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Disclosure Statement:  I have been provided a complimentary copy of the book by one of the authors Tzanko Stefanov, in order to provide a public review.  No other compensation has been received in exchange for this review.  This review reflects only my personal opinion of the book in question and should not be considered an endorsement by my employers, SAP, SAP press, other person or other corporate entity. 

The missing book

When I first heard that a new book on the CRM Webclient was being published, I was excited.  The last book which came out in 2010 was based only CRM 2007 and it did not go into as much detail on the BOL/GENIL and UI component development as I wanted.  The problem is that even though we have a plenty of forum, wiki, and blog posts on the topic, there has never been one resource that explains how to build a new CRM Webclient application from start to finish.   It’s been my one gripe with the SAP CRM webclient framework that the educational materials available leave several topics missing. 

First  impressions

When I got the book I noticed this was not a brief overview of the web client.  The book itself is around 600 pages and most of those pages are filled with deep technical examples.  As I started reading the book I realized that this book although aimed at a beginner, is actually best for those of us who have worked hands-on with the Webclient in SAP CRM and want to fill in those knowledge gaps that are missing.  Even in the first chapter I learned something new, even though it was an overview to provide a foundation for the rest of the book.  I also realized that book will best used when you have a CRM 7.0 EHP1 system available.  Most of the material can be applied to CRM 7.0, but you will find examples and coding that only will work fully if you have an EHP1 system available.

Chapters 2,3,4,5,6,7 – Immediate ROI

These chapters contain the deep technical details of building a CRM Webclient application.  Unlike the predecessor book SAP CRM Webclient Development and Customizing, there is an immediate focus on starting at the lowest layer of how the application is built and working up through the application framework.  I found that Chapter 2 jumps immediately into the details on how to build a GENIL component.  The exercises contained in the chapters are easy to follow, provided you have decent ABAP OO skills.  It would have been nice to have a download of the source provided electronically to eliminate the grunt work of building these in my SAP CRM system, but the manual creation helped in re-enforcing the topics covered.  If the book only consisted of these chapters it would be worth the price.  In fact I liked my copy so much that I purchased the electronic access for this version.

New Features in EHP1

The next three chapters 8,9, 10 & 11 provide a good idea of what to expect of new functionality added by SAP such as the UI component generation, AET enhancements, Rapid Applications and Mashups.  If you are planning or will be working on a SAP CRM 7.0 EHP1 project reading these chapters are must in order to take advantage of the EHP1 release.

“Overlooked Features” of  SAP CRM

The remaining chapters of the book cover what I would consider important but overlooked technical features of SAP CRM.  These features such as the Web Service Tool, Integration with Word and Adobe, Client Side Groupware integration were glossed in previous books before this one.  Each feature now has a dedicated chapter that should allow the reader to become comfortable with these features and start finding ways to fulfill common requirements from end-users using these tools.   I received the book after completing a presentation for SAP Teched Las Vegas 2011 CD119.  I will be recommending to those attending the session that they also refer to chapters 12 & 13 of the book in addition to my slides.  I was impressed that the book went into a similar level of detail as what I had prepared for my presentation.

Overall impressions

The best question that I can ask myself is would I pay full price the book and would I recommend it to people who I know.  The answer would be yes and yes.  In fact I would strongly encourage any SAP Customer who runs SAP CRM or is planning on running SAP CRM to purchase the book.  My only word of caution is that this book is truly aimed at CRM 7.0 EHP1.  Although much of the material is applicable for people on SAP CRM 7.0,  you may not be able to get the complete value from book until you are working with a SAP CRM 7.0 EHP1 system.  If you want to be a SAP CRM Technical Resource on a project and you do not have this book in your library, you will be at a disadvantage on your next project. 

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7 Comments

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  1. Christopher Solomon
    Well written review. Not too lengthy or getting into long rambling opinions. When people talk to me about how HCM(HR) development is “wayyyyy” different than “normal” ABAP (it really isn’t that much), I always say “oh yeh…..you should see CRM!” haha (I had my fill of CRM with CRM 1.0 and 2.0 up to “b”…then one more go at CRM 5 …ahhh the good ol’ days….haha)
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    1. Stephen Johannes Post author
      Perhaps that why I left HR development and focused on CRM because it was not weird enough. I still think though HR can still claim the crown after reversing meaning of sy-subrc.

      Thanks for the compliments on the review.

      Take care,

      Stephen

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  2. Ricardo Quintas
    Congrats Stephen,
    on your terrific and genuine review.

    Wish I could find similar reviews when you to go other sites (Amazon and the like).
    Reading those reviews is often a waste of time.
    Yours was definitely not.

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  3. Luís Pérez Grau
    Is the only thing I can say from your review… I just started to read the chapter 3 (i’m going on my rythm because some points need to be digested slowly ) But just readed the first 2 chapters and I’m very happy with the purchase. It’s a book “where have you been on my last projects!” type 🙂

    Like you I think is the missing part from the “SAP CRM Web Client – Customizing and Development” and for me, those books are indispensable for everyone who wants to work in CRM Web Client.

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  4. Carsten Kasper
    Hey Stephen,

    you already finished reading the book! Great! I started reading some weeks ago, but stopped at the end of chapter 3. Just not enough spare time 🙁

    Just to give you and the others my two cents about this (compared to the german) book. Always remember that this is the point of view of someone who has been working with the WebClient and its framework for over 5 years now. Thus I might not be able to give a good opinion about the value for beginners.

    Having read only the first chapters of the book I would definitley see it as a “hands on” type. There is loads of source code in it that is explained in every detail. While going through a concrete example the GenIL framework is explained. There is a lot of information in the texts that is given as your read. Some of it might easily be overseen or not recognized as that important.
    While it might be very good to get your own component going I would have liked one overview kind of chapter that states the important things to remember. Some kind of bullet points.

    Having skimmed through the rest of the book already I would say it is aimed at CRM 7 EHP1. If you are not running EHP1 (or even CRM 7) you might not be that happy with it. Though it will still be a very helpful resource! In my case it has been exactly what I have been looking for.

    As mentioned before I already have read the german book about WebClient by Tim Back, Uwe Reimitz and Michael Fuechsle. Gregor Wolf asked me some time ago if I could write a short comparision about those two. Well… as I have not finished reading the english one I am not ready now, but plan to in the late 2011 (I am on holiday next month).

    Some first (very personal) impressions:
    – The german book is not nearly as EHP1 as the english.
    – The GenIL chapter in the german book will be more suiteable for people without access to EHP1
    – In the german book the structure is not build around an example project like it seems in the english version.
    – The german book has some “cookbooks” on the last pages. That is the hands on part, the rest is more background and technology.
    – For the english version know and like your ABAP. There are tons of listings in it that probably make up one third of the book. All listings are doubled: One complete and then every piece explained.

    To sum it up:
    If you want a good foundation of background information and how the WebClient came to be. An introduction to the Tag library and the inner workings prefer the german book. I found it a lot more fluent to read mostly because there were not that many endless listings (being german after all could be a fact, too)
    If you want a hand on experience and your aim is to produce results fast in the WebClient framework. Get more practical information about EHP1 functionality. Like ABAP listings and examples: Go for the english.

    Remember: I have only read the first chapters of the english book by now! There might be a whole lot of stuff in it which I overlooked skimming through the remaining chapters!

    Small hint:
    On the german SAP Press website you can get example chapters of the german and the english version. The english examples are the first two chapters about GenIL. Have a look and judge for yourselves.

    Just a small comment about the book Stephen is talking about in the beginning of his blog. I have not read it completely, but spend some time to look at my colleagues copy: In my opinion it is not nearly as helpful as any of the two new books for developers. It is a good intro for functional consultants though. Less technical stuff.

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    1. Stephen Johannes Post author
      Carsten,

      Agree about the book being very hands-on.  For those of us who want to know just how to do it and don’t always care about the why, I think this book covers that.  I wish my German was better so that I could read other version to see what I was missing.

      The original book that I talked about has a lot less red meat, but a developer could get the “recipe” for doing the work but not how to mix up the ingredients.

      Your comments about EHP1 are spot on.  If someone really wants to learn then take the examples from the beginning of the book and build them in an 7.0 system.  It will definitely resolve any open questions about why certain approaches were taken.

      Take care,

      Stephen

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  5. dipsol solanki
    I have to admit the blog  review was fair enough and helped me to choose reading this book  . After CRM  weblcient and  customizing  which didnt drilled into development  factors  at such a deeper level , this book certainly does  .
    I am new to CRM WEB ui  . And  buiding  and going thorugh the book help me visualise and gain confidence  for the real time project scenarios . I am yet to complete the book . I have crossed chapter  6 and will get back once i have completed  the book . Thanks for the book and the reveiw  !!!!
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