Update on Fiori & Mobile
It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on the SAP Fiori Client and it’s time to fill you in on something we’re calling Fiori Mobile and fill you in on what we’re planning for Windows 8.1 support.
We recently released an update to the SAP Fiori Client, Version 1.1, which is now available in the Google Play and Apple App stores. This version of the application doesn’t use any features of SMP, so can only be used directly against SAP Gateway.
Beginning with the June SAP Mobile Platform SDK SP04 release, the Fiori Client capabilities were implemented as Cordova plugins and made part of the SMP SDK. Customers can now build their own, customizable version of the application and deploy it to their users through an Enterprise App Store or using MDM tools such as SAP Afaria. Since this is a custom application, you have the ability to, well, customize it – and that means you can hard code specific settings for the application, like the Fiori endpoint URL, or you can let the user configure it at runtime. A custom version of the application can be used directly against NetWeaver Gateway or can connect to Fiori through SMP. This capability is available now.
The Kapsel Getting Started Guide has been updated to include information on how to build your own, custom SAP Fiori Client: http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-56080.
The team is hard at work on the next release of the SAP Fiori Client. For the app store version, this release will be the first version of the application built using the SMP Hybrid (Kapsel) SDK. Now that it’s built using the SDK, the app store version will be able to connect directly to SAP Gateway or can connect through SMP (something that was already available through a custom version of the app).
As I’ve described before, the SAP Fiori Client was created to address some issues caused by the mobile browser and the way it manages its cache. We also added some features that enhanced the user’s experience when running SAP Fiori (full screen operation and simplified attachment viewing). As we’ve all seen before, as soon as you give users something, they immediately start asking for more, right? Well, that’s what’s happened here and we’re working hard to deliver.
Earlier this year, I published an article that talked about how the Fiori experience could be enhanced using SMP; you can find the article here: http://scn.sap.com/blogs/johnwargo/2014/05/22/sap-fiori-smp. In the article I described specific features that could be enabled in the SAP Fiori Client by SMP; this flavor of SAP Fiori on a mobile device is being referred to as Fiori Mobile.
Since the SAP Fiori Client is a native application, it has access to native capabilities not normally exposed to web applications running in the browser. There are many examples of this, many native capabilities that could enhance the Fiori experience on a mobile device such as camera access, contacts application access, voice recording and more. The Fiori team calls these capabilities Mobile Qualities (MQ) – this just an internal name for a category of features, I’m sure we’ll have an official name for this someday. SAP’s Fiori developers and our customers have given us a list of Mobile Qualities they’re interested in and we’re investigating how and when to implement them.
The first piece of Fiori Mobile is Mobile Qualities.
Since the SAP Fiori Client is a Cordova application, we can add additional capabilities to the SAP Fiori Client by simply adding one or more Cordova plugins to the application. Mobile Qualities are then Cordova plugins added to the SAP Fiori Client; where a plugin exists for a particular quality, we can use it; otherwise we’re going to have to create new plugins.
Fiori Mobile is all about SMP and Fiori, so how does this work? Well, first we add MQs to the SAP Fiori Client. Next we add administrative capabilities to SMP that allows an administrator, on a per application basis, to control the capabilities exposed within the application. This allows the app store version of the SAP Fiori Client, with any MQ it has, to be deployed in customer environments with the appropriate controls in place. For example, imagine that the SAP Fiori Client had the ability to use the camera to capture receipt images for expense reporting, but the application would be used in a secure environment where cameras are not allowed. Through SMP, the camera capability could be disabled for those users. Because mobile qualities are so tightly bound to the SMP server and delivered by the SMP SDK team, they are only enabled when SMP is implemented along with the SAP Fiori Client.
With the MQ and the necessary admin controls in place, the next step is to enable Fiori developers to be able to leverage these capabilities. For example, when a Fiori application is running in a desktop or mobile browser, the particular MQ would not be available. When the application is running in an SMP environment, the feature would be enabled only when the MQ is implemented in the application and the administrator has enabled its use. This is the second piece of Fiori Mobile: the ability for Fiori applications to be able to seamlessly leverage MQs, using the MQ when available and failing gracefully or potentially following an alternate path when not.
If you remember from my last article, we’ve added a barcode plugin to the Kapsel SDK; we did this so that we can add barcode scanning capabilities to the SAP Fiori Client. Once the SAP Fiori Client has this capability, its then up to the Fiori team to implement the code needed to take advantage of the capability from within a Fiori application.
SAP Fiori is an enterprise application and supports logon, single sign-on and other enterprise features. The third piece of Fiori Mobile is the ability for the SAP Fiori Client to leverage additional enterprise capabilities provided by SMP and the Kapsel SDK. This includes the ability to add a passcode to the application, leveraging end to end trace or the remote logging capabilities provided by the platform and much more.
When will Fiori Mobile be available? Well, it already is – simply use the SMP SDK to create a custom version of the SAP Fiori Client and you can begin leveraging many of the capabilities SMP provides. All that would remain is for Fiori to take advantage of the MQs exposed through the application. For the app store version, you’ll just have to wait for the next release.
SAP Fiori Client & Microsoft Windows
There have been a lot of questions lately about SAP Fiori Client support for Windows 8.1.
The SAP Fiori Client is a Cordova application and while Cordova supports Windows 8.1 as well as Windows Phone 8.1, a limitation exists that prohibits us from implementing SAP Fiori Client on the platform. Essentially, on Windows 8.1, the Cordova Web View is sandboxed and while we could implement the custom cache we have in the SAP Fiori Client today, the web application wouldn’t be able to execute from the cache like we’d need.
We plan to support SAP Fiori Client on Windows 8.1 as well as Windows Phone 8.1. We’re working closely with the Cordova dev team and Microsoft to come up with a solution. I will update you on our progress as soon as I can.
John M. Wargo is a software developer and the SAP Product Manager for the SMP Hybrid SDK (Kapsel) and the SAP Fiori Client. John has written many books on mobile development, including his most recent Apache Cordova 3 Programming and Apache Cordova API Cookbook books cover Apache Cordova development in great detail.