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SAP TechEd Barcelona gave me the opportunity to get an update on the current SAP UI strategy and its support by the existing development tools. After reviewing again the notes I made during my 4-day-trip to the Spanish metropolis, I again get the impression that SAP implemented a consistent concept that leads from pure (powerpoint-based) strategy to existing technology, interfaces and tools.

When former CTO Shai Agassi left SAP in 2007, there were rumours saying that this would be the final call for Portal software at SAP and perhaps all Java technology in the SAP portfolio. Now, eight years later, the SAP Enterprise Portal is stronger than ever and still part of the SAP UX/UI strategy.

The rise of AJAX and HTML5 in the business world

Due to the rise of web technologies like AJAX and HTML5 and its usage in recent years, users expect their business applications to run like all the web content they are using for private reasons like Facebook, Amazon and others. This so called “user experience” has also been focused by SAP and is now the main driver for their strategy around UI technologies.

Ok, you can for sure use your SAP GUI, but try to enrich your ‘single entry point to your business apps’ using SAP Netweaver Business Client – that’s the message to all more transaction focused users. And: use SAP Screen Personas (http://go.sap.com/product/technology-platform/screen-personas.html, available in version 3.0) to simplify your dynpro-based transaction screens.

But, besides that, SAP propagated its UI modernization path with Fiori as the innovation technology for creating modern business apps and the Fiori Launchpad as the connecting entry point are landmarks in the SAP strategy. A tighter integration into SAP Portal has been just provided with SAP Enterprise Portal 7.5.

Tools and plugins

In addition to that SAP has provided UI5-Plugins for the ABAP workbench (see https://tools.hana.ondemand.com/) as well as the web-based SAP Web IDE as development tool (trial version on https://account.hanatrial.ondemand.com/cockpit) to consequently fulfill the SAP UI strategy on the development side of the SAP world. At the same time SAP announced deprecation of UI tools like PDF for .NET in SAP Enterprise Portal and the Visual Composer.

Some years ago, Visual Composer (VC) had been provided as a tool to create quick apps without coding, but was more used to create fast UI mockups for simple use and has never made the real breakthrough. A kind of VC-successor is the newly presented BUILD tool, even it is has totally different technical roots than VC. With the UI5-based BUILD, developers and, moreover, UI designers can provide an easy and fast design of mockups (that already can contain some functionality). These mockups can directly be provided to selected users in order to get real valuable feedback for the following development. (See https://experience.sap.com/news/want-build-better-user-experience/ for more information)

Straight-forward strategy

All of these development tools provide the creation of UIs based on – more or less – whatever type of ABAP backend system is in present, be it an on-premise on whatever version (which can be accessed via gateway or the newly presented Core Data Services) or an on-demand cloud system. Moreover, every OData service can be used – even those from non-SAP-ABAP-systems.

SAP is going straight forward following its strategy. The fact that SAP did not make any new revolutionary strategic announcements in Las Vegas or Barcelona, but consequently follow their way that was announces two and three years ago, was the most important message as SAP TechEd this year. In fact, that is the good news.

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