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Caveat: Usually I don’t comment on SAP product releases or product strategy. In this case,  however I have made an exception based on my heavy usage of the SDN / BPX wiki in – primarily in the form of the Community Project and my experiences using this technology.

A few days ago, I was looking at the recent articles on SDN and I saw an article entitled “Wikis in SAP NetWeaver Portal”.  Inasmuch as I am very interested in wikis and Web 2.0 technology in general as well as being a SAP NetWeaver Portal consultant, I felt I had to read it immediately.  The article includes a general description regarding the planned use of wikis in the portal, details regarding the provided functionality as well as timelines.

Caveat: At the beginning of the article, there is the usual disclaimer that “SAP has no obligation to pursue any course of business outlined in this presentation or to develop or release any functionality mentioned in this presentation.”   This blog – it is only a blog – is written with the understanding that future developments regarding wiki usage is subject to change.

In general, I think is good news that a wiki is going to be integrated into the NetWeaver portal product.  Wikis are an important collaborative tool and their inclusion in the portal environment suggests that a tighter integration between their functionality and other portal / Enterprise SOA technology may also be possible. I’ve The use of Enterprise 2.0 technology in IT projects: Experience Report from the Community Project about details of a tighter integration between the wiki and other SAP technologies (Visual Composer, etc.) in theory.  Once I get my hands on the beta release (“The beta shipment is planned end of Q3/2008 – Preliminary timeline that might be changed without prior notice.”), hopefully I’ll be blogging about the technical details of a tighter interaction.

Another interesting fact (remember the disclaimer!) is the use of Jive’s Clearspace software as the basis for the wiki.  With the announcement of Clearspace as wiki “provider”, developers can start to examine the developer documentation for Clearspace to get some ideas about how to integrate this platform into other portal-related platforms.   Such integration usually takes place via plug-ins. (Since the SDN / BPX wiki is based on Confluence, I once wrote a Gliffy Plug-in for SDN/BPX WIKI has finally arrived about Confluence plug-ins including Gliffy). The list of currently available Clearspace plug-ins focuses on the integration of external services that are publicly available on the Internet (slideshare, etc.)   The availability of interesting development articles (for example, there is documentation regarding the use of web-services in a plug-in) leads me to believe that interactions with other more corporate-related services may also be possible.

Before you power up your eclipse and start developing those Clearspace plug-ins, there are certain limitations described in the article that must be considered:

  • Beta status (not suitable for productive use, not ramp-up enabled)
  • No upgrade safety
  • SAP Product standards are missing.
  • No advanced Wiki functionality (Basic Functions)
  • Not integrated into workspaces (run standalone in the Portal)

The most limiting restriction is that Clearspace will initially be running as a standalone in the portal – I’m not quite sure of the underlying architecture  whether Clearspace will run as a portal application, an application on the J2EE engine or somewhere else – so the use of portal APIs in Clearspace plug-ins may not be initially possible. An integration via  web-services may be a more likely candidate for this initial phase.

Irregardless of these limitations, I’m excited to see SAP moving in this direction and can’t wait to see what sort of SAP-specific Clearspace plug-ins are going to be available.

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