I’ve had Personas installed in my development system for a few weeks now, using it as my primary interface to the system whenever possible and redesigning some of the transactions I use a lot. This has helped me discover its capabilities and limitations, and also given me an appreciation of some of the wider issues beyond just designing individual transactions. For now, though, I want to give an overview of my thoughts after playing with it for a couple of weeks.
One of the first things most people seem to do is redesign the main SAP logon screen. Remove the toolbars if you don’t use them, add a few buttons for common things you do, add a pretty background. Those are all easy to do, and it is a good way to get started. You can get something that looks nice very quickly. Conveniently, the corporate identity for my organisation uses colours that blend very nicely with the webgui’s standard blue, and we have some standard images that work well as background images. My login screen currently looks like this:
Then you go off to another transaction and get the standard look and feel and you instantly realise the Personas is not about redesigning individual transactions. It is about redesigning the whole user experience. You need to work on a consistent look and feel for every transaction a user will encounter, or their experience will be very disjoint. That’s where the real work is in a Personas project.
To give an example of what you can achieve with a more complex transaction, here’s where I’ve got so far with ME21N – Create Purchase Order:
If you are familiar with ME21N you’ll realise this is a whole lot simpler that the standard transaction. I’ve removed a lot that we don’t use, including all of the tabs in the item details section. Most of the time we only use just two fields from that whole section! The header has been reduced to some radio buttons and a pop-up menu. This is a work in progress and there’s more work to do on it, but for most of our users this would work perfectly well and be much more understandable.
There are things that don’t work as well as I’d like. One of the main reasons for this is that Personas is really just re-writing the standard webgui screen and can’t modify the behaviour of that screen in any way, and of course the underlying dynpro transaction has no idea what Personas has done to its layout! For example, in ME21N above the table control for the line items is hard to deal with. It changes size depending on how much room it has in the standard layout, even if that’s not necessary in the Personas layout. I’d love to make it a fixed size (most of our POs are just a few lines long anyway) and lose the scrollbar, for example. I haven’t found a way to do that.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is Personas scripting. Personas gives you the ability to record actions – button presses, menu items, entering data into fields, running other transactions – and attach that (essentially a BDC session, for the developers among you) to a button. These scripts can interact with extra gui elements you add to screens to help with merging screens in multi-screen transactions. They can also run transactions, grab data, and display it somewhere else entirely. For me as a techie, scripting is the most exciting feature of Personas. There are lots of possibilities for automation, not all possible with with the scripting facility as it exists today. I’m hoping future developments will enhance the scripting capabilities. I’ve blogged a brief Personas scripting overview.
We will shortly be kicking off our Personas project and that’s where the real work will begin. There’ll be more blogs to come, I’m sure 🙂