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It’s been a couple of months since I wrote my blog on The SAP Help Portal transformation. Since then, the team I’m part of here at SAP IT has been busy continuously improving the platform. Some of you who attended SAP TechEd in Las Vegas or Madrid might have passed by the SAP Documentation booth and had a chance to see the new features of the SAP Help Portal in action as well as a preview on what you can expect in the future. For all others I’ve decided to write another blog and quickly present what we have been working on lately.

Documentation Migration

First of all we have migrated more SAP product documentation to the new SAP Help Portal platform.  Besides the SAP ERP 6 EHP 5 application help, accessible from the overview page http://help.sap.com/erp605 which is available in English, German, French and Russian we have also published the SAP ERP 6 EHP 6 application help, accessible from http://help.sap.com/erp606 and the SAP NetWeaver 7.3 EHP 1 application help, accessible from http://help.sap.com/nw731 .  The SAP ERP 6 EHP 6 application help documentation is available in English, German and Chinese while the SAP NetWeaver 7.3 EHP 1 application help documentation is available in English and German. For all the above-mentioned documentation you can now enjoy the integrated view within the new SAP Help Portal framework with all the features mentioned in my previous blog, like navigation history “pills”, print or download to PDF. We’ve noticed that the last feature was especially well received, as we had more than 30000 PDF downloads since the go-live, the number of downloads rising from 2000 per month in July to over 8000 in November. And I still believe the majority of the SAP Help Portal users are not aware of this great feature, which allows you to take selected product documentation offline anywhere you go, even on your mobile / tablet device.

With migrating more and more documentation to the new SAP Help Portal, the number of daily hits has also increased from 100,000 to over 300,000 per day. And we expect to migrate much more documentation in the coming weeks so that you can use the existing and the new features in those areas as well. So now let’s have a look at the features that we have implemented since July.

Feedback and Web 2.0 Features

Improving the quality of documentation is of course one of our most important topics, that’s why we were eager to introduce the feedback function on every page in the migrated documentation area. Users now have the possibility to leave feedback or submit corrections directly to the owner of the page by using the button on top of the page.

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We also wanted to provide a better capability to share and bookmark useful documentation pages. Our twitter integration was designed to help with the sharing and has so far been very well received. With the new “Tweet” button on the bottom of the page you have the possibility to tweet about new or helpful pages that you stumble upon while navigating through the documentation. More important, bookmarking a page (using the browser functionality) in the migrated documentation areas will always bring you back to the exact same page, and not to the frameset page as in the old SAP Help Portal.

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Improved Search

Another important topic of the project was, and still is, the improvement of the documentation search functionality. This is of course a big endeavor as we are talking here about more than 10 million pages, where many parts are reused in different product areas. Therefore you get many duplicates when using either Google or our “SAP Federated Search”. But we have made big improvements in this area and we are working on resolving the duplicates issues by the end of this year. But even now, you can make use of the SAP Help Portal specific federated search (http://tinyurl.com/c9kzqdl) that provides you with the ability to filter the results by type or product and by that identify only the documentation pages relevant for you. Also, if you now start a search within a migrated documentation area (i.e. SAP NetWeaver 7.3.1) your search will be restricted to this area (but you can of course extend it by clearing all search filters). Again, we believe this is a one big step in improving the overall search experience, and we are looking forward to rolling out a global solution for the duplicates issues.

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Integration with the SAP Community

As an SAP Mentor alumni, I’ve been using SCN from the early days and realized very soon that besides of the documentation there is so much additional knowledge in the SAP ecosystem. By integrating the existing information from the SCN discussion forums, blogs, and wikis with the product documentation we know that we can create additional value. This is a path that we started this year by introducing the related content area on the bottom of the pages. This provides a summary of all the important areas in SCN, Service Marketplace, and other SAP sites that are relevant to the documentation area I’m viewing. At the moment you will see the same list on all pages in one documentation area, but we are thinking already of ways to provide links related to each and every page.

An important step in this direction is something that we are implementing right now. The idea is to integrate the SBS commenting functionality (Community Everywhere) on the migrated documentation pages and therefore provide users with the possibility to refer to valuable additional information as well as initiate discussions or submit clarification questions to the entire SAP community.

Outlook

Besides the SCN community integration we are also working on an iPad application for the SAP Help Portal to provide you with easy access to the documentation that will allow both online and offline reading, bookmarking, and many additional features. We have already demonstrated the current status of development at SAP TechEd Madrid and the feedback was extremely positive.

So please stay tuned and let us know how we can improve the documentation experience even better.


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7 Comments

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  1. Sergio Ferrari

    Thank you for the blog Robert and congratulation for the well done portal.

    Can you share any insight about the underline used technology and say something about the level of re-usability for example for customer specific solution but even product documentation?

    I mean, should a customer consider the use of the underline technology to store and publish customer-specific documentation closed to their SAP solutions but maybe also about their real products?

    Just wondering, no specific requirements

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    1. Robert Briese Post author

      Hi Sergio,

      Thank you for your comment and for the nice feedback!

      Unfortunately, the technical solution that we are using for the Help Portal is not an official SAP product that is releases to customers. The platform is build on an internal developed framework for running software in the cloud that supports the Continuous Delivery paradigm. It supports build, test and even infrastructure automation and allows us much faster release cycles.

      My colleague is writing at the moment a blog with more details on this technical infrastructure and I will share the link once it is published.

      Best regards,

      Robert

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  2. Peter Langner

    Hi Robert,

    thank you for your interesting blog. I like to work with the help system – it has really pearly of information in it. I would love to have also the following functions:

    • Export to epub format as well
    • create my own library – I would like to have my own favorits to find my prefered and often used content again.
    • I would like to personalize the help system by telling them that I prefere to work with german language and which systems I am using

    Are these functions already on the wishlist?

    Cheers,

    Peter

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    1. Romana Oehmig

      Thanks for your valuable feedback! This kind of input is very important to us. Let me give feedback in detail.

      • ePub is currently not our focus, many customers love PDF, and PDF and HTML is currently our preferred strategy.
      • We did already make some effort to help you bookmark your preferred content: When using the bookmarking functionality of your browser, bookmarking now works and you will hopefully recognize that the bookmarking names are much more meaningful than before.
      • We are interested to hear that you would be interested in personalization, but unfortunately it is not on our list, currently.

      CcCheers,

      RRRomana  (Project Lead for Help Portal Content)

      C

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      1. Aaron Myers

        Romana Oehmig wrote:

        Thanks for your valuable feedback! This kind of input is very important to us. Let me give feedback in detail.

        • ePub is currently not our focus, many customers love PDF, and PDF and HTML is currently our preferred strategy.

        This is a great idea for future strategy. PDF is good for printing layout, but many people are moving away from paper to e-devices for reading content in all kinds of screen sizes. ePub is an open standard would make the content “reflowable” & “cache-able” for tablets, smart phones, etc.

        (0) 

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