I have uploaded the code for this application here: GitHub – kovboyjder/Ztile_navigation: Deep navigation in Fiori Launchpad

Since the launch of Fiori, I have been mostly excited about this new path for SAP. I truly believe that this is here to stay. Much has been said about SAP’s earlier frontend endeavours, like Web Dynpro for Java, WebUI, NW Visual Composer and to some extent Web Dynpro for Abap. I could probably go on, but that isn’t the intention of this blog. The level of commitment SAP is throwing into Fiori, as well as, that it is built on open standards (HTML5, JavaScript) also boosts my confidence that SAP’s has chosen correctly and this will be a part of the future of SAP.

Now as much as I hail the improvements of the new user experience using SAP Fiori, I still do see some shortcomings in the architecture. Many of these are topics for other discussions and blogs. However I would like to draw your attention to one particular issue, and that is the navigation. I have previously done PoC’s for clients about the usage of SAP Fiori, and one PoC was to see whether the Fiori Launchpad could replace the need for the Business Client or SAP GUI entirely. I converted normal PFCG roles into catalogs and groups and presented this to the client.

Their feedback in short terms was that for power users, the Launchpad would simply become too cluttered with tiles and even though some of them presented a nice overview for example with values and thresholds, the access to GUI transactions didn’t. A power user will easily access 30 – 50 transactions a day and using the Launchpad to do this wasn’t an answer.

Now I hear you say “Well you have a search bar”, but research has shown that search puts additional cognitive load onto the user so should never be used to replace a navigation structure completely.

In the Business client and to some extent in the GUI we can present the user with a personalized menu with multiple levels using folders in PFCG.

We can even use cockpits to limit the menus presented to the users.

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As the Fiori Launchpad is a flat structure, where we are only able to add to different groups, the amounts of tiles easily becomes many. This first of all adds to the load time of the Launchpad to refresh all these tiles. Currently the Launchpad uses lazy loading, basically that the tiles you see only refreshes when you scroll to see them, but still many tiles to update does require time. I see this as the biggest challenge for users adopting the Fiori Launchpad as their primary access to SAP. Please feel free to comment if you disagree.

So what options do we currently have to solve this problem?

Hmm, well SAP has introduced the Fiori Overview pages, Hmm, well SAP has introduced the Fiori Overview pages,

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Which I think later will make a great contribution to make the Launchpad easier to navigate. However currently as far as I am aware none have been implemented by SAP themselves in their solution (Maybe in the newest edition of S/4HANA?), this means that we have to develop them ourselves. Also adding tiles that leads to transactions won’t give you that nice effect of lists or graphs doing fancy stuff on the page, they would simply be static tiles.

In HCM they have introduced navigational tiles called My Services and Team Services and while these two apps addresses the exact issue of what I am talking about, it is limited to only a few areas within HCM and also it doesn’t adopt the Fiori design guidelines, so it looks different from the Launchpad.

Another option could be just to use the Business Client and link directly to the Fiori apps using PFCG roles, (Yes, this is now available from SAP NW 7.5, Julie Plummer wrote an excellent blog about this) Currently I think this is the best option for us to bring these worlds together, however that would also force you to abandon the Launchpad, which has a lot of other cool features like the search that brings the factsheets up. However that obstacle can also be overcome (See this blog written by yours truly to see how.).

But if you want to keep the Launchpad and still be able to create a better user experience by not cluttering up the Launchpad with tiles, then the only option for now is to develop something yourselves.

And here is where I would like to open up to the floor, how would you do it? The cool way would be just to reuse the PFCG roles and structure it in the Launchpad, but I have a hard time visioning how this could be done.

I developed a small app that acts as a navigational tile, reusing the standard Fiori catalogs, so basically I show all tiles present in a catalog in a little app for itself. I use the standard gateway services, so it is only the frontend that needs to be deployed and then configuration of the application.

The reason why I chose the catalogs and not the groups is that if you add to the group, then the tiles are also on the Launchpad. The gif below shows how it works. Basically you create a tile that you want on the Launchpad, (in my example they are sales, deliveries and invoices) When you click this it takes you to a tile app that shows you the content of a given catalog, in this catalog you can either link to another navigational app showing other tiles or just add in standard fiori apps. This gives you a feeling of navigation to subfolders.

This is a video of how it works. (Sorry for the bad audio, Mic on my laptop isn’t the best)

Currently I have used standard tiles as the generic tile isn’t part of the SAPUI5 library as of yet, it has just been added to the OpenUI5 1.34 library. It would be cool to have something like breadcrumbs to show the user where they are in the navigational tree. Also this isn’t part of the SAPUI5 library yet, but have been added to OpenUI5. So I might just change this in the near future.

What do you think, does this solve the enigma of navigating the Launchpad, what would make you adopt this approach if you were thinking as a user?

Or do you think that the current features of the Launchpad is sufficient to solve this problem?

If you want a demonstration of the application. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn

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10 Comments

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  1. Rene Schroeder

    It is a cool blog. I agree totally with your thoughts. But i think the real problem is the plethora of transactions, which a power user daily execute to pursue his daily business. Therefore we have tried to take this opportunity to make life easier and built some 360 degree cockpits, indicating to an object (for example customer, supplier, material, production planing) all linked objects. With this approach we have for example instead of 15 transactions, only one.

    But anyway, cool feature what you have developed.

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  2. Oliver Walter

    Hi John, very cool stuff. We are discussing such a Feature already for several month with SAP, but didn`t get a positiv Feedback yet.
    E.g. have a “HR apps” tile on the Launchpad that opens a catalog where the user can see all his HR related tiles (SAP Fiori, Web Dynpro and 3rd Party).

    It`s good to see that others have a similar requirement.

    Refards Oliver

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  3. Alessandro Spadoni

    Hi Jakob,

    agree totally with your thoughts, great “non-disruptive” solution to simulate a launchpad navigation.

    just a couple of questions:

    • how do you manage in the custom app all the different possibilities to define a “tile” in the catalog (e.g. dynamic infos) ? Have you used some of sap.ushell.services api JsDoc Report – SAP UI development Toolkit for HTML5 – API Reference – sap.ushell.services? ok ..just noticed you uploaded the code on github ..please ignore the question
    • the “Tile Container” User Experience is a little bit different from the Fiori Launchpad Tiles , for example in FLP you can drag Tiles to change the order.. Have you explored the possiblity to have a “Tile Container” similar to the Launchpad?

    Thank you

    Alessandro

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    1. Jakob Marius Kjær Post author

      Hi Allessandro,

      I built this mainly to inspire some thoughts and get some feedback in the community about the necessity of having more than just the search option.

      I think with the new edition of the fiori launchpad where we have link containers and more accessible groups, the relevance of this app is less important.

      But I appreciate your feedback, feel free to alter the code any way you like.

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      1. Alessandro Spadoni

        Thank you Jakob for your feedback,

        but in fiori launchpad 2.0 blogs only S/4 Hana is mentioned..so it’s not clear to me if all the rest of “On-premise” stacks will benefits of the new features

        have you more detailed infos?

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        1. Oliver Walter

          Hi Alessandro,

          as far as I know the new Fiori 2.0 Features will be implemented for S/4HANA. Neverthess the Launchpad will also run on SAP Business Suite and several Feature may be supported as well, e.g. the Overview Page.

          But the overview page has some limitations:

          – Requires SAP Netweaver 7.50

          – Data for overview page Cards is provided by a genreic OData Service in backend System.

          – The overview page is an app and not a launchpad. The available Cards Display KPI or Business Object data, but no tiles.

          Regards Oliver

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