Grab your iPad, Kindle or other favorite eBook reader!
SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Reference by Jim Brogden, Mac Holden, Dallas Marks, Gabriel Orthous, and Heather Sinkwitz is now available in multiple eBook formats. Previously available in hardback and web editions, SAP Press now offers ePub (compatible with Apple iBooks), mobi (compatable with Amazon Kindle) and Adobe PDF formats from their web site.
Anticipating the future of electronic reading from Amazon and SAP.
Last Christmas, I picked up a Kindle Touch and handed down my older Kindle Keyboard to my daughter. In an earlier article about the Kindle Keyboard, I had written that I purchased the Kindle mainly for its PDF viewing capabilities, but was dissatisfied with both native PDF viewing as well as converting PDF to eBook formats. I was also critical of the file management and sync capabilities with a host PC or Mac.
Although the Kindle Touch boasts faster hardware and a touch interface, it has not made any improvements in either its relationship to a host PC or Mac or in its PDF viewing. It will be interesting to see if that is remedied in this week’s product announcements from Amazon, which is currently out of stock on both the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire.
I now keep SAP BusinessObjects documentation in Dropboxso I can read it from nearly anywhere. And I’ve slowly started collecting books in Kindle format. But my preferred tablet reading experience is my Apple iPad 2, not my Amazon Kindle. And alas, I’m still waiting for SAP to start publishing documentation in a native eBook format like ePub to complement its PDF offerings.
As my family contemplates multiple iOS devices, is Apple doing the same?
My oldest daughter turned eleven over the weekend. As a sign of growing up, she asked for money instead of gifts. Her goal is to save enough money for either a Kindle Fire or an Apple iPod Touch. We are an iPad family, having acquired an Apple iPad 2 when they were first introduced in April 2011. But like the Coke bottle in the cult film The Gods Must Be Crazy, we only have one tablet that is unhappily shared amongst three children. My wife and I have iPhones, hers is an iPhone 4 and mine is an aging iPhone 3GS. So it makes sense for my daughter to stay in the Apple ecosystem to share our existing app and music collection. Currently she is giving the iPod Touch a slight edge over the Kindle Fire (games, sigh), so I started doing a bit of research over the weekend.
With any high-tech gadget, one has to evaluate whether to buy the current model or wait for the next one. With Apple, you’re never sure when the next model is going arrive, despite all of the rumor and speculation. Whether or not it arrives on March 7, everyone is expecting the iPad 3 sometime before May 2012.
But what about the iPod Touch?
I’ve never been interested in owning an iPod Touch before, so I turned to Wikipedia. The first iPod Touch was introduced in September 2007, shortly after the original iPhone was launched in June 2007. The second generation was introduced in September 2008, a few months after the iPhone 3G. The third generation was introduced in September 2009, a few months after the iPhone 3GS. The fourth and current generation was introduced in September 2010, a few months after the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S was released in October 2011, a few months later than the typical June release. Although the iPod Touch would benefit from the faster dual-core processor and improved graphics of the 4s, the fifth generation iPod Touch is nowhere to be found. Wouldn’t it have made sense for Apple to simultaneously introduce a new iPod Touch going into the 2011 Christmas retail season rather than waiting a few months?
So I started thinking to myself, what if Apple introduces the fifth-generation iPod Touch along side the iPad 3? Then I had a weird idea.
So here’s my prediction.
When iOS 5 was released last year, the iPod app on the iPhone was renamed to simply “Music”. Clearly, the iPod revolution is winding down and so is the perceived value of the iPod brand. Therefore, Apple will not only release a successor to the iPod Touch during its iPad 3 event, but the new device will be rebranded as an iPad, possibly the “iPad Nano”. I’m undecided if Apple will introduce a medium-sized tablet to “compete” with the Kindle Fire. If there is a mid-sized iPad (let’s call it the “iPad Mini”), I predict that the iPad 2 and its inferior camera will disappear from the model line-up. If there isn’t, then the iPad 2 will remain at a lower price point to the iPad 3’s (and possibly refreshed with a better camera). I wouldn’t expect more than 3 members to the Apple iPad family.
In any case, I think I’ve convinced my daughter to wait for the iPad 3 event before purchasing an iPod Touch.
An inexpensive Kindle is a great tool when learning the BI 4.0 platform.
You won’t find it mentioned in the supported platforms document for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0, but BI4 is supported on the Amazon Kindle. No, I’m not talking about viewing Crystal Reports or Web Intelligence documents via Kindle’s currently “experimental” WebKit browser (although that would be really cool). The Amazon Kindle is an 8.5 ounce, $139 (Wi-Fi only) powerhouse ideally suited for taking thousands of pages of SAP BusinessObjects documentation anywhere – even in carry-on luggage.
Most SAP BusinessObjects documentation is freely available from the SAP Help Portal in Adobe PDF format (although some of the links redirect to the S-ID protected SAP Support Portal). And the Adobe Reader on my laptop is great at searching through my large document collection. However, I travel a lot and it’s frequently pointless to boot up my laptop on a cramped Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jet, even in the so-called exit row. There’s so much to learn about the upcoming BI 4.0 release and so little time to waste reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I was quite close to choosing the $189 Wi-Fi + Free 3G Kindle, but opted to save a few bucks since my primary goal was to read vendor documentation and not best sellers from the Amazon Kindle store.
You might be wondering why I chose the Amazon Kindle over an Apple iPad and its free iBooks app. I’m glad you asked. I opted first for a Kindle because:
$139 US was a no-brainer
The E Ink display is supposed to be easier on the eyes than an LCD
The Apple iPad 2 will soon appear and make everyone wish they had waited for it
Adobe PDF files (or Microsoft Word, HTML, TXT, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC and MOBI files.) can be transferred to the Kindle from either your PC or Mac using the supplied USB cable. You can also e-mail documents to your your Kindle using its e-mail address (email@example.com). The USB-connected Kindle mounts to your PC or Mac as easy as a flash drive and file transfers are nearly painless. But I think Amazon is seriously missing an opportunity to fashion its PC and Mac Kindle applications as the center of a digital hub, similar to iTunes‘ relationship with Apple’s iOS devices.
The Kindle can resize and rotate PDF files according to a handful of preset zoom levels, although I would have preferred variable zoom. Adobe PDF documents cannot take advantage of all the Kindle’s features but you can convert PDFs to the native Kindle format. Both formats have advantages and disadvantages and neither is a clear winner. In my personal experience, the text from a full page of SAP documentation in PDF was small but surprisingly readable on the Kindle’s E Ink screen. In contrast, converted files have greater legibility but near useless document navigation. Changing the PDF orientation from portrait to landscape helped, but I hold out the possibility that future Kindle firmware updates will continue to improve the Adobe PDF viewing experience.
Beyond storing product documentation, there are several interesting business intelligence titles available for the Kindle such as Wayne Eckerson’s Performance Dashboards (see my book review) and Ralph Kimball’s legendary data warehousing titles. Curiously missing are titles from SAP Press, which has no official plans to support any eBook format in the near future. We can only hope their position will change as devices as the Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Apple iPad are embraced by larger numbers of SAP professionals. In addition, I think it would be groundbreaking for SAP to publish documentation in leading eBook formats alongside existing Adobe PDF documentation.
An “experimental” MP3 player complements the “experimental” WebKit browser, so I can even listen to Diversified Semantic Layer and other podcasts from my Kindle.
So there you have it, SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 for Kindle. Are you using a mobile device for vendor documentation? Please share your insights by posting a comment.