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Skeptical?

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.


For those of you who ever worked with Guided Procedures – I can’t say this enough: This is sooo much better 😉

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.

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6 Comments

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  1. Michael Hill
    Hi Twan,

    I am glad to hear your demo went okay, but sorry to hear you had so many issues.

    I am a little puzzled by your comment about the BPM160 exercise: “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.”

    This is described in detail in Task 9 of the exercise document titled: “TASK 9:   Create the Visual Composer to start the process and do a final test”.

    Best regards,
    Michael

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    1. Twan van den Broek Post author
      Hi Michael

      Oh yes, I have seen task 9. Great VC app to start the process. Explained in detail as well, nothing to complain about that.
      However, deploying the VC app is not enough. I get an error on finding the localhost and destinations that could not be found. Settings that have to be made in SOA manager (portal) are not described. And that is what I was referring to. Somehow I can’t find which settings are required to start the process via the VC app.

      Kind regards
      Twan

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      1. Michael Hill
        OK, now I understand. 

        This is system configuration that is required prior to the execution of the TechEd Exercises which are documented for participants.  These are configuration steps that TechEd session owners do prior to the event.  Generally these are not published documents as TechEd was done with very early versions of the software and many of the steps and screenshots would be different today with the CE 7.2 version that is now on SDN.

        Best,
        Michael

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        1. Twan van den Broek Post author
          Please allow me to do a suggestion. Please add a chapter to the tutorials that describe the ‘secret’ settings. It will help a lot to play with the scenario when you are back home from the TechEd.

          Kind Regards
          Twan

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  2. Martin Moeller
    Hey Twan,

    When I got started with SOA configuration and BPM I had this introduction from Alex Zubev as reference:
    http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/40dabb46-dd66-2b10-1a9a-81aa620098b3

    It’s not directly written for service consumption from a BPM perspective, but allows getting behind the ideas and concepts for SOA configuration. Furthermore it also mentions the needed user interfaces / components for configuration.

    You might have a point saying that this applied for 7.1, but of course this is still valid for 7.2 (+ improvements).

    When putting together composite applications it’s quite normal that you need to make your stack aware of the environment that is around it (provider systems), the way they are interacting (communication profiles) and who is in charge (user maintenance and assignments).

    SOA configuration then helps you in applying all of this “environment” to you your business scenario, your application or even more concrete to a specific service.

    I already had a scenario including enterprise services from CRM & IS-U, web services from PI and CE and in addition also 3rd party web servivces from other vendors. All orchestrated using BPM and configured using SOA configuration.

    Hope this helps to some extent!

    Cheers,
    Martin

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