There is so much content available on SDN and BPX that lately I’ve been thinking about how to access this information more effectively.
At an abstract level, what sort of information does SDN provide?
- Content (forum entries, blogs, articles, etc)
- Relationships between individual content pieces (usually via links)
- Details on users (via the various business cards)
- Relationships between users (users’ favorites, etc.)
- Relationships between users and individual content items (usually based on what individuals have created)
Of course, this information is present through the existing SDN /BPX User Interface. For example, if you want to find a piece of content, then you use the search screen to achieve this goal. If you want to find what forum posts an individual has written, then you go to his forum business card. Unfortunately, these scenarios are all very time-consuming and force me to react in what I consider an ineffective way to fulfill my informational needs.
Although there are currently ways to access this information more effectively (RSS feeds on most pages and URL-based parameters for the TREX-search functionality, this still isn’t enough. I really don’t have the ability to personalize how I work with the data I need.
SDN / BPX-based mash-ups
We’ve all heard about mash-ups and how cool they are. It seems like everyone is creating their own application based on web-services. What about a mash-up for SDN / BPX based on web-services that return different types of information? I could imagine methods such as:
- GetFormEntriesByUser: returns list of links with details such as thread, forum name and date
- GetBlogByUser: returns list of blog links with such details as blog topic, date
- GetUserData: returns information on the user based on his different SDN business cards
- FindRelatedContent: returns content related to a particular link
- SearchforBlogs: searches for blogs with certain characteristics
Of course, the web services could be protected via HTTP authentication. In this way, certain functionality (TREX searches, etc) could take into account the authorizations associated with the user in question. The web services could also be used anonymously (just like SDN itself) but the results would be affected accordingly.
Based on web-services such as these, my dream mash-up would be a very powerful search tool to browse SDN / BPX.
This mash-up is focused on SDN community members and what they have contributed. For me and I think for many other community members, it is very useful to see what types of content other members have created. I often get a gut feeling of whether the content will fit my needs based on what the content provider has contributed in the past.
By the way, this would be a great application for Visual Composer, because it primarily a read-only application.
For others, articles and help files are more important. Web-services for these areas should also be available to accommodate these requirements.
Possible System Landscape
A possible system landscape would be based on a dedicated treasure chest server that handled all the calls requiring SDN-related information. This indirect access would also assure that performance of the SDN server was not detrimentally affected by the mash-up users. The treasure chest server could communicate with the SDN portal server via existing Knowledge Management web-services and custom web-services to access other information pools (forums, business cards, etc.)
Inasmuch as much of the technology and experience that is been collected in SDN / BPX later ends up in SAP’s portal portfolio, then the ability of publishing such services externally would also be available for customers of SAP portals. Many of these customers have the SAP Portal in their intranet environments – no problem, internal mash-ups are also popular.
Of course, there is a multitude of other sources of information that exist outside of SDN and are available via web-service. For example, a search on Google for external blogs of a SDN contributor. The possibilities of missing and matching such diverse services are endless and exciting to consider.