SAP Design Studio 1.5 is now GA, and with its latest iteration, I think that the tool has a whole new host of features to offer. At the outset, it looks clear that this version offers some very nice performance upgrades that are customizable as well as certain new components that could give the tool a small push towards self-service BI. More than anything else, the tool seems to be headed on a track towards bridging the gap between professionally authored and self-service BI. But it’s too early to draw any conclusions.

I’ve put down some of the features that I’ve found to be quite nifty. Take a look!

The Newest Components & Properties on the block:

Filter Line:

This is a nifty new component to users who haven’t used Lumira – there’s no more dabbling around with Filter Panels or Dimension Filters. This time around, SAP has come out with a one-stop-shop component for filtering which will allow users to select any dimension or key figure belonging to a data source and set filters on it. Each filter that you set gets added to the filter line dynamically.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New
SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

This looks like a great new addition that’ll allow users to neatly filter out dimensions that they wish to and display all their selections on a single line.

Navigation Panel:

Remember the “Navigation” mode on the filter panel? Now, there’s also a separate component called the “Navigation Panel” which allows users to twist and turn dimensions around on a data source.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

What’s neat is that it allows users to drag and drop dimensions into the rows or the columns, and also has a nice little “Pause Refresh” button on the top-right corner which allows users to pause the data source from refreshing until they have completed all navigational changes and have disabled the pause again.

GeoMaps:

Finally, SAP now brings to you GeoMaps – It is now easy to plot and analyse data by location. The GeoMaps offered inside SAP Design Studio 1.5 now allows users to use shapes, points or charts to represent data on the map. It even allows users to use a GeoJSON to plot data on the map. Although I am yet to explore this feature completely, it looks like users can create multiple layers and use different modes in each layer. However, to set points or charts to represent data, users need to have latitudes and longitudes of the places in their data.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

Chart Type Picker:

This component allows users to dynamically change chart types at runtime, without having to use scripts. The component has to be bound to a chart on the canvas, and will then allow change that chart to any of the other chart types available in SAP Design Studio 1.5. It even allows users to set custom chart types through the properties.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

Multiple Selection on Crosstabs:

Crosstabs now present the option to allow users to make multiple selections.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

The selected members can be accessed using the method “getSelectedMembers()”, and the value returned is a member array. Users can also limit the selection to only rows, only columns or both on the crosstab.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

Processing Groups (Property of Data Sources):

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

The latest advent in performance is Parallel Processing in SAP Design Studio 1.5. With this feature introduced, Data Sources now have a new property named “Processing Group”. Basically, this property allows users to define multiple groups for processing. Each and every Data Source on the application can be assigned to one of the defined groups. When 2 or more Data Sources belonging to the same group are loaded, SAP Design Studio creates Asynchronous Sessions to process each of these Data Sources in parallel. This will also work if these Data Sources are loaded together using the “loadDataSources()” method belonging to the APPLICATION API.

Merge Prompts (Property of Application):

With SAP Design Studio 1.5 comes the option to merge/unmerge variables or prompts of the same technical name belonging to different queries being used in the application. In the earlier versions, all variables of the same name belonging to different queries were merged, thus eliminating the repetitive prompts for variables belonging to various Data Sources. However, there was no option to unmerge these variables. And while this was quite convenient, it did offer the performance setback of having to refresh all of these queries when it was only necessary to refresh one or two.

With the option to unmerge them now at hand, users will be able to easily unmerge variables/prompts to pass values to only the data sources that they need to refresh.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

Methods:

Math Functions:

Ah. So, now we get to perform math functions – there are about 20+ functions that developers can dabble with, and some of these are really useful ones. We have functions for rounding, generating random numbers, floor, ceiling and even trigonometric functions.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New
SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

Change Data Source on Charts & Crosstabs at Run-Time:

One thing that I’ve found to be a huge setback until this version is that the Data Sources which power charts or crosstabs cannot be changed dynamically – the only workaround is for users to change the query used by the Data Source assigned to the chart. Well, that is no longer a needed workaround! Users can now change the Data Source that a chart is using through the “setDataSource()” method. Alternatively, they can also obtain the alias of the data source using the “getDataSource()” method.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

Additional Properties on Charts:

The much needed methods that allows users to meddle around with additional properties of charts at runtime are finally here! Users can now change additional properties such as Axis Scaling, Legend Positions, Data Labels etc. at run-time through the use of Scripts.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New
SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

The “me” identifier:

Every component can now refer to itself within its script window using the key word “me”. Using “me” allows you to invoke methods belonging to that particular component.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

APPLICATION.loadDataSources():

SAP Design Studio 1.5 now gives us a way to load multiple data sources at the same time. Until 1.4, Developers could only load Data Sources individually using the Data Source’s “loadDataSource()” method. With 1.5, a new method has been defined under the “APPLICATION” API – “loadDataSources()” – which allows the loading of multiple Data Sources defined as an array of Data Source Aliases.

What’s more? This method automatically respects the “Processing Group” property of Data Sources and loads Data Sources in parallel when defined under such groups.

Arrays as Parameters for Global Scripts

With SAP Design Studio 1.5, Global Scripts can finally take in Arrays as parameters. To define an array as parameter, users will need to create a new parameter and define its data type. Right next to the data type, there is now a new column titled “Array”, corresponding to which the user can set a true or a false value. When set to “true” the parameter behaves as an array.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

Technical Components:

Backend Connections:

SAP Design Studio now allows users to leverage their Backend Connections using a technical component. So what is this used for? You could create a backend connection and use it along with the data source browser component to allow users to select a data source even at runtime. What it actually does is bring flexibility to the hands of the user – promoting self-service even on professionally authored dashboards.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New
SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

Export to PDF:

Long at last, SAP has given us an option to export to PDF without having to resort to custom components.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

Users can choose to export the application itself in the style of a report, or the application screen or just one particular panel inside the application. This can be done by invoking the methods of the PDF component inside a script.

SAP Design Studio 1.5 – What’s New

SAP has gone through the entire tool and added bits and pieces here and there, that enhance the tool very effectively on the whole.

While options like Prompt Unmerging and Parallel Data Source Processing will allow users to resolve most performance bottlenecks, there are also the newer nooks and crannies in the API which give more options for users to work with at runtime (I think we all were looking for options to modify those charts’ additional properties at runtime!). To add to it, the new components such as the Filter Line and the Chart Picker give more control to the end users who want to use dashboard built on SAP Design Studio. While we’ve seen quite a few enhancements this time around, there are a few enticing promises for the tool still on the horizon. Let’s wait and watch!


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