Packt Publishing recently released SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook and I was pleased to receive an eBook edition to review. Authors Xavier Hacking and David Lai channel their inner Julia Child with tasty results.
First of all, the book is truly a cookbook. So instead of thumbing through a reference manual that teaches about various chart components, dynamic visibility, and data access devoid of practical application, readers can easily find clearly organized recipes like "Opening up a Web Intelligence report using dashboard parameters", "Building a pop-up screen", or "Analyzing trends". There's over 90 recipes to choose from, including 7 recipes for data connectivity (even SAP BW) and 7 recipes for third-party components (from Antivia, Centigon Solutions, IdeaCrop, and Inovista). To help readers work through the recipes, a collection of sample Xcelsius (XLF) and Adobe Flash (SWF) files can be downloaded from the Packt Publishing web site.
Although the book is entitled "Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook", most of the recipes can be baked with Xcelsius 2008 and do not require Dashboards 4.0, which is a huge plus. On the downside, I wished the book would more clearly indicate which recipes are specific to Dashboards 4.0 (and therefore not possible in Xcelsius 2008). One example is the recipe for "Using Universe queries", as it requires Dashboards 4.0 and new UNX universes created with the SAP BusinessObjects Information Design Tool 4.0, not legacy UNV universes created with the Universe Design Tool. Also, integration with the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform is shown using Enterprise XI 3.1, not BI 4.0. However, neither of these deficiencies take away from the usefulness of the cookbook. I would guess that the authors might easily address these items in a second edition timed for the release of BI 4.1.
As an instructor of SAP's official BOX310 "Xcelsius 2008 Enterprise: Core & Connectivity" training class, I'm disappointed that the curriculum hasn't been updated since the initial release of Xcelsius 2008. Students tend to leave the class unfulfilled and unprepared to use new and interesting features introduced through service packs. SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards 4.0 Cookbook not only covers these newer features, but presents them in a task-oriented "cookbook" format that allows readers to quickly find information on implementing specific functionality in their Xcelsius dashboards.