There are many advantages in using the SAP NetWeaver Portal.  It is designed to increase user productivity by delivering a central location for users to access all the information they require.  This information can be provided from a variety of backend systems including transactional systems, business warehouse systems, databases, documents and web sites.  Any application that is accessed through a URL can also easily be integrated into the portal’s content.   With this ability to include virtually any backend system content into the portal the question is which technology should you to build your applications?

User System Access with the SAP NetWeaver Portal:

  
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The technology you choose to develop your applications will depend on a variety of factors.  These include the expertise of the developer and in which system the data is stored.  In this blog I will concentrate on describing the development choices available within the NetWeaver Portal and SAP NetWeaver Applications Server Java environments. 

Options for Developing Portal Content:

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From the chart you can see application development choices that increase in complexity and skill level.   This increase in complexity and skill alsoallow more control on the final user interface and application developed. 

Portal Content Studio: 

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This option offers the content administrator to a series of wizards to take applications already developed, customize the results with some parameters and create an iView.  All content in the portal is eventually delivered as an iView.  This is the easiest content to deliver but the customizations options are limited by the original application called. The only customization choices are based on the parameters offered by the wizard and underlying application.  This means there is little control on the displayed user interface.

SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer:

In this option applications are created by calling backed services and generating user interfaces.  The backend services can be web services or
RFCs (Remote Function Calls).  The business logic must already exist in the backend service as are there is no coding possible with this solution.  The
emphasis here is quick and easy creation of the user interfaces that are necessary to call backend services and to display results.  As there is no coding possible the only way to change the user interface is though a property.  This adds to the simplicity of application creation but also restricts the ability to change the user interface.  It is possible to create new fields but they must be derived from existing fields of the user interface.  This solution allows for quick creation of applications and is ideal for prototyping.  It is possible to build very complex applications with this solution as well.

  

NetWeaver Development Studio: Web Dynpro Perspective: 

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This solution allows for the creation of applications where the developer does not need knowledge of html and java script.  The user interface is
generated from a view using its layout editor.  This editor allows the developer to place items on the view and adjust the item properties.  HTML and java
script are generated from the view but this code is not accessible to the developer.  This simplifies the creation and standardizes the look and feel of the user interface.  The properties of the layout editor allows for much more control of the user interface than is allowed in Visual Composer.  Knowledge of Java is necessary for this solution but there are wizards available to generate some of the java code.

NetWeaver Development Studio: Java Perspective: 

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The Java Perspective gives the developer the most control of the application and the user interface.  This control comes with a price as since there are no wizards to generate the user interface the developer must build the user interface from scratch.  This requires expert knowledge of html and java script.  The developer must also have expert knowledge of java to code these applications.

  

Summary:

 

The technology you choose will depend upon the desired user interface. Portal Content Studio and Visual Composer allow for the quick creation of applications but have limited options for changing the user interface.  If more control is required than you may need to use web Dynpro applications.  If still
more control is required than the java perspective will be required.  

Often external facing portals, those that are visible outside your company, have a higher user interface standard to adhere to where as portals that are internal to your company may have less stringent user interface requirements.  This might ultimately determine the technology required to build your portal applications.

Are you interested in portal training?  View the portal training curriculum and specifically EP120 NetWeaver Portal Development.

Are you interested in portal certification?  Check out Portal Development certification through the C_EP120_701 exam at SAP Certified Development Associate – SAP NetWeaver Portal 7.01.

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