Improve Your Web Intelligence Report Layouts with Relative Positioning

  • by Jim Brogden, Senior Consultant, Daugherty Business Solutions
  • August 3, 2011
Effective SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence report design is generally measured by a user's level of satisfaction with their ability to efficiently analyze business data in a report. The likelihood of success improves greatly when reports are designed for a particular group of users and a specific purpose. Among the key factors to consider when designing reports include the placement and relative position of elements on the report canvas, customization of formatting properties, and adjustment of page layout settings.
Key Concept

The relative position property gives ad hoc users and report writers the capability to connect data tables and charts to maintain a uniformed and synced appearance when the size of the data set changes. Without careful attention to the relative position property of report elements, your reports could eventually encounter layering issues, large empty gaps, or a combination of both as users filter and drill into data on the report panel.

Similar to dashboard design, the style and format of charts and tables on a Web Intelligence report play a major role in user acceptance because of Web Intelligence’s capability to easily change the volume of data being analyzed. Because users have the ability to interact with data on-the-fly and manipulate reports in so many different ways, the amount of content being analyzed can jump from only a few rows to several thousand in a single click. While viewing reports, users have the capability to apply filters, drill to details, fold or unfold groups and breaks, and control the on-screen results with input controls.

Knowing how report users draw on data in Web Intelligence is critical when deciding how to display it. Questions to ask when creating reports include:

  • Should reports be designed for printing or used for analysis only?
  • Will reports be exported to PDF or Excel for portable distribution?
  • Is your audience internal or external to the organization?

These questions should be considered in order to effectively design with the business user in mind. Let’s look at these three questions in more detail.

Jim Brogden

Jim Brogden is a senior consultant specializing in SAP BusinessObjects and data visualization for Daugherty Business Solutions in Atlanta, GA. He’s the lead author of the first official book dedicated to Web Intelligence covering version XI 3.1 and the SAP PRESS book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.0 – 2nd Edition, a blogger on, a BusinessObjects Certified Professional, award-winning Xcelsius dashboard designer, ASUG volunteer, and active contributor at SAP’s Idea Place. You may view Jim’s profile on LinkedIn at and follow him on Twitter @jhbrogdenjr.

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