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After doing various prototypes of SAP CRM Application mashups with Facebook, Google Maps, Zoominfo, Twitter, Linked-in etc., I have arrived at the following four patterns:

Before I get into it,  let me describe a mash-up in simple words. I was to travel to Germany for 5 months on fellowship. I was contacted by different people for different tasks they were specialized in.

  • Car rental, someone from Czech contacted and booked a car for the period
  • Home, someone from Germany contacted and booked an apartment for me
  • Visa Processing, some Lawyer from Germany asked me to upload all documents onto a site and got my work permit visa done for my stay
  • Articles relocation, someone from the US contacted me and gave me instructions on what to do to get my 225 Kg of articles imported into Germany

As you can see, my goal was to work in Germany for 5 months and there were multiple 3rd party service providers for SAP, specialized in their areas, who contacted me and made my life easy.

A mash-up in web development points to a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool; an example is the use of cartographic data from Google Maps to add location information to real-estate data, thereby creating a new and distinct web service that was not originally provided by either source and makes life easy for a user who needs all content in one application.

There are three entities involved:

  1. Providers: External websites which provide social networking services like Linked-In or Mapping Services like Google Maps etc.
  2. Consumer: Application like SAP CRM Application which makes use of the service provided by service providers like Linked-In, Google etc.
  3. Development/Customer: The one who creates a mash-up

Pattern 1 : Direct HTTP Request

Principles

  • No Authentication required to access information from Provider
  • Developer/customer can register and get an API Key
  • Consumer sends a HTTP request along with API Key to the Provider
  • Provider sends the HTTP response
  • Consumer receives XML/JASON response Back
  • Consumer parses the XML/JASON and makes use of the information

Example(s): Applications reading RSS, reading data from ZoomInfo.com

Provider : www.zoominfo.com
Provider APIs : http://developer.zoominfo.com/documentation

Pattern 2 : Embedded 3rd Party Icons/Scripts

Principles

  • No Authentication required to access information from Provider
  • Developer/customer can register and get an API Key
  • Developer/ ustomer should Insert
  • Developer should insert 3rd party icons with HTML

    tag where feature is required
  • Developer should bind application information (say CRM Account Name) when building 3rd party icon with

    tag
  • Consumer receives response as map / pop up

Example(s): Application Mashups built using Google Maps, Linked In as Providers

Pattern 3 : Client Stubs + Provider Container

Principles

  • Authentication Required
  • REST Client Stubs are available in the internet for technologies like PHP/Java/.Net
  • Client Stub hides the complexity of HTTP calls and JASON / XML transformation
  • Use the client stubs, build applications and run the application in the Providers’s container
  • Object Oriented access to server functions

Example(s): Applications on www.facebook.com as a Provider

Pattern 4 : Client Stubs + Consumer Container

Principles

  • Authentication Required
  • REST Client Stubs are available in the internet for technologies like PHP/Java/.Net
  • Client Stub hides the complexity of HTTP calls and JASON / XML transformation
  • Use the client stubs, build applications and run the application in the Consumer’s container
  • Object Oriented access to server functions

Example(s): Applications built using www.twitter.com as a Provider

SAP & Product Standards

This is the hard topic for which I do not have answers. I leave the questions here for senior management to think and create a strategy:

0. Are our UI frameworks/platforms ready for such mash-ups?

1. Will SAP be able to release a product with great mash-ups with 3rd party providers crossing the hurdles of SAP product standards?

2. Will SAP revise the Product Standards so that applications with such mash-ups can be release?

3. Will SAP want to build all the services like mapping, social networking etc. ground up?

3. Will SAP provide an enterprise mash-up platform where customers/applications can do great mash-ups ?

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4 Comments

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  1. Venkataramana Korukonapalli
    HI,

    Not sure, you following up with sap. we all see lots of things happening on social networking (EMSE). community participation in Seconlife…. amazed at CE enhp 1 which has all capabilities of building mashups… lot more…

    venkat.

    (0) 
  2. Richard Hirsch
    Hi,

    I’ve been looking for java-based client stub generation frameworks and have only found examples from NetBeans. I’m looking for other frameworks where you can generate code based on “external” REST-based services.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks.

    D.

    (0) 
  3. Gregor Wolf
    Hi Clement,

    already in 2006 I’ve posted this Blog: Geocode Business Partner with Google Maps where I’ve created a MashUp between SAP CRM PC-UI and Google Maps. All this is possible since the WebAS ABAP was opened up to speak HTTP. The drawback is that this can’t be used for free in an internal environment as most Customer systems are. So the question to SAP Management could be: Could a licence for mapping be included in the Business Suite?

    Best regards
    Gregor

    (0) 
  4. Vijay Vijayasankar
    In the big beautiful world of tomorrow where there are services for every object, would SAP still invest on UI development? or will they just provide a framework with some sample content and let customers decide how their respective UIs will look like and behave?

    On a more basic level, I believe we can incorporate webservices in CRM2007 webclient easily and in a standard way. I was able to add fields on the UI and then use a web service (had an ABAP proxy created before hand) to fill the data based on the context info. But it is at a pretty basic level – and I see your point on the need to have a consistent strategy on this

    (0) 

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