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