How the Support Platform Works
The Support Platform is built around plug-ins — small, simple Java-based programs that analyze the system and return results. These plug-ins are deployed to the J2EE engine, and administrators can run and view the results in the Support Platform user interface. Perhaps what makes the Support Platform so good is that plug-ins are so simple to write. A set of diagnostic and reporting plug-ins come with the Support Platform, but developers can easily write their own. Access the Support Platform on your system by entering the following URL (substituting your server name and port number, of course):
http://:/sp After logging in (you must be in the Administrators group), you will get the following window: There are two user interfaces. One for deploying and managing the plug-ins (Administration), and the other for running plug-ins and viewing the results (Main). The Main window (shown above) lets you select one of the deployed plug-ins, and then run it on a specific cluster node or on all nodes. You can download the results to an Excel file, or save the results in the Support Platform and then run the plug-in again.
What is a Plug-In?
A plug-in is a single Java class, packaged in a JAR file with an XML file that describes the name and class files of all plug-ins in the JAR. There is an add-on to NWDS, available via download, that makes it easy to create Support Platform projects. The following is how a Support Platform project looks in NWDS: Pretty simple so far. The plug-in class (myPlugIn, above) implements IPluginAnalyzer, which requires you to implement four methods, only one of which is critical — analyze(). This method is where you perform whatever diagnostics you want, and create the results to be displayed. The following is an empty implementation: That’s it. One of the optional methods is fix. This lets you create code to be run in case an error result is found and you want to give to the administrator who is running the plug-in the option of fixing the problem. There is also an extension of the IPluginAnalyzer interface, IPluginAnalyzerConfigurable, which you can implement instead in order to enable an administrator to configure it before running. There are other features — like making one plug-in dependent on another, or comparing results from the different cluster nodes, or changing the way the plug-ins are displayed in the tree. For full documentation, see SAP NetWeaver Support Platform on the Help Portal.
The Support Platform was so innovative, it came in second place in February at an SAP developer conference that highlights many of SAP’s latest innovations. The tool is being used by SAP support to make it easier for customers to supply the information for diagnosing problems. The Support Platform comes with plug-ins for reporting the portal and J2EE version numbers, the available disk space, or whether the portal is running at all. Development groups are also using it, for example, to test connections to databases and other applications and to obtain data about the development environment. And plug-ins exist for creating reports that provide key data for portal administrators. Next week, I will describe some of these Content Reports that are shipped with the Support Platform.