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SAP GUI – A platform of/for change?

The Old

SAP GUI has been used since the early days of R2.  It has evolved over the years from simple software with minimal graphical elements to a customizable Windows vista based graphical user interfaces.

Around the globe more than 50,0 00 customers worldwide run SAP. Just about everyone is this list uses SAPGUI. Hence it’s a given that the install base for SAP GUI is immense.

SAPGUI is a given, a silent performer who always did his work diligently but could never outshine its partner, a powerhouse called SAP ERP.

Are there any interesting ways to use the install base for SAP GUI and spice up things in this old guy’s life?

The new

The last couple of years have made Web 2.0 and some of its related concepts extremely popular. Many of these concepts are primarily based on empowering the user. Giving them control to choose what they want, giving them access to customize what they want, giving them everything and letting content get generated etc.,  Widgets is a small sidetrack ,an experiment in this area.

Everyone likes widgets, but widgets never took off, for a variety of reasons. They required a separate widget engine to run, they did not do anything useful, after a few days/weeks the novelty wears off and they could never reach a critical user base to go mainstream. But anyone who has tried it will tell you that they are handy. Widgets are micro apps developed for a particular purpose, usability is excellent, they are right there in the desktop and majorly use push technology (perhaps an under rated feature).

Mix them all

Now, let us imagine this. SAP GUI has an excellent install base; it enables business users to work on tasks which have direct implications to their business. Make this GUI as a widget engine, where users can pick transactions as widgets and load them on the desktop.

Suddenly those pretty looking widgets become a powerhouse of activity.  Making SAP GUI as a widget engine will help users launch only that content which they require. When combined with SNC features, they are secure. This combination leverages each other’s strengths and creates a product which fits neatly into this web 2.0 world. SAP GUI will get a major face lift and change the way customer perceive SAP applications.

 Since it uses the same engine, widgets would be fast to load and if we get it right, someday a simple WD ABAP based time sheet application will be sitting in your desktop as a widget.

Now who wouldn’t want to enter fill his time-sheet before leaving office?


On a technical front, SAP GUI uses TCP/IP, client server based and works primarily as a pull technology. An implementation of this sort would require some major modifications in the core, making it sort of a rich client, but it would be an interesting step forward. As an optimist I like to think it’s a step which has positive effects. Who knows , interesting widgets developed using this might someday  reduce the need for composites.

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  • I don’t see it going away any time soon though I do see more focus on the business centric and relevant renderings of UI elements in portal related products. Even in companies using the newer dimension products that don’t render well in the GUI client, often the GUI client is critical for pulling back the covers and looking at the underlying engine and its components for a business transaction. It may become less used but a replacement seems logically unlikely.
    • Hi Clinton,

      The opinions here are my own and just a different perspective of using user interfaces in SAP Business suite. In fact there is already a rich client called NetWeaver business client .

      SAP NetWeaver Business Client

      Personally , I agree with you that SAP GUI in its current usage isnt going to change for a while.

      Just another thought.


      • NetWeaver Business Client is not an exact replacement to SAP GUI, In fact you must install SAP GUI 7 to access SAP GUI applications through  NetWeaver Business Client.

        Looking it from another angle. technically  NetWeaver Business Client is just another SAP GUI (Graphics User Interface).

  • What’s does R1 stand for ? and also.. the early SAP systems were on a two-tier architecture.. which mean it should be R-2….. if this makes makes sense.. request correction to your blog.. Thanks.
      • I like to know how the SAP GUI in the “earliest” incarnation was used on or against a 3270 type terminal system?  Having once worked with physical mainframe terminals, I don’t see how the modern client server based SAP GUI(which we use today) would have been used against an R2 or even R1 system.

        Perhaps you could provide us some more background than your generic link.

        Thank you,


        • Hi Stephen ,

          Good question. Let me rephrase. R3 had the first actual graphical user interface. R1 and R2 as you said were terminal based , and if I remember correctly , there were some graphical based user interface for R2 available. 
          But technically you cannot call it as SAP GUI , perhaps.

          I do not have any link which I can share on user interfaces.Infact I have not been able to find a single image of how R1 was used.

          Will keep you guys posted.

          Thanks for your interest.