SAP Screen Personas: Myth vs. Truth – Part 3
This is part of a multi-part series addressing myths about SAP Screen Personas.
This myth probably started with one of the early SAP Screen Personas demos. Someone saw how Personas made the screens look so much more intuitive and stopped listening to the limitations surrounding the product. They told a colleague about an amazing new solution that greatly improved the SAP user experience. As word spread, the fact that Personas only works on Dynpro screens got lost.
I would argue that being able to modify only Dynpro screens is hardly a limitation, since it provides the ability to personalize over 10,000 transactions and more than 200,000 individual screens. Why did we build the product this way? As we discussed in Myth 1, Dynpro screens comprise the majority of SAP screens and have a great influence on how people perceive SAP usability.
Dynpro and Web Dynpro are two distinct technologies.
Dynpro, short for dynamic programming, is the name of the rendering technology used for SAPGUI screens. SAPGUI is client software used to connect to SAP, which runs on a server. SAP introduced this technology in the 1990s and millions of people around the world rely on SAPGUI every day. You can also gain access to the SAP functionality (the 10,000+ transactions) through a browser, using SAPGUI for HTML, also called WebGUI.
WebGUI is NOT the same as Web Dynpro. Web Dynpro, introduced in the mid-2000s runs a different set of SAP applications in the browser. Unlike SAPGUI, Web Dynpro does not require any client software as it runs in the browser.
The confusion may result from the fact that both WebGUI (SAPGUI for HTML) and Web Dynpro run SAP in a browser. They can even look similar in some cases (since they are both using the same internal rendering library – unified rendering). But, since the underlying applications are written completely differently, the screen modifications that Personas makes to Dynpro screens (rendered through the WebGUI), will not work with Web Dynpro.
Another possible cause of confusion is that Dynpro and Web Dynpro technologies coexist seamlessly. In the case where you are running either SAP Portal or NetWeaver Business Client (NWBC), these two technologies will appear in different tabs on the same screen, accessing the same underlying data and looking almost identical.
Technically Dynpro relies on server side rendering – a technology that fits perfectly in a landscape that targets slim clients, terminals, or is optimized for extremely high performance. A full model of the screen exists on client as well as server side – and only events and exact layout information are exchanged between them. In case of a Web Dynpro application the created HTML stream relies on the browser to correctly render and layout the controls on the screen. This causes the final result to be much more dependent on the screen characteristics on the end-user machine.
In addition, we focused on Dynpro screens since there was and still is already a solution for changing Web Dynpro screens: Floorplan Manager. SAP CRM also includes some personalization features that allow users to suit the screens to their individual needs, so we did not need to address that with Personas.
In summary, Personas works on most screens but not all screens. For the many use cases where it applies, it greatly improves the usability of classic ERP screens. And, it does so in a way that does not create any disruption to existing transactions or workflows.
We often receive the question of whether Personas will address more screen technologies in the future. Only time will tell.
In the next post, we will explore myth 4, about what you can customize in Personas.
Read the entire SAP Screen Personas Myth vs. Truth series
Myth 3 (this post)