Call me conservative, call me old-fashioned, call me unprogressive – but I still don’t get it! I’m talking about SAPs User Interface Roadmap and/or Strategy – especially regarding development in and for SAP ERP – the system environment I am most familiar with, so with this disclaimer let’s start with some thoughts on UIs, business processes and custom development.
A couple of years ago, the SAP world for its customers and users was so simple! There was the SAP GUI with its now “outdated”, proprietary programming model Dynpro for creation of user interfaces. It undoubtedly had an has some major drawbacks – mainly the various limits regarding user interaction and experience, which had mainly been overcome with the introduction of the enjoy controls. Together with the control framework, SAP GUI had again become a environment for efficient, rich, highly integrated user interface development with high performance.
- Efficient development: If you take the different use cases for UIs in a ERP system into consideration – reporting via selection screen and list output, creating, editing and displaying business objects and their relations – old UI techniques like selection screens together with its variants in combination with modern controls like ALV, Tree, Split Screen a.s.o. provide a very effective way for the user to handle his or her business data. Simple reports, data maintainence views, complex business transactions (either single screen or multi-step) – everything built with proven, stable technology and high developer efficiency. And – not to forget – if you need/needed a developer or consultant, you always get/got one – try the same for SAP UI5, WDA with FPM or the unspeakable Java-based technologies.
- Rich user experience: Okay, I admit that SAP GUI as a frontend is not what the standard iPad user would call fancy or user friendly. But has it to be fancy and is it really not user friendly? SAP GUI was always and is still meant for daily business processes – from mass data processing to handling single business objects. No app experience needed here as far as I can see. Icons and pictures where necessary, colors where needed – e. g. for status display. Right click, double click, Link click, Drag & Drop, menus, context menus – everything available but a colorful UI itself with everything floating, moving, blinking. Does such a fancy UI really add business value to the software-support of a business process? I highly doubt it.
- High integration: The main ERP processes are – and as far as I can see will always be – implemented as SAP GUI transactions, from HCM over Financials and Project System to Material Management and Sales. So in case you want to adapt a SAP delivered GUI program you always have the largest variety of enhancement techniques – from the UI itself to the possibilities for user interaction and the ABAP-based functionalities. Create a custom program and provide access to SAP programs? No problem. Call a custom program from a SAP program. The same. Try this with WDA and SAP GUI for HTML and enjoy the experience!
- High performance: You don’t expect me to compare DIAG with HTTP, do you?
So, the question for me is the following:
Why does SAP push itself and its customers to use Web-based technologies like WDA, FPM, CRM Web UI, SAP UI5, Web Dynpro Java, Guided Procedures, JSF, Adobe Interactive Forms – and what was this SAP Portal-based code generator called again – with more than the half of these programming models called obsolete just some months after the first painful customer implementations set productive?
Why not continue development of core technologies like Dynpro and Control Framework, for which customers have spent lots of money in consulting, development, in- and outsourcing know how and in which they now have to maintain a large code base?
Just my 2 cents!
PS: In case you didn’t guess it yet – I just finished my first big project with WDA!