BusinessObjects XI 3.0 Hits and Misses – Part 2

Change is not only a theme for the 2008 U.S. presidential election, it is the theme for BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.0. One of the dramatic new features of the new release is the new icon for measure objects. Gone is the emasculating hot pink sphere in favor of a more masculine yellow rectangle. Perhaps the product managers felt a new shape and color were needed to reinforce the introduction of new “smart” measures with database delegated computation? Or is this just change for the sake of change?

[UPDATE: it’s a ruler, stupid.  Measure.  Ruler.  Get it?]

In everyday usage, I’ve noticed that the color yellow is confusing because it is the color shared by condition objects (the standard yellow filter icon). Yes, I realize that there are two different shades of yellow, but I’m still confused. In Web Intelligence, condition objects (or predefined filters) appear at the end of the class list, which is frequently where measure objects are placed. I’m noticing that my brain is going for color instead of shape or object name. So I’m grabbing a measure object when I want a predefined condition or vice versa. I would much prefer if all four object types (dimension, detail, measure, and predefined condition) would have unique colors, which was the case prior to XI 3.0.

Who wants to join me in the campaign to restore the pink sphere to its former glory?

BusinessObjects XI 3.0 Hits and Misses

BusinessObjects recently released BusinessObjects Edge Series 3.0 to complement its earlier launch of BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.0. It’s nice to see how BusinessObjects has responded to the user community with improvements. However, some of the improvements are a bit dubious and border on annoyances.

The Hits:

1. An alignment toolbar for Web Intelligence. Woo-hoo! The developers who added this feature deserve a big bonus!

2. The end user report panels and viewers have easier to understand names than their XI R2 counterparts. For Web Intelligence XI 3.0, the “Java Report Panel”, “Query-HTML Panel”, and “HTML Panel” are now known as “Advanced”, “Interactive”, and “Web Accessibility”. Similarly, the HTML viewer is now known simply as “Web”. On the Crystal Reports side, the Advanced DHTML viewer has been retired and the DHTML viewer is known simply as “Web”.

3. In Web Intelligence XI 3.0, you can now type in formulas into free-standing cells without the use of the formula toolbar. Very nice.

4. The “browse” button in the Web Intelligence properties tab (in the Report Manager) is always visible. In previous releases, you had to move the mouse over the property cell to see the button.

5. The tabbed interface for InfoView user preferences has been replaced by a single screen of grouped options. Users may interactively fold (open/close) the groups to avoid clutter.

6. The Web Intelligence Rich Client. It’s essentially the Java Report Panel with a Windows menu attached. After the rush for all BI vendors to embrace the web, somebody figured out that the web was just a bit out of reach on airplanes, etc. The Webi Rich Client is also how personal data providers are now supported in Webi, giving us all one less reason to use Desktop Intelligence.

The Misses:
1. The InfoView default home page is even more useless than it was before. A second click is now required to see the “Document List”, as the navigation panel is not part of the default screen.

3. The New Document button is only available from the Document List, meaning it always takes an extra click to find it. In XI R2, the New Document button was on the InfoView toolbar, which is a more logical location. As a developer, I’m usually logging in to build something new, not access something old. Also, when creating documents using the Web Intelligence Advanced Report Panel, you must return to the Document List. Again, an extra click.

2. The search feature is only available from the Document List, not the standard InfoView toolbar. This is unfortunate, as the search feature is really an alternative to using the document list, not a complement. On a related note, users still cannot save their default search type (title, all fields, advanced, or content) as an InfoView preference. Now that content search is built into XI 3.0 (not an add-on as in the XI R2 Productivity Pack), I would love to be able to set it as the default search type.

4. The Navigation Panel is no longer present when you are viewing or editing a report. To find another document, you have to return to “Document List”, which takes you away from the current document. The XI R2 Navigation Panel, with it’s ability to co-exist with the user’s workspace, was better in my opinion.

5. Column resizing. Columns in both InfoView and the Central Management Console (CMC) can be resized, but getting the cursor in the proper position is a real challenge. Unfortunately, a feature intended to be useful and flexible is actually quite tedious and frustrating. And the CMC icons down the left side are quite minuscule. Any chance of a “hover” operation that enlarges the button? (Does it mean that I’m getting old if I’m whining about too-small icons?)

6. The new training manuals. The new XI 3.0 manuals have a different format than their XI R2 counterparts. Content aside (and don’t get me started), the format alone will make course delivery more challenging for both instructors and students. Please share your candid opinions about the manuals on the course evaluation forms when you begin taking training.

Conclusion:

I’m just now diving into the security model changes, which I’ll chat about in a future post. The next release, BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1, is already in beta. Although .NET support and the new Lifecycle Manager (LCM) are the major features, let’s hope that some of these other UI issues can be addressed.

Got Support?

Have you had any Business Objects tech support lately? Apparently even some folks at Business Objects were caught off guard that the migration to the SAP support infrastructure was this past Monday, July 7, 2008. Most customers are still clinging to guns, religion, and the old support site. You can read their bitter rants here on the Business Objects Board. You can also check out an assessment of the situation from The Register.

At least one bright ray of sunshine is that you can still access documentation, which has been moved to the SAP Help Portal. Look for the Business Objects link on the page navigation at the top of the page.

As Daffy Duck would say, “what a way to run a railroad“.

[ youtube href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewVrlNl3MyA” ]

BusinessObjects XI 3.0

Business Objects, an SAP company, officially launched BusinessObjects XI 3.0

Today Business Objects, an SAP company, officially launched BusinessObjects XI 3.0, which will ship in late March 2008. Formerly known by its code name of Titan, BusinessObjects XI 3.0 represents a major revamp from one end of the product portfolio (Enterprise Information Management, or EIM) to the other (Information Discovery and Delivery, or IDD).

In addition, the Business Objects unveiled a slightly tweaked mission statement, as part of the alignment with its new owner, SAP.

Transforming the way the world works by connecting people, information, and business

Business Objects XI 3.0 promises improvements in the migration process, in addition to product enhancements. According to Business Objects, one third of their customers have migrated, one third are in the process of migrating, and a third are still waiting to migrate to the XI platform. Some of the features in XI 3.0 were added specifically to address concerns of its largest customers, who have delayed migration until XI 3.0 was ready.

As a consultant, trainer, migration specialist, and conference speaker, 2008 is shaping up to be a challenging, yet fun, year digesting all of the new product features. If your organization has not yet migrated, it’s certainly worth evaluating XI 3.0 after it ships in March 2008.