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Mobility in 2018, a year in review

The last three months of any given year is my favorite, from both a personal and professional perspective.  Living in northern Virginia, we welcome autumn in late September, bringing with it cooler weather and vibrant fall colors.  Fall also brings another season – TechEd!  Representing countless hours of work by SAP employees, partners and customers, TechEd is a unique and extremely valuable opportunity for people who build products to meet people who use them.

TechEd season usually culminates around the time of US Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year.  From there, the pace starts to slow as people begin to embark on well earned downtime.  For me, as I prepare for my last day of work in 2018, I spent some time reflecting on what was accomplished.  Ultimately, what’s important is what you can accomplish using our tools – doing things better, doing things smarter, doing new things, doing fewer.  I can’t wait to see posts in SAP Community describing what you’re doing with these new features, but for this post I’m going to focus on the most important SAP product innovations.

Buckle your seatbelts, there’s quit a bit to discuss!

Multi-cloud availability

Before we start discussing new features IN Mobile Services, a word should be said about where you can RUN Mobile Services.  As discussed in Martin Grasshoff and Jitendra Kansal’s TechEd Live interview, SAP Cloud Platform Mobile Services is now generally available on Cloud Foundry.  While we continue to invest in running Mobile Services on SAP data centers, CF availability gives customers the choice to use their preferred cloud provider.

IOS

Mobility started strong in 2018 with the continuation of our strategic relationship with Apple.  Announced at SAPPHIRE in 2016, the partnership focuses on revolutionizing work on the iPhone & iPad.  From a technology perspective this revolution is manifested via the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for IOS and apps built using the SDK as a foundation.  2018 saw several releases of the IOS SDK – SP01 in January, SP02 in May and a major update, 30 in September.  And in June of this year, SAP Asset Manager was released.  SAP Asset Manager is built on top of the mobile development kit (which itself incorporates the IOS SDK) and leverages SAP S/4HANA, SAP Cloud Platform and the advanced capabilities of SAP Leonardo.  SAP Asset Manager provides a complete, end to end solution for field service.  We continue to be very excited to work with Apple on this strategic initiative.

Android

As important as the continued innovation in IOS is to SAP, 2018 might be remembered as the year that Android took its well deserved share of the limelight and is Android support is a major aspect of many of the new features for the mobile development kit, mobile card kit and tools for native development.

Mobile card kit (MCK)

In April, SAP expanded support for the mobile card kit, releasing the first SAP Mobile Cards client for Android.  We didn’t really talk about it yet, but the Android client actually included parts of the soon-to-be-announced SAP Cloud Platform SDK for Android!   Cloud build service support was added in July, enabling customer to deliver an enterprise branded, pre-configured experience for the mobile card kit client.  No on-premise development tools required!  We continue to extend one of the mobile card kit’s biggest features – prebuilt (sample) content, with the release of Template Manager, LOB specific content (Successfactors and more), and support for instant mobilization of SAP Inbox.

SAP Cloud Platform SDK for Android

At SAPPHIRE 2018, SAP announced of the imminent availability of the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for Android, meriting mention by Bjoern Goerke in the keynote.  Following a short but successful Early Adopter Care program (since merged into a still-available Customer Care Program), the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for Android went GA in late September, just in time to hit the TechEd circuit!  The next major release of the SDK should make it’s way to market some time in early Q1 – keeps your eyes out for a blog announcing it’s availability!

Mobile development kit (MDK)

Shortly on the heels of the GA announcement for the SAP Android SDK, the mobile development team hit the streets with the announcement of Early Adopter Care availability of their Android client.  With the release of Android, mobile development kit is quickly emerging as the development tool of choice for cross platform mobile development for anything beyond the micro-app use case.  Cloud build support for the mobile development kit client reduced the need for on-premise tooling, and an App Store version of the client made creating your first app even easier!  And while SAP Web IDE remains the tool of choice for creating mdk projects, SAP added support for VS Code as a tool for editing and debugging in August for developers who prefer that option.

(Updated 12/20 – replaced mobile OData service generator with mobile backend generator)

Mobile backend generator

Some of the most impactful, transformative mobile references involved using mobility to create a completely new business value.  And for those cases, often times there isn’t an existing backend.  One needs to be created.  Then it needs OData services.  Then you probably want to add some OData optimizations for mobile.  It can be daunting, even if you know the value you’re about to create.  In fact, very often backend development takes up a large chunk of end to end mobile app development time.  Enter the Mobile backend generator.  Introduced in September and also exposed via the Mobile Services app development tool feature for SAP Web IDE, the mobile backend generator enables you to quickly build an mobile enabled OData service (including annotations) that constitutes your mobile back-end service for mobile applications.  Check out Steve’s blog for how fundamentally important this feature is to your future app projects.

More is coming in 2019

We have many many things planned for 2019.  Most of it you can find out by checking out the recently released Roadmap for SAP Cloud Platform Mobile Services blog.  We may even have a few surprises in store for you.   Not seeing what you’re looking for?  As hard as we try, it’s possible we might not be planning a feature that you need to be successful.  Please let us know about it via the appropriate SAP Influence site:

One final thought

It’s time for me to take a breath (You’d be amazed how many people ask me to do this!), and more importantly, take a break.  I’ll see you all in 2019.  On behalf of Yariv Zur (my manager and head of User Experience Services Product Management), the Mobile Product Management team (me, Martin Grasshoff, Jitendra Kansal, Don Coop, Prakalp Phadnis, Mark Jordan, Sami Lechner, Eric Solberg, Sue Berry, Krishna Sunkammurali, Matt Carrier,  Joe Owen and Gerhard Henig in case you don’t know us) and Sanjeet Mall (the head of mobile engineering, the team that BUILDS all this cool stuff), I’d like to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season, a joyful and peaceful end to 2018, and best wishes for the year ahead.

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  • Hope you enjoy a Merry Christmas, Britt, and a decent break over the holiday season.  It is a long list of achievements, and a couple are particularly exciting in my opinion: The Android SDK and the MDK.  I look forward to the chance to use them on real projects, perhaps in 2019.

    With the OData service generator, is that aligned with the Cloud Application Programming Model (APM)?  The APM allows us to quickly build an OData service from a CDS file and it looks like a lot of effort is going into this tool.  Is that what’s underlying the Mobile Services OData service generator?

     

    • Hi Mike – Merry Christmas to you as well!  A similar question was asked on another thread – I’ll past in Martin Grasshoff’s response:

      “The Mobile Backend (currently still called “Service generator”) generator ensures a quality of service to the OData services tailored for mobile consumption and use cases (especially the offline scenario).  Our tools are closely integrated with Mobile Services.  Nothing stops you from using these services in a UI5 app, but the CAP (Cloud App Programming Model) also allows to model/generate OData services with a much more tight integration to UI5 SDKs.  We are working on bridging the gap between the two products.”

      So…good question, we’re aware of the overlap and are working to bridge the gap both from a technology as well as messaging perspective!