Better Presentation Layer in SAP Portal.
I am working on SAP Portal from several years and worked with different clients directly on UI strategies and architect decisions discussions.
There are few questions,
1. why SAP Portal is not in top 5 most preffered portals list.
2. why SAP Webdynpro is not so popular?
3. why most of the end users does not like Webdynpro?
4. Also most of the customers whats to build applications on other Portals or integrate SAP Portal applications on other portals?
SAP Portal End users think that Webdynpro is not a better UI , it is slow, it takes lot of time to get data and look and feel is not nice. Also uses think that they see the backend ecc look and feel and the colors no one like that.
I know that Webdynpro applications development is more faster than a JSP or ASP pages. I know that Webdynpro have MVC model, better integration with ECC using RFCs, WebServices and other technologies like JCOs. But enduser never think about these development efforts, ultimately he needs a better look and feel.
Also there are instances where users wants to show the SAP data in Sharepoint Portal or Weblogic or Websphere portal or even they are looking for alternatives like Open source portals. Because they think that only the other portals can give them better look and feel.
I know that we can even leverage JSF or HTML5 or Flex based applications can be build on SAP Portal, but all our business packages like ESS or other are build on Webdynpro and are not looking nice for the end user.
When we see java swing or visual basic the same look and feel we will get if we see webdynpro applications, Java Swing and visual basic are client side applications not web applications. We can still show Java Swing application in web or internet browser using old applets. But the main problem is the jar file has to download first into client machine and then it will run on the browser, this will take more waiting time.
In the same way, Webdynpro applications show faster UI but on external facing portal data pulling and pushing (request and response) are very slow.
So, I heard that most of the end users expects UI build on AJAX and web 3.0 like HTML5 or JSF, good look and feel, faster.
Even I feel the business content delivered using webdynpro , most of the users wants to think more times whether they can rewrite them in different other web technologies like .NET, JSF or Flex.
Look and feel is the key for future applications. I also feel that if SAP can integrate JSF or JSP or any other web 3.0 technologies in line with Webdynpro tools(NWDS, plugins to connect to SAP backend using more modeling and less coding), then developer can easily build the applications and also end user will be happy.
You can't teach a old dog, any new tricks.
From the beginning, SAP is adament about user experience, just cares about functionality features.
Also either SAP enterprise portal, or TREX(search engine) or KM&C (content management)etc., tools and technologies in User Integration area, SAP doesn't want to develop a world-class product. These products could have been developed to compete in the market on their own, instead of some SAP customer must-have add-on's. But SAP either due to budgets or due to lack of will never put forth that effort.
Atleast in the coming Web3.0 period, SAP should strive to be a leader, otherwise SAP Portal would be a simple service running on their Java Web Application server.
My 2 cents,
I hope that SAP grab this paradigm shift applicational in order to improve the UI in a structured way, planned and in accordance with the current needs of customers and learning from past mistakes.
I agree , too. for sure there are customers thinking about migrating their systems to Sharepoint, websphere or an open source tool due to the missing usability/bad layout.
I do not think SAP Portal has matured to become a real portal and has always remained to be a over glorified SSO engine (minor themeing). Here are the major issues which would prevent this technology to ever grow to become a true portal platform.
1. The fact that the SAP Portal acts as a pass through (a.k.a Frame structure) instead of a true aggregator makes it a fake portal. This means the Portal is merely an SSO engine (like any Access Management softwares - like site minder.) and some unified rendering.
2. Lack of solid Portal development technology. SAP has always been confused about what's the best Portal development technology. JSPDynPage, AbstractPortal Component, WebDynPro Java, WebDynPro ABAP, J2EE etc. This lack of a strategic web technology stopped people from adopting SAP for their primary portal unless they put more than necessary web developers to make it look like a normal website (examples pfizerpro.com etc)
I am excited about SAP's Forums and Wiki and wondered if SAP can acquire Jive.com to leverage existing best of breed solutions instead of building everything in ABAP, which has its roots stretching to 20 or so years back in history.
My humble opinion,
Currently, with extra effort you can already create beautiful Web Dynpro layouts.
However, I believe SAP could improve on
- A more flexible way of applying portal themes
- Allow the Web Dynpro framework to add your own custom-made UI control libraries in a more straightforward manner
- Improve the current standard Web Dynpro UI controls (Table, Tabstrip, etc). Especially the Table control would benefit from a more AJAXey behavior