SAP Business ByDesign is a comprehensive, integrated suite that runs entire businesses including financials, human resources, sales, procurement, customer service and supply chain. However, the specialization of companies, cultural habits and customs, or local regulations may require adaptations and enhancements of the out-of-the-box Business ByDesign solution. Enterprise mashups provide means to furnish end user personalization and key user adaptation without requiring development skills. Thus, customers may adapt user interfaces (UIs) by adding customer-specific controls (e.g., map or chart components), hide irrelevant fields, or change UI compositions.
Default Screen and Personalized Business ByDesign Screen
Besides customizing UIs, users may also incorporate data provided by external services. To broaden the support for external service formats, SAP Research and Business ByDesign Development have teamed up to integrate SOAP and OData service support. While SOAP represents a well-established service format, OData promotes a novel REST-like approach where resources are identified by a URI and create, read, update, and delete operations (CRUD) are carried out using HTTP methods (e.g., GET, POST). This article illustrates the process to embed external services materialized as so called enterprise mashups. The general workflow applies to SOAP and OData services as well as to already supported service formats such as REST and RSS/Atom.
As noted before, there is the end user personalization and the key user adaptation approach to adapt UIs to personal or organizational needs. The former approach allows end users to change personal screens, which affects only individual screens. The latter approach enables key users to modify UIs of the entire organization or department. In a first example, we demonstrate the end user personalization process where an office worker wants to incorporate a local weather forecast directly into the Business ByDesign home screen. There are numerous free weather services available providing up-to-date forecast data. One example is the SOAP-based weather service offered by CDYNE Corporation that is specified by a dedicated WSDL file http://wsf.cdyne.com/WeatherWS/Weather.asmx?WSDL. The WSDL service description comprises three service operations: (1) GetCityForecastByZIP, (2) GetCityWeatherByZIP, and (3) GetWeatherInformation. In the exemplary personalization workflow, we will leverage the GetCityForecastByZIP service operation returning forecast data according to a specific ZIP code. Assuming the office worker resides in Manhattan, the SOAP service is configured with a predefined ZIP code “10001” to retrieve the weather forecast of Manhattan. The following screencast walks through the required steps to embed the SOAP weather service in the Business ByDesign home screen.
Create a simple SOAP Weather Mashup (best viewed in HD – Full Screen)
After having demonstrated the end user personalization workflow, the second customization option shows the key user adaptation capable of tailoring UIs for entire organizations. In this demo, the key user integrates a reverse lookup service that fetches company information, such as company name, address, etc., according to a telephone number. In contrast to the isolated weather service, this lookup service injects its results directly into a given Business ByDesign screen. The communication between existing UI fields and mashups is realized by UI ports. While mashups consume data via UI out ports, data retrieved by mashups is passed to the UI using dedicated UI in ports. In the following screencast, we leverage the SOAP-based lookup service provided by StrikeIron Inc. that is also specified by a WSDL description http://ws.strikeiron.com/ReversePhoneAddressLookup?WSDL.
Inject results of a SOAP-based Lookup Service into the Business ByDesign UI (best viewed in HD – Full Screen)
In this article, we showed two possibilities to incorporate existing SOAP web services in the Business ByDesign solution leveraging the enterprise mashup tooling. The implementation of the SOAP service support as well as the OData service support was a joint endeavor of SAP Research and Business ByDesign Development. While SOAP represents a widely adopted service format, the OData support is especially important in the light of SAP’s strategy to open up a myriad of Business Suite services as OData services.