Wow that looks like a skeptical title for a blog doesn’t it? Well people who know me or have read my blogs here on SDN, they know that I am very enthusiastic on the concept of SAP NetWeaver BPM:
- Process modeling in the BPMN language
- Import web services
- Melt both SAP and non SAP services into one end-user process
- Auto generation of user interfaces (Web Dynpro Java and Visual Composer, as of CE7.2)
- Intermediate events (as of CE7.2)
- Business to model and Model to execute come together in one tool: SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio
Why? With modeling in BPM both the suits and geeks are facilitated to speak the same language. That will help in setting up the right path to final delivery. SOA projects come to live with BPM. Finally you can explain the SOA business case to your business representatives. It will also help in prototyping the solution to your end-users/customers. Within a very short time you can actually make your model come to live with the generated user interface and re-using existing (web) services.
Setting up the process
Are there any downsides? Well I have to admit there are a few 😉 Past weeks I was busy setting up a customer demo with SAP NetWeaver BPM. Process requirements were:
– Modeling with BPM
– Process to be started via web service
– Process contains both external web services as SAP services
– Different roles (Requester, Approver)
I reused the BPM160 SAP TechEd process:
(Process is almost the same as in BPM160. I my next blog I will show the process that I actually wanted to implement, but first I want that one to come to live.)
During design time everything works great. Generating the UI is a great feature that has been added to CE7.2. Standard work is automated; you can focus on fine tuning the UI to your needs.
Also importing web services via a WSDL file or SAP services via a BAPI works very easily:
The SAP backend system is defined in the preferences of the SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio, and you can search for the BAPI you want to re-use in your process. The service interface and all other required stuff is then generated for you. This again saves a lot of time.
Input mapping is facilitated by showing all the BAPI input parameters. Draw the lines from the process context and you’re done.
Validate your process, build and deploy.
The fun begins
And now the real fun begins. In order to make your process run as designed there are some steps to execute in the SAP Portal. And that is what my title is referring to. We need a portal settings made easy guide for us BPX’s who want to use SAP NetWeaver BPM.
I can be very short about this: it is a maze and I haven’t found the exit yet.
- Web services have to be included on the whitelist (Do NOT enter them with http:// in front of them. It will not throw an error, but your process step will not work.
- Provider systems
- Destination templates
- Application communication settings
- Destination localhost that could not be found, although running smoothly
Well, sorry to admit but I got lost and it cost me a lot of hours (and sleep) to figure out what is wrong. The log viewer isn’t much of a help: Some statements of authentication errors, but hey I have added user id and password everywhere where I could. Debugging the process in the SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio, which is a great feature by the way, isn’t much a help either. It only says “Process error”. Hey, I already had that figured out by myself 😉
I ended up to forget about my original idea to show a process with both SAP and non-SAP services. The BPM160 process came back to the drawing board. That was an easy way out as this process doesn’t require any service calls. Again a disappointment: the SAP TechEd tutorial didn’t describe the
steps required to start the process via a web service that is called by a separate Visual Composer application.
To make a long story short: The demo went OK, people really were interested in the new features that SAP NetWeaver BPM offers. And with CE7.2, SAP made a very big step in the right direction. But in order to motivate BPX’s (target audience for BPM as far as I know) to start using BPM, there is still some work to do in the SAP Portal environment. Otherwise a great concept dies in its technology.
It is as if you have received a fantastic designed car. Great looks, great operational controls, great multipurpose use cases, but … unfortunately no wheels delivered in order to actually make it move forward.
I recommend everyone to download the CE7.2 trial and share your experiences here on SDN.