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I was invited to a meeting this week, a online demo of a new tool that SAP is developing and at the end of the meeting I was told – “this is blogable” – therefore since I don’t have too many chances to blog Tech stuff here anymore I decided I would take this chance to get a “techie” blog out for everyone and share what I saw!  I was invited to see and hear about the new SAP Widget Foundation and the SAP Widget tool, I won’t cover all of it here but I will show you a bit of the tool (an Eclipse plugin). image After unpacking the file into my “Scripting in a Box v0.1 patch v0.1.1” install, well actually “Scripting in a Box v1” which should be online within the next week or so for everyone it contains Eclipse 3.2.1, well anyway after unpacking and starting Eclipse I found I had a new project type available. image I went straight for the simple “hello world” example just to see how the whole process went. I did it twice, once without screen shots and once with. First time it took about 2 minutes and the second time about 10 for the screen shots LOL. image Once I selected the project it automatically switched me to the right perspective and as you can see everything was not only finished and created it was well organized and so far quite easy to enhance and modify. A simple double click on the .kon file and the thing launched right off the bat as I have the Yahoo engine running already. image Resulting in a nice little widget now on my screen. image For people like me that are not that strong in Widget development this was a dream normally I would have spent at least 2 hours to do that same thing and I would not have been as organized at all!  Next to connect with the “Enterprise Widget Foundation alpha release” and an SAP backend system!
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  1. Anton Wenzelhuemer
    hi,

    I am sorry that I have to say this but since we’re talking of the quality of blogs these days …

    This blog doesn’t tell ANYTHING about the features of a ‘widget tool’.

    Actually, if you download any (unpackaged, i.e. dot-widget-ified) widget you can

    1) view the files (.kon, .js) simply in file explorer and any simple editor
    2) klick the .kon file right there and you have exactly the same effect as shown in the blog

    Probably I didn’t get the (hidden) message or surprising featspresented.

    anton

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    1. Community User
      Of course it doesn’t – no hidden message – simple “first look” I was going to do Screen Cams of all the stuff and show it BUT they provide that in the download so I didn’t see a point of duplicating and I’m sure Eric and the guys will be posting more soon and John Astill was on the call so I think he might as well, I’m still playing give me some more time here 😉

      However — http://jumpcut.com/view?id=41F45374A28711DBB21E266C9A2E700D

      One of the demo videos included 🙂

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  2. Anonymous
    Hi Folks- When I gave the Alpha version of our widgets tools to Craig I did
    mention that it was bloggable… I just didn’t realize that it would include
    detailed screenshots 😉

    Anyway, about the release time frame its a little hard to tell. Not because
    we don’t know when it will be done- thats easy, but because we have to pass
    legal requirements!

    To answer Anton’s question about features-
    The Eclipse Plug-in was created because our core developers are either
    1) People who understand ABAB and have deep knowledge of SAP systems but may
    not be experts in creating “delightful” user interfaces in JavaScript
    2) Portal developers who are probably great in Java, JavaScript etc, but may
    not be experts in BAPIs and RFCs.

    For the ABAB savvy developer (like Craig) we’ve go prebuilt templates based
    on the most common patterns for widgets, like lists, dashboards, search,
    etc.. We’re also building a reasonably sexy looking default skin to you can
    show off your creation to executives and they’ll say “ohhh looks shiny!”

    For the Portal developer we’ve embedded the scripting tool’s BAPI and RFC
    browser. This allows drag’n drop connection to SAP functions.

    Anyway, that’s a high level description. What do you think? Useful or would
    you rather just edit it by hand as someone suggested to me this week.
    -Eric

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    1. Anton Wenzelhuemer
      hi eric,

      I just worked with widgets this week and created one as a prototype being presented internaly and to customers. therefore I am currently a bit involved in the topic…

      Concerning your question of usefulness:

      It depends on what it really offers. Actually, having the yahoo/Konfabulator tutorial, the API reference and some examples at hand (hint: any widget can easily be ‘decompiled’ and thus used as template) it is really easy to create your own widgets given that

      – you have some neat graphics program to create design elements(the impression widgets make very much depends on that aspect)
      – you know javascript and kind of ‘advanced'(non-trivial) topics thereof (e.g. xml handling and the xmlhttp object aka AJAX)

      I don’t know what really to expect from ‘the tool’ apart from the (kind of unjust) Eclipse overhead.

      What would make it useful were 2 things

      – a graphical editor to design th UI (although the XML definition of it is so easy that a lot of people will easily do it in any editor having more control of it – including dynamic generation of Text() objects and alike from within a javascript)

      – a good javascript webservice library to support webservice communication (enhancement of SOAPSpoof)

      The last point leads me to something else I wonder about. Why don’t you do something on the webservice consumer side in all of your attempts when on the other side webservices featuring SOA are the hype topic. Why do you only mention support of BAPIs and RFCs?

      I know that SAP has to jump the marketing fuzz opportunity of widgets but what makes me a little sad is that this is dragged to SDN kind of loveless and that way kind of diss’es the credibility of the communities abilities.

      my 2 cents,
      anton

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      1. Community User
        Anton, check the clip I put up for a bit more of a sneak peek.

        As for being “dragged here kind of loveless” I think you are way off there – Eric and his team avoided all the normal marketing stuff and brought it straight to the community first back at the Las Vegas TechEd. Eric did a call out weeks back for anyone interested in testing and as soon as they get the go it’s here for everyone to use. If anything I was surprised with such a hot topic “2007 is the Year of the Widget” that they didn’t go the normal marketing way!

        I probably jumped the gun here with the blog as I was quite excited about it and put Eric and his team in a pinch – Sorry ERIC!

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      2. Anonymous
        Thanks for the additional feedback Anton.
        First the burning question: why support BAPIs and RFCs- because our customer base isn’t likely running our latest software… and I hate it when Microsoft makes me upgrade just so I can use a new feature.

        Really though- if you have the most modern version of SAP ERP and Netweaver you WON’T have much use for our “Foundation” except for SSO integration.

        Regarding our tools:
        We know that making cool widgets (even when you reverse engineer existing ones, which has questionable risks if used productively inside a company with deep pockets), is hard to do unless you are a talented designer.  Which is why we want to provide a kit of UI componants to build (like Lego) you widgets.
        The other thing we want to provide is a bunch of “enterprise widget components” which will save you from settling for what every you can find on the Yahoo! widget gallery.  I recognize that enterprise use is slightly more robust than yet another weather and clock widget 🙂
        Hope that clarifies things a bit.
        -Eric

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  3. Frank Brackmann
    Hi Craig,hi Eric,

    thanks for the clip and the preview of the Widget tool.Nice! Will the SAP Widget Tool perhaps also support Microsoft Gadgets in the near future? As far as i know the Windows Vista sidebar contains an integrated engine for Gadgets. http://microsoftgadgets.com
    I am really not sure if there is a future for a enginge which has to be installed seperately(Yahoo engine),when there is a Engine(Vista sidebar) for Widgets/Gadgets shipped with the Windows Operating System?

    Frank

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      1. Frank Brackmann
        Hello Nigel,
        can you guide me to the URl where Dennis has commented on this topic.Thanks a lot.
        To stay at your example: I’m only serching for an answer why only support Firefox(Widgets)
        if there is a IE(Gagdets) on the operating system? I only guess with vista gadgets will have a much higher market share that widgets.

        Frank

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        1. Community User
          Hi Frank,
          Widgets are actually the term used to describe to the type of application and in that sense whether it be the Yahoo! Widget Engine running it, Native MAC Dashboard or Microsoft Gadget engine in the most basic of senses they are all the same.

          What has been focused on so far is the Native MAC Dashboard (to some extent) but to the Yahoo! Widget engine which is the most popular one at the moment.

          Blogs related to Widgets here and the one from Dennis Moore is Widgets for the Enterprise.

          So it’s not IE or FireFox they are a whole different issue 😉 I think Nigel was simply using the installing of FireFox as an example.

          SAP is not “dictating” one engine or another in fact you can build the same widget on any widget/gadget engine it’s just a matter of ensuring that you have the proper syntax and references…

          Hope that makes things a bit clearer until they guys in Palo Alto come online…

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          1. Frank Brackmann
            Hello Craig,

            thanks for the link.Sorry that i haven’t recognized that this topic has still been discussed.
            I also only transfered the Browser example to the Widget engines from Yahoo and Microsoft 😉
            My Problem is that i think if  Microsoft offers a engine for Gadgets integrated in Vista perhaps most people will use it. As you see it with the market share for Broswers.A Gagdget for example didn’t contain a kon-file.So it’s not working a Yahoo’s engine(but can be transfered).
            So let’s see which engine will be preferred in the future and im sure SAP will supported the leading market share engine in their Tools.
            For the moment thanks a lot for that nice Widget-Tool!!! I will use it if it is available for customers.

            Frank

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