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Just recently I was on site with a customer with the task to develop an HCP extension to their Successfactors subscription. The timelines were very tight and the team had zero experience with HCP and its related toolset and entry points.

One option was to block some time to learn how to make use of HCP cockpit and tools and essentially halt the development during this period. As there was quite some pressure and problems to solve around the project itself and the deadline in quite risk, it is needless to say that people were not very enthusiastic about investing time in learning the SAP development infrastructure and process specifics on this stage.

On the other hand there is Dirigible (http://www.dirigible.io/). In short, it is an online application development and runtime platform developed in SAP. It is open source and available for immediate trial online.

What Dirigible put on the table as alternative was zero desktop installation and very low learning curve (nearly zero for eclipse developers). In reality, after deploying it on the customer account we had the whole team productive and hands on it in the course of a couple of minutes. The team was fascinated with the end-to-end coverage of routine development tasks and the ability to prototype very quickly.

In this project, the main functional use of Dirigible was to explore and manage the associated HANA database and logs without the usual investment in time to efficient productive use. And it proved to be the excellent tool for that.

So what does it take to make use of Dirigible as your application’s HANA database management tool?

1.   Deploy the two dirigible war files along with your application

First, get the Dirigble application files that will be deployed. The fastest way is to get the pre-built versions from Github:

https://github.com/SAP/cloud-dirigible/releases/tag/Beta_SAP_HCP_1.2.0 (or newer).

You will need both com.sap.dirigible.ide-1.2.0.war and com.sap.dirigible.runtime-1.2.0.war.

Next, use the command-line deploy tool to deploy your application and Dirigible war files together. To achieve that, provide path to directory where the war files reside instead of path to a single war using the source property in the properties file you will use to deploy:

source=C:/deploy_dir

Note: Dirigible provides powerful access to the platform so make sure to protect it reasonably. Use the corresponding WEB-INF/web.xml files to tune the access control.

Finally, we run the deploy command

  neo.bat deploy your_props_file.properties

and then restart the application:

     neo.bat restart your_props_file.properties -y

Note: Make sure that Dirigible is part of your application deployment as long as you need it.

2.  Navigate to the deployed Dirigible and open its Database perspective

   The Dirigible application URL is normally in the format:

   https://<application-name>dirigible.hana.ondemand.com/dirigible-ide/ide/index.html

   Click ‘other…’ to open the Perspective selection dialog and select Database from the list:

/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/dirigible_open_dbperspective_512603.png

Confirm your selection by clicking the OK button.

Note: Dirigible shares many Eclipse concepts such as perspectives and workspace.

3.  Explore and update the HANA database

In the Database perspective one can perform three types of activities:

  • Use the Database Browser view on the left to explore the schemas and tables in the HANA database associated with the HCP application.
  • Double-click a table from the Database Browser to bring up and review the table schema definition (column names, data types, etc.)
  • Finally, use the SQL Console view to execute queries and updates to the database and explore their results.

/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/dirigible_dbperspective_512604.png

Dirigible proved to be extremely useful to assess and tune the database queries/updates for our application. Its main advantage was that it provided a minimal but useful and familiar interface and also significantly shortened development turn rounds.

How more simple can it be?

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