External Facing Portal? Tell me more!
The External Facing Portal feature enables the implementation of an external (.com) portal that supports website-like behavior and performs well in low-bandwidth networks using the standard SAP NetWeaver platform.
It is designed to allow:
- High performance over low-bandwidth connections
- Reduce network traffic reduce web resources (Java Script files, CSS, HTML)
- Reduce client-server round trips
- Website-like behavior
- Browser functionality support Back, Forward, Refresh, Add to Favorites
- Search engine indexing
- Navigation links like standard URLs (i.e., send by mail)
- Openness to a large variety of browsers
- Easy customization (Custom visualization / HTML usage)
- Customizing navigation iViews
- Customizing iView trays
- Customizing framework page
Those of you who attend(ed) TechEd will know! It’s terrific! And have you seen the speed with which you navigate through the portal? Whishhhh…. Wow!!!
What are the ingredients?
“High performance over low-bandwidth connections” is achieved with the following means:
- Resource sensitive page builder: the page builder includes only those resources (JS, CSS) that are really needed by the content.
- External Framework Page: the framework page is flat meaning that there is no iFrame for the inner page and navigation ‘happens’ in the top frame. Plus: the navigation now supports HTTP GET requests, which in turn facilitates browser cache utilization and thus results in faster page load.
- Short (Hashed) Navigation URLs: the use of hashed “NavigationTargets” reduces bandwidth.
- Server-Side Navigation Cache: in order to speed up the performance the navigation trees can be cached on the server.
“Websitelike behavior” :
- External Framework Page: because navigation is done in the top frame, the URL of the page changes from (navigation) click to click. This makes it possible to use browser built-in features like “Add to favorites”, “Back”, “Forward”, “F5-Refresh”, and so on.
- Navigation by URL: as said above the URL changes from page to page, which allows to achieve a better website-like behavior of the EFP.
- Navigation quick links: these are URL shortcuts you can define to get directly to any page that is defined deep down in the navigation.
“Easy customization” means that with the two new taglibs for navigation and trays you can design the Look&Feel of the portal in almost any way you want. See the image below for a teaser.
Are there drawbacks?
Yes. Due to technical restrictions some sort of content does not work well or at all with the full-flexed EFP: e.g. KM and Collaboration Rooms. But hopefully SAP will come up with workarounds/solutions for that in the future.
What does it look like?
This weekend I had the chance to play around a bit with a pre-version of SPS 14 (after all, I work at SAP and get beta glimpses earlier than others…). See what I have achieved so far in no time:
Note that there are three levels of navigation displayed in the TLN, the framework page is flat and thus the URL of the current page shows up in the address bar, and the iView trays are not only “more sophisticated” in terms of appearance, but are also displayed with different colors per column. I only had to give some “touches” to the original iViews/pages/layouts.
The Standard Framework Page is still around and should be used per default for usual portal scenarios. The EFP is just a flavor of the standard portal, mainly intended for external and public portals. It doesn’t come out-of-the-box and ready-to-use. Instead, it is to be understood as a tool kit with a set of features that allow you to develop an EFP of your own. An example desktop will be part of the shipment though, and can be used as the starting point for further development.
Remember also that it is not sufficient to make the framework lightweight. You also must consider delivering leightweight content to the user! Otherwise the positive effects of the EFP will wear out.
Ahh, what a brave new world… I tell ya!