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SAP Mobile Platform – Blog

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Back in the day I remember when a phone was just a phone.  It rang and you spoke into it.  Simple.  Having a phone anywhere except a fixed location was unheard of.  Except in Star Trek.  A phone in a car was a preserve of the stupidly wealthy, documents were sent by letter, there were 3 TV channels, shops closed at 5 and as kids we played 11 hour games of football with 20 of us on each side.  Life was lonely and boring as a teenager.  No screens to stare at or interact with, no cheap way to keep in contact with friends, no way to share pictures or moments. 

Change started at the top. Young Professionals carried filofaxes and pagers. Now I remember this very clearly as it all started when I left university and started work.  My first placement, on the Graduate Management Programme for Railtrack, was in Emergency Response. We were issued with huge phones we were told could be used in self defence if out late at night in some insalubrious location. We also had pagers.  The phones had poor reception everywhere.  Our attendance at incidents (which could be very minor) relied on the pagers.  There was an underground market in flat pager batteries. 

Phones got smaller for a time until they were combined with pagers.  After that they gradually got bigger until with the advent of camera phone and especially the Internet they began to grow quickly again.  I had a basic phone as a teacher I didn’t need one and did not want to stop and chat while cycling home over the local mountain. Friends and family changed everything. Cameras were standard by now, my children young and I wanted to capture moments.  The Internet, Social Media and an explosion of apps changed everything. My teenagers see their phone as an integral part of themselves.  Phones and tablets are merging.  Making all this technology not only simple but intuitive disseminates ideas and cultures.  Mobile technology has made leaps and bounds in capabilities and functionality  and has completely transformed the way business is conducted. Today we will be reviewing the SAP HANA Academy’s series on SAP Mobile Platform.

The series consists of 14 videos. The tutorials build upon each other so it’s suggested they are followed in order.

A synopsis of each video is included below.


Getting Started with SAP Mobile Platform

In the first tutorial you learn how to get started developing for the SAP Mobile Platform.  This includes information on the free resources available to developers.

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The SAP Mobile platform consists of multiple components.  There’s server which is used to provide services to mobile applications, a management console which is used to administer the server and developer tools which are used to build mobile applications for the platform.

To work with the SAP Mobile Platform you need access to one or more back and data sources, the SAP mobile platform server, SAP mobile platform developer tools,

and a developer workstation.  For native applications you need a development SDK and for hybrid applications you need HTML5 editing tools

The SAP mobile platform server runs on Microsoft Windows.  You can use an existing server you have in your environment.  The server manages applications; application configuration; provisioning; encryption and security; authentication and single sign-on; data access and synchronization; push notifications and more.

The SAP Mobile Platform developer workstation is a system running Microsoft Windows.  This can either be Microsoft Windows desktop, laptop or a Macintosh which is running some sort of virtual machine software with Windows running on top.  The SAP developer tool runs as a plug-in to Eclipse and is used for defining back end data connections, modelling the back-end data that will be exposed to mobile devices, generating application access libraries, designing workflow applications and generating hybrid web application code and publishing applications to the SMP server.

The tutorial ends by describing how to access the different environments you can use.  These include a free 30-day trial version and a free Amazon Web Services instance. 

Using the Amazon Web Services Development Environment


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In the second tutorial you learn how to register for and use the SAP Mobile Platform server instance available on the Amazon Web Services cloud.


As prerequisites you need to have an SAP community network account as well as Amazon Web Services account.  Use the URLs shown to register for the accounts you need.


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By the end of the tutorial, following its detailed step by step instructions you have an Amazon Web Services instance of the SAP mobile platform server running in the cloud available for you to use to build and test mobile applications.


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Installing the SAP Mobile SDK

In the third tutorial you learn how to install configure the downloadable SAP Mobile

Platform SDK.  In this case the version of the SDK that is set up to communicate with the Amazon Web Services instance of the SAP mobile platform server.  This is tutorial is essentially the instructions for installing the SDK and getting it to work within your environment.

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As a prerequisite you must have access SAP mobile platform server and the SDK only runs on Windows.  So you have to either have a dedicated laptop or desktop running Microsoft Windows or a Macintosh with some sort of virtual machine software emulating Microsoft Windows.  This table shows all the Windows versions are that are supported by the current version of the SDK.

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You need to make sure that you have the right service pack installed on your system.  To download the SDK you need to go to the SAP community network download site and click the link shown.


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Please note that this particular SDK can only be used with the Amazon Web Services instance of the SAP mobile platform server.


The tutorial takes you through each step on the process explaining any configurations details that may need adapting along the way.  If it all goes correctly you can connect to your server on Amazon Web Services. 


Jump Start 1 – Welcome


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This tutorial gets you started for by providing an overview of the application that you could build over the next eight tutorials.  The app is for a fictional company called Blue Sky Manufacturing.

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The app is called Product Look up and that’s just what it does.


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Like many of the scenarios that SAP uses Blue Sky Manufacturing could be a medium sized business.  This shows that SAP are interested in encouraging new start-ups to embrace their product.


Jump Start 2 Developer features in SAP Mobile Platform


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This tutorial answers the question Why SAP Mobile Platform?  It is an introduction to the SAP mobile platform or SMP for short.  As a developer you make important decisions every day about how to design your solutions from the overall architecture down to the structure each source code file.  At each level along the way your decision-making includes an evaluation of platforms, frameworks and toolkits to help improve your finished product.  There are several important characteristics we all look for:


Enterprise-grade 

When you make these decisions on behalf of an enterprise you have to account for security and scalability that are required for employees and customers and any legal policies that may apply.  You also want to be sure your solution can scale from fifty to fifty thousand without having to go off and create another bespoke add on solution to deal with the new load.  

Flexible

The platform must not only provide the required functionality, it’s also got to be flexible enough to make the necessary adjustments over time as enterprise data sources change.  These could be for new interfaces; mergers and acquisitions; cloud migrations or even security controls.

Open and Extensible

You also want the comfort of knowing that you can later bring in other frameworks that might be required or helpful for your solution.

Conforms to Standards

You want your efforts in outcomes to be predictable and reusable.  You want to avoid tedious tasks and boilerplate code so you can focus on business requirements.

The SAP mobile platform provides you with all of these things.  I’ll take you through some of the more compelling features and tell you how they make this an attractive development platform for you to build the best enterprise mobile solutions.

The tutorial then goes on to discuss these features in detail.  The only question I would have at this point is if you are developing a mobile app for any size of business: Are there cogent reasons for not choosing SAP Mobile?


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Jump Start 3 – Server Overview

This tutorial walks through how to configure an instance of the new SAP mobile platform.  The goal of this short tutorial is to show you just how easy it is to configure a new application on the platform but still get all the benefits, security and accessibility. 

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This tutorial shows how quick and easy it is to define a new application; to define a data source and a corresponding authentication scheme and then deploy the it in just a few clicks of the mouse.


Jump Start 4 A detailed look at the iOS Native Jump Start app

This tutorial introduces the SAP Mobile Platform from an iOS developer’s perspective.  It highlights a number of new features and capabilities that will help build the best mobile platform application.  It also covers how the SDK can help build great apps.

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The tutorial uses the native iOS app for Blue Sky Manufacturing, a fictional company created to highlight a simple business case of browsing for and ordering products. It will walk you through how the app is structured, what dependencies are required and how the application leverages the power of the platform.  It also covers how the SMP 3.0 OData SDK is utilised to build a simple but powerful mobile application.  The slide below shows the content that will be covered.

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Jump Start 5 A detailed look at the Android Native app

This tutorial introduces the SAP Mobile Platform from an Android developer’s perspective.  It highlights a number of new features and capabilities that will help build the best mobile platform application.  It also covers how the SDK can help build great apps.


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Whether you’re a developer or an architect you’ll get a lot of value from seeing real running code that shows you what SMP 3.0 can do.  The slide below shows the content that will be covered.


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Jump Start 6 A detailed look at the hybrid (Cordova and Kapsel) for iOS app


This tutorial takes you through the Cordova Kapsel app for Blue Sky Manufacturing.  It will guide you through how the app is structured and how it will initially interact with each of the various plug-ins and also how the application leverages the power of the platform to build a simple but powerful mobile application. 

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The user will be able to browse through the list of material categories, view those materials within a category and see on a map of  warehouses where some of these materials are available and quantities available in each of those locations.  The user can also place a sales order requesting some of the items from a particular warehouse.  They can view these existing sales orders as well as delete the ones that they’ve created.

This tutorial assumes that you’ve acquired the source code for jumpstart UI5 app, that you have set up Cordova 3.09 on your machine, that you’ve created the application with Cordova create command and installed the encrypted storage logger and app update plug-in. 


Jump Start 8 A behind the scenes look at the Jump Start app OData feed

This tutorial takes a peek behind the back end data service that powers the Jump Start tutorial specifically the Blue Sky Manufacturing news case.  SAP Business suite offers robust business process functionality that can be tailored to specific business scenarios based on configuration of your apps.  Inside ERP the functional areas are referred to as modules.  The business process can cross multiple modules or be fully integrated by the SAP Business Suite. 


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In the example of the Jump Start app customers look for an item within a category then see what location can stock that item after which they complete an order. The ERP services that power the Jump Start app live inside ERP and are implemented as bapis or Business APIs which is SAP’s terminology for how business logic is incorporated inside ERP. These bapis can be exposed through a number of interfaces but with the explosive growth of mobile HTTP rest interfaces are one of the most attractive ways of exposing these bapis to those mobile devices that need to consume them.


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The last 4 tutorials are really interactive labs which are meant to be followed with the instructor they cover the topics below.  They can be accessed via the hyperlinks below.

Create a HelloWorld app

Create the Northwind App with a SuperList component

Create Analytic App with MAKit

Create a Tab-based App


Executive Summary


Interactivity is a good place to end this blog and return to the theme I started at the beginning.  Mobility is here to stay. My teenagers have dramatic rather than dull lives.  Information is incredibly easy to access.  I remember planning a bike ride without getting out of bed or opening the curtains a few years ago.  I checked the weather, route, train time table and arranged to hook up with friends all from my phone.  There is still huge potential for mobile app development.  SAP Mobile helps you take advantage of these endless opportunities with secure access to back-end systems, perfect visibility into operations, and dramatically increased productivity due to a user-friendly environment.

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