When the beta version of Analytics Designer in SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) was released on Nov 2018, it had missed out on few of the expected features like container components, bookmarks, geo maps etc., as opposed to its on-premise twin – Lumira Designer, whose shoes, Analytics Designer is supposed to fill. Six months post-general availability, as part of the latest updates, Analytics Designer doesn’t disappoint us. With this blog, we will explore the capabilities of Analytics Designer as of Q3 2019 update and upcoming features in the roadmap that can significantly enhance the Analytic Application experience.
Visualization, being one of its strong suits, SAC comes with a multitude of fancy chart types and cherry-on-the-top features like variance, error bar, additional tooltips, thresholds and more. All these features supported by Story was supported by Analytics Designer when it was first beta-released, the only exception being Geo maps. Support for Geo map has now been extended to Analytic Application from version 2019.13. Basic visualizations aside, Analytic application exclusively supports widgets like Radio Button Group, Dropdown, Input Field, Slider components and many more. These widgets are not available in SAC stories.
Some features lined up for future releases that would definitely add feathers to Analytics Designer’s cap are ;
- Smart Insight – to deep dive into unshown dimensionalities of data in the widget, a feature exclusive to the story
- Custom Extensions – available in beta as of now, this can open the gateway to new powerful visualizations and widgets
Having fulfilled the self-service end of the BI spectrum with story’s capabilities, Analytics Designer was launched with a wide range of scripting capabilities to develop complex custom Analytic Applications. From its inception till date, the scripting capabilities have only gotten better with every update.
There have been subtle but valuable enhancements to existing functionalities. The upgrade from single select to multi-select in charts and tables is one such improvement. The ability for filter line to get input data from R visualizations is another silver lining. In planning, the ability to change cell values using scripting API calls has been added. Even Search to Insight has now been integrated with scripting for customized queries. Completely new features like bookmarking have also been added to make the life of the user a walk in the park. Other small tweaks like the ability to rename widgets without affecting the existing scripts, copy/paste of technical components and direct debug in browser help ease the development effort from the developer side as well.
Additional functionalities enlisted in the roadmap that would immediately attract adoption include Commenting, Composites, Undo/Redo, Timer, Export and other scripting enhancements like the ability to change prompt values, etc.
While Analytics Designer can already consume all the Import and Live connections supported by Story, the latest updates allow you to execute a BPC planning sequence or directly connect to an OData service. Another important addition to the connectivity capabilities is the ability to analyze Live data queries without the need for creating a model. At present, only Live BW queries can be used in Data Analyzer and support for S/4HANA within Data Analyzer is in the roadmap.
Some of the most-awaited data connectivity features of Analytics Designer are data blending similar to that in Story where you can link dimensions, the concept of shared data sources and the ability to bind data with widgets.
The Analytic Application is an embeddable web app that can be used within any webpage. With one of the updates came the capability to post and receive messages from parent container, making embedding an app within a story or an HTML page even more meaningful and useful. The most prominent feature from a self-service standpoint is the Navigation Utilities function. It allows us to create a new Analytic Application or Story on the fly, opening Data Analyzer by specifying a connection, query name and parameters. You can also open an existing Story or Analytic Application with parameters.
Other great enlisted features in roadmap relating to integration are the option to connect to Digital Boardroom and the ability to copy-paste widgets within Story and Analytic Application. Though not mentioned in roadmap the ability to have Value Driver Tree as a widget like Story would be a great addition too.
Design and Layout
In its nascent stages, Analytic Application had a single canvas where you can drag and drop the widgets to position and resize the widgets. The new update brings with it precision in design with the option to set the exact size and position in pixels. A pain-point in development was the absence of container components other than Popup. With the panel widget from Q2 2019 and Tab Strip from 2019.16, this set back has been well addressed. Support for multiple devices screen sizes has been enhanced incredibly with the onResize scripting event, allowing for the design of a responsive layout. Reusable themes are a bow on the box with which you can configure the look and feel of the entire application.
Some of the awaited features regarding the design and layout of Analytics Designer are Grid Layout widget and dynamic alignment of the widgets while mobile app support is the most awaited one.
As has been the path of other SAP visualization tools in the past, SAC is expected to mature to include the extensive capabilities of its on-premise counterparts. Tightly coupled with modules like planning and Smart Predict, SAC will be the most powerful one ever.
Check out our blog series here to learn more about Analytic Applications in SAP Analytics Cloud.