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Everything is moving…

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So here I am sitting in the train from Mannheim to Hannover central station listening to some music from Interpol and finally be able to relax a little bit. The last days were really exiting and I am glad that I was able to participate in this event. Here is my attempt to sum up all the stuff I saw during the conference.

19th April

Keynote + Enterprise Service Architecture

The keynote were closely related to the talk Shai Agassi gave at the accelerated change conference (unfortunately I listened to it on my way from Hannover to Walldorf so some things were not new to me). It was about how important transparency in the business is and of course that companies are living in a constant changing environment and that the time to build new services have to go down. He also stated that in the past SAP has not concentrated on clear separation between the model and the UI side. This will change now and the evidence can be found everywhere. Furthermore there will be a strong focus on UI pattern with the goal that the users work in an environment which they are always familiar with.

There was also a demo of the Visual Composer v7.1.3 showing how you generate a simple UI interface and get content from the backend system. It has to be mentioned that the Visual Composer is a tool which heavily relies on standard pattern on the backend and in the frontend.

From Web Services to Enterprise Services

At first I was surprised that they used a Mac for their presentation. No, they didn’t have their white ipod earphones on 😉 The session began with a nice introduction what web services are all about. I am glad they did that because I am still a newbie in this area. Web services can be seen as single or composed application functionalities which can be accessed from everywhere and are completely independent from every programming language. He talked about how companies will start to produce and sell special services for special industry areas. They also talked about the enterprise service repository which enables you to store your services in a single location and will be available next year.

There were two demos. The first one showed how you can create a web service using an already existing function module by generation a so called virtual interface. The second one showed how you can do it the other way around. At first you create the Web Service interface with a modelling tool and then you have to put logic into the automatically created function module. This approach is similar to test-driven-development which is nice. Both demos used ABAP.

ABAP Webdynpro

There were some “Why ABAP Performs Better in Portal Development than Java” – Hmmm about the role of the ABAP Webdynpro in the community last week and especially BSP developers were really looking forward for this one. When I arrived in the room it was already packed and there were even some people who sat on the floor during the presentation. Dirk did a nice presentation and were able to clarify most of the questions which were raised in the weblog. The ABAP webdynpro clearly separates the UI from the model layer. The IDE now has lots of nice wizards which allow you to connect the UI controller and the model of your application easily. Furthermore you do not need to write GUI code anymore. Most of the stuff is now done via a editing tool which allows you to build the UI similar to the one you know from Microsoft Visual Studio. But by providing some kind of treemodel it is still possible to modify the UI dynamically at runtime. There is also a tight integration of the adobe pdf tool which allows you to design adobe interactive forms inside the SE80, cool stuff. The webdynpro has really some advantages for example it supports personalisation, you get nice F4 helpbuttons, it is possible to prefill inputfields with values based on a specific user similar to user variants in the classical sap dynpro. It was also mentioned that there is a tool which ports BSP views over to webdynpro views. Of course all logic in the view will be lost. Since I am a test-freak I was glad that there will be an eCATT tool for the ABAP Webdynpro which should help to automate testing of your use-cases via the UI.

At the end Dirk spoke about the relationship between ABAP Webdynpro and BSP applications. He made clear that both of them have there advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand the webdynpro is the new standard UI but since you have to build the view with a tool it is not as flexible as the BSP ones (for example no custom javascripts). On the other hand BSP applications give you all the freedom which is harder to learn because there are so many possibilities and so many different technologies. Furthermore with the Webdynpro it should be more easily to establish a standard look and feel of your applications. So there is no right thing and you have to choose wisely regarding the problem you have to solve.

SAP Netweaveer programming models

This session began with some simple slides and then transformed into a Q&A session. In his talk Karl tried to differentiate the importance of ABAP and Java in the SAP world. Some questions were asked:

Q:How to get the portal to look like the companies corporate identity
A:This can be done with is stylesheet editor which allows you to change the stylesheet of your portal. All the necessary changes can be done via the stylesheets.

Q:Support of classic ABAP dynpro controls like the alv grid? Some important controls are missing.
A:No further development strategic decision to focus on web controls because they are more flexible to use for example it is easier to combine controls.

Q:Regular expression support in the ABAP language
A:Not available at the moment but it will discussed with the language group

Q:UML Support for eclipse
A:There is a plugin from borland which can be used -> not for free

Demo Jam

The demo jam was similar to the one you can see on sdntv. I only present the demos which I found interesting:

Virtual machine container

Really cool technology watch the demo jam from TechEd San Diego and see for yourself

Netweaver administrator

The difference between the Visual administrator and the new one is that the netweaver administrator is more centered around applications. So you have some really valuable search and logging features. The demo itself did not impress me but the idea is pretty cool.

Adobe forms

Matthias Zeller built a complete application in 8 minutes which was impressive. Furthermore he showed how easy it is to transform an existing pdf document into one which can be used to sent data over the web. I see lots of potential areas where my company could use this technology. If you got interested take a look at this video (Adobe interactive forms).

New ABAP IDE

Finally the ABAP developer workbench will transform from a simple “notepad” into a modern IDE which has all the nice features like codefolding, syntax highlighting in many different colours, customization, code templates, auto completion, in-editor table descriptions,… It was told that in two weeks there will an SAPGUI addon which brings some of these features. Unfortunately I am pretty sure that auto completion will be not in this package because it should require server-side changes as well.

Visual Composer

The second demo I saw about this tool and I am getting more and more interested into it. But I am still not sure how it should be used in a company or who should use it? The demo itself was nice and showed have it is possible to use more than one data model and how the data combination is being done.

20th April

SDN feedback session

The important stuff:

  • Still impressive how fast the response times in the forums are. For example in the ABAP forum you will get the first response after ~22 minutes. Hey BSP guys we have to beat this time, just kidding 😉
  • Fill out your business cards and use them. But be careful your e-mail addresses are not spam protected at the moment.
  • Subscribe to your favourite weblog author or weblog topic.
  • Like Piers already mentioned it is planned to offer some sort of wikipedia for code examples and other nice things.
  • Feature requests: Sticky posts, Direct links from SDN to OSS notes, let the SDN members decide which new features should be implemented first

Composite application framework

The idea behind the CAF is that you have many different applications which you can combine to compose applications. The applications are very process orientated and are using the service oriented architecture. There was a demo which showed an application which allowed you to make plan your travel. The nice thing about this application was that it consisted of normal SAP components but it was also shown that it is possible to integrate an external application like the online booking site from an airline into your own application. Of course, this is nothing groundbreaking but the combination of a well defined process within the application and the ability to integrate external application as well should lead to some cool stuff.

“We will now arrive at Hannover central station…”

At the end I just want to say thanks to all the people who made this event possible and I can’t wait for the next one. I am out.

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