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Hi, folks!

Does anybody remember this great blog post Kiss of Death for Web Dynpro Java – The Follow-Up Questions? After going through the release notes of S/4 HANA 1511 I can’ t help myself but thinking “History repeats itself”.

It always starts with ESS/MSS as a playground for new UI technologies – and the beginning of the end for old ones. If the new technology doesn’ t prove to be a complete failure, the old frontend passes away in a concerted action of SAP marketing, community evangelists, product management and development.

UI roadmaps are being updated, the community sphere is flooded with happiness and excitement about the new possibilities, new products are released only in the successor technology, old products are rewritten, UI roadmaps are updated again – and suddenly the grumpy old UI is extended maintenance mode.

So – of course no one at SAP will officially admit and there will be (not so?) violent opposition, but let’ s face it: as this is exactly what happened many times before and now happens again, it’ s time to say goodbye to the old days when everybody could get along with ABAP only and simply paint some web frontend in the Workbench.

Say hello to the new era – we’ re all going to be web developers in 5 years from now.

Regards,

Thomas

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11 Comments

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  1. Christopher Solomon

    Ahhh the good ol’ “kiss of death” blog….Thorsten Franz has “fond” memories of that one! haha  And you are just now “getting the memo” about WDA? haha Seriously, like most “past” models, WDA will be around for a good while longer than most I think. There will always be a need for a “power” application that will be better suited for WDA….or at least it is easier to at least develop a “proof of concept” app in WDA before going through the pains of creating services, defining everything in Gateway and developing your UI5 app (which itself is just the FOTM now). This is nothing new to developers in the SAP worlds. Let’s see….just off the top of my head, this is what I had to learn/develop over the years…

    ABAP dynpro/report programming

    ABAP RFC and BAPI

    ITS

    BSP

    PCUI

    OO ABAP

    ABAP web services

    WebDynpro Java

    WebDynpro ABAP

    SAPUI5/OpenUI5

    ….and it continues! (I haven’t even touched on HANA and all the new things there! haha)

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    1. Thomas Würcher Post author

      Hi, Christopher!

      Not that I kept my eyes and ears closed for the past years, but until now I still considered WDA as an implementation option for transactional applications.

      But digging through the above mentioned release notes I found the super strange comment that the MM PUR web dynpro applications are not available any more with HANA and that they have been replaced with Fiori AND existing SAP GUI transactions.

      I don’ t really miss them that much and always considered them to look more like a students project than professional software – but obviously even the old school dynpros are better than the web dynpro implementations.

      So either back to the roots or straight forward into the future?

      Regards,
      Thomas

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  2. Lukas Weigelt

    I strongly believe the flexible and mobile-friendly stateless UI5 will coexist with the sturdy and powerful stateful WDA for quite some time to come (at least a lot longer than WDJ).

    @ Chris, I can align myself with that list :-D. Thankfully, though, I was spared deeper insights of the demonic JSP/BSP and the unflexible-beyond-repair WDJs >_<

    In any case; you young folks these days with your HANA and your HTML5 and your Netweaver Gateways and your Internet of Things and your Sony Playstations and your Hula-Hoops and your Hopscotch and..

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  3. Rahul Aware

    Being a long time WDA fan – I hope it lives long. It will be interesting to see the adoption rate of S/4HANA/ODATA/UI5 as against WDA for custom solutions.

    In my opinion, customers who are (will be) on S/4 HANA can still put WDA UI on HANA/ODATA stack to get better of both the worlds. Analytics and algorithms of HANA paired with robust and secure server side UI rendering of WDA. 

    Wherever fresh and responsive UI with all the jazz and flares is required- UI5 has upper hand.

    Thanks to SAP for making the puzzle more interesting 😉

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  4. Paul Hardy

    I have no doubt that in ten years time people will still be developing front ends using WDA.

    I also have no doubt – at all – that in ten years people will still be developing front ends using DYNPRO SAP GUI technology.

    And possibly GUI reports using WRITE statements as well. I worked somewhere just a few years ago where WRITE statements were the preferred technology as opposed to ALV grids, and I got in trouble for using ALV grids as I didn’t know how to create a report solely consisting of WRITE statements, as I am only 47 so I am too young to be familiar with such technology.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but one of my favourite quotes is from Graham Robinson at an IT event in Australia.

    He said – I may not have this word for word – something like “Do you want to know how bad this looks? I’ll tell you – it looks a bad as Web Dynpro! Yes, honestly – it’s that bad!”

    I have always thought WDA looked hideous, even worse than the SAP GUI. And it runs slower, naturally, due to the four way round trip as opposed to the three way round trip from the GUI.

    It was also just different enough from the SAP GUI so the same functions (select-options and the like) needed retraining of the users without offering them any additional functionality.

    I would also like to say that even for a die-hard ABAP dinosaur like myself the learning curve for UI5 programming was a lot easier than the WDA equivalent, even if the former is in JavaScript / XML and the latter is in ABAP. UI5 also enforces the MVC model a lot better than WDA ever did. WDA claimed it enforced the MVC model but I found in WDA I could put model type logic in the view and vice versa and while you might sometimes get a warning the system let you go right ahead.

    At TECHED this year I went to one presentation abut how they were making UI5 applications able to work when there was no connection to the internet and then you have to synch up with the system.

    They were also talking about saving your data in an incomplete state – only half the fields filled in – from UI5 and then coming back to it later from a different device to finish it off. This was accomplished by extra methods in the BOPF/ODATA framework.

    They seemed to be also working on a stateful mode for UI5 though I don’t see how that could work for the life of me. They explained but it went over my head.

    In short a lot of development work is going on in that area by SAP for UI5 – conversely on the slide shown at TECHED 2015 for the various UI technologies available for SAP I noticed that WDA was not mentioned on that slide (FPM was, and ALV).

    Anyway it’s obvious by now that I am a big UI5 fan and I think WDA sucks.

    So, I have to agree when people say WDA will be around for a long, long, time, but I would have to ask – is that a good thing?

    Cheersy Cheers

    Paul

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    1. Thomas Würcher Post author

      Hi Paul,

      normally I would never dare to contradict, but in this case I’ m not so convinced of the “it will be around for a long, long time” sedative – simply for one reason: I think that in the recent past SAP lost ground not only because of its high-priced, complex software products, but also because of its terrible user interfaces.

      Over the years I always heard the morale-boosting slogan that SAP software is ugly, but efficient – and that users would accept the former because of the latter.

      But times have changed significantly. Digital natives are now forming a new, rapidly growing user group. And competition has caught up with regards to

      • variety and depth of process support,
      • software quality (which imho has decreased significantly in SAP products over the last years),
      • cost efficiency through SAAS offers and
      • user experience via truly native and intuitive web based interfaces.

      So SAP had to pull the emergency brake and get rid of its dusty image. Simplicity vs. complexity, user experience vs. user frustration, guided configuration and self-enablement vs. expensive consultancy, old vs. new a.s.o.

      Maybe you’ re right and people will continue to WDA – but they most certainly won’ t have an easy time with regards to competition and user acceptance.

      Regards,

      Thomas

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  5. Dirk Becker

    Hi Thomas,

    as responsible Product Owner for WDA/FPM I would like to contradict. We are continuously investing into WDA/FPM despite the fact that S4HANA is officially investing into Fiori only. I understand your frustration about the official positioning and wording regarding the UI technologies.

    Take a look at the official UI Raodmap (SAP User Interface Technologies – Road Map | SCN) and you will detect our current activities and also on slide 83 the official statement about what to use when on customer site. This is a reliable document and there is nothing in it like a Kiss of Death.

    WDA/FPM will remain a stable environment especially for customers and partners to build rock-solid UIs (especially stateful UIs mainly on the desktop). But since WDA/FPM is a mature and stable framework, the investments do not need to be on such a high level as for new technologies. But look forward to our latest achievements such as Fiori Integration and Fiori Design Adaptation or the new WDA implementation for SAP Screen Personas.

    Best regards,

    dirk

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    1. Thomas Würcher Post author

      Hi Dirk,

      thanks for the clarifying comment.

      Don’ t get me wrong, but paper is patient. I’ ve collected a dozen or so UI roadmaps within the last 10 years. Web Dynpro Java, SAP NetWeaver Portal, Visual Composer, Java Server Faces. My drawer is full of former members of SAP UI family, which once had a prominent location in one roadmap version or another. And all of them are rotting in the cementary of SAP UI history. Only Dynpro seems to be immortal.

      As soon as SAP stops developing new products in an old technology and starts migrating existing ones to a new one, it’ s time to take to one’ s heels. And this is exaclty what’ s happening now with 1511 – WDA applications not available any more and/or replaced by Fiori or SAP GUI transactions (sic!).

      And not to forget: WDJ has in the first step been declared mature, too.

      Regards,

      Thomas

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  6. Florian Henninger

    It’s a hype and we all need to find our place in the “new” world.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure the good “old” is resisting for a long time. We should organize a “The Dynpropainter-Community” and I’m pretty sure there will be new members today and also in 5 years. So I don’t think we have to worry about the announcements because it will find a gap to fill but will not wipe the others out.

    Space for everybody of us as Paul mentioned already.

    ~Florian

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  7. Jocelyn Dart

    Interesting viewpoint Thomas! No WDA is not dead yet and won’t be for a while as Dirk has already indicated.  There are even some ways already made available in which WDA can be made consistent to a degree with Fiori look and feel.

    I too have seen many of these UI technologies come and go…some of them deservedly to be pushed back on the shelf, others to be overlooked but found to have hidden value (think BSP) 

    I’d also like to suggest a couple of differences this time….

    The Fiori approach has started with UX not just UI – this is a clear differentiator as it is holistic view rather than just the technology view which limited many of the previous user interface technnologies.  That’s reflected in the Design Principles – which are much more than just preferred layouts and technical organization.

    It actually didn’t start with ESS/MSS for once – the original 25 apps also included purchasing and workflow approvals among others.  In fact HCM Renewal is now having to play catch up.

    Also I’m quite happy for us all to be web developers 5 years from now – working with Open Source and technologies where there are huge numbers of practitioners and contributors outside of SAP who bring us all forward in what is possible, rather than rely on ABAP to play catch-up.

    And yes… we already have Fiori 2.0 on the near horizon and no doubt there will be more changes to come in future years, including new user interface technologies. Again I don’t see that as a bad thing… but just the natural progression of changing technologies as capabilities, culture and needs change.

    And you know … they do say that all this continuous learning is great for avoiding Dementia 😉

    Thanks again for your viewpoint – it’s pain that many of us are feeling… but I prefer to think of it as something like physical pain… it’s a way of warning you that’s it’s time to re-examine/adapt a few behaviours, and find the new opportunities that go with those challenges.

    Looks like you already on that journey as I’m delighted you are already embracing the new UI5 tech yourself. 

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