SAP User Interface Options
- SAP UI Development Toolkit for HTML5
- SAP Web Dynpro Java and Adobe Document Services
- SAP Web Dynpro ABAP and SAP Floor Plan Manager
- SAP Screen Personas
- SAP Visual Composer
SAP User Interface Options
Recently SAP added even further options to their already wide portfolio of user interface (UI) options. To help you defining patterns when to use which of these options I am going to describe and evaluate them in terms of the following dimensions:
- Total Cost of Implementation
- System Landscape Constraints
- Rendering Constraints
1. SAP UI Development Toolkit for HTML5
The SAP UI Development Toolkit for HTML5 (SAPUI5) is the UI technology used among other SAP products for the SAP Fiori applications and the SAP HANA Cloud Platform and I would consider it SAP’s current go-to UI technology. It is an HTML5 library with build-in connectivity to SAP NetWeaver Gateway. Recently SAP engaged with Sencha and Appcelerator to make these frameworks compatible with SAPUI5. To access native mobile phone features SAPUI5 can run in a Cordova container for which SAP provides further features with their Kapsel plug-in.
The choice for SAPUI5 will mostly be driven by the need for an exceptional user experience and the option for mobilization. SAPUI5 is included in most SAP licenses and has the potential to provide the best user experience of all the UI technologies I am going to discuss. However the level of sophistication also drives the implementation effort and therefore costs. Based on Java Script, HTML5, CSS3 and OData SAPUI5 is open standards based. Therefore it is not difficult to get the required skills and subsequently easy to support. The performance of SAPUI5 applications is mainly driven by the underlying OData model which has to be architected carefully to avoid performance bottlenecks. Since SAPUI5 implementations exist for bot SAP ABAP and SAP J2EE it can always be deployed into an existing landscape without the need to introduce a new technology. However SAPUI5 applications might not render on older devices that do not provide browsers with HTML5 support.
2. SAP Web Dynpro Java and Adobe Document Services
SAP Web Dynpro Java (WDJ) is a mature user interface technology that offers an out-of-the box off-line capability with Adobe Document Services (ADS). It is still been used by SAP for product development in areas where WDJ has been used before for consistency reasons. However WDJ is in maintenance mode and not developed any further.
The choice for WDJ will mostly be driven by already available Java skills and SAP NetWeaver Application Server Java based systems. While WDJ comes with most PO licenses, ADS usually comes at an extra cost. With its rich set of sophisticated controls WDJ projects can handle complex UI requirements that come at a respective development cost. WDJ is a SAP proprietary technology that uses web services as their interface technology. To avoid performance bottlenecks these web services have to be carefully architected. WDJ renders on most desktop browser but please check the SAP Product Availability Matrix (PAM) for details.
3. SAP Web Dynpro ABAP and SAP Floor Plan Manager
SAP Web Dynpro ABAP (WDA) has been available for a few years but has not reached the maturity of WDJ yet. SAP lists WDA among its strategic UI technologies especially in conjunction with SAP Floor Plan Manager (FPM) and therefore continues to further develop it. FPM is a tool to generate consistent WDA applications from a series of patterns but does not allow to modify the generated code.
The choice for WDA will mostly be driven by already available ABAP skills and SAP NetWeaver Application Server ABAP based systems. WDA and FPM come with most ABAP licenses. The development of FPM applications is straight forward but tailored for standard scenarios and therefore limited in their complexity. WDA is a SAP proprietary technology that uses SAP proprietary interface technologies as well. WDA renders on most desktop browser but please check the (PAM) for details.
4. SAP Screen Personas
SAP Screen Personas (Personas) is a technology that is not meant for new UI development but for the simplification of existing Dynpro and SAPGUI for HTML (WebGUI) transactions. Personas Silverlight allows for the transformation of Dynpro screens into Silverlight islands with simplifications and some automations through simple scripting. Personas HTML allows for the transformation of WebGUI screens into HTML5 pages with some limited modifications.
The choice for Personas will mostly be driven by the wish for reuse. Also Personas does not replace a technology for UI development. The licensing model is currently being redefined. Both variants of Personas are very easy to use however Personas Silverlight uses a proprietary Microsoft technology whereas Personas HTML uses open standards. Since there is a Silverlight plugin for most browsers both results should work in most browsers.
Capriza is not a SAP product but a 3rd party tool. However since it works similar to Personas I would like to mention it here. Capriza analyses the Document Object Model (DOM) of any web page and allows for the recombination of any selection of elements into a HTML5 page which could be rendered in a browser or a respective mobile application container.
As with Personas, the choice for Capriza will mostly be driven by the wish for reuse and again does not replace a technology for UI development. Capriza licenses are not included in any SAP license. The Capriza tooling runs as a plugin for the Firefox browser and its backend infrastructure is Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud based. There is also an on premise installation option.
6. SAP Visual Composer
SAP Visual Composer (VC) is not a UI technology but an application generation tool that can generate both WDJ as well as SAPUI5 applications. Therefore it is an accelerator for those technologies with the limitation that the generated applications are not modifiable similar to the limitation of FPM generated WDA applications.