Recently, I built a demo for our Defense & Security customers using the SAP HANA Cloud Portal. This was my first experience using this solution and I would like to share some insight, in particular the ability to design page layouts. You can have a look at what I designed and built here:
My experience with building web sites comes from my private life. I am currently a volunteer with Scouts Canada and I manage the content of two web sites. One of them uses WordPress and the second is Drupal based. Both are fairly popular Content Management Systems (CMS) that can be deployed on-premise or in the Cloud. Before using SAP HANA Cloud Portal, I found the highly structured approach to creating and managing content in both WordPress and Drupal an advantage. From a site designer perspective, this advantage quickly becomes a challenge. While I can’t speak of Drupal’s site design capability, I can’t tell you how much time I have spent scouring for just the right WordPress theme as to use as a site layout template. Each WordPress theme gives a varying degree of freedom for page layouts. Without changing the underlying code, most themes I have worked with provide very limited ability to adjust the page layouts that are delivered with the theme. While the concept of site theme exists in SAP HANA Cloud Portal, it is mainly used to provide stylistic consistency throughout the site being built. The true strength of the HANA Cloud Portal is the ability of the site designer to create page layouts that match the need of the content rather than the other way around.
Let me give you an example. In the SAP HANA Cloud Portal, content is Widget based. In non-technical terms, Widgets are content types that authors use to create content. They can range from the simple Rich Text, images, HTML files, or documents. More complex ones would provide site designers with the ability to add content from other systems in a totally integrated and seamless fashion. This could be to SAP Jam, SuccessFactors, or the Self-Service Service Portal from the SAP Cloud Service solution. These “widgets” can be positioned and sized on a page based on the need not a rigid template. That means that as a site designer, I have complete artistic freedom of the page layout. Here are a couple of YouTube videos showing how Widgets can be easily added, moved, and re-sized on a page:
- Adding a Widget – http://youtu.be/nJnx9L2ovqk
- Moving a Widget – http://youtu.be/a0bKuOIXOKI
- Re-sizing a Widget – http://youtu.be/_ZlMrLcAWXw
As you can see from the demo site I built for our Defense & Security customers, I managed to achieve a layout that balances utility, simplicity, and consistency. I did this by adding, moving, and re-sizing the Widgets on a page just like in the videos to design a layout that best delivers its content.