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Author's profile photo Christopher Solomon

Dynamic Roles : Maybe I’m a Visionary or Maybe I am just blissfully unaware….

Dynamic portal roles? Mmmmm now there’s a thought….or at least a thought I thought to myself….huh?. Ok Follow me here….

Today while pouring through all available EP documentation I could get my grubby hands on for the up-teenth time to get a better grasp on the whole “Delegtated Administration” aspect of EP6.0, my mind began to conjure up some “what if” scenarios. Now….before I begin, let me say, I have not “yet” seen this in any documentation nor “yet” had the requirement to actually implement it for a client, but I thought “wow…that’d be cool”. Soooooo if it can be done, let me know how. If it can’t be done…my patent papers are in the mail already. =)

Anyways, the focus of this blog is the thought I had around “dynamic roles”. What if you(the portal, I mean) could add, delete, or modify roles “on the fly” for users? (and yes, I hear the grumble now…”but why would you ever want to do that?”). Stay with me here…what if depending on not only WHO I was and WHAT I did, but WHERE I was and HOW I got there, would my “role(s)” transform itself accordingly. With me? Ok…here are some “what if” simple scenarios…you tell me how you would handle them…

(1) WHERE scenario:
Suppose, I am an employee on the go. I work in the Atlanta office (ATL represent!). As such, along with my nice ESS and “myWork” top level Navigation, I have a “Atlanta” tab. Under this tab is possibly all kinds of links to info all about that office (bathroom locations, phone directory, events bulletins,etc) and my cube/office location there. Now suppose I had to go to the Chicago office. When I logged into the portal, wouldn’t it be nice if that “Atlanta” tab was now replaced with a “Chicago” tab because the portal knew where I was (either via my IP or location info in the NDS/ADS) ? Now take this idea a step further….suppose I am a consultant….my “Atlanta” and/or “Chicago” tab and underlying links might be quite limited in comparison to a regular employee….ie. they don’t tell me the location of the fridge full of free soda.(haha). Either way, for the “where” scenario, more than just “info” I might have access to different data sources or services as well (suppose Chicago had a legacy database that only they wanted folks accessing there).

(2) HOW scenario:
Again, Mr.Employee-on-the-Go is at work in Atlanta. There he can access all information he needs…customer lists, sales reports, phone numbers and emails to everything, company documents, etc. Now, Mr.Employee goes on the road and decides to login from one of those convenient kiosks at the airport. Now, wouldn’t it be nice if the portal could “see” that he is outside the company walls and then modify his access accordingly….sorry, Mr. Emplopyee no longer able to run that report of all customers with contacts and sales from them over the past 5 yrs. You only get today’s top orders for your customer lists. Also, no access to “Project X” documentaion being secretly worked on by the Sales dept. for the last several months. But what changed? Same user/pword….same ol’ Mr. Employee….it’s just “the Portal knows”. (muuuwwwhahahhaha). Again, to take this even further….what if the portal could also tell if Mr.Employee is coming in off a big ol’ pipe or over the tiny little wires of his dial-up account and adjust even further on the fly? He gets a portal desktop that’s lighter than Workplace Light! Wouldn’t that be nice!

(3) WHERE scenario#2:
FIRST this is NOT a data authorization example, so let’s keep it off of that…I know fine and well how that works(ok..ok….semi-fine and half-way well). Anyways, suppose Mr.Employee is working away in Atlanta and uses the good ol’ “Who’s Who” service to look up employees. Now for those in the US, he sees everything. Due to data privacy laws, however, when he looks up UK employees, some information is not displayed (some genius HR configurator handled that by personnel area or employee subgroup or some other fancy HR mechanism. So anyways, at that data level, we are all fine and dandy. Now Mr. Employee goes over to the UK on business and is in the office there (he got his nifty “London” tab from scenario#1 above). Now when he pulls up “Who’s Who” however due to UK privacy laws, it won’t show him the “private” information for any employees regardless. (hey, data privacy laws are still fast-and-loose, so we’re just trying to comply across the board. haha). So because the portal knows he is in the UK it has adjusted access accordingly….not data level…but the displayed iView itself (sure we could build one page for the US and one for UK and one for XYZ etc. but what if we want one page that will dyamically place the iView accordingly….our friend, Mr.Re-Use!). Again, that would kinda be cool, no?

Ok, so maybe I am just day-dreaming, or maybe I am hitting pay-dirt….maybe I’m just a (soon-to-be) legend in my own mind. I’d like to hear your opinions as well as possible solutions for the above scenarios (or any you want to add as well). This is NOT a “hey solve my requirements for my current client that I am billing for me” free-for-all. I just want to get a discussion going. Thanks for reading… first web-blog here…woo whoo!

Christopher “HERC” Solomon (currently pursuing my career as an “Instant Winner”)

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      Author's profile photo Mark Finnern
      Mark Finnern
      ... from the GPS system that will be included in more and more cell phones. Of course only if the user shares that information.

      That sharing should be made possible very granularly. Yes I share my location with the SAP system for better user experience when logging on remotely, no I don't want to broadcast my location to the world.

      Nice thought experiment, Mark.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I think many of the things you write about are already there.  For example there was a blog a couple of months ago about the portal identifying the connection speed of the users and changing the content accordingly that is not sending everything that the user has access to if the user is working on a slow connection.  The thing with where the user is logged in you can write that into the code for iviews and have a page/role with local information which either change automatically depending on your location (Ip address within a company network) or you could pick your location from a list and with client side eventing get updated iviews on that page that are focused on that location.  This can be within a building, state, country or continent really.

      This type of visionary thinking is exciting and the portal has the potential to really change the way we work towards a more intelligent and focused way.  Now if I could only get customers that are willing to fork out the money to implement something exciting like this and then find and keep the developers needed then I will be a very happy man.

      Author's profile photo Christopher Solomon
      Christopher Solomon
      Blog Post Author
        I have to slightly argue this with you (just for fun...haha). As you mention, yes, it is all very "possible", BUT would require some customization (the ol' time & money equation, no?). I was speaking to more of a ready-to-go set of features for the portal. I have read the older article you mentioned about detecting a dial-up user and that is kinda what I meant, but even deeper still than just limiting say the size or number of images and fancy fonts and such that are displayed. Believe me (and here is where you an I definately agree), I just wish I could get clients to fully grasp what the "portal" idea is all about and get some developers in there to make it happen for a client with the vision to make it a reality. Seems more times than not here lately, I run into the following from a client "yes, we really want to implement ESS but from what we have seen we can use ITS for that. But we also want MSS too, so we are going to implement SAP Portals" [and yes, they always say "portal-S"...thanks for that confusion least they didn't say "we want to build a City of E" haha]. Then when I ask what else they plan to integrate via the portal platform and will this architecture be open to business partners and customers alike, their eyes glaze over a bit and they respond "nope...we're putting Portals (yes again with the "s") in just for HR". Arggg! But steadfastly onward I march, just like all of you, and attempt to spread the evangelical word of the Enterprise Portal. (haha) We'll all get their one day.....soon I hope. =)
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      You are right about the costs of implementing and developing this by doing custom made iviews is expensive at the moment but that will change.  With tools such as the Guimachine and more ready to use iviews from SAP things will change for the better.  I must be a little critical of SAP in saying that the number of iviews based on the latest technology (htmlb/webdynpro) is disappointing.  I would also like to see a development plan into the future by SAP where they state which iviews they are developing and when we can expect them since that would help us in convincing the customer to either wait or go for custom development right away.  There is a little lack of communication here that could be solved by a site like the SDN and up to date information on what is going on behind the "closed" doors at SAP Portal development team.  The new infrastructure has been the priority for sure and it´s looking good from what I´ve been able to look at but the applications themselves can be developed in parallel and there SAP needs more resources or communcation to us.  I dont want to be too negative though, I think SAP is doing an overall great job on the portal strategy and infrastructure development and the future looks bright. 

      Bjorn V.

      Author's profile photo Christopher Solomon
      Christopher Solomon
      Blog Post Author
        You hit another nail on the head! In fact, I just had a client asking me these same things today! (1) "we are not on 4.7 nor plan to be till maybe next year....what new iViews will we be able to use?" (2) the ol' "when is SAP releasing new iView for *xyz* functionality?" question. Yep, Bjorn, with you on all counts. And I do agree...I am all for the focus on building the underlying infrastructure for we can create all the wonderful things on top of it and look like the heroes! (haha) Also, as you pointed out, a bit more direction from SAP would be nice as far as their future application development plans. Right now, I can "see" the documentation (power points and pdf's) all around about the almost complete transformation of existing classic Dynpro's into WebDynrpo's within the next several months, but I need something a bit more concrete to show clients (yes, the couple of whiz-bang screenshots are neat and all, but need a bit more). Well, SDN is still young and growing, so we will see where it goes. That's the interesting thing about sites like is all of us who in the end will be the drivers to get where we want it to be. =)


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I stumbled onto your blog today. We just hit the 3 and half year mark from when you wrote it and I don't see much progress in realizing your scenarios. Do you?