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Since SAP TechEd, there has been a lot of discussion about the news that was announced at SAP TechEd about the future focus of Web Dynpro Java and Visual Composer.  A few notable blogs on this topic are by:

Kiss of Death for Web Dynpro Java – The Follow-Up Questions

Video Blog: The Future of SAP Java UIs – Breaking News and Customer Dialogue from SAP TechEd Las Vegas

Technology Stability in a World of Constant Change

The particular sessions at SAP Teched that announced this message were:

CD201:  Web Dynpro Java and SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer:  What’s New in SAP NetWeaver 7.3?

CD250:  ASUG SAP NetWeaver User Interface Influence Council Update

What is SAP’s future direction?

 

 

The high-level message pertaining to the future roadmap of these 2 UI technologies was:

 

Based on customer needs and feedback, SAP intends to deliver some round-offs to WDJ and Visual Composer.  However, as these are considered mature technologies, no major overhaul is planned as of today.

In other words, after SAP NetWeaver 7.3, no major enhancements will be delivered for Web Dynpro Java and Visual Composer.

I had already heard this information when SAP briefed the ASUG SAP NetWeaver UI Influence Council on this topic in order to gage SAP Customer/SAP Community reaction.

When the council first heard this announcement we were taken by surprise. 

When the Influence Council first formed and we prioritized which UI technologies were the most important, Visual Composer was 2nd and Web Dynpro Java 4th out of the thirteen technologies that were in scope.  In the Requirements Document we prepared and submitted to SAP for the first phase of the UI Influence Council, some of the issues cross-posted for both WDA and WDJ (ex. visual styling limitations), or, an option that was available in one Web Dynpro was requested to be made available for the other (ex. the enhancement framework is only available for Web Dynpro ABAP and it needs to be ported to Web Dynpro Java).

Another important item to note is that when the UI Influence Council sent out a survey earlier this year, Web Dynpro Java and Visual Composer were the top 2 and 3 UI technologies that customers were going to use in the near future:

 

We didn’t quite understand SAP’s decision to no longer invest in Web Dynpro Java and Visual Composer since so many customers indicated they were going to be using these technologies.  So, we took some time to absorb this information and then provided SAP with our response. 

Overall, we felt we were getting a mixed message from SAP of “yes, go ahead and use it (WDJ and/or Visual Composer), but, we are not going to continue to invest in it”.  Some people in the council were confused and we were concerned that if the council was confused, it would confuse other people in the SAP community as well. 

We continued this discussion with “OK, we understand the facts, it is no longer going to be developed or continue to get enhanced, but, we as customers need to strategically think about what that means to our business.  Do we continue to use these technologies, or do we look for something else?” 

We have heard about Project Phoenix – the new JavaScript based UI rendering toolset.

But, as we have not been able to actually try it out, it is hard to form an opinion.

One thing to consider is that Web Dynpro ABAP will continue to get enhanced while Web Dynpro Java will not.  So, the functional differences between WDA and WDJ will become greater with time.

In SAP NetWeaver 7.3, Web Dynpro Java and Visual Composer have been enhanced and SAP has made it clear that these technologies will continue to be supported.  The question of what UI technology to use is still the same – you need to research all of the options and decide what is best for you.

This blog was written from the viewpoint of being the SAP Customer Lead for the ASUG User Interface Influence Council.

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6 Comments

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  1. Raj Govender
    Hi Karin,

    Thanks for your blog, very informative. It frustrates me as a WD4J developer who spent the last 5 years fine tuning my knowledge and now feel abandoned by the very company that I fully support. Oh well, at least my Portal skills won’t go to waste:-) To me it feels like since the Oracle takeover, SAP is hell bent on taking the limelight away from Java. However, I do like the what the slides shows about including HTML5, JQuery and other technologies, more choice is always a good thing. I’ve heard about Project Phoenix, any more information on this?   

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    1. Karin Tillotson Post author
      Hi,

      About the only additional information on Project Phoenix that I have is from session CD165 at SAP TechEd.  The tentative availability is sometime in the second half of 2011.  The name of it will probably change (to something other than Phoenix).  It will support new standards such as CSS3 and HTML5.  Phoenix provides an Eclipse perspective within which you may create you own UI controls.  And, it will also allow you to apply your own custom branding and theming.  So, keep your eyes and ears open as I am sure there will be more information from SAP on this in the near future.
      Best Regards,
      Karin Tillotson

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    2. Marco Furlanetto
      Hey Raj,

      Don’t get frustrated buddy, your Java programming skills will still be useful. And if you decide to ramp up ABAP WD skills, you will already know the WD structure and have the MVC pattern in mind 😉

      Cheers,
      Marco

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  2. Susan Keohan
    Karin,

    It always helps to get another perspective – and I know how hard the UI Influence Group has been working on research and strategies.  Thank you for sharing with us!

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  3. Martin English
    Karin,
    first off, thanks for your work on the UI Influence Council. 

    It’s been amusing following the discussions since the announcements at TechEd.  You would get the impression from some of the commentary that it is no longer possible to code in WebDynpro for Java, or that it’s no longer possible to get support for either SAP or Customer Developments in WDJ.  And of course, because of the close relationship between WDJ and the Visual Composer, similar comments have been flying around about THAT !!

    Now, I’ve just checked the PAM ( http://service.sap.com/pam ) and what do I find ?

    Product               SAP NETWEAVER CE 7.2
    Maintenance ends      31.12.2015
    Extended Maint ends   31.12.2017

    So the current release contains WDJ, and it will be supported for another 4 years (or 6 years, if you want to pay extra).  The Netweaver 7.3 versions (which are also guaranteed to conatin WDJ) will have the same (or later) end of support dates.  In the worst case, that should provide enough lead time to move your customer to JDE or PeopleSoft (where the worst case includes SAP actively removing WDJ from Netweaver 7.4 and onwards).

    In other words, just because SAP are not actively improving WDJ after 7.3 doesn’t mean it will not be supported, does not mean it will not be available.

    Given the rate of change in web functionality and usability in general, in SAP interfaces, the different device targets we will see in 5 or 6 years and so on, I think even the most technically minded among us will have more pressing concerns in 2015.

    thanks

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