SAP Design Studio 1.4 is now GA and it offers loads of new exciting features. With every release, the tool is getting bigger and better and so are the Application Designer and the What’s New guides ! Here is my take on most of the new features.
The one feature that really intrigued me was ‘Online Composition’. In fact, this was the first feature I tried out, in SAP Design Studio 1.4.
Users can now save navigation states as portable fragmented bookmarks which can be used in other applications by leveraging the ‘Fragment Gallery’ and ‘Split Cell’ components. Fragment Gallery looks more like the ‘Sliding Picture Menu’ in SAP Dashboards (formerly Xcelsius). The Split Cell component is used to display the contents of the Fragment Gallery component. All you need to do is just drag and drop the saved scenario from the Fragment Gallery onto the Split Cell component.
This is a great feature from the user perspective, for runtime analysis. Shown below is a simple animated GIF of the Fragment Gallery in action. It was interesting to see that we had tried a similar scenario way back in the SAP Design Studio 1.1 days – here is the blog on that – and how incredibly easy it has become now !
We can have any number of Split Cell containers as seen below. Each of these charts is in a Split Cell container and they are fragments from the Fragment Gallery at the top.
The Undo Feature
One feature that I really missed in SAP Design Studio was a reset button..Until now, we had to write code to clear Data Source filters, manage visibility of components etc, which was very tedious. But now SAP has introduced new methods to undo / reset the navigation in your analysis application.
In SAP Design Studio 1.3 we had a feature called Personalization where users could set personalized views as their initial view. In addition to that, users can now ‘undo’ navigations and selections in their analysis application using State.backOneStep() or reset to the initial state using State.backToStart(). This is very useful in scenarios where users want to reset their dashboard to the initial state or trace back their navigations.
Note: Before we use these methods, it is important to set the new Application Property called ‘Maximum Number of Steps Back’ (Behavior section in the Application Properties window) to an integer value. This is initially defaulted to zero and hence might seem like the ‘undo’ is not working. So ensure that you have specified the number of steps to undo.
There are a number of enhancements that have been added to the Crosstab component. To start with, we can enable context menu at run time, which provides a number of options such as sort dimensions, change member display, filter members, drilldown, swap axes among others. This looks similar to the options available in the BEx Analyzer. Users need to add the ‘Context Menu’ available as part of ‘Technical Components’, to use this feature.
During runtime, users can right click on a particular member to view the context menu. One issue I face with this feature is that, sometimes when I try to right click on a member, I get a pop up of the browser menu.
The look and feel of the Crosstab component has also been enhanced. In the prior versions, there was an issue with viewing all dimensions when there were a number of dimensions in the Crosstab, since scroll bars appeared only for measures and not for dimensions. This has now been overcome using a new property called ‘Max width of header area’. We can specify the maximum width that can be occupied by the dimension (header) area and a scroll bar appears when it goes beyond the specified width.
However, when the width of the header is set to ‘auto’ and when the full width of the Crosstab is not sufficient for all the dimensions and measures, then the measure columns seem to disappear. Nevertheless, this is a very nice feature (screenshot below).
You can also ‘show/hide’ repeater texts for the Crosstab members (screenshot below).
We still don’t have the ability to wrap header titles in Crosstabs. Hope this feature is included in the next release. The mobile experience with Crosstabs is a lot better compared to the previous versions. But I am facing a few issues with the context menu pop up on mobile.
Apart from the Fragment Gallery and the Split Cell Container mentioned earlier, we have another new component – the Checkbox Group – Checkboxes grouped together, to function as a multiple selector component. We now also have the Component Search feature, provided by the search box in the Components view. Finally !
Another personal favorite is the tooltip feature. We can now add tooltips to basic components like buttons, selectors, images, and input fields.
Dimension Filter and Filter Panel Component
A new property called the ‘Desktop Popup Style’ has been added to the Dimension Filter component. This can be set to true. I did not find much of a difference in the look and feel, except for the placement of the buttons ‘Apply’, ‘Back’ and ‘Show Selected Members’.
A new property called ‘Drag & Drop’ has been added to the Filter Panel properties. You can drag and drop objects between rows, columns and free characteristics, in the navigation mode of the Filter Panel. This is not available in the ‘only filtering’ mode.
This feature again reminds me of the BEx Analyzer output
Report to Report Interface
We can now jump from an SAP Design Studio application to targets (reports or queries) defined in the BW system using RRI. When BW Queries, that have RRI targets, are used as data sources for the Crosstab, the context menu shows an additional option called “Jump To” which lists the names of all the targets. On selection, target opens up in a new window.
Global Script Functions
Another much awaited feature in SAP Design Studio is the ability to reuse functions. This is made possible using Global Script Functions. This is also a part of the Technical Components. For more information on Global Script Functions, check out this blog.
Real Time Dashboards
We can now create visualizations with streaming data, based on near real-time connection to SAP HANA or SAP BW. This can be achieved using a combination of combination of an SAP Design Studio extension for an SAP ESP (Event Stream Processor) Data Source, Time Based Line Chart as a chart extension and the Timer custom component.
Apart from these, another notable feature is that we can now set grid margins to ‘auto’ at runtime. This can be done using ‘Layout.AUTO’ as seen below.
New methods to search Data Sources, get filter values applied in measures, get variable value, get count of page book etc. have also been introduced in SAP Design Studio 1.4
CVOM Chart Extensions
You can also install new chart types, developed with the SAP Lumira SDK, in SAP Design Studio. These are listed under Additional Chart Types for the standard chart component. For more on this, check out this blog.
Custom Data Sources:
One thing that a lot of us have been waiting for, is support for Excel as a data source. Now we have the Data Source SDK which can access local data sources, flat files, web services etc. These custom data sources can be used by the SDK components for visualizations. We are currently exploring this feature. Follow this post for more updates
To conclude, SAP Design Studio 1.4 looks a lot more promising with all these new and exciting features. And this makes SAP Design Studio not the next best thing, but The best thing !