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Author's profile photo Frank Koehntopp

Turning HCP and UI5 into the Visual Basic for this generation

I’m one of these guys who started coding at the age of 14. Unfortunately that was the time of BASIC, we then went to UCSD Pascal in school, and in university it was CLIPPER ( a dBASE compiler) that ruled the decade. A bit later work life started and the eager developer turned into the grumpy security dude who – instead of creating stuff – now focusses on breaking stuff (or rather teaching developers creating stuff that other grumpy security dudes can’t break so easily).

The HANA Cloud platform and SAPUI5 got me really excited about coding again. #saptd to me sounded like a call to arms – very inspiring keynotes! (read SAP HANA Cloud Platform in the limelight at SAP TechEd && d-code by Matthias Steiner). I had a few coffee meetings with DJ Adams and I’m following his YouTube Channel, and man can he get you excited about how easy it is to create beautiful simple applications with SAP UI5!

Unfortunately I’m still trapped in my old development models and I still find it hard to get a start again. I love all the tutorials and examples, but they mostly replicate what others have done. I have a dream of making HCP + UI5 as simple as Visual Basic used to be in the 90s. As I’m too inept to do it myself I’ll just dump my ideas here hoping someone will lend me a hand.

These are the two things that I think may drive developer adoption:

Make it easier to get into Cloud Development with HANA and SAPUI5

Most of the tutorials I read started with “Download Eclipse” – I don’t know about you, but that already put me off. Then along came SAP Web IDE – Overview which was more along the lines of what I was expecting.

Here’s the general process that I would like to see simplified:

  1. Design & create a database
  2. publish the database as OData services
  3. create the UI in SAPUI5

(Optional step 4: add some HANA XS code to do server side stuff)

I would like to see that completely within SAP Web IDE, and specifically steps 1 and 2 should be made A LOT easier (wizards?). Then add a service repository to share your services for other developers to pick (I’m kinda sick of Northwind by now) and we should see some action.

Provide a local development environment that includes a database service

The basic concepts of SAPUI5 or OpenUI5 are so astonishingly simple and worth spreading that we should not stop aspiring coders by having to register in all kinds of places before they can start building.

To me, the beauty of UI5 is in the ease of data binding to controls, so it would be nice for developers to be able to play with that easily (see above) and locally.

When I read about SQL Anywhere on RaspberryPi I immediately thought about adding a Node.js server with SAPUI5, a local Web IDE – the only thing I haven’t been able to figure out so far is where to get the OData connection from – can anyone fill this void?

That would be a neat package to start with, maybe even in schools.

SAP Development Smplicity that will fit into your pocket.

So, how far away are we from my dream setup?

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      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey

      Hi Frank,

      excellent thoughts and totally agree.

      I have been meaning to write a blog on thoughts about the things  that SAP need to learn from the SAP Portal.

      SAP Portal is an Enterprise level Portal, but SAP have never succeeded to get companies in the wider world, the wider IT Market, I mean, outside of the existing SAP Customer Base, to adopt SAP Portal as an Enterprise Portal instead of for example  WebSphere, WebLogic, MS SharePoint and other Portal products in the wider IT Market etc.

      Consequently, SAP Portal has an install base of 10 or 15 thousand SAP Customers and it is being used sadly mainly as an entry point to SAP, but SAP Portal has never succeeded in the wider Portal IT market.

      There must be very important lessons SAP can take from this experience, how to get their vertical software components, like SAP Portal, like Hana Cloud Platform to be marketed and adopted in the wider IT Market and not only in the SAP Customer Base ?

      It's not too late for SAP Portal, everyday is a new day, where SAP can change their strategy and go hunting Enterprise Portal Customers in the wider IT Market and not only in the SAP Market,


      the main point is, let's hope with HCP, UI5 etc, that SAP is going out to the wider IT Market and not falling into previous traps and getting stuck only in trying to get existing SAP Customers to adopt the technology.

      The points you have raised, these items would contribute to a larger plan to market these products in the wider IT Market and get the wider IT Market adoption of the technologies.

      Kind regards,


      Author's profile photo Frank Koehntopp
      Frank Koehntopp
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for the kind words, Andy.

      My dream is that whenever someone tries to develop a web application with a database backend his first idea will be to do it on HANA Cloud Platform.

      That's not something coming from drinking too much of our own Kool Aid, watching the recent developments I honestly think that is in the cards.

      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey


      My dream is that whenever someone tries to develop a web application with a database backend his first idea will be to do it on HANA Cloud Platform.

      let's hope SAP have learned their lessons and will get wider market acceptance and adoption for HCP and UI5 and not simply accept a percentage of the existing installed base of the Business Suite as the Customer base.

      When I was at Primary (Basic) School in the UK, we had BBC Model B computers in the class room, SAP need to be starting at that layer/level to get the future adoption and buyin.

      And that's only one of the things they need to be doing.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Really good points on this branch of the conversation.  I can relate completely to your thoughts on SAP Portal, Andy - after countless years working with it at various customers I have only ever built one landscape where the Portal was sat in front of a non-SAP system as a primary part of the project.  And we still ended up using WD Java as the front end to keep the mostly SAP user base happy.

      I have seen one example of a massive, global SAP Portal that is a brilliant example of how the platform should be used, however in nearly 10 years of Portal wrangling, having only 1 example in that bracket isn't great.

      I guess the difference I see with HCP and UI5 vs the Portal is that HCP and UI5 are more technologies rather than products, if that makes sense?  So Frank's dream of seeing HCP & UI5 (need a better nickname like WinTel or LAMP/WAMP - HappyClappy5 works for me) possibly has more of a chance.  The fact you can start developing mostly for free is another big step in the right direction.

      However, the barriers to entry are still comparatively high, for many of the reasons Frank mentions in this brilliant post.  Personally, I've worked with Eclipse long enough that I actually find its inclusion a bonus but that's just my sado-masochistic preference.  Realistically, the people who I meetup with once a month in a local JavaScript user group really aren't going to share that sentiment!  One of our monthly meetings was "An Introduction to Node.js" and I've since used it during a CodeJam delivered by DJ Adams and Frederic Berg - it is a staple part of the web development world yet you can be up and running with less than 5 button clicks.  That's how easy modern developers want/expect things to be.  The fact you can then do all sorts of really complex stuff is almost irrelevant, as long as you can be up and running quickly & easily.

      A good while ago, I posted my first blog entry SAP Highlander and with hindsight, lots of the motivations and reasoning behind it were very similar to what Frank has posted here.  As much as we all like to meddle and love figuring out complicated issues (we must, else why would we deal with SAP on a daily basis?) there comes a time where you want to be up and running and actually being productive with a new technology with minimal fuss and time.

      That's not to say we want it to be served to us on a plate, just that the barriers to entry are appropriate for the desired audience and ability level, probably mostly measured in time rather than complexity - I think we can all enjoy uber complex tasks if they only cost us 5-10 minutes whilst we would mostly balk at a simple thing that takes 30mins (NWDS installation, I'm looking at you...)

      It's also fair to say that anything worth doing often takes more effort - otherwise where would be the reward?  So we do need some balance.



      Author's profile photo Julie Plummer
      Julie Plummer

      Interesting analogy, Andy. thanks for that!

      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey

      Hi Julie,

      I think the lesson from the past is...

      Does SAP want HCP to achieve

           a)     world domination


           b)     existing SAP Customer Base domination

      Which is SAP's strategy, a) or b) and which would SAP be satisfied with, a) or b) ?

      A by default leads to B.

      B by default, does not lead to A as the SAP Portal experience has shown.

      Best regards,


      Author's profile photo Julie Plummer
      Julie Plummer

      Hi Andy,

      You may call it world domination; I couldn't possibly comment ;-D.

      However, according to Steve Lucas. "SAP HANA Cloud platform is an innovation platform open for customers and partners to develop and deliver cloud applications, extensions and solutions..." (Press Release from October 9, 2014. )

      So sounds like (b). However, I am but a UX specialist; wiser heads may wish to correct me.

      Best wishes,

      Julie R Plummer.

      Author's profile photo Tobias Hofmann
      Tobias Hofmann

      Whatever gets people start using HCP + UI5 is OK, as long as in the end HCP won't share the fate of Visual Basic or Pascal: TIOBE Software: The Coding Standards Company

      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey

      interesting link, amazing that C, after all these decades, is still there at the top.

      Kernighan and Ritchie should be happy that pointers and linked lists are still ruling the world..


      Author's profile photo Frank Koehntopp
      Frank Koehntopp
      Blog Post Author


      I was mentioning VB in terms of simplicity and ease of consumption. Back in the day, when you needed to get something done (as an amateur) VB was your obvious choice, and that is the mindset I would like to see HCP+SAPUI5 having - right know it's stille more like the "dark arts" that only level 5 wizards can grok.

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Exactly. Thanks, Frank, for saying what many others are thinking. I ran VB with Access database on my own PC at home without having to enter a credit card number for Amazon cloud service. Visual Studio came on two CDs and all I needed to do was to feed the second disc when prompted. Did not need any tutorials to write "hello world" (got a book when it came to more complex stuff). That's what I call "simple".

      Author's profile photo Frederic Berg
      Frederic Berg

      Hi Frank,

      thanks for your post, I really liked it! I was also interested in your question regarding a local OData server setup and found this node.js package which sounds promising:

      You might want to have a look, I will definitely give this a try.

      Author's profile photo Frank Koehntopp
      Frank Koehntopp
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Frederic - looked at it, too, but couldn't get it working in my available time.

      A local OData server with a lightweight database would really push things forward, all the examples I see (DJ does so many of those I can't even keep up 😉 ) are focussed on consumption of existing services, not creation of new ones.

      For the HCP side, a wizard that would quickly guide you through creating a new database and exposing it through OData should be anything but impossible, too.

      Author's profile photo Frank Koehntopp
      Frank Koehntopp
      Blog Post Author

      I'm hoping I can get someone at #SAPtd interested next week, maybe one of these scenarios would lend itself to one of the Hacker Lounges...? (pinging Craig Cmehil)

      Author's profile photo Craig Cmehil
      Craig Cmehil

      Wrong Craig tagged there LOL

      Ideas are just actions waiting to happen depending on when and who you ask the question. So see you next week in Berlin.

      Author's profile photo Frank Koehntopp
      Frank Koehntopp
      Blog Post Author

      D*** - there's like 10 Craig Cmehils popping up in the selection box ;(

      See you in Berlin!

      Author's profile photo Steve Rumsby
      Steve Rumsby

      Roll on SCN account merging, eh?

      There are multiple Tammy Powlas too, but we all know that's actually true 😉