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New Visual Identity – Corbu Theme for ESS/MSS

SAP delivered with enhancement pack 5 (Business Suite Innovations 2010) & MSS Add-on 1.0 WD ABAP based Self Services UI. The main focus of this delivery was to improve the end user efficiency, effectiveness and intuitiveness based on new UI guidelines. Additionally we addressed many TCO drivers in terms of offering the solution with much UI configuration possiblities and offering the self services without bundling with SAP Enterprise Portal.

With new offering of ESS/MSS there was still a feedback from customers (and our sales folks) that the new UI should look modern, have new fresh icons, remove too many shades of blue in the screen.. etc. For sure there are theming possiblities that are well known using theme editor in portal environment but there is effort to adjust look of WD ABAP applications to detailed level (some things like icon changes not possible). Due to efforts many customers did not do extensive theming efforts of applications but only adjusted shell areas in portal and branding. There was also additional issues related to upgrade of themes with backend upgrades.

To address this we started with a project jointly between Visual designers, rendering experts, application developerss to provide a new visual identity for ESS/MSS applications (to be followed in other HCM and suite areas later). This new visual identity is called by a theme SAP_CORBU. Corbu derives name from Le Corbusier a Modern Swiss architect and designer . The name also indicates the goals that the new theme should be modern, neutral so that it fits very well with various shells/portals and simple from look and feel perspective.

This new theme is now released for ESS/MSS customers based on enhancement pack 6 (Business Suite Innovations 2011). Theme objects are available from NW 7.31 SP02 with enhancements in SP03. Release information and restriction of usage of this can be found in SAP Note 1681640.

What do you get with this theme?

  • A new modern, simple looking theme that improves overall look of Self Services; Increased sizes and fonts improves readability
  • Newly adopted NWBC HTML shell that matches new theme for applications
  • HCM specific flash islands (including Nakisa Org chart viewer) matched to new theme
  • Neutral and better fitments of color scheme when used in non SAP portals like sharepoint
  • Large set of new icons and pictograms that are modernized with new theme without affecting existing icons in older themes
  • Enhanced look for specific controls example: panel stack
  • Possibility to activate the theme per backend system and per application (ignoring portal theme when used in SAP Portal environment)

Is there any impact on custom WD ABAP applications?

  • In most cases there are no effort for applications since the new theme works for all WD ABAP applications out of the box. However visual verification of UI is recommended to be performed to check for any truncation of texts or misalignment due to increased font sizes and line height
  • If applications have used old icon library ICON_* then new icons will not be loaded. Only icons ~icon/* can be used. Please see note 1681640 for details

Hope you like this theme and we would love to hear how you perceive this new theme as a self service developer and end user for self services.

I have attached some comparison screenshots that I find most intersting to give overview of new look.

Screenshot1: Shows the newly designed NWBC HTML shell and pictograms (rendering the ESS Service map based on PFCG role)

NWBC HTML  ESS Homepage.png

Screenshot2: Shows the newly designed MSS Homepage with team view flash islands themed for Corbu

MSS Homepage.png

Screenshot3: Shows the employee profile with new panel stack visualizations and complete new icon set

ESS Profile.png

Screenshot4: Shows the employee leave request with new panel stack visualizations, calendar design

ESS Leave Request.png

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  • It doesn’t seem like a very major change. Everything just seems to have gone “flat” instead of “shiney”….which means in a year or so, it all goes “shiney” again (haha). I am interested in seeing what is coming (per EhP6) in the way of HTML5 and what will be ustomizable for the UI in that regard. Are Flash Islands on the way out?

    • Just with skinning/theme efforts you can never expect major UI change but just a facelift 🙁 but believe me many customers and users said that this new “flat” theme is looking better.

      There is not any HTML5 content in EHP6( which is  already out) but is planned for a later release. May be you get more info in SAPPHIRE this year. Regarding flash islands there is no plan to remove them from individual applications (in MSS and talent applications) as of now 🙂

      • Hi Sagar,

        Hope you are well. Can you please help me with the below Query. We have recently implemented CORBU theme which works fine for all the applications but when it comes to reports it gives the message saying “CORBU THEME IS NOT SUPPORTED FOR THIS APPLICATION PLEASE SEE NOTE 1681286, But that note Note 0001681286  is just a consulting note. It does not have any coding corrections with it.

        so how do i resolve this. Can you please help. Thanks a MILLION.screen shot.PNG

        screen shot.PNG
    • So far Corbu is not offered for further editing since there is no official standalone released theme editor. If you are in portal environment then you could always create a custom theme based on theme like tradeshow where you could adjust to corporate colors.

      You can search for eclipse based theme editor in SDN and correspoding discussion threads for tips/tricks and what can be done with existing theme capabilitites

      I will update this space when there is info available for futher customizing.

      • Hi Sagar,

        Thanks for sharing your knowledge… We are using NWBC to access ESS/MSS application so is there an option to implement CORBU or a modified version as you suggest…?

      • Hi Sagar,

        Do you have any news on when we will be able to make customer-adjusted versions of SAP_CORBU?


        Best regards,

        Martin Søgaard

  • Hi Sagar, thanks for this blog.  I saw it when you first published it but now I have a question.  If I read between the lines, is the implication that if you currently wish to adopt the Corbu theme, ESS/MSS will be best presented using NWBC for HTML (rather than with Portal, or NWBC thick client)?



    • Hi John,

      For out of the box solution with Corbu theme using NWBC HTML should be used for presentation (looks best with NWBC HTML currently).

      Currently the released version of NWBC Desktop client still does not have corbu shell but it should be available soon. For portal you can use Corbu theme in backend if there is a customized Ajax page already or portal shell has been already themed/branded (out of the box theme for portal shell parts is still not released).

      Regards, Sagar

  • Corbu derives name from Le Corbusier a Modern Swiss architect and designer

    Modern?  He’s been dead almost 50 years.

    And while born in Switzerland, he spent more time in France; according to Wikipedia he became a French citizen in 1930.

  • Hello Sagar,

    The font size (WD4A applications) in EHP5 and EHP6 versions is smaller than prior versions.

    To overcome this issue in EHP6, I tried following a typical method of customizing stylesheet as follows: (In order to increase the font size through stylesheet element)

    1. Copy the standard SAP theme (sap_tradeshow_plus in EHP5) into ‘Z’ theme folder

    2. Adjust the font size in the stylesheet and

    3. Use this style using WDTHEMEROOT parameter.

    (Pls. note this is in context of WD4A applications integrated with Enterprise Portal)

    The above approach, I guess is limited only uptil EHP5. In EHP6, I didn’t find ‘sap_tradeshow_plus’ theme stylesheets stored in MIME repository. I almost conclude that this is not the correct way of dealing with stylesheets in EHP6 – Pls. correct me if I am wrong.

    Really appreciate you putting this post which is indeed informative.

    After reading this post I understand that the new theme ‘SAP_CORBU’ is de-activated by default.

    Do you think following note# 1681640 can help address the font size issue. If yes, can it be made application specific? Implementing the note will also change some other elements like Icons which may not be desirable by End users. So is there any other way to just increase the font size without affecting other elements.

    I will highly appreciate any inputs on this.

    Thank You.

    Swanand Sarpotdar

    • If you are using Portal then you can continue to use the portal theme editor for creating custom themes and influence the font sizes. Increasing font sizes may affect certain elements and then you need to also influence those. In our internal demo systems this has been done so this is technically feasible based on tradeshow theme.

      If you need to assign this to certain applications then you can pass this via URL parameters in iView. If you need to asssign this to certain portal roles then use portal desktop functionality.

      Note 1681640 just informs about availability of new theme ‘SAP_CORBU’ for EHP6 customers and does not influence any existing way of customizing of themes.

      • Thank you for your prompt response, Sagar! I will proceed with doing a Demo with Portal Theme Editor. Wil revert in case I need any quick info.



      • Hi Sagar,

        I copied our current portal theme into another theme with some changes in it. I then used sap-cssurl parameter into the iView. However, it doesn’t seem to refer ot the copied theme.

        Is there any other parameter I should consider to refer ot the new theme? Or is there any kind of visual Admin set up to be done to incorporate this change?

        Sorry, I checked many threads on SCN but couldn’t find an appropriate direction.

        Thank You.

    • Hi Shalini,

      I already mentioned in the blog what you need to verify in custom applications.No code changes are required.

      Generally sepaking there is no action on WD UI Developers.



  • Hi Sagar,

    in the meantime, do you have further information on when /if there will be a possibility to modify the Corbu theme (corporate colors etc.)?

    Thanks, Michael

  • Hai Sagar ,

    U done a very gud job ….. I am now ready to implement ESS/MSS on EHP6 portal 7.3 NWBC …………still doing some R & D in this …..

  • Hi Sagar,          Can you please suggest me how can I apply corbu theme at the Backend.  As per you ‘Possibility to activate the theme per backend system and per application (ignoring portal theme when used in SAP Portal environment)’.  Exactly we want this as stated above. we are on Portal 7.31 and Ehp6. When we are trying to apply corbu theme in Portal we are getting A Red Box (error like) on the portal logon page and on portal headers, navigation and some other areas content is getting displayed with Sap Tradeshow theme.  So please let me know if we can apply corbu theme at backend and see the Content on corbu theme on Portal.  Thanks Sateesh

  • sorry for being that direct but this corbu theme ist just AWFUL !!! what is the motivation of doing such bad changes ?

    how can i switch back to the old theme ? nobody is accepting the new theme here.

  • Sagar,

    first of all thanks for all your wonderful blogs.

    I modified this the corbu theme to have background picture for example and save it as Z theme and published the same in the theme designer. but when I use the theme in web dynpro it does not get reflected nor it gets reflected in NWBC HTML. can you let me know what could be wrong.



  • Dear Sagar,

    thank you for the information you posted. By choosing the Corbu Theme I do not see the difference between the active and the non active fields. Same thing is for the bar to move the side up and down or left to right. I see the bar itself, but not place where the bar is located. Is there any potential to change this? Thank you for your help.


  • Hi Sagar,

    we have upgraded ECC and portal both. ECC from ehp5 to ehp7 and portal from 7.01 to 7.3.

    Now I can see this corbu theme in my WDA appa which has grey color in background. But i want blue color as background. for all other applications, in portal we have blue color.

    Please see we have customized theme applied in portal already. so that color is not reflecting in WDA. i assuming the grey color is coming from ECC. then i read a dicument that change the color in corbu and again upload zip file in mime repository. but in zip file, I don’t see the corbu document to change.

    please help me out here to understand if i have to change the color in corbu file or this can be acieved in any other way?