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Today SAP announced partnerships that will help change the way developers build applications that connect to  SAP Business Applications leveraging the capabilities of the SAP Mobility Platform. The partnerships that were announced are with (in alphabetical order) Adobe, Appcelerator and Sencha – and I’ll explain in a little bit what each one means for SAP customers.

 

Today’s enterprises use many community-driven and open source tools to run their businesses. In the mobile development arena many of our customers are already using solutions from the listed partners to simplify development of their desktop and mobile web applicationsplus deliver cross-platform native applications to smartphone users. By partnering with these companies, we enhance the capabilities of the tools customers are already using today; the increased synergies between our products give those customers the ability to more quickly bring impactful mobile applications to market.

 

Now, let’s talk about the partnerships and what they mean to SAP customers.

 

AdobePhoneGap & the Hybrid Web Container

SAP already has a long standing relationship with Adobe, so the announcement today simply increases the scope of an existing partnership.

 

For some time now, the SAP Mobile Platform has provided the ability for application developers to build mobile applications using standard web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) and run those applications within a hybrid web container (HWC) included with the platform. SAP Mobile Platform’s Mobile Business Object (MBO) technology manages synchronization of data between the container and one or more back-end servers. Developers use JavaScript APIs within the web application to allow the application to interact with the container, the data store and device-side hardware (such as the camera or a Bluetooth scanner) and applications (such as the contacts or calendar applications). Additionally, the container can be remotely managed – allowing administrators, among other things, to deploy updated versions of the application into the container remotely.

 

Adobe’s PhoneGap container provides similar capabilities (without the remote management and provisioning capabilities of the SAP Mobile Platform). Applications are built using web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) and a PhoneGap application accesses native application capabilities such as integration with external hardware and applications using APIs exposed through a JavaScript interface. PhoneGap is popular with developers and there are a lot of mobile applications built or being built using the solution.

 

Through this partnership, SAP will be enhancing its existing HWC to include support for the PhoneGap JavaScript API. What this means is that existing PhoneGap applications can be migrated over to the SAP Mobile Platform HWC and run without modification. Then, when updated versions of the application become available, they can be deployed into the container remotely using the management and provisioning capabilities of the SAP Mobile Platform. To make use of the secure, reliable synchronization capabilities of the SAP Mobile Platform, the existing PhoneGap application will need to be updated to access its data through the MBO. While this is extra work that must be done by a developer, one of the primary reasons you would move an existing application onto the SAP Mobile Platform and the HWC is to take advantage of the MBO, so it’s time well spent.

 

As you can see, SAP’s enhanced partnership with Adobe provides our customers with additional options when it comes to providing mobile users with access to enterprise data.

 

SAP & oData

SAP has made a commitment to the Open Data Protocol (oData - www.odata.org), an open standard used by developers around the world. Through the SAP NetWeaver Gateway, organizations expose data from back-end SAP systems to consumers which can be server-based, desktop or even mobile applications. Through the partnerships announced today, both Appcelerator and Sencha are adding support for oData with a long-term strategy to enhance their products to include support for application data push and tighter integration with the SAP Mobile Platform.

 

Appcelerator

Many organizations leverage tools like the Appcelerator Titanium Mobile SDK to build enterprise and consumer mobile applications. Titanium provides developers with the ability to write their applications using web technologies and expose them to users via the mobile web or as native applications deployed to devices. For mobile developers, Titanium allows developers to craft their applications using JavaScript, with HTML and CSS as needed, and executed within a native mobile application on mobile devices.

 

During this initial phase of the partnership, SAP worked with Appcelerator to create a custom JavaScript library that allows a Titanium application to interact with an oData producer such as the SAP NetWeaver Gateway. Licensing and support options for the library are still being worked out.

 

What does this mean for the Titanium developer? If you’re using Appcelerator Titanium to build mobile applications today, leveraging the JavaScript library produced through this partnership will simplify the application’s access to SAP data exposed through the SAP NetWeaver Gateway.

Look for additional announcements in the future regarding subsequent phases of this partnership.

 

Sencha

One of the most popular HTML 5 mobile application frameworks in use today is Sencha’s Sencha Touch framework. Many developers use this robust framework to create rich and compelling web application user interfaces. Additionally, using Sencha’s data packages capability, mobile applications have a consistent interface for managing application data locally or retrieved from remote data sources.The most recent version of the framework even includes a packaging utility that allows a mobile web application to be packaged into a native application for distribution through the mobile device app stores.

 

During this initial phase of the partnership, SAP worked with Sencha to create a custom JavaScript library for Sencha Touch that allows a Sencha Touch application to work with an oData producer such as the SAP NetWeaver Gateway. Sencha Touch already provides web applications with data management capabilities through its Models, Stores and Proxies; this additional capability simply allows a Sencha Touch application to more seamlessly consume oData from an SAP data source.

 

This library will be developer community supported and available free of charge from Sencha.

 

What does this mean for the Sencha developer?An application built using Sencha Touch can now seamlessly consume data provided by the SAP NetWeaver Gateway.By leveraging this library, a developer can manipulate data stored in SAP through an interface they’re already familiar with.

Look for additional announcements in the future regarding subsequent phases of this partnership.

 

Conclusion

These announcements are just the first steps in SAP’s initiatives around integration with third party mobile application frameworks and tools.  Look for additional posts from me as the tools generated by these partnerships are released, updated and enhanced.

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