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Today I’m very happy to announce that SAP IT just released a new mobile app in the iTunes Store called SAP Help Portal Reader. You can find it in iTunes if you search for “SAP Help Portal” or “SAP Documentation” or just access the following link:

https://itunes.apple.com/de/app/sap-help-portal-reader/id626772145?l=en&mt=8

This mobile app was implemented by the team I’m part of at SAP IT, the same team that was also responsible for the SAP Help Portal platform http://help.sap.com. The app is dedicated to everyone who works with the official SAP documentation and wants to have it handy on an iPad device. In this blog I want to give a short overview about the key features and the user interface of the app.

The Home screen

There are three main screens in the app that can be reached using the icons on the bottom of the screen. The first one is the “Home” screen, which provides an overview of all SAP documentation areas that can be accessed using this application. Unfortunately, not all documentation available on the SAP Help Portal, is available through this application. This is based on the fact that the app is made to work together with the features provided with the new SAP Help Portal framework, so only documentation integrated into the new SAP Help Portal is available on the main screen. To learn more about the new SAP Help Portal framework you can read my blog: http://scn.sap.com/community/help-portal/blog/2012/07/12/the-sap-help-portal-transformation

Nevertheless, new documentation is only published in the new SAP Help Portal framework and we are still migrating old documentation to this framework. So you can expect more and more documentation made available via the app in addition to the current 43 documentation areas.

Once you have selected one documentation area on the left hand side you can select one topic from this area on the right. In some cases you will see only one topic (i.e SAP NetWeaver 7.4) in others you can find many topics (i.e. SAP CRM 7.0 EHP2 for SAP HANA) to dive into the documentation. In addition to those entry points you can also see on this screen your list of bookmarks and downloaded PDFs related to the selected documentation area.

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By clicking on the Edit button on the upper right hand side you can delete your own bookmarks and downloaded PDFs.

The Web screen

The second screen of the app is where you actually read the documentation. Of course you will notice here the big “Make Available Offline” button. As we believe one of the main use cases of the app is to read SAP documentation everywhere, with or without Internet connectivity, we wanted to make the option for offline download very prominent and easy to access. You will hopefully also notice the “navigation pills” from the standard web site, which allows you to keep track of the navigation history. New pills will always open when the left hand navigation of the page changes.

Photo 05.08.13 16 23 46.jpg

Additional functions are available behind the icons on top of the page. Click on the icon next to the refresh page icon and you will see buttons for “Add Bookmark”, “Print”, “Tweet” and “Open in Safari”. This option might be interesting if you have Internet connection and would like to open a page without navigation. For this, you just click on the “Fullscreen” icon when the page opens in Safari.

The Downloads screen

The third screen of the app provides a summary of all the PDFs that you have generated and downloaded via the “Make Available Offline” functionality. On this screen you can monitor the whole PDF generation and download process. If you experience problems during the PDF generation you can hit the refresh button to retry this again. Note that the same restrictions apply here as on the SAP Help Portal platform: The PDF document contains the selected topic and all its subtopics in the selected structure but only up to 150 pages. If the selected topic contains more than 150 pages you would need to manually download different subtopics separately.

In order to remove downloaded and not needed PDFs from your device, in order to free up some space, you can again use the Edit button.

Photo 05.08.13 16 27 13.jpg

I hope that even without this short introduction the iPad app is intuitive and easy to use, and provides great value to everyone working with SAP documentation.

If you have any questions or feedback, we are very happy to hear from you and would appreciated your ratings in the iTunes Store. 😉


Update 07.04.2016:

As the SAP Help Portal will soon be replaced by a new website, SAP has decided to remove this app from the Apple Store by end of April 2016. Hopefully a new app will be developed with the upcoming website for SAP documentation.


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21 Comments

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      1. Robert Briese Post author

        Hi Mikhail, Sudhir,

        Thanks a lot for the positive feedback!

        At the moment there are no plans to release this app also on other platforms, I’m afraid.

        Best,

        Robert

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  1. Sven Ringling

    I love the “make available offline” feature. Great to download the relevant chapters, while the flight attendants throw angry looks at you, before change to flight mode and switch off. Then you can read it in flight later, when you can’t do much else anyway and don’t have the space to comfortably use a laptop (at least in economy).

    Perfect – I would have wanted exactly that, had I spec’d it 😉

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    1. Robert Briese Post author

      Hi Ashwin,

      Yes, the app is only for iPad. We believe that downloading and reading SAP documentation on the iPhone is not very comfortable, so didn’t see a big use case in this, to be honest.

      Best regards,

      Robert

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      1. Michael Shea

        The question is, whether the demand is there. If the demand is there, the question becomes, can you make it comfortable on the smaller screen. I would love to try it on my Android device. Think mobile first!

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  2. John Moy

    Hi Robert,

    This is fantastic news.  Finally, I think its time to retire my myHelp app!

    Good work.  The features sound great (especially support for offline mode).

    Regards

    John

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    1. Robert Briese Post author

      Hi John,

      I know, we had a couple of talks in the past about retiring your app with a nice iPad app, and I’m glad you like it. It took some time to get it through the SAP mobile publishing process, but I think it was definitely worth the effort.

      Best,

      Robert

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  3. Karen Neeb

    Perhaps I don’t understand what you mean by the “new SAP Help Portal framework,” but I’m not seeing much of the documentation that I would expect to see in the new app (specifically, on the Help Portal, Analytics > Enterprise Information Management).

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    1. Robert Briese Post author

      Hi Karen,

      The “new SAP Help Portal framework” you see whenever the page looks like on the Help Portal home page, with the top level navigation and header with search box, a left hand navigation and the “navigation pills” under the navigation breadcrumb. This NW 7.3.1 page is represented in the new SAP Help Portal framework: http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nw73ehp1/helpdata/en/a3/721c134fdb4f1fbe774cfbfa9be66d/frameset.htm while this NW04 page has not been migrated yet: http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nw04/helpdata/en/57/a21f407b402402e10000000a1550b0/frameset.htm

      The Analytics -> Enterprise Information Management section that you are referring to has been created with a completely different editor tool and is unfortunately at the moment only available as PDFs.

      Nevertheless, you can also download this to your iPad, if you open the PDF from Safari on your device and afterwards click on “Open in “iBooks””.

      Best regards,

      Robert

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  4. Simon Kemp

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for sharing the App looks nice, I just downloaded it and had a quick play with it. One question though… is there no Search function? Maybe I have just missed it but I would have thought that would be one of the main use cases – to have the ability to search for keywords.

    Thanks,
    Simon

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    1. Coco Xu

      I tried to find the search function, too, but it seemed only a “Search current page” function was available.

      Besides, I forgot to check whether this app supported different languages. Did anyone check it?

      SAP Business One documentation is not available but it’s already on the new framework. Any reason for this?

      One last thing, I’m using the new iPad and have upgraded it to the latest IOS version. Last night every time I clicked a tree node in the navigation pane, an error message popped up, telling me “connection with server has failed”. Actually connection didn’t fail and help pages were displayed all right, though with a couple of seconds’ delay.

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      1. Robert Briese Post author

        Hi Coco,

        Thanks also to you for your feedback. At the moment the department responsible for the SAP Help Portal configures the different entry points into the SAP documentation on the homepage. I will forward your request to configure also the SAP Business One documentation. If you have further requests like links to language specific documentation you can also request them here or use the email address provide under the “Information” button.

        Regarding the “connection with server has failed” problem, please see if you still experience this problem. We have not seen this problem during navigation on all devices that we have tested so far.

        Best regards,

        Robert

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        1. Coco Xu

          Hi Robert,

          Thanks for your quick response.

          Yes, I experienced the same bug last night. My pad is the “new iPad” (iPad 3). I don’t remember the iOS version but it’s the latest Apple offered (not iOS 7 of course….).

          I don’t have my Pad with me. Is it OK that I request “multiple language support” here?

          Kind regards,

          coco

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          1. Robert Briese Post author

            Hi Coco,

            We can check if we can reproduce this issue also on our side.

            Regarding “multiple language support” that should work already. Which documentation would you like available and in which language?

            Best,

            Robert

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    2. Robert Briese Post author

      Hi Simon,

      Thanks for you feedback! Search is at the moment only available as a function to search on the current page, as Coco mentioned. I totally agree with you that a full documentation search is a very important use case of such an app, but unfortunately it was not possible to include this into the first version of this app. I will forward your request to the sponsors of this project at SAP and hopefully with more requests, there will be some budget to do so additional features. I already see some two easy additions, by either including a feature to open the “Search within this release” duplicating the functionality that we have on the SAP Help Portal to search within a docuset, as well as adding another tab in the app that opens the federated search with a filter for the SAP documentation.

      I hope that we can see some of those features in the next version of the app.

      Best regards,

      Robert

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      1. Simon Kemp

        Thanks for the response Robert. I have to say for me to use this app it needs to have a proper search function, without it loses a lot of value to me – I generally won’t navigate/browse my way into the help documentation at least not to start.

        One other useful feature (for me at least) would be the ability to send a page to the app from the web – sort of like a “read later” feature, that would allow me to search for what I am looking for on the desktop and send it to my iPad to read later. I find reading off the iPad much nicer than reading off a laptop or desktop.

        Thanks,
        Simon

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        1. Robert Briese Post author

          Hi Simon,

          I totally agree. Search is very important for increasing the value of the app and I hope we can add the features I’ve mentioned very soon.

          I was also thinking about this “read it later” feature, that’s why we introduced in the app the bookmark functionality. Unfortunately, in order to build a bookmarking feature that syncs between the app and the SAP Help Portal page, we would need to introduce quite some framework changes, like a user management and login functionality for the portal and for the app. There might be some alternatives of just sending a link to a page via email that can be opened in the browser AND in the mobile app, that we could further investigate. I’ll definitely keep you posted if we make some further progress on this.

          Best regards,

          Robert

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