Panorama/Google Docs Tutorial

Following on from my recent post regarding the Google/Panorama tie up, I’ve found a tutorial which guides you through the process of creating pivot tables in Google Docs.

It’s very easy to use and adds another dimension to your standard spreadsheet pivot table.


Adobe Air and Business Objects Widgets

I’ve been reading more and more about Adobe Air. This is an application which allows developers to deliver rich internet applications using popular web technologies such as AJAX, HTML, Flash and Flex.

Of particular interest is how this can be intergrated with data sources coming out from Business Objects. Head over to the Business Objects Labs and you will find a few examples (here and here) of Business Objects/Xcelcius integrating with Air. It is worth taking a look.

For those that haven’t come across the Business Objects labs beofre, it is well worth paying them a visit. They are working on a number of potentially useful developments, some of which find themselves incorporated into a full release. I particularly like the Business Objects Mashup which integrates Business Objects data with Google Maps. Not sure how they decide what gets put into a future release, but if you liek something in their labs, it won’t do any harm letting them know!

SABE410 exam pass – BOCP-BOE Certified

Good news (for me anyway). I recently passed the SABE410 exam.

Having passed the SABE210 and SABE310 exams, this now makes me (to give it it’s full title):

Business Objects Certified Professional – Business Objects Enterprise (BOCP-BOE)

Those that have read my previous blog entries will know that I prepared for this exam using a combination of e-learning courses, reading of Business Objects guides and real world experience. I commented that I felt tat the e-learning courses, as well as the classroom based courses were expensive, particularly when you compare their cost against other IT courses. I still feel that to be the case.

To give Business Objects credit, the e-learning courses themselves are well written, with plenty of subject material and sample exercises at the end. They covered the whole syllabus in a logical fashion and did help with my learning.

However, I felt that the SA410 e-learning course was poor value, particularly as there was a lot of material duplicated from the SA210 and SA310 courses. Not having a physical document to read away from the computer was also a negative point.

The final exam (SABE410) itself is different to the first two exams. It is more real world, with perhaps less emphasis on the technical aspects. However, it is important that you don’t go in blind. Read the syllabus and make sure you are familiar with all the concepts that may be presented in this exam.

I’ve seen posts in various forums asking whether the BOCP can be gained without taking the e-learning or classroom based courses. This is certainly a question I asked before I took my studies. To be honest, I think you may struggle with the first two exams without some form of learning material. SABE310 was particularly technical, as this covers all of the BOE services. The syllabus highlights these services, along with the parameters that can be set and the command line options. Now I have been working with Business Objects products for many many years, and have been using the admin side of XI for about three years. However, this ‘real world’ experience does not prepare you sufficiently for the exam. I have always found that if I needed to tweak a process, I would read a page or two on it, and change the relevant parameter. More often than not, I found you didn’t have to change default parameters.

However, this is were the whole exam process/learning experience comes into play. I am now familiar with all the processes/services and what they do. I know what the parameters are, and I know what effects they can have on the rest of the system. I am now also familiar with sizing and performance of specific processes. I can now, with confidence, troubleshoot issues far more quickly, from memory, than my previous years of experience. In terms of planning, I covered most aspects of content plans, DR plans, etc. during my normal work. However, overall, there is much I will take from this.

This is important. These exams aren’t just about memorising facts, only to be forgotten once you walk out of the exam room. You really do pick up a lot of useful information which you can use time and time again in various client scenarios. I always thought that I knew quite a lot about Business Objects. Having taken the BOCP, I will be able to offer a higher level of technical knowledge to my clients than I previously thought possible.

Back to the original question: Is it possible to pass these exams without taking the official courses? Well, following the exams I reviewed the various technical guides available from Business Objects Support (I believe these are free). And, you will be happy to know, that all the material you are assessed on in the exams can be found in these guides. Note however, that the syllabus content is spread across, and in cases, duplicated, across several guides. Therefore, using the guides themselves to prepare for the exams will require effort and patience. Make extensive notes and don’t leave anything to chance. If your company is willing to pay for these courses, by all means take them. It will make your learning experience far better and easier. If you are having to take exams yourselves out of your own pocket, then use the guides and study hard. If you can stetch to one e-learning course, I’d go for the SA310. Don’t waste your money on the SA410 course. And at the end of the day, if you fail the exam, do not worry. You are able to retake the exam after five days (you have to pay the fee again I believe).
To all those that are planning on taking the BOCP exams – go ahead. They will enrich you. If you put in the effort and back it up with practical work, you will be in a much stronger technical position in the real world.

Good luck!

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