How and Why to Use Notations in WebI Reports

We’re all familiar with one of the most widely used software applications on the planet, Excel, right? It’s also the most widely used Business Intelligence tool.

We love how easy it is to right-click on a cell and leave a note that stays with the cell for future users to see. Beyond the ease of use, the functionality allows all the users to see the comment, it’s exact location within the document/report and allows others working within the same document to utilize the comments to make fixes and address issues right in the document, saving time…our most precious commodity.

So, here’s how you use the Commentary function in WebI. I’ve included step-by-step instructions below:

  • Right-click on a cell.
  • Add a comment.

Done. The world’s shortest blog.

Now, there’s a little more to it, obviously, and you can check out one of our other blogs for more detail, but SAP has done a pretty good job of making the basic use of this option pretty simple. Once you click on the commenting button on the toolbar (icon of two speech bubbles), you just right-click and go.

What You Need to Know About Commenting in WebI

Comments are shown in the commentary panel on the left of then screen. Multiple comments can be added to the same cell and are all displayed in the left-hand dialog box. Comments can be made not only on tables but charts and report blocks as well. The commentary service is only available in “Reading” mode or “Design with Data” mode.

Note that if you change the context in cells, comments made on that cell remain in the Comments Panel. If the comments are no longer relevant/necessary, you’ll have to delete the column and create a new one with the new data. Also note you can’t comment in a report header, body or footer unless you create an empty cell.

If you run across issues with Comments regarding filters, hierarchies, drilling or scheduling documents, check out this short WebI Commentary help document.

Best Uses During Report Development

So, what are the best uses? If you’re creating a report that spans multiple business units, this can be invaluable. “Does inventory include returns?” “Can we move this column?” Since Comments can be added to charts as well, those bugs can be worked out early in report design. “Can this be a geo map?” “Can we add a heat map of store traffic here?” Users from any of the business units can provide data questions or design suggestions throughout the process, all within the WebI format. The input can be provided right at the source of the question, minimizing explanations and meetings over smaller issues.

No email is needed to pose a question (separating the context of information). Also, Commentary shows the sequence of comments, displaying the how and why changes came about.

During Report Consumption/Analysis

Commentary is useful during the distribution of a completed report as well. For folks reading a report, Comments usually revolve around answering the most common BI question: “Why?” explaining why a number is higher or lower. “Shouldn’t revenue be higher?” “Our sales are below budget because…” This saves the most valuable asset, time. When multiple decision makers are reviewing the same report independently, the context of the numbers is instantly available and stays with the report. This increases understanding, reduces repetitive siloed communication (normally email) and ultimately improves business decision making.

Tips and Tricks: Printing Your Comments

A workaround for viewing/printing comments is making use of the new Comment() function to display a cell’s comment as a string. If you create some blank space in the report for comments, then report viewers can add their comments and have them all show up in the report, even when it is printed.


Regardless of the stage in the process, Commentary has high business value in both time and effort, saving time during report design by keeping the project on track and keeping developers from getting too far down a path that would otherwise change after much work was done. Reports can be done better and quicker and readers can get answers to data questions without leaving the context of Web Intelligence.

If this blog didn’t quite answer your question or you have other Business Intelligence questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

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