At this year’s SAP SAPPHIRE conference Ty Miller, SAP VP of Solution Management, declared that “Flash is dead!”. He was referring, of course, to SAP’s dashboard roadmap and the transition from Adobe Flash-based Xcelsius/Dashboards to HTML5-based Design Studio (see related article, The Future of SAP Dashboards). While that high-profile transition is well underway, Adobe Flash is still lurking in other dark corners of the SAP BI platform.
Adobe Flash in the Central Management Console
The Monitoring dashboard introduced with the BI 4.0 Central Management Console is built with Adobe Flash. Two years ago, Mirko Langhorst posted the following on the SAP Idea Place:
We would like to totally get rid of Flash, the component in the CMC using Flash is the new Monitoring application. It would be great to change this HTML5, so the CMC would become Flash-free
Sadly, SAP buried this idea in the SAP Idea Graveyard, tagging it as “Not Planned by SAP”. Which is unfortunate, because the monitoring dashboard isn’t the only source of Adobe Flash frustration in the BI platform. Or just frustration in general (see related article, Less Flash, More Substance for SAP Business Intelligence Monitoring).
The Visual Difference feature introduced with the BI 4.0 Central Management Console is built with Adobe Flash.
Adobe Flash is used by the Override Settings in Promotion Management. And as an aside, all but the latest support packs of the BI platform use the much maligned Apache Derby for overrides (see SAP Mentor Greg Myers’ epic article, Derby Maybe).
Adobe Flash in the BI Launch Pad
Content Linking with BI Workspaces
Not content to limit use of Adobe Flash to the Central Management Console, SAP uses Adobe Flash in its implementation of BI Workspace content linking in the BI Launch Pad.
Crystal Reports for Enterprise Prompts
Crystal Reports for Enterprise uses Adobe Flash for scheduled prompts.
Crystal Reports 2013 does not use Adobe Flash.
I haven’t mentioned SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, but SAP’s recent plans to fold it into SAP Lumira (and therefore SAP HANA) have effectively marooned it on an Adobe Flash island (see SAP executive Jayne Landry’s related article, Run Simple: Convergence of the SAP BusinessObjects BI Product Portfolio). It’s likely that any Explorer replacement will be built on HTML5, not Adobe Flash. But it’s unclear when SAP intends to deliver Explorer-like functionality by Lumira or any other tool in the BI platform.
Dashboards and Xcelsius
Of course, we can’t forget that SAP Dashboards require Adobe Flash at runtime.
Time to Retire Adobe Flash in SAP BI Platform
A decade ago, Adobe Flash had its place providing rich visuals for web applications. In today’s mobile and cloud-centric world, Adobe Flash is a relic. Instead of visual excitement, it generates support and security anxiety. For example, Apple last week took the drastic step of disabling all versions of Adobe Flash except the latest 126.96.36.199 (see related Apple bulletin). But this is two versions ahead of SAP, which has only recently added official support for version 12 in its latest patch levels of the BI platform.
The time is right for SAP to articulate a clear timeline for a plug-in free version of the SAP BI platform (see related article, Thoughts on BI 5.0). Until then, please show your support for Mirko Langhorst’s great idea.
Update (September 17, 2015): SAP has indicated that Promotion Management in BI 4.2 has been rewritten to no longer require Adobe Flash. However, SAP has not published a roadmap to address these other Adobe Flash dependencies.
Update (November 30, 2018): As of July 17, 2018 with the release of SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2 SP6, ALL of the Adobe Flash dependencies mentioned in this article have been replaced with HTML5 equivalents, making it a worthy upgrade from whatever patch level your organization is currently using.