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A comprehensive guide to SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer. Dr. Bjarne Berg. In This Session.
Dr. Bjarne Berg
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.
The query is the core method for accessing SAP BI data. You can use existing queries in your VC models.
The 3.5x BEx Query Designer
The new 7.0 Query designer was totally re-developed in MS-Visual Basic .NET
The NWBI 7.0 BEx Query Designer
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.
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
You can pick your own rendering method in the menu: Tools Options
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
WAD can also incorporate other SAP VC web items into powerful cockpits and custom report centers.
You can download a trial version on the SAP Community network.
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
The models are actually graphics rendered with Adobe SVG (vector graphics)
First you must make sure that your Visual composer environment is set up with connection back to your SAP BI environment(s).
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
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.
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
When you are developing very complex models, it is very helpful to add annotations (comments) to document your work.
iViews can be graphical (charts) or tables and links between iViews and queries can create complex dashboards with many navigation options
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
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.
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
It is very beneficial to use the cache as the method for data service retrieval. This makes the cockpits faster by relying on previously accessed data stored in-memory, and you can also use broadcasting to cache as a method to pre-populate the cache as well.
Since a cockpit may have many different DataSources (queries), it can take quite some time to execute them if the memory cache is not used consistently
To avoid poor definition and usage, aggregates should be developed after the system has been in production for a while and real user statistics are captured.
This example shows how to build aggregates by using system statistics to generate proposals
Note: To make this work, the BW statistics must be captured.
We can also create proposals from the Query user statistics.
To make this work, a representative number of queries must be executed to gather the statistics to optimize from.
We can also create proposals for aggregates based on individual queries that are performing poorly.
The process of turning 'on' the aggregates is simple
Select the right read mode. Three query read modes in BW determine the amount of data to be fetched from a database:
Reading data during navigation minimizes the impact on the application server resources because only data that the user requires will be retrieved.
Source: Catherine Roze
For queries involving large hierarchies with many nodes, it would be wise to select Read data during navigation and when expanding the hierarchy option to avoid reading data for the hierarchy nodes that are not expanded.
Reserve the Read all data mode for special queries—for instance, when a majority of the users need a given query to slice and dice against all dimensions, or when the data is needed for data mining. This mode places heavy demand on database and memory resources and might impact other SAP BW processes and tasks.
A query read mode can be defined either on an individual query basis or as a default for new queries using the query monitor (transaction RSRT).
Minimize conditions-and-exceptions reporting. Conditions &
exceptions are usually processed by the SAP application
server. This generates additional data transfer between database and application servers.
If conditions and exceptions have to be used, the amount of data to be processed should be minimized with filters. When multiple drill-downs are required, separate the drill-down steps by using free characteristics rather than rows and columns.
This strategy results in a smaller initial result set, and therefore faster query processing and data transport as compared to a query where all characteristics are in rows.
This strategy does not reduce the query result set. It just separates the drill-down steps. In addition to accelerating query processing, it provides the user more manageable portions of data.
A Real Example
This company had 38 cockpits and 82 queries that improved substantially without any further changes after installing Service Pack-14
- a 39% decrease in
query execution time
Explore the use line item dimensions for fields that are frequently conditioned in queries.
Problem: Calculated Key Figures (CKF) are computed
during run-time, and a many CKFs can slow down the
Solution: Many of the CKF can be done during data loads & physically stored in the InfoProvider. This reduces the number of computations and the query can use simple table reads instead. Do not use total rows when not required (this require additional processing on the OLAP side).
Problem: Sorting the data in reports with large result sets can be time consuming.
Solution: Reducing the number of sorts in the default view can improve the report execution & provide the users with data faster.
PS! Reducing the text in query will also speed up the processing some.
Source: SAP AG 2008.
Database statistics are used by the optimizer to route queries. Outdated statistics leads to performance degradation. Outdated indexes can lead to very poor search performance in all queries where conditioning is used (i.e. mandatory prompts).
For high volume Infocubes, or cubes that have a high number of users, the percentage used to build the DB stats can be increased from the default 10% to 20%. This may yield more accurate query routing and better query performance (consider this especially for cubes with ‘old data’ partitioned)
When you flag a dimension as “high cardinality” SAP BI will use a b-tree index instead of a bit-map index.
This can be substantially slower if the high cardinality does not exist in the data in general (star-joins cannot be used with b-trees).
Validate the high-cardinality of the data and reset the flag if needed – this will give a better index type and performance
The SAP BI Accelerator makes query response time 50-10,000 faster.
You use process chains to maintain the HPA engine after each data load
HP, Sun and IBM have standard solutions ranging from $32K to $300K+ that can be installed and tested in as little as 2-4 weeks (+ SAP license fees)
32 Gb Blades are certified by SAP
Composition Environment including Visual Composer continues to be the go-to product for creating composite applications.
Source: SAP, 2009
SAP Acquired Business Objects in 2007/2008 and is working on integrating BOBJ into the core SAP BI offerings.
Source SAP AG, 2009
Crystal Reports for pixel formatted reports has been available with SAP BI/BW since 2002. This tool can be integrated into your tool portfolio using existing SAP NetWeaver BI queries
(NOTE: Crystal & Crystal Light will be the core tools for formatted reports starting 2010)
Source SAP AG,
The Web Intelligence tool from BOBJ is a tool for ad-hoc web based reporting, query & analysis.
It is intended for end users and can leverage queries to both relational and OLAP sources.
It will be the core offering for ad-hoc end user analysis starting 2009.
With the current offering of BOBJ you can also use Desktop Widgets to place BI content direct onto a PC desktop and monitor reports and KPIs.
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
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
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
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.
Presentations, tutorials & articles
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.
How to contact me:
Dr. Bjarne Berg