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SAC Analytics Designer

Whitepaper  Dashboarding with SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC)  For which use cases is SAC the right tool? What possibilities does SAC offer  in the area of dashboarding? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the  different components? Learn more about the different components, use cases and best practices. Get  exclusive whitepaper now  

Stories and applications

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Guided Analytics

As a self-service tool, SAC Story offers users numerous tools to easily create visualizations and add interactive elements to them with just a few clicks. The features available in SAC Story allow less tech-savvy users to create their own dashboards. Nevertheless, Stories are not suitable for more sophisticated use cases, as one is limited to the predefined functions. The development of analytic applications offers the creator more possibilities, but is associated with a higher effort.

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Individual Custom Dashboards

In addition to the elements available in SAC Story, the Analytics Designer equips the dashboard creator with extra tools that allow him to create more complex dashboards. The developer can define specific behaviour, such as interactive features using program code, and thus implement custom logic. Dashboard viewers eventually run Analytics applications the same way they open stories, but they can take advantage of the additional features.

More code, more possibilities

Wider choice of elements

The development environment of the Analytics Designer is similar in parts to the Story environment. As in SAC Story, predefined charts and tables can be added to the canas via drag-and-drop and populated with the required data via the Builder panel. In addition to the objects known from Story, there are a number of elements that are only available as filter settings in Story, such as drop-down menus or radio buttons. These can be designed more freely in terms of their possible uses and interaction behaviour in the designer through scripting. In addition to the linked analysis function available in Story, charts and tables can also be linked using scripting. For this purpose, various functions can be defined for each object on the canvas via scripting.

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Implement your own logic

The BI-Active Language (BIAL) used in Analytics Designer represents only a subset of JavaScript (JS), so JS functions have limited support. SAP's official API reference documents all available functions. The script editor provides graphical support for programming, as well as a syntax checker and an input help that displays all APIs available for the object in question. Unfortunately, the script editor does not allow setting breakpoints, so debugging has to be done using the browser console and, depending on the problem, can be extremely time-consuming.

Self-Developed Visualizations: Custom Widgets

SAC already has a wide range of components available out-of-the-box. If the specific scenario cannot be implemented using the predefined widgets, experienced web developers also have the option of developing their own components (custom widgets), which can be tailored precisely to individual requirements. After importing the custom widget into SAC, it is available in Analytics Designer and can be configured and formatted as intended by the developer in the Builder Panel. However, unlike predefined charts, Custom Widgets cannot have measures and dimensions added via the Builder Panel.

At this time, SAC does not support data binding for custom widgets, so they must be populated with data using  a secondary table. Read more about this in our article about the NextLytics Smart Tile.

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Advanced formatting options through CSS

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As with JavaScript, CSS is only supported to a limited extent. The available CSS capabilities only represent a subset of the CSS3-standard. When developing applications, you can define global and widget-specific CSS classes that can be customized via scripting. The CSS editor of Analytics Designer is a relatively new feature. Many properties are not supported and only a small selection of style attributes and selectors are available. The CSS editor shows a listing of available properties for each object. We think the CSS support of the Analytics Designer is already a good start, but there is still a lot of room for improvements here.

Our opinion of Analytics Designer 

All in all, Analytics Designer has evolved remarkably since its release at the end of 2019. Especially more complex use cases like planning scenarios benefit from the ability to add custom logic to the dashboard. Still, we miss more features besides more flexible CSS options. Download our whitepaper "Dashboarding with SAP Analytics Cloud" to learn more about the Analytics Designer and to find out where we see the strengths and weaknesses of SAC.

Analytics Designer is a relatively new tool that is subject to permanent change. With each update, SAP provides many new and improved features. In our blog section you will receive regular updates about releases and further developments of the Analytics Designer.

Contact us - we will be happy to help you   Do you need help implementing a  meaningful dashboard? Or do you have questions about Tableau, Power BI, SAP Analytics Cloud or SAP  Lumira? We'll be happy to advise you on all aspects of dashboarding, dashboard tools  and design.   Get free consultation