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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.

“Website–like 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.

Three levels of navigation (done with the easy-to-use Navigation Taglib):

New possibilities with the Tray Taglib:

Nota Bene

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!

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  1. Pankaj Kumar
    You got me hooked man. Only once I have been exited like this for a new portal release and it was the 6.0 release.

    Waiting for the brave new world.


  2. Gregor Wolf
    Hi Sven,

    does the EFP support BSP and WebGUI IViews? How is the connection to backends made? Do I have to expose them to the internet via a reverse proxy or SAP Web Dispatcher or is it now possible to call a BSP or WebGUI with the Portal URL?`


    1. Sven Kannengiesser Post author
      as I remember Ido Hacohen (PM, speaker at TechEd) mentioned a SAP Note, which lists the limitations of EFP. Unfortunately I don’t have the number at hand.

      The main reason why some content might not work is the lack of the permanent top-frame, and thus the session management is hampered. But maybe if you write your framework in the way that you have a top and an inner frame (like in the standard, thus do without some web-like features like “F5 refresh”) things might work out fine.

      But remember that the main scenario of EFP is to expose mostly static, public content for web users who in a second step log in and get the full featured standard framework where everything works as expected and intended.

      I think, that specific applications need to be tested with EFP one by one.  Then you’ll have the answer.


  3. Harsh Chawla
    During the migration process problems have been reported for this blog. The blog content may look corrupt due to not supported HTML code on this platform. Please adjust the blog content manually before moving it to an official community.
  4. okke van 't verlaat
    Looking great and might be just what I was looking for. Can you provide a kind of premature ‘howto’ so others get some more technical insights?

    Another question, you mentioned KM iViews but how about other business packages like ESS/MSS?

      1. Axel Radack
        Hi Sven,

        I would like to enable the light portal / external facing portal.

        I created in the display main_rules a new rule
        If URL alias = http://portalserver:50000/irj/portal/light
        THEN Portal Desktop = pcd:portal_content/every_user/general/lightDesktop

        The access via /light alias is working, however, it seems that “light” is not enabled as objects are the same – size the same – URL property feature (as described in the slides isn’t working) – Browser back/forward isn’t working ….

        Do I need anything else to enable the light portal? How do I check if it is working or not?

        Many thanks in advance,

        1. Sven Kannengiesser Post author
          I think I know what your problem is: you cannot define a Portal Alias by simply using it, you’d have to edit the web.xml first (…/irj/root/WEB-INF/web.xml).  Here you define each alias that is to be used by the portal, and to where it points with which ‘attributes’.  Once you’ve edited it you need to restart the server.
          1. Axel Radack
            Hi Sven,

            thanks for the hint with portal/light. Now it is working. I didn’t had to edit the alias.xml file it was working without.

            Thanks !

        2. Sven Kannengiesser Post author
          Oh no! Wait! I said something wrong yesterday.
          I’ve seen now where your problem is.  You wrote the following:
              If URL alias = http://portalserver:50000/irj/portal/light
          Instead try this:
              If URL alias = portal/light

          Examples for Portal Aliases are:

          The corresponding URLs would be:

          Got the point?

  5. Davide Cavallari
    Hi Sven,

    thanks for introducing me to SPS 14, it seems so interesting!

    For what concerns the website-like behavior, you mention search engine indexing. Could you explain this feature? Does it mean it’ll be possible to index iView content?


    1. Sven Kannengiesser Post author
      Ciao Davide!
      The answer is simple: by having a “flat” framework whose navigation links are rendered with simple HTML anchor tags (like Sventola) and not as “Javascript links” (anchor tags with a dummy href and an onclick=”EPCM.doNavigate(‘ROLES://…’)”) the search engines are able to crawl through your public portal.
  6. Steffen Bunzel
    Hi Sven,

    thanks for these insights! Some of the points have been really nasty in the past. Now I am excited and am awaiting SPS14 and I am curious how clients may use the new features.

    All the best,

  7. Peggy Klinger
    Thanks for the information.  Our problem is that we have over 4 million customers so purchasing the licenses for an external-facing portal is prohibitive at this time.  Hopefully SAP will come up with some creative ways to get around that!!
    1. Sven Kannengiesser Post author
      Hi Peggy,
      I have spoken with some colleagues, since I myself didn’t know how the pricing for external communities is modelled.
      The answer is – after all – simple: the licensing issues are in this case mainly dealt with on project base.
      Please ask your local sales representative for more explanations!
    1. Sven Kannengiesser Post author
      Short answer: if you build your framework + content in a way that can be handled by your PDA, why not? But, there is no out-of-the-box support for PDAs.
  8. Hi Sven,
    these new features are absolutely cool!!! I tryed to rebuild TLN in order to show it like in EP5 portal, that is with all the navigation tabs aligned to center insted of left. All works fine if I use navigation byURL, but if I simply change it using navigation byEPCM, the navigation is performed, but TLN is not updated. Maybe I have to add more code. Do you have any clue?

    many thanks

  9. Manuel Bernal
    Hi Sven,
    We are developing a custom-based solution, but also have static content, and I was wondering if we coulf use the “light” version for this content, layout, etc. And the standard version of the portal for the other functions.

    Tks !!!

      1. Sumanth Thunga
        Hi Sven,

        I am trying to get the answer for the above question.

        We are buiding an EFP and we want to avoid the display of the Query String and place a Text appears on the Title of TLN.

        We changed the Light TLN but not compleately and only the alignment.

        Even i posted a request in forum for this.
        /thread/555986 [original link is broken]

        Please Suggest is it possible with some configuration or some other way?

        Thanks & Regards

  10. Christophe BRETON
    Hi Sven,

    Thanks for your blog which was a very usefull help for developping a three levels navigation iview. The other possiblities are also a great source of ideas.

    Unfortunately, I have a question concerning the third level : is it possible to have only items composed by worksets with the selection of the first one. After one day of research, it seems to be not possible, and the only solution is to add a “welcome” page for the third level items.

    Can you confirm that point ?

    Christophe BRETON.
    Technical (French) Consultant


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