Is Web Dynpro for Java dead? Good question or an irrelevant one. Well, I have been inspired to blog about this after I came across two forum queries (Is Web Dynpro for JAVA DEAD? and discussing the same issue) both appearing just a couple of days apart from each other. For someone who has been involved with Web Dynpro Java for more than half of his career, it was rather painful
Some have reached to this conclusion because SAP has either started migrating most of its applications or has already migrated a few of them from Web Dynpro Java to Web Dynpro ABAP. Apparently, nobody has yet tried to figure out the reasons behind the step and I am also not the right person to comment on that. The decision can surely be supported by a more plausible explanation. But I am sure it was not done to “KILL” Web Dynpro for Java!! From what I have understood and from whatever I have read about it, this migration was done as part of a complete redesign of the system and considering the advantages that Web Dynpro ABAP has over Web Dynpro Java and as far as I am concerned, this decision makes complete technology and business sense. Wouldn’t you choose the best technology to build your application with?
Some have reached to this conclusion based on rumors; something which may have started as a mere coffee corner discussion has just been blown out of proportion. I guess we cannot help here much, except to request everybody to get their facts right and if required, clarified from appropriate sources. I suggest everyone go through Is Web Dynpro for JAVA DEAD? reply by Chris Whealy, an SAP veteran and a Web Dynpro Java Expert. I personally loved his “Cat is a dog” scenario
Moreover, as Jochen Guertler, another SAP veteran puts across clearly in his reply to the same forum thread, “Web Dynpro for Java is still the first option to build java based UIs within the SAP eco-system”.
Some more have apprehensions about Web Dynpro Java’s future after Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle. I am sure “Continued Investment” in Java will benefit Oracle and it is intelligent enough to understand that. I guess this acquisition by Oracle poses more threat to Microsoft rather than the Java community. Hence, if the future of Web Dynpro Java depends upon what Oracle does with Java, then it is not only true for Web Dynpro Java but an entire “Composition Environment” that SAP ships based on Java. So is true for a lot of other vendors with a lot of products based on Java.
At the end of the day, let’s face the fact that developing in Web Dynpro Java is much more user-friendly than doing the same in Web Dynpro ABAP. Personally, I wouldn’t want it to die as long as I have to develop SAP UIs. An ABAP Editor on eclipse might still go a long way in making my life easier, but for the time being Web Dynpro for Java is my first choice for developing user interfaces within the SAP world.
What does the future hold…..
SAP has recently released Composition Environment 7.2 and along with it has been shipped a number of new features and quite a few enhancements that make application development using Web Dynpro for Java so much more pleasant and user friendly. I suggest users have a look at this demo kit by Jochen Guertler to know more about these features. I don’t think SAP would approve of such an investment into a technology that is dead.
If “good-looking” and responsive UI is what users are looking for, Web Dynpro for Java already provides Flex and Silverlight integration capabilities apart from JSF and AJAX support. Check out this link for more details. Let me also add that I am not trying to do a comparative study between the various UI technologies here. I am just trying to find a place for Web Dynpro amongst them all. And this is where, the customers/users of Web Dynpro for Java will have to come in. Their feedback is very important for the improvement of the technology, both in terms of integration capabilities as well as feature enrichment. Hope they listen to us as much as we do to them !!
Moreover, I assume there are discussions going on regarding the pros and cons of making the technology Web Dynpro for Open Source. Opening up the technology may not be an easy thing to do with the programming model being shared between WD ABAP and WD Java apart from controlling the runtime aspects of it. Just opening up the tool would hardly help. This concept will definitely take some time to mature, but holds a great deal of potential.
I guess I have made enough and more arguments in trying to justify the invalidity of the subject line. I could go on further but the arguments trying to justify the validity of the subject line could also be manifold, but that stands true for any technology that’s as old as Web Dynpro. Well, let me wrap up with what Chris describes Web Dynpro Java as i.e. a mature and stable technology and if I may optimistically add, more acceptable.