Dieter Bijnens

SAC Application Design - First Impressions

Somewhere in Q1 this year we can expect a promising initial release of SAP Analytics Cloud Application Design (SAC App Design). This is basically Lumira Designer in the cloud with some improvements regarding user friendliness and additional features. Last December we had the opportunity to work with a beta version of SAC App Design during the Partner Test workshop at SAP in Walldorf and it was very impressive. As SAP already communicated last year, the initial release will contain a subset of Lumira Designers’ capabilities and it will take about 2 years before it fully catches up with or surpasses Lumira Designer.

What is SAC App Design exactly?

Let’s start by explaining that SAC App Design is not a way of extending current stories with scripting. Applications and stories are really 2 different artefacts and one cannot be converted in the other. So before starting developments, the decision needs to be made on what road to take, story or application. This is also a big difference with Lumira 2.x where a Lumira Discovery document can be extended with scripting in Lumira Designer. 

The layout and way of working in SAC App Design is really similar to Lumira Designer. It also has the outline, errors and properties (Builder) panel. The way of adding widgets is in SAC App Design the same as in SAC stories, via the toolbar. As for scripting, there are many similarities with Lumira Designer but it does not always have the same syntax e.g. “this“ replaces “me”, and“ console.log“ replaces “APPLICATION.log()“. However this is no issue at all, as again there is input help available via CTRL + SPACE and the scripting contains more genuine JavaScript syntax.

There are also a couple of improvements compared to Lumira Designer. First of all, it naturally has the UI of SAC which does not only look modern but is user friendly as well. Especially some improvements have been made in the area regarding scripting. For instance, you can easily identify what widgets have scripting behind them via the blue Fx button.

It is also possible to work on multiple scripts at the same time or easily copy and paste script between widgets, as the script opens in multiple tabs instead of a popup window.

Future direction: Lumira Designer vs SAC

SAC App Design is not ready yet to replace Lumira Designer as there are a few key features missing which will be released later on (see roadmap down below). One of the key widgets which are not available yet, are containers. These are not only required to create multiple tabs in an application but they are also required to organize and structure widgets in the outline panel, to group them together. With this grouping comes the advantage that scripting can be applied to a whole group in one go instead of on each widget separately.

More extensive applications are usually accompanied by more complexity as well. In order to keep things organized and easy to read, there are a number of other key features needed. One of them is the possibility to reuse script, another one is to have more control over the data sources. At the moment, each widget has its own data source which can really result in performance issues with larger applications. Therefore it is required to be able to control when each data sources needs to be loaded  and what widgets can share the same data source.

The features mentioned in this section are really the must-haves, which are still missing when it comes to creating complex applications. Looking at the roadmap, they are expected to become available in Q2 2019 or the second half of 2019. Apart from that, there are of course more things on the list like styling and bookmarks, but that is mainly a wish list, and not must-haves. As SAP heavily invests in SAC, the developments are expected to go fast and SAC will catch up with Lumira in about 1-2 years. 


Read more about creating interactive R Visualizations in SAP Analytics Cloud or contact McCoy & Partners.

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