Introduction to the web application designer (WAD) SAP BI

The BEx Web Application Designer is a desktop application for creating Web applications with BI-specific content. If the BI-specific content does not meet your needs, the WAD enables you to create highly individual scenarios with user-defined interface elements by using standard markup languages and the Web Design API. The BI sources that supply data to the Web applications are BI queries, BI query views, and BI InfoProviders—that is, the data available to the Web applications is basically everything in the BI data warehouse environment. We will be using mostly BI queries in our discussion and examples since they are the most widely used for supporting the WAD and the query is the suggested SAP best business practice to be used as the source of data for the Web templates. The BEx query is the most used source of data for support of other components in the BI process, which also includes the new BusinessObject (BOBJ) components.

The WAD allows you to use generic OLAP navigation for your BI data in Web applications as well as in business intelligence cockpits for simple or highly individual scenarios. You can use the WAD to generate HTML pages that contain BI-specific content such as tables, charts, and maps develop customized reports and dashboards for your company. Web applications are based on Web templates that you create and edit in the WAD. You can save the Web templates andaccess them from a Web browser or a portal. Once they have been executed on the Web, Web templates are known as Web applications. The WAD also allows you to create highly individual scenarios with user-defined interface elements by using advanced Web items and the Web Design API. An underutilized component of the WAD is the ability to create reusable Web items, store them in the Web Item Library, and use later. The BEx Web applications that are generated are Web-based applications for data analysis, reporting, and analytical applications on the Web. In addition to the WAD, the BEx Web Analyzer, discussed in chapter ” BEx Web Analyzer Reporting Functionality”, is provided as an independent Web application that can be used to analyze data on an ad hoc basis

In the WAD, the BI sources are linked into the Web Framework through data providers. A data provider provides a logical connection to the data supplied by a BI source. A one-toone relationship usually exists between the BI source and a data provider, although each data provider is independent, so it is possible to use the same BI source for multiple data providers if necessary. In general, Web items are responsible for formatting the data received from a data provider. For example, a Chart Web item would show the data as a chart, whereas the Navigation Pane Web item would list the components of the data provider in the format of the navigation window. Assigning a data provider to a Web item is known as data binding. Not every Web item formats data for the user of the Web application. For example, the XML Data Provider Information Web item makes the data and metadata of the Web application available in XML format for use with JavaScript routines. Other Web items, such as Containers and Context Menu, do not supply data but rather are used for formatting. These are just some of the Web items that are available to the analyst.

Web items serve as the building blocks of the Web template because they can represent the data provider data in many different formats. A Web template is the collection of Web items, formatting objects, texts, images, and parameters that defines a Web page. Web templates can be either very basic or customized to the customer’s needs, depending on their uses in the overall reporting process. Therefore, the WAD user primarily needs to be aware of the applications and uses of each of the Web items in the process of creating and maintaining Web templates. Finally, when the Web templates are executed in the Enterprise Portal, they are referred to as Web applications. A Web application can be any combination of Web templates linked together. The Web application design comprises a broad spectrum of Web-based business intelligence scenarios, which you can adjust to meet your individual needs using standard Web technologies. Below figure shows how the Web Application Designer is integrated into the function landscape and tool landscape of the Business Explorer.

Positioning of the Web Application Designer in the BI environment

Positioning of the Web Application Designer in the BI environment

1.Example WAD Reports
The results that we are looking for might look something like the following illustration, a WAD report that shows the YTD sales trend for the current year. Notice that several options are available for reporting and drilling down in the reports. The detailed analysis of the graphic by material is shown at the bottom of the report, and this detail goes a step further by showing the sales data by material and by sales organization. This seems to be a good combination, because if we were to try to include in the graphic the data on the sales organization level, too much complexity might be added to the screen, thus making this Positioning of the Web Application Designer in the BI environment report less effective (as you can see there are multiple sales organizations to each product and this would expand the graph too much). Report less effective (as you can see there are multiple sales organizations to each product and this would expand the graph too much).

Example WAD Reports

NOTEThe final results from the WAD would probably be delivered to a portal, whether the BI portal or some sort of enterprise portal, but here we will only be working with the results of the WAD.

The details of the legend are very clear and consistent across the report. The color choices are good, clear, and accurate. As you can see, the final results of WAD reports are not only about the data but also about the presentation. Many projects encounter issues and setbacks due to the customer being uncomfortable with the finished look of the report or being confused by the approach to the display. A dashboard may not be well received due to issues with coloring or the look and feel. Therefore, this is a good example of a finished product. Finally, the additional tabbed page can be used for detailed reports or other activities such as alerts or documentation. Tabbed pages make the display much more user friendly and more manageable to read. There is a tremendous amount of information concerning the formatting and functionality of creating dashboards or any reports required for management.

Another very good example of a finished WAD report is shown in the following illustration. In this case, the customer is looking for a more consistent and static reporting view of the data. As you can see, there are no additional options for drilldown on the screen other than buttons at the top that will execute changes to the current graphic. This is also a very good option since most of the time business users—both casual and executive—want to be able to just click a button rather than doing the analysis process of right-clicking and filtering their information. If required additional buttons can be available after the initial drilldown from the current button grouping. So, what could happen is that after the business user has drilled down to the Customer Level there can be a list of buttons to allow even further drilldown by the customer at that point. Notice that a number of Web items have been used for this display, and the format has been developed around the sizing of the information and the functionality.

Example WAD Reports

The person reviewing this report, which currently shows total sales, can immediately review sales either by customer or by lost sales by clicking the corresponding button. The bottom of the report shows the information at a more detailed level with graphs by Distribution Channel and Product Line. With the amount of information being presented,the pie charts are an effective way to enable the user to understand the information quickly and effectively. As I will reiterate several times in this book, an executive has about 15 to 20 seconds a day to review the overall information regarding the company’s growth and stability. The rest of their day is devoted to trying to drive the company forward by using this information to help support integration with different stakeholders outside of their company.

Another example of a WAD report is the basic Alert Monitor, shown next. In this case, the customer receives these alerts automatically via their personal Company Portal page and can then execute the link to the reports to investigate the detailed information on the alerts. This allows a more focused approach to report analysis rather than getting all of the information no matter whether it’s important or not.

Example WAD Reports

In the following example of a WAD report, the report is broken down into four sections, with navigational capabilities and charts for quick analysis and simulation of the results. The color coding is excellent and spelled out in detail in the legend. A forecast of the billable days and a review of the past billable days are available on the same screen and can be used for additional analysis of the planning process or forecasting process. At the bottom of the screen is the additional detailed analysis available to support these numbers.

additional detailed analysis available

In a follow-up report, shown next, we are able to drilldown to the lower-level report to see the breakdown by functional group, but the graphs located above are definitely created at a higher-level characteristic combination.

higher-level characteristic combination

The final example of a WAD report, shown next, is something that is nice to have but not always feasible. Often, by the time a company gets to this level, either the budget doesn’t cover these types of reports, the frontend component being used has changed, or something else has happened to redirect the focus of reporting. This type of report incorporates the GIS (geographic information system) or the mapping component of the WAD. This is a very useful frontend display but takes some time and effort to develop and maintain. It is developed using another toolset that is incorporated into the WAD and takes some backend work to get the InfoObjects correctly formatted, but the end result often is well worth the trouble. The format of the maps and content can be adjusted, but this also costs additional funds because these templates have to be obtained from a third-party company that supports this GIS system. As the following illustration shows, the ability to focus on specific information and understand what is going on quickly and easily is supported by the use of these maps and geographic displays. Once this WAD report is set up and functioning, the maintenance is minimal and the uploads of newer versions of maps of countries, regions, or other company-specific locations is not difficult.

higher-level characteristic combination

We could go on forever with examples of the functionality of WAD-developed reports, but the preceding examples should give you an idea of the many options and opportunities offered by the use of the WAD in your reporting strategy. The different ways to slice and dice data and the different views in the reports can be tailored to your company’s needs. The bottom line in terms of the final presentation of a Web-based report is that you need to use a functional and flexible toolset like the WAD to change basic data into useable information and make it useable for a specific group in an effective manner. Understanding the components of the WAD is important, but you also need to understand design principles and incorporate them into the overall design process. As mentioned, there are specific sources of data, and understanding these objects is also very important.


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