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A lot has been raked and ranted about SAP UI strategy in the last few years and the story continues to linger on with every new SAP event. Teched 2010 is no exception. When it looked as though questions around SAP UI strategy had been laid to rest, the announcement on WebDynpro Java and Visual Composer has once again stirred up concerns.

At the outset the rationale behind the decision seems acceptable atleast from a ‘customer need’ perspective & from a developer’s perspective. WebDynpro has been quite inflexible thus not a favorite inspite of the great advantages it offers. Furthermore the idea of lightweight UIs thrills everyone as this was long due. On the flip side however is the consulting indecision/dilemma it brings along! Here is one such scenario…

A week before couple of my customers decided to use SAP UI technology for designing their user interfaces. The obvious choice for them was a Java based UI as they had several non SAP integration points. Even though WebDynpro Java was not a perfect fit, it atleast met their basic necessity. The announcement however has left them in no man’s land.

a) They cant choose WDJ or VC to invest when they know it’s lifetime is most likely till 2018. Video Blog: The Future of SAP Java UIs – Breaking News and Customer Dialogue from SAP TechEd Las Vegas

b) They dont wish to choose WDA as they have several non SAP integration points plus their IT staff skillset is centered around Java.

c) They wont choose JSF as it is non-SAP UI standard on Java. 

With no strategic UI option available on SAP Java, they are in a fix (So am I 🙂 ).

The light at the end of the tunnel is that SAP is aggressively investing on developing lightweight UIs, but on which technology, the lifetime of the framework, the timeline of GA and the choice of UI on SAP Java till then, are some of the open questions that SAP alone can answer.  

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  1. Pete Lagana
    When it comes to SAP UIs, we have one simple motto – Find A Way.  Find a way to get it done.  Web Dynpro Java, ABAP, VC, at the end of the day, its not about the backend business logic as much as it is about the user interface being right.  This means digging in under the covers.  Now, I don’t think Java WD was the best choice for your customers, b/c it is a heavy UI that is inflexible – NOT because of the recent SAP support announcements.  Have your customers considered JSP Dynpage?  We’ve developed all kinds of UIs in that technology, and having JAVA based skillsets in house will bode well for enhancements.  See example of work we’ve done in JSP Dynpage here http://www.pfizerpro.com/  Alot more possibilities and lightness there, and they won’t need to wait in limbo for things like project gateway or other UIs to come to bear.
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    1. Lakshminarayanan V Post author
      Thanks for your comment. I accept what you say is technically correct. Why only JSP Dynpage, JSF (JEE 5) is a great answer in itself. I have myself built EFPs using APCs too. There are plenty of options thus.

      When it comes to transactional application UIs in the intranet, WebDynpro is an option. The reason  is the fast pace of development it offers. The concept of controls that ASP .Net offers extensively, is available in a restricted manner is wd, yet it is powerful. So no questions on the WDJ framework’s usage. The development time for JSP/JSF/Dynpages is significantly higher than WDJ when the backend systems are SAP XXX systems.

      But customers dont take only technical answers. It is strategies that matter, SAP strategy in particular. That strategy is missing or not clear on SAP Java UIs. For e.g we dont know if SAP will ever improve JSF/JSP on SAP JEE 5. We all know they are waiting for HTML5 but thats rendering end of the day. What UI framework will be supported on JEE is still not known.

      **The context of lightweight UI need not be misunderstood to mean only EFP pages. WD is sometimes heavy even for the intranet, hence the rise of an alternate UI that is light and flexible is inevitable.

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  2. Eric Martin

    hi, very interesting article, thanks.
    I was wondering if there is any official sap document (like sap note for example) saying that Java web dynpro support will stop after 2018; generally speaking, I didn’t found official document regarding the java strategy for SAP; I searched for a long time and I was not able to find this document.
    Thanks and regards

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