In this blog series, we will be reviewing SAP Analytics Cloud’s Application Design use case in-depth and exploring its specific capabilities.
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SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) is a unified cloud offering from SAP that delivers Business Intelligence (BI), Planning and Predictive capabilities in one platform.
So far, the BI capability in SAP Analytics Cloud was limited to Self Service BI – where casual users had the ability to build & publish stories and collaborate with other users. The missing part has been the application design use case (a.k.a. Analytic Applications in SAP Analytics Cloud) that would enable IT developers to deliver professionally authored analytic applications. Put it differently, this is nothing but a cloud equivalent of SAP Lumira Designer.
How are Analytic Applications different from Stories?
Before we preview the application design use case a little further, let us explore how analytic applications are different from stories. Let’s take a quick look at the conceptual visual below. (The visual is discussed in depth in our webinar recording available here).
The Self-Service BI capabilities in SAP Analytics Cloud (stories) so far enabled users to build storyboards & dashboards (columns 1 & 3 in the visual below). On the other hand, analytic application design capabilities were available only on-premise through SAP Lumira Designer (column 4).
As you see, while SAP Analytic Cloud could deliver storyboards & dashboards with ease, SAP Lumira Designer was the only (on-premise) option available for customers to build analytic applications. The Application Design use case now fills this void for SAP on the cloud.
Note that analytic applications are needed to present information to decision makers in a guided analytic path (with predefined drill-down and navigation capabilities). They typically involve consumption of data from multiple data sources, with customized drill-downs and interactions. The need for customization is one of the reasons behind scripting capabilities that are delivered exclusively in analytic applications.
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An Overview of Analytic Applications in SAP Analytics Cloud
Note: We will be only reviewing the capabilities here. A closer look at these capabilities (potentially accompanied by step-by-step instructions) will be provided in our subsequent blogs.
In SAP Analytics Cloud, you can create analytic applications using the option Create -> Analytic Application.
You will now be presented with the development interface for creating analytic applications.
The interface consists of a main canvas on the right, and a toolbar on the top. This arrangement is very similar to stories in SAP Analytics Cloud. In addition, you will find the views – Outline, Global Variables and Popups on the left, and an Info Panel (Errors & Reference List) at the bottom.
The Outline view displays a list of widgets (components) used in the canvas. The Global Variables view would contain the list of global variables used by the application. These variables in turn can be referenced by scripts used in the application. The Popups view would list container widgets that act as a separate canvas – which can be used as popup panels whenever needed. We will be reviewing each of these in much more detail in our later blogs.
The toolbar at the top enables developers to perform several actions – such as file actions (save, copy, etc), enable/disable views (Outline, Global Variables, Popups and Info Panel), insert widgets, and perform other actions such as conditional formatting, chart scaling, editing prompts and more.
Widgets Available for Analytic Applications
Adding a widget to the canvas in SAP Analytics Cloud follows the same procedure in both analytic applications & stories. Users can insert widgets from the ‘Insert’ section of the toolbar, where you will find simple widgets (buttons, dropdown, etc.) as well as the data-driven widgets (tables, charts and filter line).
Note that widgets such as Button, Dropdown, Checkbox Group, Radio Button Group and Filter Line are unique to Analytic Applications – and these are not available in Stories.
Once you add a chart widget to the canvas, it creates a chart element entry in the outline view. Connecting visuals directly to your data, and formatting the visuals follow a very similar procedure as in the Stories. This can be done using the Builder & Styling options appearing on the right.
Scripting in Analytic Applications
When you select the fx section on the chart entry in the Outline View (see image below), you will see a list of events applicable to that widget – in this case onSelect and onResultChanged. Selecting an event (say, onSelect) creates a new scripting window where you can define custom actions including interactivity and drilldowns. The ability to script is a differentiating feature of Analytic Application over Stories.
Running Your Analytic Application
Once you have created your analytic application, you will have the option to run the application by selecting ‘Run Analytic Application’ which opens the runtime application in a new browser tab.
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The first release of the Application Design use case is off to a good start with its characteristic SAP Analytics Cloud user experience and a good set of initial capabilities. With time, you can expect a lot of additional capabilities (available in SAP Lumira Designer today) to be added to the cloud. What makes this more interesting are the prospects of analytic applications available in the same platform as Planning & Predictive. It will be an interesting & exciting journey for enterprises looking to embrace cloud-based analytics in the future.
In the subsequent blog, we will walk through step-by-step instructions to create your first analytic application.
Reach out to us here today if you are interested to evaluate if SAP Analytics Cloud is right for you.