Oct 05 2011

Web Intelligence on iPad – Not Ready For Prime Time Yet

Categories: MOBI Dave Rathbun @ 1:51 pm

Earlier this year I got to see Web Intelligence 4.0 documents on an iPad. It was one of my few tweet-worthy nuggets that I shared from the BI 4.0 launch event. A few weeks ago I started building out some reports for a co-worker so we could experiment with MOBI and see just how well it worked in our environment. Along the way I picked up a copy of the “known limitations” document from SAP. Some of them are big, perhaps even show-stoppers for many folks.

  • Table Format
    • I have to include a header. If a table does not have a header, it doesn’t work. I could live with this, I guess.
    • Tables cannot include breaks. I think this qualifies as a “what were they thinking” moment. Seriously, no breaks? We also found out that sections are not supported.
    • Merged cells are not supported.
  • Charts
    • Only basic chart types are supported. This is a real bummer, given that part of what is improved in BI 4.0 is the charting engine for Web Intelligence.
    • Formatting on chart elements such as axis lables is not supported.
  • Document Interactivity
    • Drilling is not supported. See also limitations on the OpenDocument() function below.
    • Folding / unfolding is not supported.
    • Input controls are not supported. Another “wwtt” moment when I read that one.
    • The only conditional formatting that works are font colors. I have not tested this, but I assume that means no font sizes, no color changes (background / foreground colors), and no altering the cell content. I use that last feature quite a bit with Alerters to allow me to dynamically swap a new value into a block based on the data.
  • OpenDocument()
    • URL components like sDocName, sPath, and sType are not supported. Some of these make sense, since Crystal reports are not yet supported on the iPad. But I’m not sure why the document name and path are not allowed.
  • Prompting
    • Persitent prompts (retaining prior prompt values) is not supported.
    • Nested prompts are not supported.
    • Multi-column LOVs are not supported.

What does this mean? It means that even though I can distribute Web Intelligence reports to the iPad, there are quite a few important features that are not supported or don’t translate to the mobile platform. So while I did, in fact, see some Web Intelligence reports on an iPad, they did not include many of the features that I believe are essential for wide-spread use. I believe that Crystal is supposed to be next on the list for iPad support, but I hope they get some of these Web Intelligence gaps corrected soon as well.

8 Responses to “Web Intelligence on iPad – Not Ready For Prime Time Yet”

  1. Comment by Dallas Marks

    Dave, is the “known limitations” document publicly available?

    On the plus side, SAP’s philosophy for the Mobile BI iPad app is “your documents will display on a tablet without modification”. Ideally, we’ll start to see your list of limitations addressed over time with periodic App Store updates that don’t require the rest of the BI suite to be updated. I’m hopeful for updates that we might see next week at the ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference.

  2. Comment by Jody Bankston

    Much Thx! I’m running a proof of concept on this idea. This puts me one step ahead. No game killers in there for me…but definitely some pot holes that I will steer around. Please point to SAP “Known Limitations” docs if possible like Dallas asked. And please post on this topic again as you learn more! -jb

  3. Comment by James Halligan

    Hi Dave,

    my early impressions of Web Intelligence 4.0 is that it has regressed. Erogonmics and ease of use seem to have sacrificed in favour of a tinner client. It’s more akin to the HTML version of Webi. There’s definitely no compelling reason to upgrade. Deski won’t die until Webi picks up on all its functionality.



  4. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    Dallas, these notes came from the release notes for BusinessObjects Mobile 4.0. There is an additional document for release notes for 4.1. Both are available from the SAP documentation portal at http://help.sap.com/businessobject/product_guides/ To be fair, the 4.1 documentation does not have nearly as extensive a list, but we’re looking at 4.0 right now, so we have to work with the limitations of what it has.

  5. Comment by Chinmay

    Good to Know !!!

  6. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    I had an interesting discussion with someone a few days ago regarding the lack of “true drilling” on the iPad. I’m not sure if it warrants a full follow-up post or just a comment, but as soon as I figure that out I’ll share.

  7. Comment by Ayaz

    Dave, i have a webi report on top of a universe (in IDT). Universe contains a date prompt. Does SAP BO MOBILE APP(for IPAD) supports that or not? If not, then what is the possible way around to allow user to select date on ipad for webi report?


  8. Comment by Dave Rathbun

    MOBI should support prompts built in the universe.

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