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The old SAP would never have been able to deploy apps in a matter of weeks, either for customers (via its Rapid Deployment Solutions group) – or for itself.

As Captain Kirk might’ve adlibbed, this is not your father’s SAP.

Earlier this spring, SAP released its first HANA-based mobile consumer app, Recalls Plus.

Recalls Plus has delivered more than 10,000 food, drug and toy alerts to concerned parents since its release.

SAP’s in-house developers used the popular HTML5 app development framework, PhoneGap, from Adobe Systems Inc., to accomplish this.

PhoneGap, as you might recall, was one of three frameworks that SAP announced in April would be integrated with SAP’s mobile platforms. Sencha and Appcelerator are the two others.

PhoneGap is known for its ease of development. One YouTube video by SAP mentor John Moy shows a PhoneGap app being built in just 5 minutes.

In our case, it took SAP five weeks to port the app written in iOS’s native Objective C code to HTML5-based code that can run on Android devices using PhoneGap.

That is still impressive, considering the translation work required, as well as the complexity of the data Recalls Plus relies upon.

Recalls Plus draws on data from four different U.S. government agencies  that are stored and pulled from the fast SAP HANA data platform.

Download the Android version of Recalls Plus from Google Play here, or send the link to your parent friends.

If you want to meet the folks behind Recalls Plus, find them at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando next week. They will be at the Mobility Campus giving demos, speaking at microforums and talking to influencers and any other interested attendees.

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12 Comments

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  1. Graham Robinson

    Hi Eric,

    maybe I am missing something but I don’t see how taking 5 weeks to port this mobile application to Android is impressive at all – in fact I think quite the opposite.

    You mention the “complexity of the data Recalls Plus relies upon”. I would have thought that was a back-end issue that would not have needed rework for a new client platform.

    Sorry but I don’t get it.

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    1. Eric Lai Post author

      Even with a mobile app, I would think there is plenty of front-end work, QA, etc. when going from one completely different platform to another.

      Do you have more experience in developing/porting Android apps that says 5 weeks is a long time? Not disrespecting, just curious if you have data/first-hand experience in this regard.

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      1. Graham Robinson

        Hi Eric,

        I am not pretending to have any great insights into developing for Android but I am quite familiar with HTML5 and associated frameworks like JQuery – which it appears is the target platform of this redevelopment.

        5 weeks to redevelop this frontend in HTML5 is at the upper end of my expectations. I am curious to know if there are Android-specific issues that contributed to this? Or maybe the frontend is doing something non-obvious that increases the degree of difficulty?

        Cheers

        Graham Robbo

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        1. Eric Lai Post author

          I wonder if the much-discussed fragmentation of Android by flavor and device drags out QA. Let me pose this question to the team.

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          1. Sarah McMullin

            Some of the technical challenges we faced were:

            – the application has roughly 30 screens

            – it has backend OData objects that are secured and public, that require slightly different handling

            – deployment is an APK deployment and not a typical HTML5 manifest deployment, hence some of the social media access needs to be outside of HTML5 and in WebView of Android

            – PhoneGap provided the native device interaction (Camera). 

            – We also spent some time mimicking native gestures with HTML5.  At the end of this development cycle our UI framework weighed only 75KB

            Other challenges we faced include:

            – As quality is important to SAP, SAP has a rather sophisticated and comprehensive QA process that ensures its consumer applications are fully secure.  We had to fully comply to this process in order to launch this app.

            – Unlike developing an HTML5 application from scratch, we were converting an existing Objective C application into a cross platform deployment

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  2. Chris Jobson

    Out of interest, what interaction pattern/protocol did you use?  Is this OData based or using some other approach?  Was SUP or ODP used at all?

    Why was Phonegap used as opposed to a ‘pure’ HTML(5) app?  Was this simply to get a presence on the app store?  I guess the same code would work more or less on iOS too?

    thanks

    – chris

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      1. Sarah McMullin

        The backend is a servlet implementing the OData protocol.  Native interaction was required to operate the camera.  The APK deployment was an app store requirement, and as a result some of the social media tie-ins were accomplished natively. 

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