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Going  to the SAP Portal forums to seek – and more important – give answers isn’t the same as a year ago. SAP released Portal 7.3 and 7.0 EHP2 is gaining a wider installation base. This means that SAP currently has 7 portal products out there:

  • Portal 6
  • Portal 7
  • Portal 7 EHP1
  • Portal 7 EHP2
  • CE 7.1 (no KM)
  • CE 7.2 (no KM)
  • Portal 7.3

And portal components that differ between each product:

  • Web Page Composer (WPC) for Portal 7and 7,3
  • Forums for Portal 6 & 7 and 7.3
  • Wiki add-ons for Portal 7 and the build in Wiki for 7.3
  • Default (classic) framework page for 6 & 7 and the new Ajax framework page (AFP) for 7.3. AFP can be used out-of-the-box with the new signature design and be customized by using the L-Shape API (Javascript)

Then there are several Business Packages, each depending on the correct backend version, Visual Composer with different flex versions and capabilities (flex1, flex2, VC4WD), different types of integration options (Federated Portal Network: RDL, RRA, RAI), BI report integration (BEx, Crystal, BI4), SAP Gui HTML, Java, Windows, and the list goes on and on. And to complicated everything: several SPS + patches for each version and several Java vendors (Sun/Oracle, HP, IBM, SAP).

Such a wide range of options and alternatives demands a lot of accurate information to categorize the question correctly. In the SAP Portal forums you can find posts like: I have a problem with the masthead, WPC isn’t working, How do I customize the navigation, application throws ClassNotFound error. Comparing these rather generic questions with the huge number of possible combinations from the list above, threads are approached in a rather stupendous way:

“What version are you on / can you post the log / did you try xyz / have you tried it with firefox / etc”

This blows up the thread, but is not useful at all. It’s not uncommon that only after 3 to 4 posts the thread starts focusing on the actual problem. Not everybody will read through four posts, most will stop after reading the generic question and the first “give us more information” post. First step before posting a question of course is to do extensive research on you own on the topic. That means that you check the standard SAP help resources:

  • SAP Community Network
  • SAP Help
  • SAP Notes
  • PAM
  • Installation guidelines
  • Training material

You may not have access to all of this information (specially the training material), but besides the public (== Google) accessible sources you should do a SAP Notes search. The list of questions answered by SAP Notes is impressive, meaning that either the OP failed to find the note or did not even try. The later case is inexcusable. Case you don’t have an S-User: get one. You need to have an S-User if you want to solve SAP related problems.

When you post a question to the SAP Portal forums and expect useful answers, please add the following information:

  • Portal version (e.g. 7, 7.02, SPS) and when the error involves another software: that version too.
  • Relevant default trace output: when the error message presented to you says:
                Portal runtime error.
  An exception occurred while processing your request.
  Send the exception ID to your portal administrator.
  Exception ID: 66:66_31/12/11_6666_’1234567890
  Refer to the log file for details about this exception.
   
  ==> The system administrator is you and the log file is the default trace file of the portal. Search for the Exception ID given.
  • Browser you are using and check that the browser is supported as by PAM. Make sure you have a vanilla installation of a supported browser at hand (for Firefox: you can download one at portalableapps.com) so that no 3rd party add-on is causing the error.
  • Framework page you are using
  • Does the error occur not only with your customized desktop or also with the default out-of-the-box configuration of the SAP Portal?
  • SAP Notes already consulted and applied
  • Access problem? Check the permissions (PCD, Security zones) and use the diagtool and post the information obtained
  • If the scenario involves another system like ABAP: activate the trace there and post the result

Yes, this list means that you will spent some time in gathering the information, but at least you won’t have to answer this basic questions in the first 3 answers you get. And instead of attracting users interested in the “easy” questions you may get answered from the people interested in real, not-so-easy problems.

After you posted a question, please be aware that SCN isn’t the official support channel of SAP. If you need an official answer, open an OSS message. Most posters that try to help are not SAP employees, we don’t get money for posting answers and we are not bound to any SLA. If you don’t get a question the same day … be patient.

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7 Comments

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  1. Olivier CHRETIEN
    Hi Tobias,

    I really hope that people will read your blog and even better follow your excellent advices.

    But I am afraid that a lot of people are too lazy for that…

    (0) 
    1. Tobias Hofmann Post author
      Hi Olivier,

      I hope that too. But as you already commented: for someone whom even Google is too much of work …

      Even with the new SCN some thing won’t change: people need to understand that the portal touches many areas, and it is not enough to just know a little bit of web browsing experience to be a portal expert. SSO, Reverse Proxy scenarios, BI integration: these are complex topics, doesn’t make any sense to post a question without doing first some serious research on the topic. When the poster doesn’t know how to check the default trace and interpret it …

      Tobias

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  2. Eneko Jon Bilbao
    Great points, agree totally and this really points out the problems that we have when troubleshooting random “Portal Problems”.

    You should post it as a sticky in the Portal forums too.

    (0) 
      1. Tobias Hofmann Post author
        Not everybody is reading the sticky posts, there are portal related blogs that have a higher view number than the “Welcome and Rules of Engagement” post.
        Many do read / scan daily the blog posts, I hope that at least 1 will read this blog and reconsider how his way of posting.
        Your alternative would be a strict enforcement of the forum rules? Or ignore the posts? Or …?

        Tobias

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  3. Vilhjalmsson Bjorn
    Valuable input, including the closing remarks that corrects the misunderstanding that many community members have, this isn’t SAP official support even though there are a lot of SAP employees providing very valuable information and problem solving in the blogs, forums and articles.  Anyone just joining should be aware that the majority of content in the forums is from people donating their time in helping others, often while they themselves are getting help with other topics.  I am looking forward to the new Jive platform for SDN/SCN and hoping that it will help even more to increase the value of the community (pretty certain that it will).
    (0) 
  4. Sandeep Tudumu

    Very well put across!

    Over and above all, people bribing here as well! Points will be rewarded for helpful answers. Really!!!!

    Certain things which might change the way SCN works

    1. Include a set of radio buttons, which covers most of the basic questions like version, browser etc.

    2. Did you have a look at the trace files (yes / no radio button)

    3. Did you try this with another user (yes / no radio button)

    4. Did you try this on another system/machine (yes / no radio button)

    Make these radio buttons mandatory before some one posts a question, life will be much simpler, for people who have a zeal to help others.

    Cheers!

    (0) 

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