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In today’s blog post I want to share with you a short video showcasing several tools currently in development that will greatly simplify the process of creating mobile applications, namely the AppDesigner and the SAP Mobile Platform Cloud Edition.

Those of you who were present during the keynote at the DSAG Technologietage in Mannheim this morning were able to see Bjoern Goerke, Executive Vice President & Corporate Officer at SAP, himself ran the demo live on stage. For all the others… well you have at least this recording of me walking you through the demo so you do not completely feel left out of the loop.

So, what is all that excitement about you may wonder? Well, let me tell you…

The demo starts with an early version of a tool called AppDesigner (some of you may remember seeing it in Vishal’s keynote at SAP TechEd Las Vegas last year). In a nutshell, it’s a WYSIWYG editor that allows you to grahically model HTML5 based mobile UIs. The AppDesigner greatly simplifies the task of creating nice looking user interfaces based on SAP’s UI Development Toolkit for HTML5 (aka SAPUI5.) In general, the tool falls into the category of Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools. As such, the generated HTML5 coding can directly be executed to see how the application would look like once running on a mobile device.

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In this demo, we use the AppDesigner to create a user interface for a Leave Request application (kind of the new “Hello World” of enterprise demos), which will be connected to an SAP backend system via SAP Gateway. We replace the mock endpoint (pointing to static JSON data) of the model generated during the visual design process with a real one, which is mapped to an application configuration hosted on the SAP Mobile Platform Cloud Edition. So, instead of mapping the mobile application to the backend system directly we introduce the SAP Mobile Platform Cloud Edition (aka MaaS, Mobility-as-a-Service) as a mediator. With this approach we decouple the application from the backend system on purpose. This has several benefits as we now have a configurable middle layer that caters to enterprise mobility needs such as device management (as known from Afaria), customizable authentication schemas (e.g. SSO) and a variety of other value adding services like push notification support etc.

Once the graphical design of the application is finished and the endpoint has been replaced I download the project and save it to my local hard-drive, where I’ll drop the generated index.html into a newly created Phonegap project (which pretty much is only the standard Phonegap template + the UI5 Javascript libraries.) The project is build and executed on the iOS Simulator within Xcode.

After that I quickly show you around the administration and monitoring cockpit of the SAP Mobile Platform Cloud Edition. I highlight the backend configuration, where the final endpoint to the Gateway system within the ES Workplace is maintained as well as the authentication configuration.

But enough of the talking… here’s the video:

PS: All statements with the usual disclaimers: Any recourse to courts of law is excluded.

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47 Comments

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  1. John Moy

    Hi Matthias,

    Really nice video. Can you please reconcile for us the relationship of SAP Mobile Platform Cloud Edition to the on-premise mobile platform offerings (such as SUP, Syclo, Afaria)?  Is it a rebuild from scratch on Neo or are there elements of SUP there (for instance)?  From your blog it looks like Afaria is integrated into the solution?

    Regards

    John

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi John,

      these questions do not come unexpected. Well, yes… the SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) – Cloud Edition is a solution build from scratch specifically for Cloud scenarios and it is running on SAP NewtWeaver Cloud. I would describe it as just another deployment solution and as a complementing feature for the existing offerings you mention. Maybe Jens Koerner could provide a bit more insight on that topic though…

      And yes, some of the features known from Afaria (like device management and enrollment) are part of SMP, yet other things like remote wiping is not in scope for the moment AFAIK.

      Cheers,

      Matthias

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    2. Jens Koerner

      Hi John,

      The short answer is: it is 100% aligned – driven by the same product management team. The new HTTP REST interfaces for the core platform services available as of SUP 2.2 are the identical to the HTTP REST interfaces available in the SMP cloud.

      So, if you have an OData app that runs against the HTTP REST interfaces (such as a new SAP business suite app) then it will work against SUP 2.2 and SMP cloud.

      Afaria is the MDM solution for both SUP as well as SMP cloud.

      Syclo applications are not yet using OData, so they are not yet running in the cloud – neither do MBO based apps. The cloud is meant for light weight, online OData apps.

      But more to come…

      I will publish a blog about the SMP cloud very soon – so hang tight for more info.

      Cheers

      Jens

      P.s. If you happen to be at the SAP Financials Conference in Las Vegas, check out this session about the SMP cloud (and it’s positioning with on-prem): Best practices for leveraging the cloud-based version of SAP Mobile Platform to mobilize your financial processes

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      1. John Moy

        Hi Jens / Matthias,

        Thank you for your informative responses. My next natural question is whether SAP will extend support for running its productivity apps on the cloud edition, thereby removing the need for an on premise or hosted SUP. in my mind that would be an important and attractive option for customers (subject to license cost, of course!).

        John

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  2. Jan Laros

    Hi Matthias,

    Great blog and I love the video. I can really see the added value of running SMP on NW Cloud for productivity apps. Quick question: Will the UI5 admin tools also come available for on premise SMP? I just hope we can get rid of the flash Sybase Control Center as soon as possible ;-).

    Regards,

    Jan

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      1. Jan Laros

        Thanks Matthias,

        We have just entered the ramp-up for SMP 2.3 and I know some colleagues have worked with SUP 2.2 at a customer project. I will check if the hideous flash has been discontinued with them as well.

        Regards,

        Jan

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  3. Dagfinn Parnas

    Thanks for a great preview.

    Will be exciting to follow in the ‘near’ future

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  4. Syam Babu

    Hi Matthias.

    Excellent Blog.Can we connect SAP NW Colud with SAP HANA through SAP NW Gateway.

    It’s possible..if yes..Can you please give me the Sample Architecture of the above scenario.

    Thanks,

    Syam

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi Syam,

      SAP HANA Cloud (formerly SAP NW Cloud) is based on SAP HANA and for this usage scenario you do not need to use Gateway. However if you are asking if you can connect SAP HANA Cloud to an on-premise SAP HANA system or hosted elsewhere then the answer is that this scenario is (currently) not available yet.

      Best regards,

      Matthias

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        1. Matthias Steiner Post author

          Hm, not sure I understand the question, but in general you do not need SAP NW Gateway to connect an on-premise backend system to SAP HANA Cloud. Gateway just makes it easier to provide the required HTTP endpoints to be consumed.

          For more information please refer to the connectivity service documentation here.

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  5. Marc Cawood

    Nice demo Matthias. As I understand it there are a number of technologies required (Gateway, Cloudsomething etc) so much initial investment and ongoing license costs in getting the right architecture. Have you (or anyone here) considered HTML5 with BSP (say with jQueryMobile) as a low cost alternative?

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi Marc,

      “CloudSomething” 😉

      All the features mentioned are planned to be available in the cloud very soon, hence it would be really appealing from a licensing (and TCO respectively) point of view. From what I understand you can also use the SAP UI5 framework from BSPs, but that is a topic better to be discussed in the SAP UI5 Developer Center

      Best regards,

      Matthias

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi Twan,

      I wish I could give you concrete dates, but I’m afraid all I can say at this point is that we should have news in the “near future!” Being a SAP Veteran you may be able to make some sense out of this given the current date 😉

      Cheers,

      Matthias

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  6. Trond Stroemme

    Looks a bit like Dreamweaver, c. 2002…

    Joke aside, of course it’s nice to see SAP catching up. The problem with SAP’s web offering so far (outside the rigorous and not-so-well-loved Web Dynpro/FPM framework) has been the “IKEA-style” development environment. I would love to see this embedded in a proper SAP environment (without relying on Eclipse and other Open Source environments), so we don’t have to worry about one Eclipse for HANA, another for ABAP, and a third one for mobile… as of now, SAP seems to be fumbling their way through the jungle, although they must be close to seeing the light 🙂

    Regards,

    Trond

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi Trond,

      well, the AppDesigner is a web-based tool, hence you do not need anything except a modern web browser to use it. Regarding the other services like the Mobile Platform Cloud Edition – they are all Cloud based solutions so you do not need anything to install here either.

      I’d be interested in what you regard a “proper SAP environment”? We are consolidating all our development tools to be Eclipse based and hence we are actively pushing into the direction to have a single Eclipse version, which can be used for all development scenarios: Cloud, ABAP, Mobile, HANA…

      Cheers,

      Matthias

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      1. Trond Stroemme

        Hi Matthias,

        thanks for replying. Basically, by proper SAP environment I was referring to the fact that SAP seems to be abandoning the traditional IDE approach of the SAPgui-based workbench – the classic SE80, for open source tools that may not have the same flawless functionality, at least not yet. As for Eclipse, there are an abundance of versions, and more often than not you end up having one flavour for HANA Studio, one for ABAP, and maybe one for UI5… I know personally of stories relating to problems integrating all of these development technologies into one single Eclipse instance, but I assume this is a passing phase.

        As for UI5 and the App Designer, I look forward to seeing the final release. Hope it will be made available as a free download!

        Regards,

        Trond

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        1. Matthias Steiner Post author

          Hi Trond,

          I know personally of stories relating to problems integrating all of these development technologies into one single Eclipse instance, but I assume this is a passing phase.

          As for UI5 and the App Designer, I look forward to seeing the final release. Hope it will be made available as a free download!

                             

          Yes, these days should soon be no more!

          Regarding the App Designer… expecting news on that front soon!

          Cheers,

          Matthias

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    2. Marc Cawood

      Not sure whether “IKEA-Style” is meant positively or negatively 😉 IMO both SE80 and Eclipse have their strengths and weaknesses. With SE80 you have the best (unprecedented) system-wide integration (data dictionary, navigation, where-used) of any IDE in existence. On the other hand it can be clunky and is really old. The Eclipse platform is more natural to non-ABAPpers but you sometimes need a degree in Java’s VM to get things running smoothly.

      For mobile we’re going with SE80+BSP+jQuery Mobile so we kind of have the best of both worlds. Possibly with NGINX to cleanup the ugly ITS URLs. Another alternative would be to just use any HTTP server with your favorite HTML5/JavaScript platform and write your own JSON gateway using an IF_HTTP_EXTENSION class.

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      1. Trond Stroemme

        Thanks again for valuable feedback. I agree that Eclipse can be a bit daunting for die-hard ABAP’ers, but as a platform I’ll admit it has features way beyond the classical SE80. Also, I fully understand SAP’s desire to move towards a platform that is well-known outside the established SAP world.

        As for your comment about mobile, do you envision this, too, to be handled by UI5 and Eclipse in the future? It seems to me that mobile development is but a logical extension of html5/UI5, and should ideally be handled using the same tools. If you can deploy UI5 apps using Phonegap – as I seem to remember someone blogging about recently – there should be no need to stick with SE80/BSP for this purpose? Keeping it all in one environment would surely be beneficial, maybe with the integration of JQuery/JQuery mobile into the UI5/App Designer universe? Now that would be a killer platform I’d like to get my hands on 🙂

        Regards,

        Trond

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        1. Marc Cawood

          I’m no die-hard ABAP crack, I’m actually a Java developer (among other things) and it is as you say: managing multiple eclipse versions cross-referenced with different JVMs/SDKs is a (not very fun) challenge. SE80 just works.

          But what really swings it for me is not worrying about gateway/json or any interface. If you’ve done some AJAX you know what a pain it can be to manage multiple concurrent asynch requests. Error handling becomes most of your code. With jQueryMobile you build an application where all, absolutely all, SAP data is available natively because you code in ABAP. You can do 15 synchronous SQL queries, call 5 (remote) FMs and the data is just all available to your jQueryMobile template (BS). The jQueryMobile BSP app we are designing is completely server driven, no custom JS required, and hence no (or very little) need to test on multiple browsers. I know client-side SPAs written in 100% JS are all the rage but the maintenance cost is high and you need access to the client machine in order to debug errors. JQM just works and you work in 1 language – ABAP.

          If you want to package for PhoneGap you have to have a client-side app so you need static HTML5/JavaScript which calls your (json/xml REST) API. You can still use jQueryMobile but this is not where it shines. Here I recommend Sencha Touch or maybe SAPUI5 which I have yet to try.

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          1. Trond Stroemme

            Thanks again – very useful insight!

            Did you try the development tool NAD from Neptune Software? This is what started me off in the whole SAP mobile development/html5 direction in the first place. It’s an SAP add-on (from a third party vendor) that lets you drag-and-drop html5 and JQuery (Mobile) elements to create apps – mobile or not. Fully integrated with the backend, and uses ABAP. I would imagine it does everything BSP/JQuery does, and probably easier – at least on the design side.

            Regards,

            Trond

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            1. Marc Cawood

              Thanks for the Neptune tip! I’m personally averse to the claims of “drag and drop” proprietary frameworks which don’t let you touch the HTML but I’ll look into it.

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  7. Yohan kariyawasan

    Hi Matthias,

    First of all its great post.

    I am trying to use the SAP Cloud Mobile platform trial version and i created a new application that points to the flight gateway service.

    http://gw.esworkplace.sap.com/sap/opu/odata/IWBEP/RMTSAMPLEFLIGHT_2

    I followed the same steps as you showed in the video but i am calling this from my UI5 project. I am not sure sure what you need to put the for the Authorization value and i am assuming the X-SUP-APPCID is the name of the application. Then i clicked on the export url and i used that url in my eclipse project.

    Did you have to create a user or an application connection in the SAP Cloud Mobile platform portal in the beginning?

    I am looking for how to documents for SAP Mobile Cloud solution i havent found any so i feel like i am trying all the random things thinking it might work.

    Thanks in advance,

    Yohan

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi Yohan,

      ok, now that cannot work as such. First of all the authorization to use as HTTP Header has to match the User Credentials of a user maintained in your Gateway system and match the configuration setting in SMP.

      More info:

      https://help.hana.ondemand.com/mobile/frameset.htm?doc/html/mdw1350297978351.html

      https://help.hana.ondemand.com/mobile/frameset.htm?doc/html/mdw1353650791915.html

      The APPCID is a token generated during the onboarding process and is very similar to an OAuth token irt its purpose. It is supposed to be part of a two-part authentication process that provides the means to remove an application the rights to access the application in case of fraud or employees leaving the company etc.

      More info:

      https://help.hana.ondemand.com/mobile/frameset.htm?doc/html/mdw1350892272779.html

      If you look for how-to documents I think that at this point the official help may be your best bet: https://help.hana.ondemand.com/mobile/frameset.htm

      Cheers,

      Matthias

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  8. Gareth Ryan

    Great blog Matthias, and a nice glimpse into the near future…

    At the early stages of the video, I was a little worried that AppDesigner would be another browser based tool, similar to Visual Composer, that was powerful up to a point and then became too complex to work with, as you cannot access the underlying code – instead everything was model driven in a graphical way with no access to the inner workings of what you are building.

    However seeing in your video that you still have access to the code generated by the WYSIWIG layer gives me more confidence this will be a platform that can really be used in anger.  So many times we have worked on Visual Composer solutions that have become too complex for the technology, and the customer (and our developers!) are frustrated with the results.

    I think for AppDesigner to be as successful as possible, it needs to have the “power-user” in mind and be capable of allowing developers full access to everything it generates.

    Just my two cents…

    Gareth.

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi Gareth,

      thanks for chiming in. Fully with you: it’s vital to be able to tweak the generated HTML5 code in order to win the heart of developers. Matter of fact, I wrote a blog post about model-driven tools a while back: The Way of the Developer

      As such, I see the AppDesigner as a great productivity accelerator and a great example of how a Rapid Application Development tool should be like.

      Cheers,

      Matthias

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi Juergen,

      From what I know there’s a BETA version available for a restricted group of selected customers already. I’d expect that we will see a public trial version soon- we may know more as we approach TechEd.

      Best regards,

      Matthias

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  9. Alain Maus

    Tx Matthias,

    Quick question from an AE: for responding to an intial RFI, would you rather use iRise to provide mock-ups of the detailed scenarii, or apply right away the AppDesigner ? and why ?

    (you wouldn’t also know whom to address about this ?)

    Kind regards,

    Alain

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author

      Hi Alain,

      I’d go for AppDesigner directly as it is really easy to use and you get to see results very fast. Given the mock-up capabilities you can demo the application against static demo data right away as well.

      You may want to post your question in the SAP UI5 dev center forum to get the opinion from the corresponding dev team as well.

      BR,

      Matthias

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    1. Elias Mistler

      Hi Peter,

      AppDesigner is already released and available at hana cloud page for SAP UI5:

      SAP Development Tools for Eclipse

      However, the AppDesigner is not very powerful and serves only prototyping purposes in my opinion. As far as I know, it will not be further developed.

      Instead, SAP develops the cloud based River RDE (do not confuse with SAP River!): SAP Web IDE – Overview

      River RDE is going to be a complete, cloud based development environment, including templates, wysiwyg, code completion and all the nice features a modern IDE should support.

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