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SAP Visual Composer Modeling & Deployment - A Complete Step-by-Step Tutorial for Beginners. Dr. Bjarne Berg Associate Prof., SAP University Alliance Lenoir-Rhyne University and V.P. Comerit Inc. What I’ll Cover …. The SAP BI Core Toolset.

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sap visual composer modeling deployment a complete step by step tutorial for beginners

SAP Visual Composer Modeling & Deployment - A Complete Step-by-Step Tutorial for Beginners

Dr. Bjarne Berg

Associate Prof., SAP University Alliance

Lenoir-Rhyne University

and V.P. Comerit Inc.

the sap bi core toolset
The SAP BI Core Toolset

SAP BI is an enterprise-wide comprehensive decision support (DSS) system for analytical needs of an enterprise.

BI can also support some degree of operational reporting

The SAP BI tool set has many presentation tools and options for companies to leverage. VC is an extension of those tools.

getting started in sap bi it all starts with a query
Getting Started - In SAP-BI it all starts with a query

The query is the core method for accessing SAP BI data. You can use existing queries in your VC models.

The new 7.0 Query designer was totally re-developed in MS-Visual Basic .NET

what is visual composer
What is Visual Composer

Visual Composer is a tool to visualize the data. It is a browser-based modeling and design tool for rapid application development & prototyping in a code-free development environment.

visual composer for complex cockpits
Visual Composer for Complex cockpits

Modeling of BI applications using the BI kit of the Visual Composer allows business users to create analytical content for SAP portal. It offers the integration with BI InfoProviders, views, BEx web applications, PDF and more via WEB API as access to

other data sources such as OLAP and relational data sources) via Java connectors

Image source: Cubeserv

visual composer data methods
Visual Composer Data Methods
  • Can integrate data from multiple data sources, including SAP and non-SAP systems, into one model
  • Different options available for data access include:
    • BI Extension Kit
    • Remote Function Call (RFC)
    • Web services
  • BI Extension Kit allows access to the following DataSources
    • SAP NetWeaver 2004 BI (BW 3.5 Support Package 14)
    • SAP NetWeaver BI 7.0
    • JDBC
    • XMLA
visual composer is easy for power users to learn
Visual Composer is Easy for Power Users to Learn

Visual Composer is a power user tool that is simple to learn for someone with a little bit of technical background (i.e. controllers, report writers, analysts).

No coding required to create great-looking Web-based cockpits

Take advantage of prebuilt analytic business packages

Source: SAP

visual composer and wad
Visual Composer and WAD
  • Visual Composer integrates with Web AD-based applications using Portal Eventing Framework
  • For example, BW Web API can pass a filter value from a BEx Web application to Visual Composer
    • and vice versa
slide11

There are many resources for SAP VC – The SDN community

  • This is a great site for quickly getting started with SAP VC and for down-loading a free demo-version
slide12

SAP VC – and the SAP Community Network

  • Many of the beginner questions have already been answered in the expert forums on the SAP community network
slide13

SAP VC – The SDN community Blogs

  • You can also learn from other’s experiences by getting ‘plugged-in’ to the community network blogs dedicated to SAP Visual Composer.
slide15

Download and getting started – The trial version

You can download a trial version on the SAP Community network.

  • However, to put it into production you must work with your SAP account executive for a license. It is normally not covered by a general SAP BI license.
slide16

Creating a model

The first task is to create an overall model to store all your pages and iViews.

The name cannot have blanks or special characters

You can organize your model in standard folder structures

  • Remember that this is a power user task, so providing the group with some formal training (4-6 hrs) would be beneficial. Also, teach them you naming conventions
slide17

The SAP VC add-ons

The models are actually graphics rendered with Adobe SVG (vector graphics)

  • If you don’t have Adobe SVG installed, you must go to their web site and download it. It is a small file and it is free
slide18

The work environment – Getting Connected

First you must make sure that your Visual composer environment is set up with connection back to your SAP BI environment(s).

  • You can also work with your technical team to setup connections to other non-SAP environments
slide19

The Portal Web Page container

You can create individual iViews that are shared in other applications such as WAD, KM folders and web pages.

You can use the portal page to group iViews.

Alternatively, you can make complex iViews that have many different display levels

  • Using the compose icon on the right, you
  • Can add iViews and Portal pages to your model
slide20

The SAP VC Configure Toolbar

We can add items and see then from the highest level, or you can ‘drill-down’ on each item and configure them individually.

Navigation is provided as a toolbar and you can also zoom in on each item.

  • This tool bar allows you to zoom, access layers, insert grid lines for layout and move objects
slide21

The magnifying glass

SAP VC has many tools that power users can play with.

The fastest way to proficiency is to try the many features. Very few things can 'break’, and the undo button is always available

  • The magnifying glass is helpful when the model is very complex and zooming in and out is cumbersome
slide22

The Annotation tool

When you are developing very complex models, it is very helpful to add annotations (comments) to document your work.

  • Consider proposing standards within your company (i.e. dates, initials, and what needs to be documented).
slide23

The iView in SAP VC

iViews can be graphical (charts) or tables and links between iViews and queries can create complex dashboards with many navigation options

slide24

Getting an Overview over complex models

Very large visual composer cockpits can be hard to read.

The Browse feature allows you to see the cockpit in a tree format that makes it easier to navigate

  • Graphical model displays can get hard to read once very complex dashboards are created
slide25

Development methodology

Plan on spending serious time with users working on layout and web page organization.

PS! you can use the SAP delivered calendar to display, or for user to interact with your data set.

  • The best way to create cockpits is to prototype it first, then ask for feedback. Since this process is discovery oriented, It is not best practices to use functional specifications to create web cockpits. Rapid Application Development (RAD) is the preferred methodology
slide26

The Back-end GML code

SAP Visual Composer uses the standard GUI Modeling Language (GML).

If you are familiar with this language, you can see the code page under the ‘source’ tab

slide27

Step 1 – Find the data you want to model

  • You can look at existing queries developed by others.
  • In this example we will create a web cockpit based on 2 SAP BI queries
  • More advanced developers can also call Business Application Programming Interfaces (BAPI) that is delivered with SAP BI to build complex applications
slide28

Step 2 – Selecting the queries and defining a starting point

  • After the query is selected, the metadata is transferred to the model.
  • We select one query as the starting point and can require users to use a prompt (in this example we will leave this blank)
slide29

Step 3 – Adding a table view based on Query data

  • We add a table view and select the fields we want from the query
  • We give the table view a meaningful business name
slide30

Step 4 – Adding a Chart view based on Query data

  • We add a chart view based on the query data.
  • We decide to make it a column chart
  • The fields that we want to graph are selected
  • We add animation to the column chart
slide31

Step 5 – Defining graph & assigning meaningful names

  • We select the fields we want to graph as different data series (columns)
  • We give each column a meaningful business name (this is what the users will see)
slide32

Step 6 – Suppressing zero values from the query

  • We can suppress the sum rows from the query, so that the graphs are more meaningful and the tables are less cluttered
slide33

Step 7 – Adding navigation: Linking tables to other queries

  • When a user selects a row in the country table we want to show all the customers in that country and their sales.
  • We link the output from the country table view to the customer query and map the ‘country-key’ value between the two objects
slide34

Step 8 – Adding navigation: Linking graphs to other queries

  • We also want to give the users the option on clicking on a country in the graph and see the see all the customer’s sales.
  • Again, we link the output from the country graph to the customer query and map the ‘country-key’ value between the objects
slide35

Step 9 – Adding a table view for customer sales data

  • Previously we added a table and a graph of country sales. Now we want to add similar views for customer sales
  • First we add a table view
  • We select the fields to be displayed from the query
  • We give the table a meaningful name
slide36

Step 9 – Adding a pie chart for customer sales data

  • Now we add a pie chart
  • First we add a graph view
  • We select the pie chart type and the fields to be graphed
  • We give the field a meaningful business name
slide37

Step 10 – Suppressing zero values from the query

  • Again, we suppress the sum rows from the query, so that the graphs are more meaningful and the tables are less cluttered
slide38

Step 11 – Layout and Compiling of dashboard

  • In the layout section we arrange the objects and resize them so that they look good. We also compile the model and can now view it in the SAP Portal
slide39

The Result: the web cockpit in the SAP Portal

  • All country sales are displayed based on the first query
slide40

The Result: Navigation between the graphs

  • By clicking on the country in either of the top views, the bottom views displays sales for those customers
slide42

External Web Services

  • External web services (WS) such as email, stock quotes, news services and weather maps can also be integrated into your SAP VC cockpit
slide43

External Data Providers – web services

  • Each Web Service may require different input, so you have to spend some time trying out what works for your site and how to format it.
the future of visual composer
The future of Visual Composer

Composition Environment including Visual Composer continues to be the go-to product for creating composite applications.

Source: SAP, 2009

new tools roadmap
New Tools Roadmap

Source SAP AG, 2009

slide48

SAP Visual Composer Options

In the Tools  Options section, you can control items such as auto save, display levels, formats, high-lights and more.

These preferences are stored for each user and can be personalized

slide49

SAP Visual Composer Workspace Options

You can also control, connectors, automatic data mapping, display of selected fields, warnings etc.

Setting up defaults for the workspace will help your power users avoid frustration. Make sure you sync the windows

slide50

SAP Visual Composer Composing Options

Pick your run-time animation and select the portal system folder you want to save your models in.

For most cockpits the default value should be Cache retrieved services

7 key points to take home
7 Key Points to Take Home
  • SAP Visual Composer is a tool that is easy to learn
  • The tool is intended for PowerUsers – not primarily IT
  • SAP Visual Composer is not going away
  • You should provide individual training to each of the power users
  • Spend serious time performance tuning the back end queries and data stores
  • Plan for SAP BI Accelerator if you have many users of the VC models
  • Seek advise of best practices and plan on integrating data across systems, web services and other non-SAP sources.
who gets to use the sap visual composer
Who gets to use the SAP Visual Composer?

There is often a temptation for the IT community of wanting to keep the Visual Composer tool under their domain – That is a mistake

The IT community should actively work with the power and casual users to improve human capabilities and thereby teach them to become more productive employees.

Chinese Proverb

resources
Resources

Download VC, Presentations, tutorials & articles

www.comeritInc.com

The Visual Composer Reference Guide - http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nwce10/helpdata/en/7c/0feaee0d214b5e9f2e890e0668a833/content.htm

Be sure to read SAP Note 1021219 for the latest information about limitations, known issues, and workarounds for Visual Composer. You can find the SAP Note at SAP Service Marketplace - service.sap.com/notes.

your turn
Your Turn!

How to contact me:

Dr. Bjarne Berg

bberg@ComeritInc.Com