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Author's profile photo Simon Kemp

A commentary on the upcoming Portal features in NW 7.3 Part Deux

In the A commentary on the upcoming Portal features in NW 7.3 in this series I covered the recent partner sessions on SAP Portal Strategy and the new Enterprise Workspaces functionality. I would now like to continue and give you my thoughts on what I learned from attending the sessions on Web Page Composer (WPC) and the new AJAX Framework. Again I guess I should also add a little disclaimer here insomuch as these are  my personal views only based on what I have understood from the  sessions…

Web Page Composer – The Next Generation

This session covered the new features that will be available in WPC with the next release of the portal. Some of the key things I took away from this session were:

 

  • The focus area for the next generation of WPC is the ability to combine business content with user generated content in a single view or mash-up. Authors are able to define the so called “wiring” between elements on a page and hence create these mash-ups. To me it looks a bit like what you can do using Visual Composer (albeit a different use case) and has a nice graphical UI.
  • The Business user is the target audience for content creation, thus alleviating the need for IT to be required to make changes. Historically I suppose this has been a bottleneck. 
  • WPC is now an integral part of the portal installation no longer an add-on.
  • The new page editor looks a whole lot nicer than the old one.
  • Having a staging area is great, so that changes can be worked on and then set “live” once ready.

I have to say that I was still a little bit underwhelmed by the examples that were shown. The layout of the content looked a bit “clunky”. I think really to get companies to commit to using WPC; SAP needs to show some slick looking example sites that use WPC. One good looking site using the current WPC can be seen at www.forsakringskassan.se and I expect SAP will be looking for similar showcase examples using the new features of WPC.

A lot of the functionality looked familiar to me from what used to be called the “Collaboration Portal” that was never released beyond Beta I think – I can imagine that a lot of the functionality of that product has now been put into WPC. It is planned that the new features for WPC will be available as of the next release of the portal (7.3) planned for later this year.

AJAX framework

So the AJAX framework page is something I have been hearing a bit about now for a while and there is even a Forum already that covers this topic area. So although customers using EHP1 have access to the AJAX Framework it is not officially released until EHP2 (which is currently in ramp-up). In 7.3 it will be the default standard.

It was explained that the main motivations behind this new framework were:

 

  • To modernize the SAP Portal UI
  • To harmonize the look and feel(signature design)
  • Support for RIA’s
  • Flexibility and Performance

So what makes up the AJAX Framework…. like every good cake it actually is comprised of 3 layers:

 

  1. Service/Enabling infrastructure layer that allows for such things as asynchronous data exchange. Basically this means that you can update part of the page contents without having to update the whole page (faster and so called flicker free)
  2. Client Services – Client side APIs These can be used to communicate with the Service Layer and provide functions like contextual help and client side caching.
  3. UI Layer for presentation and rendering. This is the bit the user sees, with UI controls that are performance optimized.

This MVC like design allows you to easily make changes in one layer without adversely affecting the others. For example you could even roll your own UI layer say using Flash (just don’t mention it to Steve Jobs!) or Silverlight and plug it into the other layers. So the Ajax Framework Page is just one concrete example of the new AJAX framework in action. You can go crazy and create your own!

The basic elements of the portal framework page remain pretty much unchanged (Masthead, Top Level Navigation, Toolbar) with a few exceptions (e.g. AFP widgets area) – however it really does look quite different from the old style and the feedback I have had from a few users has been quite positive.

There are some things that sort of made me think… “Why did they do that?”… for example the first level navigation has some HUGE FOLDER ICONS that seem to take up far too much screen real-estate for my liking, but I guess the nice thing is that you can switch to “full screen” mode and the navigation areas magically disappear – giving you lots of space for the actual content. It was also interesting to me that there is the ability for the end user to reorganize their navigation tabs via a funky drag and drop mechanism – while I can sort of see the benefit of that I am not sure how many organizations will want to deal with the potential support headaches that might arise if everyone can have a different navigation tab structure. 🙂

There is a nice search bar, similar to what can be seen in the NWBC, that does “as you type suggestions” and can be linked to multiple search providers. Although I assume this requires a fair amount of setting up. There will also be support for Safari I believe.

We were also briefly shown the theme editor that allows you to customize some of the components, at least as far as the look and feel goes. This looked similar to the current theme editor which if you’ve ever tried to use in anger leaves a lot to be desired and seems to take forever to open and save changes. An offline version of this would be nice (hint, hint… anyone listening?)

Summary….

OK… that’s it for now. There is another partner session today on “Portals interoperability – connect the islands”. To be honest I can only guess at what that means! So it promises to be enlightening and I will try to cover it in a future blog. I hope some of you are finding this series of blogs useful, I know writing them helps me consolidate in my own mind what was presented at these sessions. Thanks for taking the time to read 🙂

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      6 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Appreciate that you took time to provide your feedback. This is useful and now we know what's coming in NW 7.3

      Thanks!!

      Author's profile photo Raj Govender
      Raj Govender
      Thanks for the summary. I always seem to miss the sessions:-) Thanks again.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Thanks Simon!
      I appreciate reading your candid opinions on the up-coming functionality.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi,

      Thanks for the feedback!

      I wanted to explain how you can configure the top level navigation so you wouldn't have the huge folder icons.

      1. log in as an administrator.
      2. navigate to "Content Administration" -> "Portal Display" -> "Portal Themes" -> "Framework Page Configuration" OR
      just type "Framework Page Configuration" in the search box at the top right corner and hit enter.
      3. change the desktop name to "Ajax Framework Page"
      4. Scroll down to "Top Level Navigation" and change the display mode from "Default" to "No Images".
      5. Hit Save
      6. refresh the browser and vwhalla!

      in the Framework Page Configuration you can do a lot nice UI adjusmnets.

      Hope that helped,
      RAmi

      Author's profile photo Tamas Szirtes
      Tamas Szirtes
      Author's profile photo Simon Kemp
      Simon Kemp
      Blog Post Author
      Thanks Tamas... yes I did have a look at this, but I wasn't sure it was also for the portal theme (not just WebDynpro Java)... next time I need major theme changes I will give it a try in anger! 🙂