Differences Between Desktop Intelligence and Web Intelligence
April 19, 2012 52 Comments
What are all the differences between Desktop Intelligence (Deski) and Web Intelligence (Webi)? The question has been asked so many times, including from clients, that I decided to attempt to put together a comprehensive list of the differences. Why is such a list important? Well, with the release of SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 in September 2011, Desktop Intelligence is no longer available, and is now completely replaced by Web Intelligence. So, for organizations that use Desktop Intelligence, it’s important to know what those differences are, as they transition from Deski to Webi.
The differences can be divided into two categories:
- Deski features that are missing from Webi
- Webi features that never existed in Deski
Fortunately, that first category is getting shorter with each new release of Webi. However, since that category is most important to those migrating from Deski to Webi, we’ll cover that category first.
Deski Features that are Missing from Webi
- Display a table in multiple Columns: In Deski, you can set a table so that, when it reaches the bottom of a page, it “wraps” to the next column on the same page, similar to a how a newspaper column continues on the same page.
- Grouping button: Deski has the ability to create grouped variables with the click of a button. In Webi, we have to write the If – Then – Else logic manually to create such functionality. This can be quite tedious. I have submitted an idea to SAP to have this functionality added to Webi. You can vote for this idea here.
- Freehand SQL queries: I’ve never been a big fan of this, as it defeats the whole purpose of having universes, and also creates maintenance nightmares. But there is some value for it in a test environment. This idea has been submitted to SAP here, and it is currently under review.
- Save as RTF, TXT, HTML: Currently, Webi can save as Excel, PDF, or Webi only.
- Edit List of values: In Deski, users could edit a List of Values for a universe object, so that it would only display the values that are valuable to them.
- List of values in formula editor: In Deski, when creating a formula, you can select values for a particular object, from a list, provided in the formula editor. This idea has been accepted by SAP, and should appear in a future version of Webi.
- Center on page: Deski has a Page Layout option to center a block, or cell, on the page, between the margins.
- VBA Macros: Deski support Visual Basic macros. I don’t know if Webi ever will support this, but I suspect it will support some kind of programming language in the future.
- Delete multiple tabs simultaneously: This seems like such a simple thing, but Webi still doesn’t have this capability.
- Export multiple documents simultaneously: That’s right. In Webi, we can only export documents to the repository one at a time.
- Create a variable in it’s current context: In Deski, we could create a variable from a formula, and lock in the current context of the formula, even if it was not explicitly included in the formula.
- Support for all installed fonts: Webi uses it’s own font library, not the Windows fonts. So, unlike Deski, we can’t add additional fonts to Webi. An idea has been submitted to this here.
- Schedule to a printer: I realize that printing is becoming more and more obsolete, but it isn’t there yet. Deski reports could be scheduled to print automatically. Webi reports cannot.
- Automatic custom sort for month names and weekday names: Deski has built in custom sorts for Months and Weekdays.
So there you have it. As far as I know, that’s a complete list of features that Webi is still missing from Deski. If you know of more, please mention them in the comments below.
Webi Features that never existed in Deski
- Track Data Changes: Allows you to see the difference between two different refreshes of a document, and compare the results.
- Hyperlinking Wizard: You can create an OpenDocument link in about 5 minutes, as opposed to the days or weeks spent doing this in Deski.
- Most built in formulas: Webi has more built-in formulas than Deski. These formulas come in the way of standalone cells that you can simply drag onto your report.
- Save as Excel with 65K+ rows: You can save a Webi document to the Excel 2007 format, which allows for over 1 million rows in a single worksheet.
- Add temporary values to custom sort: When creating a custom sort, you can add values that are missing, to the sort, so that, when they eventually show up on the report, they will sort in the correct order.
- Box chart: A new chart in Webi that allows you to see a measure at five different data points across a dimension.
- Tag cloud chart: A new chart in Webi that allows you to easily compare two measures against a single dimension.
- Heat map chart: A new chart in Webi. It’s the equivalent of a crosstab table, but in chart format.
- Bubble chart: A new chart in Webi that compares two measures against a single dimension, in an easy to read format.
- Optional Prompts: Prompts created in the query can be marked as optional, allowing users to ignore the prompts, if they wish.
- Display query summary on report: Webi has a QuerySummary function that allows you to easily display information about the query on the report.
- Inner join between queries: Webi’s Merge Dimension feature allows you to choose how the data is displayed on the report. It doesn’t have to be a full outer join, like in Deski,
- Query Drill: Allows you to keep your data set small, while drilling through large amounts of data.
- Drill in InfoView: Webi document, of course, can enter drill mode in InfoView (BI Launchpad). Deski documents cannot.
- Edit in InfoView: Webi documents can be easily edited in InfoView (BI Launchpad), by anyone who has permission.
- Alternate row shading: We used to have to do some slight-of-hand with variables to get this to work in Deski. But Webi has it built in.
- Input Controls: This allows for user interaction in the reports, making What-if analysis quite simple. It also make it easy to build powerful dashboards in Webi.
- Advanced formatting rules: That’s the new name for Alerters. Webi’s Formatting Rules editor allows for more powerful options, including using formulas in the rule.
- Publish as a BI Service: Individual blocks in Webi can be published as a Web Service that can be consumed by other BI applications.
- Compatible with Live Office: Report parts form Webi documents can be consumed by Live Office, allowing integration with MS Office.
- Compatible with BI Widgets: Webi report parts can be consumed by BI Widgets, allowing them to be dropped onto the desktop as standalone objects.
- BEx queries: Webi can run queries directly against BEx queries.
- Query stripping: Allows for the automatic removal of objects from a query against an OLAP cube, that do not directly contribute to the report(s).
- Synchronize drill on report blocks: When drilling on one report block, other blocks on the same report can drill at the same time, staying in sync.
As far as I know, that’s everything that Webi offers over and above what Deski had. If you know of any others, feel free to mention them in the comments, below.
So there you have it. By my count, Webi wins, 24 to 14. While there are still some features missing from Webi, there aren’t that many, and hopefully, none of them will be show stoppers for you.