Integration experience with IBM Web sphere Portal applications
This weblog will give a technical overview of how a webdynpro based application is integrated with an existing portal running IBM Web sphere portal and its frame work. Under the given circumstances, where in multiple applications already exist under the umbrella of the web sphere portal; we needed to integrate the new application through the same methodology of the others with tight coupling and high cohesiveness.
This paper abstract will cover the basic requirements on the business side, as well the technical issues and challenges, how we achieved and what was the outcome.
The existing web sphere based portal had many applications developed in java flavor and running successfully for the past few years. All the applications were basically on the reporting facilities, extracting data from SAP and populating in report forms and providing search/filtering etc.
The SAP provides data in xml format through RFC wrapper classes and in turn the applications display the data in the required format. All the applications are running under the same URL with different links provided through various tabs and navigation breadcrumbs.
When the user logs through t he portal, based on his security privileges, he is led in to the particular application to perform his job and he can navigate to other based on the level of security.
A third party security tool was used for user administration across all the applications.
The WD application constitute an important component of the evidential matter gathered in support of the Single Audit, which is the clients management’s assertion regarding the reliability of financial reporting of various activities of the client.
The WD application was intended to offer managers and their assistants a user-friendly interface which better leverages the process simplifications introduced in the FY04 SAP version and provides full integration with the clients existing portals.
The WD must be aligned with the clients vision of Convergence of Portals.
The application to be developed in webdynpro without the usage of EP Enterprise Portal for the launch and must strictly follow the guidelines of the portal frame work on the user interface and template standards of the web view.
Use the existing RFCs of the SAP version Minimal work on the SAP side with low cost on the infrastructure and the resources.
Must be made available from the existing portal and just another new application with the existing ones; No differentiation between the new and old ones from the user point of view and access.
At the outset, we studied the existing portal applications and found the required input criterias and the output, along with the required security considerations
The applications were in order of the tab forms each taking one tab and having bread crumbs for navigation. The users navigate through the existing tabs for traversing between applications.
We decided to provide a new tab under the existing frame work and invoke the new WD application under that existing layout. So that the users can click on the new tab to use it
The tab1 / tab2 are the existing application and tab 3 will call the new WD application. An empty I-frame would be made available under the tab and an http hyperlink to be provided for the user access.
Development of Webdynpro application
At this stage, the entry point and the exit points of the application under the portal were finalized and the stage moved towards development of the webdynpro application.
Through JDI and using the MVC model architecture the application was developed, keeping in mind the security requirements and the data transfer between the new application and the old /existing applications.
There was some less challenge in developing the webdynpro application as such, because the business requirement was clear and stable.
Some of the main features of the application (on technical side) include Component controlled approach (DCs and controllers) Usage of adaptive RFCs Dynamic generation of the UI controls Use of dynamic build of the arrays Display of long text info Download to excel option
Now that the application is ready, the question of how the integration is too developed was a big question. The following steps were followed to achieve this portion of the project.
1. Provide the WD application URL to the portal team and they will launch the application from the iframe of the portal frame 2. Obtain the URL of the portal and call it from the WD application to access other pages of the portal. 3. Two way communication established between the URLs.
Data transfer With the availability of the URLS, the required parameters linked along with the URL were passed between the applications and through HTTP request; the data was obtained to fetch the required information.
The challenge of security was met through the LDAP user generation of the existing SAP users. The requirement was for provision of user access to the new application to all the SAP users. Hence as described earlier, though all the users had the access to the existing portal, the application level security was only for SAP Users.
The SSO ticket issued by the third party tool for portal was accessed and the login info is brought to the SAP through the JCO and authentication is verified from the SAP server.
User Interface Integration
The next challenge was to provide the same user interface in terms of the theme that was required to be developed for the application.
The client has a high standard of the uniformity in terms of the web lay out and the templates that is followed through out the portal frame work
Initially the lay out was studied well and understood the different formats for the UI controls.
Using the Eclipse theme editor, we developed our custom theme (Thanks to the SDN forum!) and applied the same combinations to the webdynpro UI elements.
Though we had some difficulties in terms of usage of the combo control, which was not properly getting displayed using SP11 when the theme was applied, we managed to identify different options on the application and went ahead with the implementation.
At the end, we had completed the development and set down for the testing. The issue came up on the automated testing using QTP. This was totally new to us and hence had a blank option of how net weaver based application development will run under the QTP.
However, we got some good feedback on the automation scripts that were made to run between the applications. We developed the scripts, that access the data from the existing applications to the new applications and we were able to capture the recording also.
The implementation was yet another big thing in terms of integrating so many servers. The existing SAP DB server, the new WAS server for the application and the Portal server.
Nearly five teams, the basis team. Sap development team, portal team, net weaver team and of course the client team worked cohesively to achieve this feat within the given schedule.
Benefits & Highlights
1st Net weaver Implementation in the client’s operations portal with 99.9 % compliance on the usage of application 1st to go ahead with SSO authentication Access around the globe More than 2500 users across 3 continents Completion of the entire SDLC within the short and given schedule 1st transaction based application involving three different platforms – SAP DB, Portal IBM Web sphere , Front end WAS (Webdynpro) (without using EP Enterprise Portal Frame work)
Thus in conclusion, this project was completed successfully LDAP SSO user generation and authentication Use of Adaptive RFC Model Integration with the existing ISP portal through URL parameters Avoidance of structure change in the RFC after design freeze Custom Theme (combo UI element issue) generation from SP11 Usage of application to application integration within the same project View used under two different scenarios Domain Values & Short description of the fields in the RFCs to be named appropriately for getting the tool tips automatically in the front end JDI Frame work Identification of required Validations either from Front end or back end app.. Usage of arrays and differences declarations as static / dynamic
Thus, this weblogis to bring in the technical issues that were met with great success, and achieving the TCO to its required / set target. This project paved the way of entering in to the world of existing all portal applications, there by providing the option of development with much ease and faster and integrating the same with the existing applications. If requested, diagramatic view of the architecture can be sent (through seperate mails)