To my great delight, I returned from lunch one day to find a new box of SAP software sitting in my chair. Its always a good day when you receive new software, but this was something extra special. I finally had my hands on the full Netweaver 04 installation media. For over a year now since first getting a glimpse of what Netweaver 04 had to offer at SAP TechED 2003, I had been looking forward to this day.
My company is just starting to plan for an upgrade project early next year. The thought is to upgrade our Standalone WebAS first from 620 to Netweaver 04 (640) and to do a MDMP to Unicode Conversion. The goal is to complete that upgrade in Q1 of 2005 and roll right into the upgrade of our R/3 system. We will be upgrading from 46C to ERP 2004 (which resides on Netweaver 04). At the same time we will also make the switch from MDMP to Unicode on our R/3 system.
My goal was to install Netweaver 04 ABAP stack on my laptop so that I could get started exploring the new functionality. I also needed to begin preparing 46C to 640 delta training to give to our development team in January. But I am getting a little ahead of myself. What I wanted to do first is just get the system installed. Then I promised myself that for one week, I would take one hour each day and spend that time exploring the system. This weblog is the results of that first week. What follows are the things I found most interesting as I stumbled through the system for the first week. I have included screen shots of the areas that I found most interesting. I hope to take several of these topics and follow them up with more detailed weblogs later after I really get to dig into the new functionality.
Well I started by copying my install media for Windows/MSSQL from the DVDs to my local drive. I then prepared my laptop by creating a new boot partition and installing Windows Server 2003 on it. I was then off and running with a fresh installation of Unicode Netweaver 04.
I opted to go with the ABAP+Java installation. There was a nice guide that came in the installation packet that laid out all your installation options: ABAP only, Java only, ABAP+Java (same instance), ABAP+Java (separate instances). I was mostly interested in the new ABAP functionality so Java only was obviously out of the picture. However I knew that I would eventually be interested in looking fully at the Adobe Forms tool and a Web Service UDDI. Not wanting to miss out on any pieces of this solution that might come from the Java side, I finally decided to go with the ABAP+Java (Later I would tune down the Java personality so that ABAP has almost all the system resources). The next section of the included guide helps you decide what technical components you want to include with your Netweaver installation. After you have your WebAS infrastructure, do you want to install EP, or perhaps MDM. The guide has a nice grid that shows you all your options and the underlying technology that is required. For instance EP requires only the Java personality WebAS. On the other hand, XI requires ABAP+Java. Since I am only after the WebAS itself and not one of the technical components, I really just skipped this part. Although it would be interesting to see if I could come back at some point and add on, say, the XI functionality into my already existing system.
The slightly revamped SAPINST should feel familiar to anyone who has done a few 620 level installations. I thought that the updated tool in 640 did a better job of laying out your installation options and guiding you from major step to major step (First Central Instance, the Database Instance, then Java Add-In). Total installation time on Laptop took about 2 hours. Unfortunately though, I wasn’t nearly finished. The install media I had was cut with no included support stacks. Therefore I had to install support stacks 1 through 9 (actually there were only 6 stacks since 6, 7, and 8 were skipped in order to synchronize the numbering). The application of the support stacks took 3 times as long as the installation did. I am definitely looking forward to a cut of the media that has the support stacks included in the database import. Since this was a Unicode system, I had no problems installing the languages I would be using (Spanish, Thai, Polish, and Chinese). I had my completed and patched system, I was now ready to dig in and have some real fun.
Before I even logged into the system, I noticed some interesting differences right in the SAP MMC console. Once the system was running I had the familiar msg_server.exe and disp+work.exe, but I also was monitoring the igswd.exe. Its nice to see that like the ITS, the IGS has also been closely integrated into the WebAS 640.
BSP being one of my favorite tools in the ABAP toolbox, I headed there first to see if there were any new BSP Extensions. Sure enough there were a few new ones, the most promising being the CRM_BSP_LIBRARY. I have never had the opportunity to work on a CRM system. However everything I have read makes it sound like they have done some interesting things with BSP. I can’t wait to spend a little time paying with their Extensions.
Easy Enhancement Workbench
The next thing I ran across was the easy enhancement workbench. I saw this transaction code on the main menu, but it didn’t really ring a bell. I don’t remember ever reading about it in an article or release notes. So I fired up the transaction and within a few clicks of the mouse I had added an extended field to the Business Partner Object. I hope that this tool in R/3 also covers adding new fields to the material master. If you have ever done this process (see OSS Note 44410 for the steps), you know there is a little more to it than just a few mouse clicks.
BW is another area of the SAP universe where I haven’t spent much time traditionally. I think that is about to change. It appears that BW 3.5 technology components are all present in 640 WebAS. It didn’t choose to include them, nor did I have to complete any additional installation steps. This could provide an opportunity to leverage the BW technology inside a system that isn’t actually functioning as a data warehouse. Of all the BW’s tools, the BEx web designer is the one I am most looking forward to learning about. I guess in the coming weeks I will be spending some time searching SDN for BW information.
Interactive Forms Tool
I have been working with ABAP for a good number of years now. Over those years I have had my fair share of SapScript and SmartForms work. Although the tools have improved over the years, I have always been waiting for that Perfect Forms Tool. Well the Interactive Forms tool (with Adobe Technology) is here. With it I’m that much closer to Forms Nirvana. I’m really looking forward to creating a driver program and form from scratch. That should be the real test as to how powerful the tool really is.
I already had planned to do a WebLog on WebServices written in ABAP WebAS 620 in the very near future. This is near and dear to my heart as our development group has spent the last 6 months developing several new shop floor interfaces using this technology. Now that I have my hands on a 640 system, I plan to include in this weblog, my first attempt to convert this WebService to 640. In my playing I also generated my first ABAP WebService Client Proxy. Within minutes I had a program that was hitting a free public WebService on the Internet that provides random verses from the Bible.
WebDynpro for ABAP
The big warning on this one is that from what I heard at TechEd and on the forums, WebDynpro for ABAP is not released for customer use in Netweaver 04. It will be available in a future release. With that warning aside, I can tell you that the tool is present and available to play with at least. I see this as a positive. Even if SAP isn’t ready to support customers on this tool, this still lets us get in there and begin to learn it. If nothing else, we get to see where the tool is headed. From what I have seen already, I am quite impressed at the potential for WebDynpro ABAP.
Hopefully this if the first of many customer weblogs on their experiences as they upgrade to the Netweaver technology. Whether we are coming from a 46C system or a 620 system, we all have much to learn as we make this transition to Netweaver.