SAP proven as the robust, dependable, and integrated software system (ERP) offers wide spectrum of business solutions that makes it attractive to companies in all market segments. The optimized and well integrated database layer makes the ERP system scalable for businesses of small, medium and large sizes.
Standard SAP application interfaces are delivered through Graphical User Interfaces (GUI). SAP also provides proprietary programming languages such as ABAP, BSP, and WebDynpro to customize users interactions with business solutions.
In this blog, I discuss few alternatives to SAP GUI and discuss some of the common questions asked by the clients.
Common technology alternatives available to develop web based user interface are:
- Business Server Pages (BSP)
- ABAP WebDynpro (ABAP WD)
- Java WebDynpro (Java WD)
- Non-SAP Solutions
Table comparing the alternative UI techniques based key criterias:
|Criteria||BSP||ABAP WD||Java WD||Non-SAP|
|Ease of Development||Medium||Medium||Complex||Medium|
|Skill set in the Market||Easy to find||Rare||Very Rare||Depends|
|Time to Market||Fast||Medium||Slow||Slow|
|Integration with SAP||Built in||Built in||Build in||ES|
|Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Leverages Enterprise Services (ES)||Not needed||Not needed||Yes||Yes|
|Leverages Function Modules (FMs)||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Leverages Remote Function Calls (RFCs)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Business Server Pages (BSP):
It is the most marketed User Interface tool by SAP. The development duration can be drastically reduced if we have experienced ABAP WD developer. This development tool is an attempt by SAP to compete with leading UI development tools from Adobe and Microsoft. The web application is stateful. Best part of ABAP WD is, developers can utilize function modules and RFCs seamlessly since, the code runs on the ABAP stack.
In my opinion, SAP wants to be impartial hence they provided the Java WebDynpro version for anyone who wants to build applications using Java. Netweaver Developer Studio (NWDS) (compare it to visual studio for .NET) is required to develop Java WebDynpro applications. The web application is stateful. Enterprise services (ES) are used by the Java application to process data. Enterprise services Repository (ESR) is in-built with NWDS which makes it easy for Java developer to find a ES without having to depend on a ABAP resource. RFCs and BAPIs can also be used. Java stack should be implemented in order to develop Java WebDynpro applications.
Microsoft .NET solutions are very common considering that many companies are Microsoft shops and have some .NET developers in house. The Enterprise Service Repository (ESR) enables .NET applications to interact with SAP. However, ESR does not have answer to all user needs in which case custom RFCs are required. The common problems arise with the use of proxies and .NET connectors when using RFCs. Technical troubleshooting could sometimes be challenging since it requires interaction between Microsoft and SAP development team who can sometimes struggle finding the problem area if they don’t understand each others technology.
Adobe offers creative solutions that enable SAP customers to develop rich internet applications (RIA). Adobe flash islands can be embedded inside BSP and WebDynpro programs. Flex Ajax Bridge (FABridge) allow users to transfer data between Flash island and SAP.
Enterprise Service Workplace serves as the repository for enterprise services and documentation. http://esworkplace.sap.com
Disclaimer: The article and the content are authors reflection on technology based on experience and research. Please use this as a guidelines and do further research before finalizing your technology options.