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iPhone App for searching HELP.SAP.COM

Some of you may recall that I jumped into the world of iPhone development (with an SAP flavour) earlier this year, releasing the free app Benchmarking your NetWeaver knowledge in an iPhone App, a quiz for NetWeaver professionals. 

In fact Uber Geek was part of a larger strategy for me to pursue for self-learning purposes the three broad categories of apps as outlined in the Apple Human Interface Guidelines …

  • A native iPhone application
  • A hybrid application, which is an iPhone application that provides access to web content primarily through a web-content viewing area, but with some iPhone iOS user interface elements
  • Web only content (websites that behave like built-in iPhone applications)

Having already completed a native iPhone application (Uber Geek is an example of this), I set myself to the task of building a hybrid application, once again with an SAP flavour.  The result is myHelp, which is a free app that returns searches from in a more readable format on an iPhone device. 

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Like Uber Geek, I should make it clear that I have shared this on the Apple iTunes store as an entirely free app, and devoid of any advertising. Think of it this way … many of us share knowledge by writing blogs, wikis etc.  As a developer I like to spend my spare time writing apps instead (which themselves help to spread knowledge), and then sharing them with the SAP community.


Several of my SAP colleagues have asked about what is involved with iOS iPhone / iPad development.  Here are some of my learnings …

  • Firstly, you can’t do it without an Intel Mac with a relatively recent Mac OS X
  • iOS development can be fun and rewarding, but also frustrating at times (you need to keep a very close eye on memory management)
  • The development IDE is great to use (very responsive like Eclipse), and especially rewarding is the Simulator (the screenshots above were taken from the Simulator)
  • Start with a Hello World tutorial, and move on from there.  There are many web resources available (see links below).  For anyone considering a book, I would recommend Head First iPhone Development because it has less words, and more pictures.  
  • If you are familiar with MVC (from your BSP or Web Dynpro work) and other Object Oriented design patterns, you will be in good shape.  If not, look positively at it … you will understand these patterns better and bring your learnings back to your SAP development
  • You will need to learn Objective-C.  Once again, look positively at it …. already in the world of NetWeaver we need to deal with a variety of languages … Java, ABAP, Javascript, Perl, etc.  It’s not the language that matters, it’s the software design that does (design patterns, separation of concerns etc).
  • The SDK is free to download, however if you want to deploy to your device or submit an app to the store, you will need to register as a developer in the iOS Developer Program, which (at time of writing) costs $US99/year.
  • If you are looking to publish an app, make sure you read in detail the Apple Human Interface Guidelines.

Finally, I should mention that I am not an Apple evangelist, although I do like my iPhone.  If I could afford an Android device as well I would look at developing on that platform as well.

Useful Links

Here I would like to share some useful links that I harvested over the past few months …

Final Thoughts

I would like to acknowledge Daniel Da Vinci, who gave me the idea to implement this as my hybrid app project, Dagfinn Parnas who helped me find the right contacts at SAP to achieve permission to incorporate SAP’s copyrighted content in the app, and Sascha Wenninger who provided the language translations in German. THIS is the SAP Community at work!

I am aware of and watching closely the recent excitement about the Sybase acquisition and how that may influence mobility approaches in the SAP world.   Maybe my thoughts on that in a future blog.

In my next blog, I will share experiences with Web only content approaches …

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  • John,

    where can i paypal a small contribution for you to pay for ubergeek and myhelp? it may help for you to get Android as well if enough of us like what you have done. i must have been typing my comments to your ubergeek post (with some ideas) when you were in the middle of writing this very informative and very well designed blog post. i recommend at least 500 points for this one.

    • Hi Greg,

      Thanks for your paypal offer, I am very flattered but I will respectfully decline.  There are several reasons why myHelp is free ... firstly it relies heavily on content which is already free; secondly as part of SAP's permission to use that content it is to be a 'free app'; and thirdly I would expect SAP to provide an official mobile-friendly service eventually.  As mentioned in my blog the primary motivation was the self learning from the experience.  It is nice to know people appreciate the work, it is worth the effort for that.  As for points, I don't understand why but I wasn't awarded any points for this blog 🙁

      • John,

        i don't know if you have seen my recent comment about your ubergeek app, but i was thinking if you could expand your ubergeek library with some of the questions i have digested from one area of sap help. who knows, maybe, it will become one more channel of educating others about SAP or even obtaining certification?

    • Hi Greg,

      I trialed Business Objects help with this, but what I found that (unlike the more standard SAP help) the search results return rather large PDF files, rather than a single targetted HTML page.  This didn't seem to fit well into the design so I left it out.  I may revisit this in a future release.

  • Excellent work,

    Now we only need to extend the SAP code exchange license, so that mobile application also can become true community projects.
    (current license doesn't allow you to publish it other places, such as the app store, but this will be looked on in the future).

  • This site is the lifeline for many SAP consultants and to have it on your iPhone for instant access is very helpful.

    Thanks John ! I have downloaded and started to use it.

    Mobile is the future

    Sam Varghese
    SAP CRM 7.0 Certified Consultant

    • Hi Sam,
      Thank you, glad you like it.  When I get the time, I hope to upgrade this app to have an iPad specific release as well (I already have a working prototype).  The larger form factor would be very useful when reading the web pages.