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It was an interesting week for Personas at Sapphire. Bill McDermott announced in his keynote that Fiori was now included with NetWeaver user licences and no longer a chargeable item. What he didn’t say was that this applies to Personas also. So, if you have a NetWeaver system you are now able to use Personas on it with no extra licence charge. It is downloadable from the service marketplace right now. Go get it 🙂 See Peter Spielvogel’s announcement here – SAP Screen Personas now included with underlying SAP licenses.

 

In addition to that, there were several sessions that gave a sneak preview of the next version of Personas. This version is not yet ready for ramp-up but will be in the coming months. I’m sure precise dates will be announced here when they are known. Some of the details of what this version is planned to include are in Peter’s blog here – How customer feedback shaped the future of SAP Screen Personas– SAPPHIRE NOW session summary. Remember, this is currently a preview and any and all features are subject to change. Here are my thoughts on what I saw of this preview.

 

It will probably come as no surprise that I’m most excited by the new scripting engine. If you read my blogs here, you’ll know that I enjoy pushing the current Personas scripting to its limits, and sometimes beyond. The new scripting engine is Javascript based – a proper programming language at last – and is now able to manipulate the screen objects in a much more flexible and powerful way. Many of the hacks and workarounds you currently need to use will go away in this new scripting environment. That’s fantastic news and I can’t wait. Some people prefer the current simplified programming interface as it allows non-programmers to produce scripts. I’m not the best judge I know, but it seems to me the new interface, while maybe looking a little less friendly initially, is probably just as easy to use after getting used to it.

 

The next version of Personas has a new architecture with some interesting implications. It is embedded much more into the kernel now and works directly through the webgui and not via a separate presentation layer. Most importantly, that means Silverlight is no longer used. Personas is pure HTML. Performance is improved also, since the screen re-writing is done in the backend NetWeaver system and not in the browser and there’s less network traffic between the browser and the backend. This integration of Personas more deeply into the kernel is, in my opinion, really good news. Not only does it give better performance and features, but it also suggests that the product is here for the long haul. Things that make it into the NetWeaver kernel are rarely taken out again!

 

The new version also contains proper themes, allowing you to set corporate colours and other visual properties for screen elements on a global basis, and obviously easily change them when necessary. This is much better than the current version that allows global settings for some properties, but not all the properties you’d like.

 

One important thing we saw was the migration of flavours from the current version to the new one. There is an automated conversion process that should migrate most currently working v2 flavours to the new version. Any investment you have already made in Personas development will not be wasted.

 

Remember, what we saw was a preview and SAP are not promising that the released product will have all the demonstrated features in the form we saw. And they’re not currently offering dates either for ramp-up or general availability. We all need a little patience. In the meantime, go get your version of Personas v2 if you don’t have it already, and start playing…

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  1. Samuli Kaski

    Regarding themes, I take it the lab preview didn’t use UI Theme Designer? In my opinion that’s bad, e.g. to have separate theming tools.

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      I’ve actually not seen the UI Theme Designer, but I believe what we saw wasn’t it. I’m open to correction on that. I agree it would make most sense to have just one, but don’t know anything of the technical issues that might be involved in that. Maybe one of the Personas team can comment?

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      1. Peter Spielvogel

        Since the Personas theming must work across all the GUIs (HTML, Windows, Java), the CSS-based approach in UI Theme Designer would not work.

        Great idea to simplify and reuse existing technologies whenever possible. That is generally our first move.

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  2. Paul Hardy

    Mr.Steve,

    I would just like to retract every single negative thing I have ever said about Personas. Really it was the ludicrous price that got my goat, with that gone all my objections have melted away.

    As you say Javascript is a proper programming language and not application specifc and that is great. Many times you see weirdo cut down programming languages for various applications, and they never make things simpler and just restrict flexibility – I can think of the pseudo ABAP languages in SAPSCRIPT, HR and Variant Configuration to name just a few.

    This last week, if I was head of sales for GUIXT I would have been crying in my beer.

    I am going to download this as quick as you can say “Jack Robinson”

    Cheersy Cheers

    Paul

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      There was a GuiXT stand on the showfloor. I didn’t speak to them about it. I didn’t think they would appreciate it 🙂

      Steve.

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