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Shortly after Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9 (IE 9) Mozilla is going to release Firefox 4 (FF 4). The release is scheduled for March 22th (see Wikipedia and mailing list).

 

This means – once more – that we have to check if a new browser will work together with the portal and, more importantly, with the applications integrated like Web Dynpro ABAP, Java, ITS, BSP, BI, etc.

 

My opinion in regards to the impact is the same as for IE 9 (One more browser: Internet Explorer 9). For Intranet portals and for companies with a good IT department the release of FF 4 won’t be of any immediately impact. It simply will need time to roll out FF4. Enough time to gather feedback from SAP about the support for FF 4 and to plan corresponding actions. When SAP decided to support FF 4 with the initial release of 7.3, this can even be used as a very good argument to upgrade to NetWeaver 7.3 Portal.

 

What concerns me more is the support for FF 3.5. To remind you: that is the only Firefox version support as of today for the most used Portal / NetWeaver versions (7.00 & 7.01). When FF 3.6 was released (Jan 2010), soon after FF 3.0 entered EOL (Mar 2010). With the release of FF 4 we have to consider that Mozilla will stop supporting FF 3.5 in the near future. As we know, when Mozilla stops supporting its product, SAP will also stop supporting it.

In the current PAM (March 2011) SAP added support for FF 3.6 with SPS 24. So there is no reason to panic; except that this SPS is scheduled for 7.00 for week 19 (May) and when you are on 7.01 (EHP1) it’s scheduled for week 21 (May). I hope you are on 7.02 (EHP2) and SPS 6. Than you already have support for FF 3.6. If not: hope that Mozilla will continue supporting FF 3.5 to at least June 2011 to give us some time to evaluate the SPS.

 

But what about the companies that will switch soon to FF 4 or that are running an external facing portal? FF 4 isn’t coming with a backward compatibility renderer as IE 9. So you cannot force the page to be rendered in FF 3.5 / 3.6 mode. And what happens when you access a Web Dynpro Java application with FF 4? This:

image

 

You can take a look at this standard error message when accessing this link: http://server:port/webdynpro/resources/sap.com/tc~wd~dispwda/global/noclient.htm

 

Searching for Firefox 4 in the SAP Notes database reveals one possible solution: SAP Note 1524910

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4 Comments

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  1. NGUYEN VAN THAN clement
    As indicated in the SAP note, a work around is to install a plugin for Firefox to change the user agent:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/fr/firefox/addon/user-agent-switcher/?id=59

    After installation of this plugin:
    – edit the options and create a new user agent
    – change the Gecko version in the field user agent (change ‘rv:2’ by ‘rv:1’)
    – save this new user agent and select it before launching the application.

    This works for me with WDJ 7.0.21.

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    1. Tobias Hofmann Post author
      Thanks for mentioning the SAP Note, do you also have the note number?

      This work around works for companies, but what when you don’t have this kind of control over your users? What when partners, clients, suppliers are accessing your application? Do you have the power to enforce them to install and configure a Firefox addon?

      br, Tobias

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  2. Sascha Wenninger
    …and what really concerns me is that in 2011, software vendors (and some developers) feel that locking your users out of your application solely based on their user agent is a good idea!

    In this decade, browser release cycles get ever-faster and software which does this primitive checking will get more and more annoying for users, only a tiny minority of whom will be bothered to play with the user agent string sent by their browser. Most will just take their business elsewhere given the choice.

    Sascha

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    1. Tobias Hofmann Post author
      Changing the user agent string isn’t really a neat option. Why is the browser version blocked when the page works fine when emulating a non-blocked browser? After all: the page works with the not-so-supported browser.

      br, Tobias

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