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In my opinion BRFplus is one of the most useful development tools of AS ABAP. It provides tools for administration, transport analysis, trace, especially lean trace, catalogs but I think even great products can still be improved. In the following I suggest some improvements.

At the moment SAP ships improvements with an AddOn SAP NetWeaver Decision Service Management which need an additional license, but At the moment I don’t know about those license model but DSM has some really cool features as well as additional tools: a debugger, new UIs and deployment of rules into SAP HANA. Moreover there are complementary Partner solutions for SAP NetWeaver Decision Management. This strategy makes perfectly sense but there are still some features I would like to see in BRFplus.

Copy of Expressions with Mappings

When I create rules usually I’m working with different BRFplus applications side by side. Then I’m experimenting a lot:

  • What happens to execution time if I change the expressions?
  • Can I simplify rules by changing the implementation of an expression to another expression type?
  • How can I make the application easier to understand?
  • How can I make the application easier to maintain?

This procedure is challenging: sometimes reuse is necessary, sometimes I find out that it leads to unwanted side effects and so on. And during the process I often have to copy one expression from one project to another. Here the problem is that neither deep copy nor copy with reference to old objects makes sense: deep copy requires adjustments and exchanges afterwards and the other option will lead to fact that I work with objects having the same technical names but are still different (which you can see by the different GUIDs). For me a copy with mapping would be useful and I give you an example. Take a function f := a + b. Here a and b have guids 0815 and 0816. In the target system there are elements a and b having guids 4711 and 4712. I would like to have either the chance that the copied function uses  4711 and 4712 instead of either new objects or the old guids. As an alternative a mapping of references objects would be useful.  

Documentation of Installation Prerequesites

In my opinion the BRFplus documentation of help.sap.com has a good quality. Unfortunately I couldn’t find prerequisites for the use of BRFplus: authorizations, WDA enablement, activation of certain ICF nodes and so on. Of course there are many other places on SCN in the fantasic book of  Carsten Ziegler and Thomas Albrecht about BRFplus but I prefer those information contained in SAP Library. Moreover the feedback functionality of help.sap.com seems to be gone which makes me really sad.

Documentation of BRFplus-Artefacts as HTTP Resource

BRFplus offers the possibility to document artifacts. In my development projects I use wikis and office documents for documentation purposes. I would be nice to link both. If a BRFplus object or its documentation would be available as HTTP resource I could like from my documentation to BRFplus.

Proper documentation is important part of governance and administration process so I appreciate the features of BRFplus and I’m really curious what DSM has to offer.

BRF Migration Support

BRF migration to BRFplus is a difficult topic and it is likely that I will write some blogs in the future about it. I accept that automation will lead to problematic results because the result will have the weaknesses of BRF. But nevertheless additional tools would be helpful and I will make some suggestions:

BRFplus should be ready for HANA without Additional Tools

In fact this is one of the first questions I will ask at SAP TechEd. As HANA customer it is my expectation that the whole SAP NetWeaver platform as well as SAP Business Suite will be optimized to become a Next Generation  IT System. Of course this will take some time because it is an evolutionary process but most tools should be able to benefit from HANA so that customers don’t have much effort to implement HANA. The reason is simple: a HANA implementation is expensive because we have to pay licenses, we have to buy new hardware, our administrators have to learn how to use HANA, we have to perform migrations, we have to install new clients for development and so on.

But what happens if every tool of SAP NetWeaver needs some additional licences to become HANA-ready. This would be a nightmare because we would have to evaluate a plethora of tools to evaluate and to implement. Before enterprise architects like me have the chance to evaluate whether certain HANA optimizations make sense we have to install new software components and perhaps new systems and pay licenses. This doesn’t make any sense and slows down the adoption of HANA: SAP NetWeaver has to be HANA-ready out of the box so that we have the chance to define the outline of our HANA optimization strategy of our SAP onPremise installations. Making HANA optimizations available only with certain additional licenses is a wrong signal to all IT managers because it means that the costs of Business Suite on HANA implementations are difficult to calculate because more and more additional licenses will become necessary. If IT managers get this impression then it will harm the adoption of SAP HANA.

For me it makes perfectly sense that DSM offers advanced features so that in the end we will use it in HANA and non-HANA scenarios because it makes our solutions more agile and lowers TCO. But I would like to have the possibility to test the effect of code push down to SAP HANA without any additional tools and I would like to have to benefit from it without additional systems and licenses.

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  1. Claus Horn

    Hi Tobias,

    thank you very much for your helpful remarks. I’m the person responsible for BRFplus documentation as well as for the DSM docu. Regarding the issues that you pointed out w/r to documentation, I’d like to make you aware of the following:

    • Authorizations – This topic has long been available in the BRFplus docu and is being constantly updated whenever something changes in that area.
    • Activation of ICF nodes: As of today, this information is in fact missing. We are going to make the necessary amendments in the near future, either in the application help or in the DSM Installation Guide that  is available on SAP Service Marketplace (SMP).

    Thanks again for your input. We are always happy to receive feedback that gives us the chance to improve our deliveries.

    Best regards, Claus

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    1. Tobias Trapp Post author

      Writing documentation for BRFplus is quite challenging since it is a very complex topic.

      But I have another wish: please tell the translators to look at the frontend in german language. On think is really annoying: If you change the value of a context element then on the english frontend you see “change … to” which is translated to german to “ändern … bis“. This is obviously wrong since we say “ändern … auf“.

      Moreover the documentation is not translated completely to german which is sad. BRFplus is such an important application that I think SAP should spend more money to it.

      And last but not least a word to documentation: the most important aspect for understanding expressions means to know the result types especially which expressions can return structures and tables. This could be clarified in my opinion.

      And a last word: I would love to give feedback directly to the documentatation but this feature seems to be disabled here.

      Best Regards,

      Tobias

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      1. Claus Horn

        We are well aware of (and very unhappy about) the translation issues in our text-based
        UIs. These are mostly caused by the fragmentation of single text snippets that reach
        the translation process w/o any context. In addition, the text-based UIs try to
        present the rule logic in a natural language style which is highly dependent on
        the linguistic structure of the logon language. We are doing our best here and
        have invested a lot of time and effort to get things straight, but we have
        learned that this is a never-ending story and that we have to rely on user
        feedback like yours. The very point that you have addressed should be fixed in
        the meantime, at least I have found a UI that reads, e.g., ” Ändern des
        Werts von <Variable> zu 10″.

        Status of German version of the documentation: When we started to document BRFplus some years ago, we were (of course) obliged to come up with an EN version, and by that time, we had no resources for a DE translation. In the meantime, this has
        changed slightly so that we could set up a low priority task for EN->DE translation, but with absolutely no commitment for a complete translation. This is a resource-driven compromise that we are offering. We are aware that this not perfect, but still better than many other areas in NetWeaver where there is no translation whatsoever for new developments.

        Direct feedback: This would be very welcome. The fact that the feedback channel is still not available for NetWeaver docu on SAP HelpPortal is due to different docu
        production environments. As a consequence, feedback is currently enabled for
        Suite documentation only. However, the central group responsible for HelpPortal
        infrastructure is aware of this functional gap and already working on a
        solution.

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        1. Tobias Trapp Post author

          I can give you another example: “enabling” and “activating” are both translated to “aktivieren” which is really confusing because they relate to completey different thing.

          Moreover for me it is difficult to give you feedback. The reason is our SLA contract with SAP: for each OSS note that doesn’t reach development we get negative points which threatens our Competence Center certificication. So We can’t afford to open OSS notes with low priority – user experience and translation has always low priority 🙁 – since we could get the answer: “this is already fixed in OSS note 4711 with title some UI improvements”. Since some OSS notes are huge bugfix collections without concice descriiptions this occurs quite often.

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