Just recently I got into a discussion “concerning WD open source framework” on Twitter. Lots of mentors and other fans of Web Dynpro immediately seconded my more on a joke based mentioning of such a possibility. I didn’t expect this.
As you might know there is a general change in open source policy at SAP. So far we only used specific open source products specifically in the tools area for Java (like eclipse). But just using those frameworks makes you very dependent on the work of others. So we still developed proprietary frameworks like MOIN or MOdeling INfrastructure. Meanwhile we had to find out that this is much more expensive then just to integrate with frameworks that are under development by the open source community like the EMF and GEF frameworks developed mainly by the eclipse foundation. This changed politics and now the biggest part of SAP contributions goes into the Web Tools Platform (WTP).
Now, why did we do so? The most easiest explanation that proprietary software makes more money surely is not the truth. Development software especially for Java surely is not a main revenue driver for SAP. The real reason is that there is a lot of work to enter the open source world.
Unfortunately in a large company like SAP there are a lot of people involved in all kinds of things and many of those people are non developers. This means they need to be convinced that what is done with open source makes sense for the company and is something more then a socialist idea to spread the assets of the firm. The biggest part here is that lawyers, who’s job it is to tell management about the risk of open source, can find a lot of such, you bet. (Most of which is irrelevant to small contributors, don’t ask!)
But back to Web Dynpro. WD is my favourite when I explain why open source makes sense for SAP. What we did there was to develop a quite sophisticated framework for UI development. At the same time of course, there have been developments in the community to have comparable functionality on non SAP platforms also. The effect of this was that nowadays besides ISVs who develop multi platform anyways, even SAP customers ask for support of those frameworks. Suddenly we find ourselves in the situation that we have to support other frameworks too – and this is not the idea we had in the first place.
So why not put WD into open source? In my opinion this train already was gone. Proprietary today is a word that in the community at best should be used for your competitors products. But putting WD into OS is in general estimated as too late. I really was surprised to see many people stand up for this. May be we can move something here.
To make it very clear: I’m not in the place to decide for such a step, I’m not even working for Web Dynpro itself. I’m more like a catalyst here, giving voice to the community who does not want to confront SAP with a maybe uncomfortable wish. Let me say so much: many people inside the company likde this idea very much.