SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio – A Beginner’s Guide

SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio – A Beginner’s Guide

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In this blog we take a quick look at the features of Design Studio. We explore the basic functions and also look at the capabilities of this new interesting tool from SAP.


Design Studio is a far superior alternative to BEx Web App Designer. In addition to helping you build more dynamic dashboards, it also enables power users to generate purpose-built OLAP analysis and planning applications. In addition, Design Studio also presents customer and SAP-delivered content while offering far better support for mobile devices and HANA data sources.

For example, users have the ability to easily design analytic content that is centrally governable and that ranges from basic templates formed through guided analytics all the way to more advanced applications. This is possible through the features included in Design Studio, such as:

  • Centralized support
  • Enterprise ready Life Cycle Management
  • Extension via scripting language which is a subset of JavaScript
  • JSON-based client-side rendering
  • Robust set of design components which includes but is not limited to buttons, dropdown menus, and tabs
  • Theming and customization
  • WYSIWYG (What-You-See-IS-What-You-Get) environment for designers

Desktop Template Example

Mobile & HANA Direct Support

  • Applications are prepared for immediate deployment through standard web browsers and mobile devices (HTML 5)
  • It is possible to download Design Studio applications via SAP BI Mobile Solutions
  • SAP BI Mobile Solutions provides unified operability and enables an extensive mobile community
  • Collaboration is streamlined through annotation and SAP StreamWork
  • Native support for BW and HANA specific engine and platform services


Mobile Template Example


New and Modified Features in Design Studio

Support for Universes as Data Sources – When SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence is used as the platform for Design Studio; this means that both BW and SAP HANA data sources can be used for applications as well as queries that are universe-based. A universe data source can be created by selecting a universe connection that the administrator has set up and also by constructing queries using the Editing Query Specification dialog box.

Crosstab Component – The following enhancements have been made to the Crosstab component:

  • Conditional formatting or exceptions that have been defined within the BEx Query Designer or in SAP BusinessObjects Analysis edition for Microsoft Office are now displayed in the crosstab
  • If the crosstab contains at least one hierarchy or hierarchical structures, there is a property that specifies whether the application user can expand or collapse hierarchy nodes. If the property is set to false then the hierarchy expand/collapse (+ and – symbols) icons are not displayed in the crosstab. Despite this, the end user would still be able to determine that a hierarchy exists due to the indentation of the nodes and leaves
  • There is a property that defines whether the end user has the ability to sort columns. If this property is set to false, the sorting icons are not displayed in the column headers
  • The column resizing property controls whether the end user has the ability to resize columns by double-clicking on the right border of the column header. If the property is set to false, the hover spot for the double-click resize will not be accessible
  • The column width property enables the user to set the column widths using the crosstab. A valid column width contains two components; the column index and the column width

Filter Panel Component – The propertyMode has been added to the Filter Panel component. This property enables the application designer to define which functions are available to the application user in the filter panel during runtime, therefore providing standard drill-down functionality. These functions include filtering and/or navigation.

List Box Component – The new Multiple Selection property in the List Box component enables users to filter data sources using multiple members.

Selecting Multiple Components in the Editor – When the editor is being used to work on an application, it is possible to select and move multiple components by holding the CTRL key while clicking.

Properties of the Application – There are two new properties available for the application:

  • On Variable Initialization – Can be used to set query variables
  • On Background Processing – Can be used to load data sources in the background. It is recommended that this property is used with the methods for the data source alias. In order to initiate this property, it is required to use the doBackgroundProcessing script method which executes the contents of the event.

Properties of the Data Source Alias – The data source alias features a new event known as On Result Set Changed. The associated script with this property is performed if the result set for the data source is modified during a roundtrip.

API Reference – The following new methods have been added to the API reference:

  • In relation to the object Application:
    • doBackgroundProcessing
    • In relation to the object Component:
      • hideLoadingState
      • showLoadingState
    • In relation to the object DataSourceAlias:
      • activateHierarchy
      • collapseNode
      • copyFilters
      • deactivateHierarchy
      • expandNode
      • getDimensionText
      • isInitialized
      • isResultSetEmpty
      • onResultsetChanged
      • setDrillLevel
    • In relation to the object Crosstab:
      • isColumnResizingEnabled
      • isConditionalFormattingVisible
      • isHierarchyNavigationEnabled
      • isSortingEnabled
      • resetAllColumnWidths
      • resetColumnWidth
      • setColumnResizingEnabled
      • setColumnWidth
      • setConditionalFormattingVisible
      • setDefaultColumnWidth
      • setHierarchyNavigationEnabled
      • setSortingEnabled
    • In relation to the object List Box:
      • getSelectedTexts
      • getSelectedValues
      • setSelectedValues

Export to Microsoft Excel – This allows users to define and export a crosstab from the SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio into Microsoft Excel. It is also possible to export specified data from a crosstab from the SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio into Microsoft Excel. The following file formats are supported:

  • CSV
  • .xls
  • .xlsx

Chart Component – The new Components view contains the Chart component which features the following enhancements:

  • New chart types such as the Dual Axis Chart


  • It is now possible to do the following:
    • Display values in the chart area
    • Modify the legend position of the chart
    • Change the background color of the chart or reset it to the default theme color and use the data selection dialog box to include additional data selections in the charts
  • Axis scaling allows users to define the minimum and maximum range for each  
    • 100% Stacked Chart
    • Radar Chart
    • Pie Chart

For a dual axis chart, the user can define the minimum and maximum range for the respective dual axes. For a Scatter Chart, it is now possible to work with two measures regardless of the location. Users can also set the color, shape, and tooltip properties using dimensions for the legend. Bubble Charts now enable the use of 3-4 measures and it is also possible to set the bubble size and width.

New Features for Developing Extensions

You can also build your own extensions using a software development kit (SDK). This is very useful when you don’t find the objects you want in the tool and want to develop your own component that you can reuse in a library.

For example, in addition to the standard group of components that are offered in Design Studio, users can develop 3rd party components using the Design Studio SDK and enhance analysis applications using custom components. When SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence is used as the Design Studio platform, users can store and provide access to the analysis applications which include the 3rd party components.

The locally installed extensions must be deployed to the BI platform before application users can launch analysis applications containing SDK extensions from the BI platform. Application designers must be added to the Design Studio Administrators group on the BI platform before they can add or remove SDK extensions.

New and Modified Administration Options in Design Studio

There are also several new and modified admin options in Design Studio for Runtime statistics, display for Analysis Applications, Universe development and Views. Let’s take a look at each of these new options individually:

Activating the Query Runtime Statistics – Given that SAP NetWeaver is being used as the platform, Design Studio now supports the query runtime statistics of SAP NetWeaver BW. The query runtime statistics enable users to determine how much time is necessary to perform specific user actions in Design Studio and in the BW analytic engine. The query runtime statistics can be activated and analyzed at any time for a certain object (query or InfoProvider).

Configuring the Portal for Display of Analysis Applications – The portal uses Internet Explorer quirks mode by default and this cannot adequately render HTML5 Web applications such as the analysis applications of Design Studio. In order to overcome this users can either utilize the unified portal framework page instead of the standard portal framework page, or the page can be embedded with the analysis application in a popup window that does not contain a header.

Creating Universes for Use in Analysis Applications – SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio 1.2 enables users to implement universe queries as data sources for analysis applications. Universes are created using the Information Design Tool (IDT) and are then published to the BI platform.

It is important to note that the BI platform server must be the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence version 4.1. If universe queries are to be used as data sources in analysis applications, SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence version 4.0 cannot be used.

One or more of the following prerequisites must be met in order for universes to be used with Design Studio:

  • The universes must be relational
  • The universes must be single-source
  • Universes with Microsoft SQL or Sybase IQ as the underlying database can be used

Adding View Rights for Universe Data Sources – If application users and application designers wish to work with analysis applications that are based on universe data sources, the required view rights will need to be assigned in the CMC (Content Management Console) on BI platform 4.1. When working with universe data sources, the access level View On Demand will need to be assigned for the relevant universe and also for the associated relational connection used by the universe.

Configuring the Hosts File for Universes – If application designers would like to use universe queries as data sources in analysis applications and the BI platform server with an IP address is being utilized, the following mappings will need to be added to the hosts file:

  • IP address – Fully qualified host name of BI platform
  • IP – host name of BI platform


Over the last two years Design Studio has emerged as a complete platform for BI dashboard and application development. Today, the only major limitation is the lack of a complete set of maps. However, these can be purchased from other vendors and implemented as extensions. In the next releases, we expect SAP to include more or the geographical maps in the tool.

So, now is the time to rewrite the JSP and BSP based web templates you created in Web Application Designer a decade ago. The new tool is Design Studio.

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