of the end users browser or mobile device.

Stream Taylor's webinar here

I personally enjoyed learning in this webinar how to become more efficient in the process of developing a dashboard by some of the project planning tips Taylor provided to the audience based upon his experience. One of the challenges that Taylor discussed in the webinar was the challenge of security and how one can plan ahead when developing the dashboard to consider all security options for their end users. One of the tips Taylor suggested in the webinar was that of designing "single sign-on" within the Dashboard itself. He demonstrated an example by showcasing a "sign in” Dashboard where the end user is prompted to supply credentials in order to access the next tab of the Dashboard. This example got great responses from the audience as Taylor demonstrated the development of this fairly easily using native SAP Dashboards (Xceslius) components.

In conclusion, 2017 was a great year of Speak BO webinars showcasing a lineup of experts and customers sharing stories and educational sessions on how to improve your work within the BusinessObjects space. We have been blessed with experienced developers like Taylor Packwood, who continue to leverage their expertise by sharing tips and tricks, challenges and solutions on developing in SAP Dashboards. This webinar was yet another informative training tool for those looking to expand their developing skills in SAP Dashboards.

Bree-Anna MustadThe World of HTML5 Dashboards