Exploring SAP Business Application Studio for low-code development and deploying a multichannel sample app to mobile
Updated 25 November 2022: updates to boosters and branding.
It’s been a year since my last blog post Developing a multi-experience app with MDK and CAP (Node.js) and I wanted to share with you some things that have been cooking for a while now regarding low-code development.
As mentioned by Bhagat Nainani in his blog post Low-Code and No-Code: SAP Extension Suite Brings Development to Everyone, we aim to increase the productivity of both professional developers as well as citizen developers, and amplify their contribution to business transformation. I will touch upon some of the key components mentioned in this post.
Those following me might also recall the posts I’ve shared around Mobile Backend Tools and Mobile Development Kit: Mobile RAD: Create a protected OData service on Cloud Foundry and consume it with an offline MDK app and Building an MDK Web app that consumes an OData Service generated with Mobile Backend Tools. We will revisit these topics again, although in a slightly different setting. Over the past year we have been working hard to evolve these tools and frameworks further and combine them with other SAP technology that makes the life of developers easier. We have integrated several of our existing tools and frameworks into a comprehensive cloud based development environment that makes things easier to adopt, with zero installation required.
At the end of November last year we have officially released the first version of this new offering, and my colleague Yuval Anafi has provided a quick introduction in his blog post SAP Business Application Studio for low-code development. We have also created a Getting Started Video that I highly recommend watching to get an overview in 4 minutes.
In this blog post I want to showcase the new offering in a hands-on fashion, making use of a multichannel sample application that will be deployed into the cloud as well as on mobile.
To get started, you’ll need an account on SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), and this can be a productive account or a trial account in the region US East (VA). We also provide SAP Business Application Studio through the Free-Tier plan.
In the steps below, I assume you have some exposure to the BTP global account and subaccount cockpit pages and know how to add service entitlements. Please also be aware of potential cost aspects, as we will be using charged services (e.g. HANA Cloud database).
Alternatively, you can find all details in our online documentation Developing Low-Code Business Applications.
To make it easier to configure your subaccount, we provide a Booster that helps you subscribe to the necessary services and defines the roles and role collections required for starting your development journey. You’ll have the option to create a brand new subaccount, or apply the Booster to an existing subaccount. In your global account cockpit, please select Boosters and start the Booster called Get started with SAP Business Application Studio.
Note: if you quickly want to get started developing apps, you can skip the below set up steps. However, please remember to come back here once you are ready to deploy your application.
HANA Cloud Database
For previewing your application, we will use a ‘locally’ running SQLite database available within the SAP Business Application Studio environment. However, once you are going to deploy your application, you will need a HANA Cloud database to store your application’s data. If you already have a subaccount set up with a HANA Cloud database instance, then you can use this subaccount as deployment target for your applications as well. However, this really depends on how your organisation manages the cloud environments.
In my case, I am going to use the subaccount created earlier as target environment as well. I therefore need to add the HANA Cloud database to this subaccount, using the following steps.
Cloud Foundry Runtime
SAP Mobile Services
SAP Build (lobby)
Once the subscriptions are in place on your subaccount and the roles are configured for your user, you can access the SAP Build page. This is the central entry point for all your low-code and no-code development. From here you are able to create projects in SAP Build Apps as well as SAP Business Application Studio for low-code development.
SAP Business Application Studio for low-code development
Project Home Page
Data Model Editor
Sample Data Editor
Once we are done with developing the application, it is time to deploy it to Cloud Foundry. For this, go to the Project Home page and hit the Deploy button. If you have not logged into your target subaccount yet, you will be prompted to do this first. In my case, I will use the same subaccount as created for development.
In this case the application’s data is stored in the HANA Cloud database and changes or additions made through the UI apps are persisted.
Note that when using the Free-Tier version of SAP Business Application Studio, there is a limit on the amount of times you can deploy your application.
Deployment to Mobile Services
What we have running until now, is basically a web application. Using the exact same source code, we can turn this into a native mobile app for iOS and Android.
Now that you have gone through the whole flow and have the mobile app running on your device, you can easily make changes to the app and deploy the updates to Mobile Services. Once the SAP Mobile Services Client app detects a revision change, it will automatically ask whether you want to update the mobile app to the latest revision. The mobile app can also be shared with other users for easy validation.
SAP Business Application Studio for low-code development is a comprehensive offering, allowing users to get started quickly with SAP technology, without the need for in-depth technical knowledge or having to install software. Any type of developer will be able to create a full-stack application and deploy it to the cloud, as well as on mobile.
In the coming months we will introduce more enhancements to make it easier to get started, and we have a number of new features in the pipeline to increase the developer productivity. I will update this post when some of the set up steps have been further automated.
I’m looking forward to your feedback and am eager to see what you are able to build with this.
In case you are facing issues with the set up, I recommend taking a look at the tutorial that Raz Korn has published for you on the SAP Developer portal: Develop Full-Stack App Using Low-Code Capabilities of SAP Business Application Studio. This tutorial also describes a way to evaluate the above using the Free-Tier plan.
Ludo Noens – Product Owner