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Book Review: SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence

While I was at SapphireNOW in Orlando last week a saw the latest BusinessObjects books available from SAP PRESS.  What would a trip to a conference be without browsing the latest in books?   I decided to have a look at a title from Jim Brogden called, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence.

My Review

Are budget cuts keeping you from attending a WebI training class?  I think I’ve run across a great alternative.

SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence on sale at SapphireNOW

You’ll love the book if:

  • You’re new to WebIntelligence and the BusinessObjects product family
  • You want to understand the basic concepts around Universe connectivity
  • You want to understand not just WebIntelligence but basic concepts around LiveOffice, InfoView, Publishing, etc.
  • You want to be able to explain to your users to features and core benefits behind self-service reporting
  • You appreciate clear step by step screenshots to guide you through the tool.

I would definitely recommend this book to users who are new to WebIntelligence and would like an easy, well organized book they can refer back to over and over again as their skills progress.  This book covers all the basics extremely well and dabbles with some important tangential topics that are important for beginners.  At times it even ventures into some of the more powerful capabilities like:  complex filtering options, derived tables and track data changes.

You may be disappointed in this book if:

  • You’ve been using WebIntelligence for a while and you are ready to move to the next level
  • You want to know the details for setting up aggregate awareness and contexts
  • You want to understand more about advanced formulas, ForEach, In, etc.
  • You are looking for examples of WebI on top of SAP.
  • You are looking for information on WebI Best Practices

When I got to the chapter on formulas and variables I was expecting a lot of practical detail about how to use some of the most common formulas in combination.  For example, how do I convert a date/time parameter into a text field so you can display it on a report header as mm/dd/yyyy.  I do this all the time and can’t remember how to do it.  There were no examples of query on query reports.  Lastly, I would have liked a bit more detail on the differences between the WebIntelligence client types: Advanced and Interactive.

I almost feel the book should to be divided into two parts with the core content remaining in the first book and the introduction of a second volume, “Advanced Web Intelligence”, which would include the more advanced topics missing here as well as including the SDK, which seemed out of place.  Coming in at 583 pages, I’m not sure you would to expand the current offering to much more.

What I Learned

I always find that regardless of someone’s skill level there is always something new you can learn.  A couple of the items that stood out for me were:

  1. When using the PDP (Personal Data Provider) within the WebI Rich Client, you could connect to a web service.  (Hmm, I’ve always just connected to a local spreadsheet)
  2. WebIntelligence uses tied rankings so if you ask for the top 10 and 3 records have the same value, 13 records will appear in the top 10 list.
  3. The Drill By… feature is available from within a chart.

Summary

I’m so glad to see a number of high quality books coming out from SAP Press around BusinessObjects.  This volume is no exception.  Whether you spell it WebIntelligence or Web Intelligence, this book spells welcome relief for users who are hoping to get up to speed quickly with the capabilities and features of WebIntelligence.

«Good BI»

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