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Recently our company posted its first partner app based on Sybase Unwired Platform and SAP backend developed for SAP Mobile App challenge. This app is a result of several months of efforts taken by a team of three people who found it very appealing to try to make SAP a bit more user friendly and easy to use by applying a set of new technologies that were new to them.

 

DSC07030_mid.jpgWe are glad to share our experience that we gathered during this journey as we found it very exciting and interesting to explore platform capabilities of Sybase Unwired Platform and actually build a mobile app for SAP.


For our company, Symphony Solutions, with about a hundred of developers and knowledge in different technologies mobile development was not new as such, however till now it was mainly a custom built native apps which had nothing to do with SAP. Having both, mobile and SAP background, it was still a leap to combine them both in some significant product that can be easily used by customers and in the same time can be tightly integrated with SAP system. We have heard about SAP acquisition of Sybase and plans to bring a new products specially for mobile solutions but it was hard to get an access to the system and investigate its capabilities by ourselves even being a SAP development partner.

Having written and successfully certified SAP ABAP Add On that is integrating with SAP RE-FX module and provide a nice looking web interface to end users we already had in mind some ideas of how to improve this solution by using mobile devices. Thus at the moment we have heard of SAP Mobile app challenge we already knew what applications we can make.


I have to give BIG appreciation to SAP folks who organized the SAP Mobile app challenge and possibility for the community to use 30-days trial period to play with Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) as well as later providing the Amazon SUP instances that can be used for development – big thanks for it!!! Together with SCN examples and YouTube tutorials about SUP basics we were able to produce some simple app like employee phonebook already after the first week! That was really motivating so we started to think seriously about writing our own app for challenge and puzzling about technologies to choose.

 

 


 

Technology decision

 

At the moment, SAP provides a broad range of choices to write mobile application that can work with SAP. However easiness of development inside SUP environment and making our own application

there convinced us to use SUP framework as basis for our app. The second important choice to made was if it shall be native or HTML5-based app.

Having experience with building different mobile apps on different platforms we knew already pros and cons of native apps and HTML5-based apps so we were really curios to investigate what Hybrid Web Container (HWC) provided by SUP has to offer for us. After some investigation and simple tests we have decided to base our app on HWC concept as it provides several good parts of both: packaging as native apps in a PhoneGap-like style and ‘write once run everywhere’ ability of HTML5-based apps. The only one drawback of this solution is lack of documentation and information how HWC works internally so a lot of JavaScript digging was initially required to understand some of the peculiarities there  


So our architecture repeated pretty well common SUP architecture:

This image is property of SAP AG

 

At the end, when we were sure to use HWC, the next obvious questions was the selection of the framework to develop HTML5-based app that would be comfortable for us to use during development and would produce efficient code for production. Even thought Hybrid Web Container is based on JQuery for Mobile we went into different direction and used Google Web Toolkit (GWT) framework with mGWT library which is used for development of mobile applications. We choose GWT framework because of easiness of development and bug fixing during development phase as it allows to use Java language to write application during development phase and is able to compile (during final compilation of product) Java code into optimized JavaScript code using power of Java compiler for code optimization plus additionally tweaked Google JavaScript compiler to produce even more optimized JavaScript code. Second reason was that development using GWT framework would enable us easily do a lot of testing out of the desktop browser without usage of any mobile devices and leveraging comfort of Java language and debugging possibilities provided by Eclipse.

The fact that  our team had already some positive experience of using GWT framework and we do not needed an extra time to learn it to leverage all benefits of GWT was also given some weight to this decision.

 

further to Part II - Challenges and lessons learned

 

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