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How would you start a new SAP-focused web project?

I know this isn’t one of my ‘normal’ blogs, but I have a question for the SAP developer community. When developing new and custom web applications, which development strategy do you take?

I believe there are about three different options:

–    WebDynPro – Java Flavored

–    WebDynPto – ABAP Flavored

–    A ‘non-SAP’ architecture – For simplicitiy lets say its PHP using the PHP-to-SAP connector

What experiences have people had with these and what are your feelings toward how YOU would start a new custom project..

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  • Hi Craig,
    I know that SAP do not emphazise BSP (Business Server Pages) anymore, but there are some scenarios where BSP are my choice. Especially if you have mass access with very simple screens, BSP with the stateless concept are great. It depends...
    And that is the answer as allways. It depends on
    - the request
    - the need
    - the application
    - the environment
    - the skill
    - the customer
    - ...

    If I have the choice between Webdynpro ABAP and Webdynpro Java: I would chosse ABAP. But this is a very personal opinion.

    Best regards

  • I would use the best tools available in CE7.1

    It depends on your tasks but using Visual Composer and Guided Procedures and BPM (combining Web Dynpro ABAP or JAVA) you can build nice apps very quick.

  • Hello Craig,

    I have been working on a project for which the customer, from the media industry, wanted something that looks sexy. Hence neither webdynpro nor any other SAP usual UIs were good enough according to his criterias.

    The UI is based on Flex deployed on the portal, with one Air Application. This is more likely what you might start to see in a very near future.

    I expect more and more SAP customers will look forward coupling solution efficiency with great user experience, rather than making choices.

  • A quick brain-dump of my thinking....

    1. Web Dynpro ABAP - suits internal professional business users running business transactions, i.e. the same target audience as traditional Dynpro. Great component-based reusability options, lightspeed rendering engine really improves user experience. Lots of improvements recently and more on the way. If you haven't checked out WDA recently it is worth another look. I should also mention the NetWeaver Business Client here. NWBC will also help change your mind about WDA - if it needs changing.

    2. Web Dynpro Java - as above, but development environment suffers from lack of features I am used to with ABAP runtime, such as Search Helps, DDIC integration, CTS (I hate NWDI). Oh and personally I miss the MOVE-CORRESPONDING statement. 🙂 But I am an ABAPer first and a Java guy about 20th. If you are a Java guy 1st then this could well be your preference.

    3. Business Server Pages - you can do anything with BSP - the downside is that you really have to build everything yourself. BSP is great for building stateless applications - a must if you a high volume application such as a web shop. It supports any web technology so you can make the UI look any way you want by incorporating all sorts of technologies. Of course you do need to handle browser-specific issues, etc. just like all web developers. (Yes I know there is a tag library to help handle this - but really!) BSP framework is also very handy for supporting other options, e.g. building REST-ful services for consumption by other UI technologies, etc.

    4. Rich Internet Applications - I mainly use Adobe Flex but I have heard nice things about Silverlight. RIA's let you build great user experiences that can really transform the capabilities of the application. Users love them if they are well constructed. I typically have my Flex frontend application interact with the SAP backend by making simple HTTP calls to stateless BSP pages that return XML payloads. These calls all happen asynchronously so the user experience can be managed and there is little waiting for the backend to respond. Some improvements in the SAP<->Flex messaging layer could help here. 🙂

    5. Your favourite Web development tools. If you have preferences for specific tools there is no reason you can't use them. You can use a similar technique I described for RIA's to interact with the backend - but don't forget good old RFC. Fast, light and extremely efficient.

    Graham Robbo

    p.s. Don't forget that connecting a user to the SAP system via a bespoke application layer is still connecting a user to the SAP system. There are licensing implications that you need to be aware of.

  • Well, I'm a Java guy :), so my list would be the following (from most preferable to least preferable):
    1. WebDynpro Java
    2. WebDynpro Java + Flex islands
    3. JSF (Java Server Faces) + HTML + CSS