Over the years the biggest bugbear that customers have with SAP Interactive Forms is performance: time and again I hear reports that the PDF forms render too slowly.  In this blog update I’m going to discuss what causes performance issues and what we normally analyse to overcome such issues.

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The time it takes to open a rendered PDF form is comprised of several components:

  • ADS Render time;
  • Application logic time;
  • Data transmission time;
  • Adobe Reader launch time;
  • PDF rendering on the client / script running time.

Each of these components needs to be considered to determine where the delays are occurring.

ADS Render

Often the main bottleneck is the time the form takes to render in ADS.  The two major considerations in ADS performance is the underlying CPU architecture, and the design of the form template [overlapping objects, use of drop-down lists etc.].  Using the ADS trace can provide some insight.  Also consider:

  • Platform Architecture where ADS is deployed;
  • Java JVM version being used;
  • Use of web dispatcher;
  • Form template optimization.

Of course, the ADS component doesn’t operate in isolation and overall system performance and bottle necks will impact its performance.  This can also include landscape architecture, SAP release and support packs deployed, and the physical locations of server hardware.  Consider:

  • Overall server load;
  • SLD setup;
  • Physical locations of ABAP and Java Stacks;
  • SAP Release and Java JVM version.

Application logic

The application used to call ADS and to serve the e-form to the user may also cause issues.  For example, the HCM P&F framework can be slow, or custom form applications may need optimising both in the ABAP application logic and in the portal page.  If a web Dynpro layer is used between the web front end and the back-end system then SAP software versions can impact results.  Traditional SAP tools for performance optimisation can be used in some cases.  Also consider:

  • Use of RFCs;
  • Custom ABAP code;
  • How ADS is called by the application program.

Data transmission

Another key factor in addressing any perceived end-user performance issues is network speed. Depending on the usage scenario slow network speeds can be have a serious impact on the usability of large and complex SIFbA processes. Consider:

  • Bandwidth Speeds;
  • Remote locations;
  • Firewall  / VPN constraint;
  • Form template size in bytes optimization.

Adobe Reader launch

An often overlooked aspect of ADS and SIFbA performance analysis is the user’s desktop configuration and ensuring that the combination of software being utilized is compliant with SAP recommendations.  Of particular interest are:

  • Desktop Speed and Windows Version.
  • Avoid Reader X prior to 10.1.2 as there is a network and JavaScript bugs that can affect performance.
  • Anti-Virus software.

Local Rendering

The final component to check is what processing is occurring within the form when it is rendered locally by Adobe Reader.  Check for:

  • Client-side JavaScript running during initialization and form ready events;
  • Web service calls without user action.

Consider the Process

When considering performance and sizing for SAP Interactive Forms you should consider the peaks in activity: Some form processes are not particularly time-critical and do not typically have activity peaks, whereas processes such as timesheets and expense forms may need to be submitted by a particular date/time, and may cause performance issues during specific time periods unless this has been considered properly.

Another potentially unforeseen issue is in the use of attachments.  If users attach many / large attachments to forms then this can cause performance issues due to the size of the data packet.  You can optionally remove the ability for users to add attachment files, or you can add a check to limit the size of attachments in order to combat this issue.

Finally, a multi-UI approach with Arch FLM will reduce the number of calls to ADS, improve render speed and enable process mobilisation.  FLM also includes an ADS Performance Workbench to help identify performance issues before they impact the business.

If you consider this checklist adequately there is no reason why SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe should run slowly any more.

Arch FLM is a SAP-endorsed business solution.

SAP-endorsed business solutions are complementary to SAP® software offerings, have been specifically integrated with SAP solutions and tested by SAP, and provide additional choices and flexibility for businesses running SAP software. SAP-endorsed business solutions are offered by SAP partners.

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2 Comments

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  1. Christopher Solomon

    Great checklist!!! I do not have to use AIF much anymore, but I cannot tell you how difficult it was at times to communicate much of what you listed to my clients. They would wonder why their form that duplicated everything in PA30 for a base pay change would be taking a while to load/render. Time and again, I had to remind them that we were developing a FORM and not an APPLICATION. haha

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  2. Florian Henninger

    Nice blog, would be a really nice addition to this blog if you create an “Howto Check Guide” 😉

    Anyway, it is really  a hard piece of work to get over every single rock and find the wrong setting if something is not working smooth right from the beginning.

    Thanks for sharing.

    ~Florian

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