For a while now, customers have been waiting for the power of collaboration in SAP Lumira Designer. With the release of SAP Lumira 2.1, this particular requirement has been addressed – the latest version of SAP Lumira Designer brings with it the “Commentary” feature.

A commentary feature has been available on the BI Platform since March 2016, when SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.2 was GA. The same framework has now been extended to SAP Lumira Designer, 2.1 with similar options for implementation. This comes as a new Technical Component within SAP Lumira Designer, and requires scripting for implementation.
 

Setting up Commentary on the BI Platform

 
Comments are managed by a BI Commentary service on the BI Platform, which is available in BI 4.2 or higher. Please note that this runs as a separate application on the BI Platform.
 
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By default, BI Commentary creates and maintains its tables in the Audit database. However, SAP recommends that you configure a new database to store the comments from BI Commentary application. Even a simple SQL table setup should be sufficient to address this requirement, but more options are available as you can see.
 
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Security for the Commentary Feature

 
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Security for comments can be implemented at the Folder or Object level using the BI Platform Security setup. When the feature has been enabled on the SAP Lumira Designer application, users can retrieve, update or delete comments depending on the permissions granted to them by the BOBJ administrator on the folder/object in question.
 
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Implementing Comments on an SAP Lumira Designer Application

 
To implement the Commentary feature on an SAP Lumira Designer Application, the developer would first have to set it up as a Technical Component on the application and subsequently implement options to Save, Retrieve, Update and/or Delete comments using BIAL scripting on the application.
 
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Effective implementation of the Commentary feature would also require other components such as the Feed List and the Text Area, but we will cover step by step features to implement a commentary feature in a different blog shortly!
 

Giving Comments a Context

 
The Commentary feature in SAP Lumira Designer 2.1 can be a powerful feature thanks to the ability to give the comments made by user a context if necessary. With the help of the Crosstab, users can leave comments at a Global Level or even for a Data Cell. The different types of contexts that you can assign comments to are:
 
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1. Custom Context (Seen as ‘CONTEXT’)

This is any ad-hoc custom context that can be assigned to the Comment. This could even be a context such as the current filters of a Data Source. A typical business use case would be when end users want to tag a specific set of filters with a comment. These types of comments will not be visible on a Crosstab.

2. Data Cell (Seen as ‘DATA’)

Comments can be left on a single Data Cell, i.e. just one value within a Crosstab. In a business scenario for example, this type of a context could be used by end users to highlight a particularly bad value and leave their comments explaining it.
 
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3. Dimension (Seen as ‘DIMENSION’)

Comments can be left for an entire Dimension instead of a single Data Cell within the crosstab. This type of a context is particularly useful when end users want to leave notes pertaining to the dimension, such as to indicate that a dimension (such as Invoice Number) always needs to be viewed with another (such as Invoice Quantity) to give the Key Figure (such as Order Value) a proper meaning.
 
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4. Dimension Member (Seen as ‘MEMBER’)

Comments can be applied to the Member of a Dimension instead of the Dimension as a whole. An example of where this type of a context would be used is when end-users want to pinpoint one member (such as a store within Stores or a particular Month within Calendar Months) within the list.
 
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5. No Context (Seen as ‘NONE’)

Comments without any particular context, or ‘Global’ comments can be created to leave notes at the application level rather than for a particular Data Context.
 

Privacy Options

 
When implementing a feature for Commentary, it is also possible to set the privacy settings for these comments. There are 2 privacy settings:

  • Public: Whoever has access to the document in BI platform can view these comments.
  • Private: Only the creator of the comment may view the comment.

Setting privacy options on Comments is easy – it merely involves adding an additional parameter (isPublic) when saving or retrieving comments.
 

Extended Usage

 
Comments in Lumira Designer uses the BI Platform Commentary service. So, every instance of comments is stored in an Audit database. This would actually allow us to access the comments made within a Designer application even on a WebI (Web Intelligence) report.

This would, of course, entail building a Universe based on the Audit Database. The link below provides detailed information on how this can be done:

http://visualbi.com/blogs/business-intelligence/extending-bi-4-2-commentary-feature-audit-schema/
 

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Data foundation layer created on commentary table along with Audit information


 
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Sample – a WebI report created on comments posted in an SAP Lumira Designer application


 
This is particularly useful in scenarios where it is necessary to view all comments made by users within an Application in a single consolidated report. For example, consider situations where Power Users use a Sales Dashboard on a daily or weekly basis, and mark comments to take preventive or corrective actions. To consolidate all these comments in a readable format that’s easy to access, it’s ideal to present the comments on a WebI report (which could probably even be accessed through a drill down from the dashboard itself).
 

Managing Comments made in an Application

 
Comments are stored in the Database configured on the BI Platform. However, there are no options to delete, edit or manage comments from the BI platform itself. There are 2 ways this can be done:

  • Manage comments – Create, Edit or Delete comments – from within a Designer application.
  • Manage comments directly on the database on which they are stored.

 

Exporting Comments to PDF

 
Comments added to a Lumira Document can be exported as part of a PDF export of the application. These comments are exported as part of the Appendix section, which is a separate page on the same PDF document.

Exporting comments that are a part of the application would require the developer to enable the option on the Export PDF Technical Component within that application.

Only comments with an Ad-Hoc Context (‘CONTEXT’) or No Context (‘NONE’) get exported as part of the PDF report.
 

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Export PDF Appendix


 
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PDF exported with Comments in Footer section. (Appendix will export as a separate page.)


 

Performance Considerations

 
It pays to be a little cautious while implementing a commentary feature in BIP as each comment posted in an application will get saved in BOBJ audit database along with all audit details enabled in BI Platform.

A single comment could generate multiple rows of data when used along with Audit database depending on Audit configurations.

As we can store information relevant to document in database this may encourage users to use it as a repository to store information about their documents. Try not to allow this type of usage.

Certain performance considerations have been observed while working on the Commentary Feature for SAP Lumira Designer on older versions of BOBJ. These can be found on the SAP Note below:

https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#/notes/2566001

The solution for these issues have been delivered as part of BusinessObjects BI Platform SP5, SP4 Patch 6 and SP3 Patch 13.

With the capability to build robust Analytic Applications and Dashboards, SAP Lumira Designer is already a very powerful tool – especially considering its ability to connect to native SAP Data Sources such as BW or HANA in a way other tools in the market cannot (thanks to BICS). With the introduction of collaborative features such as Commentary and Scheduling, the tool is now more powerful than ever!

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