14 Posts
Tobias Hofmann


Posted by Tobias Hofmann Mar 26, 2015

I stop using SAP Community Network as my go-to blog platform. From now on I will publish all my blogs on my private site: On SCN I will post a shorter version of an SCN worthy posts.




In case you followed my activities on SCN this should be of no surprise. I stopped posting in the forums years ago, and looking back at the last 3 months, I published almost no blog.


Since the very beginning of “new” SCN I had problems logging in, staying logged in, creating content, having control over my content, using SCN somehow as a place for a digital identity in the SAP world, accessing content from a mobile device, etc. Support from SCN was always top notch, especially from Oliver Kohl. In the end what counts is the overall UX, and when a basic action like logging on is not working, a blog post is lost after loading 4 images (no session found), things that I simply expect to work from a site like SCN do not work … Some of these problems caused me to stop participating in the forums, leaving me basically as a blogger on SCN.


SCN is working on creating a new SCN and taking a look at the announcement made until today, they are on the right track. So why do I not simply wait another 6 months?


Hosting my own site give me foremost insight to who is accessing it and control over my content. Publishing a blog is easier; I can use the site for other stuff like document sharing too. And it works on a mobile device. In 2015! I can have subdomains, link to it without having to fear that someday a URL will change. Short: I can use my site as a home for my digital me.

Of course this won’t be without problems. My site is running on a Raspberry Pi. Lucky me: I bought a model B+, just two weeks before the new model was announced. No 1 GB RAM or multi core for me. The uptime depends mainly on my energy provider (Light): don’t even think the computer will be up and running 24/7 for just one week. Access is HTTPS (TLSv1.x) only. Not only because of security, but because that’s the only port allowed for remote access by my internet provider. You can see, my site comes with a good level of geek factor J





*The real reason why I will continue to post from time to time on SCN is: I am close to 15.000 points or being 2 digit in the all time SCN rating. At least one of those I want to reach!

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In my BIF contribution, I mentioned that my son nowadays does a large part of my contribution to SCN. Laure Cetin found this out and while I feared that I‘d lose my topic leader status, what Laure did is quite the opposite. Dedicated to SCN as she is (true inspiration) she handed me out this instead:


Certificate of Appreciation for Sebastian Hofmann, SCN Topic Leader 2012 in the category: Youngest Contributor.


I am such a proud dad! (even when Laure was not aware of it, but that was a really cool birthday present she gave me).


Now, before you start thinking that we are making jokes about the Topic Leader status: au contraire. This is a really amazing example why I am active on SCN and what keeps me continuing contributing: we are a community. With community, I mean community and not an online site. It is not as if I have weekly meetings with Laure. In fact, this is the second time in 2 years that I have met her in person. SCN is the glue that bring people from the SAP ecosystem together. It is not only for getting answers for SAP related questions; here you can make friends and connections that go way beyond business. Members know each other, we respect each other, and we laugh together. That is what I love about this unique community. We create it; we are SCN.

In my personal backlog I have a large list of blog topics I think are of interest for the SCN community. Some of them are already laid out or almost ready to be published. As SCN is about community I thought: why not let the community help me decide what blog I should focus on next. So, here is my backlog, feel free to comment:

  • Load testing web applications
  • Expose BAPI as REST-full JSON: done
  • Debug SAP Portal applications
  • Continuous Integration
  • SAP UI5 in general and phonegap
  • Apache ESME installation in NetWeaver CE 7.2
  • Setup a Java development environment that does not include NWDI
  • Compare performance of NW Gateway oData with CAF + JSON

As you can see, not much about SAP Portal 7.3, on device portal or NetWeaver Cloud Portal, but that is on the backlog of my backlog :-)


Update 1: Expose BAPI as RESTful JSON is published.

Update 2: Load testing web applications with ab: part 1, part 1.5

Update 3: Continuous integration

On demand is the “next big thing”: every product, every solution has to be available as an on premise and an on demand version. Simplified, on demand means that you can access your solution via the internet, from everywhere you are. For a normal user there is no difference in how to access a new on demand solution and how Google Mail is accessed and used: enter the URL in the browser and start using it. For some solutions on demand is more a cultural shock than for others. Basically the main benefits for on demand are access, costs and maintenance.

SAP Portal users are familiar with web enabled access. Most of the time they are bound to the corporate network; sometimes they can access the services from outside the corporate network, by VPN or even by a “normal” URL. So where are the benefits of an on demand portal (ODP)? Configure your infrastructure right and you can have an on demand version.

The tricky part is the “your infrastructure”. Not every company does know how to do it right or even has the skills to do so in a secure way. The technology stack needed to run the SAP Portal is NetWeaver Java. There are stacks out there that are easier to maintain and that need fewer resources to run. You need a full J2EE stack for you application? Most portal applications only need a servlets container (like tomcat). The framework and standard UI of the SAP Portal are too heavy for Internet usage. Even with the External Facing Portal (EFP) framework, light weighted is defined differently. Licenses for the SAP Portal are cheap when your users are Business Suite users; costs like bandwidth and maintenance remain.

But still: problems that can be solved, so why an on demand portal?

Maintenance is where Basis surely will be reliefed as the task for applying service packs and notes will be delegated and end-users will be happy too as a good on demand solution offers a higher availability than the infrastructure of a normal company can. Setup time and costs are inexistent compared to the on premise portal.

The ODP will be – naturally – an external facing portal (EFP). Considering the problems the on premise portal has when it comes to make it an EFP in regards to:

  • Browser support
  • Mobile support
  • Security
  • Speed
  • Access

How will the ODP treat and solve these problems? And when you are an EP user, what kind of options will you get to use the ODP as your EFP? And will the ODP be the starting of the end of the EFP of the SAP Portal?

Looks like SAP is going to use the on demand portal to introduce a new stack to run the portal on. Open source based, OSGI support, something more like tomcat. The connectivity won’t be able to compete with what the SAP Portal offers, but as long as your backend exposes the data using HTTP/S it can be integrated; implying that you still have to be able to expose your backend data in a secure manner. If you know how to do that you can still opt for opening your corporate SAP Portal. But you won’t get the new SAP UI5. And that new interface alone justifies the on demand portal. Compared to the “old” SAP UI, UI5 was designed to be used over the internet in mind.


What do I expect from ODP?

A new software stack, cleaner, easier, more open source and support of more and newer standards. The new SAP UI5. If everything works out well SAP will be forced to merge the two code lines of on demand and on premise portal. Refreshing the “real” SAP Portal too. What can be wrong about that? Mobile access is crucial. Of what help is a portal accessible from everywhere and you need a desktop browser? This should also drive the adoption of mobile access to SAP and thePortal on device for the on premise SAP Portal.

As ODP gives us a revitalized portal running on new technology it should attract more developers. Done right developers have the freedom to choose how and with what they want to code: GWT, jRuby, PHP for Java, JSF, Java 5, 6 or 7, etc.

How will the access to information handled? A portal with portlets is just the visible interface to the user, but what about portal services? Everyone that already had to integrate the on premise portal – or the information stored and made accessible there – into another portal or product know that the SAP Portal is meant to be the last point of access. The SAP Portal’s primary design is to integrate content, but not to share it. Specially an ODP cannot be designed that way. As it is available 24/7 to everybody, so has to be the information. Will ODP come with a predefined architecture for accessing portal services and data? A possible way can be XSLT: content templates in XSLT can use portal services and classes to create the content. That way, all the information that is going to be displayed has to be available as either a service or a consumable Java class. And who says that you need a browser to access a portal? With desktop applications or open social the ODP can be integrated to serve the user in an inovative way.

One problem remains: Developers. SAP has shown us more than once that this is a topic where SAP continues to deliver below the expectations. Currently, developing for and learning SAP on your own private environment comes with some constrains: downloading, installing, renewing the license every 90 days, and you cannot create your environment as you wish, you have to use what SAP gives you. (ex: CE 7.2). Not everybody can download several GB of data and install it; the hardware requirements are even today still a challenge for laptops – not everybody has more than 2 GB memory installed. Contrary to this, tomcat is downloaded and running in minutes. No wonder that tomcat is a popular servlets container.

For the developer ODP is portlet development (WAR). It will be interesting to see if portlets developed for ODP also run on a native tomcat or on JBoss or on other competing products or what the effort is to make them compatible.

It lies in the nature of on-demand that access to the software isn’t a real problem anymore. The question is: will developers get free and no time limited access to ODP? To evaluate, learn and code the access does not need to be unlimited in all aspects: 1 or 2 users, limited bandwidth, CPU and memory usage, performance also does not count much, data base can be SAPDB. What counts is: give access to developers, from the very beginning.

This blog got a little bit longer than expected so I decided to split it into two blogs. Recap TechEd Las Vegas and SAP Portal news, part 1

Session PMC260 – Experience SAP NetWeaver Portal 7.3 in Action From an Admin Perspective


This 2 hours hands-on session was held by John Polus (13 consecutive TechEds!!) and Aviad Rivlin from SAP. Planned to be offered only wtice, a 3rd session was offered because of the huge demand. Every session was full (ok, except the last session on Friday, but 2/3 full on a Friday at 8am is not bad).


The session covered the new admin features of Portal 7.3. The killer feature to-be is the system sync from SLD: no more system creation in the portal landscape, including typos, wrong port / client, and so on. System changes are automatically synced.

Also nice are the new wizard for iView creation, role upload and creation. I’m confident that these features will make the life of every portal admin easier and minimize the number of errors.


The session also features THE answer to the most important question when thinking about going for Portal 7.3: Business Packages and ECC versions.


Portal 7.3 needs SAP Business Suite 7 or above (which – I think - translates to ECC 7 EHP4). At the end of the hands-on session Aviad gave an overview of the Enterprise Workspaces.


PMC231 – SAP NetWeaver Portal as a Launch Pad for Mobile Applications

The sessions was given by Fabio from Petrobras, I was a co-speaker at this ASUG session, presenting my architecture of the mobile solution Petrobras implemented for a mobile SAP Portal. The session was full, showing that every session that covers mobility is of high interest. The nice thing about the solution presented is that you can have a mobile solution without the need of Sybase, 3rd party software or native apps. Web-enabled access to portal content in a mobile browser friendly version is already possible and gives instant results.


Judging from feedback I received the content presented is “hot” and some interesting takeaways were presented, hoping that everybody learned something.

PMC227 – The New Signature Design in SAP NetWeaver Portal 7 EHP2

In my session I presented the EHP2 for Portal 7.0, gave an overview of the signature design and how you can customize it: the easy way (both in terms of effort and later SAP support) and the hard way (writing your own design / functionality from scratch). Almost nobody at the audience already runs EHP2 or 7.3, so I hope that the audience got some good tips.

PMC220 – How to Amaze Your Portal Users by a Great User Experience

This session was held by Sven Kannengiesser from SAP. He is in the SAP Portal team responsible for the hardcore portal implementations. The customer does want to use the SAP Portal, but not in the way SAP planned it to be used. So he is doing the “heavy” customizations. Heavy meaning: when you know HTML, CSS and how to write Java code that leverages the portal functionalities (API, JPA) it’s not over complicated, but still time consuming. To give you an impression: The screenshots he showed were from a current project, 6 month time, 3 Java developers, 2 designers for HTML and CSS and usability / requirement gathering staff. The problem here is of course the support. As soon as you do something similar and run into a bug / error the support offered by SAP will make you wish for a standard portal.



As there is a demand in knowing how to customize the portal in a way demonstrated, maybe SAP can publish some sample code here at SCN.

CD250 - ASUG Influence Council: SAP Guidelines for Best-Built Applications

This ASUG session presented the SAP Guidelines for Best-Built Applications. The book has an impressive downloaded number, but still isn’t known to every customer or partner. Richard Probst and Joerg Nalik explained the idea behind the book, how it is written (agile) and what are the expectations from them and SAP on how the book should be used. The problem is the speed of change SAP is throwing at their current portfolio. New products like Gateway and SUP change the architecture completely; new corporate recommendations for Web Dynpro or HTML5 make it hard to have a definitive guideline. What is valid today may be obsolete in 6 months.

Even with these ongoing changes, this is the book every developer and architect has to know and use it every day! You don’t need to buy it: it’s SAP Guidelines for Best-Built Applications, as SAP Guidelines for Best-Built Applications, as a Wiki you can also collaborate on the /community [original link is broken]


The problem with the book is that not everybody reads it. Clients should read it to know at least when their consulting or software company is doing something ill adviced. Consulting companies should use it to align their recommendations with SAP's recommendations.

Other sessions

Of course, HTML5, mobile (browser) access and SAP consumption is not only possible with the SAP Portal. This can be done also in ABAP: ICF service (REST, JSON anyone?) or BSP. If you want that your mobile users access directly you ABAP system this is a solution you can consider.

One session showed how to code a mobile BSP application. It is basically the same as with the portal: you write a mobile friendly HTML page, add some Javascript like jQuery and you mobilized your business. I saw in the HTML code a reference to the Javascript library lawnchair. I had to leave the session earlier, so I don’t know if the application also supports offline storage.

WebDynpro Java is dead, err, mean: not the strategic UI anymore, but  SAP is working on an alternative to Web Dynpro ABAP: HTML5 UI.



The  SAP Portal has > 10.000 installations, 63 customers are already  running Portal 7.3; considering that the GA was at 30.5, this is  impressive. As far as I know, these >10.000 installations does not  translate to the same number of clients, this number is > 6.000. But I  may be corrected.


The  number of SAP Portal sessions wasn’t as high as last year’s TechEd or  at this year’s ASUG annual conference at Orlando, but the sessions given  focused more on advanced topics (integration, customization) instead  running the portal (installation, administration).

Other session focused on REST or on the new HTML5 UI SAP is developing. It is obvious that mobility and accessibility by different devices has reached SAP. There are many ways of making SAP more open and not always you need Sybase.

SAP Portal on device

The SAP Portal team demonstrated the SAP Portal on device. It’s a mobile version of the SAP Portal, giving the user access to basic portal functionality like UWL. The interesting point here is that the slides presented included Sybase. Now, why do you need to have Sybase SUP for accessing the portal via the browser? You don’t need to, but it looks like the corporate strategy from SAP is to place Sybase on everything that includes mobility. I believe that the mobile SAP Portal without Sybase won’t survive, so how will the mobile version integrate with SUP? Maybe by using the hybrid web container, as the authentication handler or by having a very smart offline version of the portal for an offline sync of the UWL items?



This blog got a little bit longer than expected so I split it into two blogs. Recap TechEd Las Vegas and SAP Portal news, part 2

After taking a short vacation after TechEd, here is now my blog and view at TechEd in general and what it offered for professionals working with SAP Portal.


The event took place in Las Vegas, at the Venetian (picture above). I attended TechEd once as an SAP Mentor and as a speaker in the ASUG track. Being an SAP Mentor gives you a unique inside view as Mark and Aslann do their best to offer special sessions to us Mentors. We have a special meeting room for a welcome receptions and can meet with senior executives from SAP.



This is really great, but also means that Mentors have even less time to go to sessions, the exhibitor hall, the networking sessions, demo stations and so on. I also volunteered to help out at the hands-on session PMC260. Doesn’t sound like a big task? It’s a 2 hours session that was held 3 times. Makes 6 hours, plus the two one-hour ASUG sessions I was involved in. Makes 8 hours presenting, counting also the 3 expert networking sessions (only 1 was planned, helped out in the other two), sums up for a total of 9 ½ hours. This should explain why I cannot give a complete overview of all the SAP Portal related sessions.


Full house with SAP TechEd, Sybase Tech Wave and InterBike going on at the same time.

Social media was everywhere at TechEd. The screensavers of the laptops were configured to show a twitter stream, knowledge quest going on, QR codes helped, TechEd apps for your smartphone of choice.


Sybase TechWave

In parallel to TechEd happened Sybase TechWave. As a registered TechEd participant you gained access to the lecture session. This wasn’t well advertised, but you only had to go down one floor and check the session schedule.


Expert networking sessions

The Expert sessions are a nice way to share and interact with experts in an informal way. The problem is the sound and the number of attendees. Nevertheless, I spent a lot of time at this kind of session and learned a lot. Looking closely you can even attend a session held by important people.


The SAP Mentors had their own lounge (lounge 5), so if you wanted to see an SAP Mentor in action, this was an excellent opportunity! As blogged earlier, I gave a session about mobile user management for the SAP Portal. Didn’t really work out as planned (lesson learned: don’t do a demo on a new laptop).

John Moy giving his expert session on how to develop mobile applications with jQuery mobile

The other 2 expert sessions I was involved into weren’t planned: they just happened. I waited together with fellow SAP Mentor Butch NcNally for Yariv Zur to give his session about the new UI at SAP. He didn’t show up, so Butch and I took the opportunity to host a spontaneous session. Directly after this session Butch gave a session about SAP Portal at ASUG. As Harald Reiter joined the session I couldn’t resist. Even won a nice ASUG bag.


Midnight mobile madness

Google, Motorola and SAP presented this evening event on Wednesday (only by registration). Motorola used it to present their mobile portfolio, SAP to show how to develop mobile applications with Sybase. Lots of good food, free drinks (+wine +beer), lots of good questions (solution given by drinking more beer), lots of angry birds and of course: gifts (smartphones, angry birds and even a tablet).



The Sybase developer studio is Eclipse based, so prepare yourself to one more Eclipse installation on your computer.


SAP HANA was everywhere, mobility not so. Less HANA won’t hurt as many attendees won’t be able to get their hands on HANA for quite some time. Specially here in Brazil HANA will be unreachable for some time. The import tax urges companies to have their HANA installation abroad.


Mobility is a huge topic, but besides the hyped apps for normal end-users it was hard to find industry specific solutions (you know: these ugly Windows Mobile 6.x handhelds made to work in the field).




The keynote was given by Vishal. As SAP Mentor you get special seating, right in front of the stage. And there was an impressive number of SAP Mentors!



During the keynote nothing really new was announced, the focus laid on how to implement and integrate new software like HANA.


In the keynote project orange was announced. This is the code name for running BW on top of HANA.


Also announced during the keynote was the site Take a look at fellow SAP Mentor Vijay Vijayasankar Experience HANA - the wish list. On Thursday there was even a free concert for TechEd attendees.



All (100%) Brazilian SAP Mentors were in Las Vegas.


SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG annual conference 2011 here is now my summary of the SAP Portal related sessions and informations from SAPPHIRENOW and ASUG annual conference 2011 at Orlando. During this event I didn’t write a blog for every day as I communicated the news I heard directly via Twitter – I hope some benefited from my tweets.

At SAPPHIRE NOW and the ASUG annual conference attendees had the unique opportunity to assist sessions covering the current portal (7.0) from SAP customers and see the new features of the new portal 7.3 by SAP. As always, the ASUG sessions showed how the portal is used currently by customers, why and how they chose it and most importantly: how typical problems are solved. Following is a (not complete) list of sessions I attended and their key takeaways. The quality of the images is not the best, but when you do have an ASUG account you can download the presentations there.

NextEra Energy's Enterprise Portal Redesign: Improved Usability with Less Maintenance

An example where an SAP Portal customer decided to implement usability recommendations and had to customize the SAP Portal to do so. They had some very good ideas when it came to publishing transaction links or how to present data: a list that displays the links and loads the description and details via AJAX on the right side. The portal favorites also gained a nice redesign: grouped into categories or being role-specific. The CMS is done by a 3rd party software. Always interesting to see for what the portal gets used and the size of the portal team and the upgrade plans, specially the effort of an upgrade when using several BP and customizations.


Enterprise Portal and BOBJ Integration 101

Integrating BOBJ into the SAP Portal isn’t really hard and it looks like SAP is pushing the SAP Portal more to be the frontend for BOBJ. The basic integration can be done by URL iView or KM iView, in the later case you have to prepare the SAP Portal for BOBJ. Of course you have to evaluate if you use the portal or InfoView. Despite how to integrate BO into SAP Portal the session included a comparison between InfoView, KM and iView, as well as BI Portal vs. SharePoint vs. SAP Portal.



SAP NetWeaver Portal 7.3 Make the Best Out of Your Portal!

Aviad gave a good overview of what the 7.3 portal will offer. Besides what already got presented in great detail by SAP throughout this and last year about 7.3 here on SCN, the session also focused on a mobile framework. That’s right, SAP presented a cutting edge mobile framework that will ease our troubles when it comes to use the SAP Portal as a launch pad for mobile applications. The new signature design (aka AFP) was presented and on what layer you’ll do the customization (by using the L-Shape APIs). Enterprise Workspaces and how to use and integrate it got also presented and the main benefit: user enablement. The session closed with the much awaited product WPC 2.0.





Implementing Business-Owned Communication with SAP Enterprise Portal

The session showed how to use the SAP Portal for corporate communications where the business is managing the communication and not the developer: now the editors have the freedom to publish content to their department’s page. The CMS system (3rd party) guides the editor with a wizard through the process (tags, meta data, formulars). The SAP Portal ensures that the company has a communication channel, while the CMS delivers coherent content.

Interoperability between SAP NetWeaver Portal and Microsoft SharePoint Technology

Integrating SAP Portal with SharePoint will be easier with 7.3, and integrating SAP with Microsoft is done via Duet. For the ones thinking that Gateway is totally new: this is done by the Duet Service Consumption Layer (SCL), that is using NetWeaver Gateway. The Microsoft side is using Business Connectivity Services (BCS). The SAP Portal integration can be done on several levels, ranging from development, embedding to RSS.

  • Development: SOA can be used together with the Enterprise Services Explorer for .NET in Visual Studio
  • Syndication: WSRP can be used, but you shouldn’t, as the WSRP is simply a broken standard (I do have a blog about WSRP on my todo list for almost a year)
  • Embedding: Simpliest way to embed SAP Portal content (iViews, pages) is by iFrames. You’ll have to take care of SSO and link behavior. You can even make it easier and embed the whole SAP Portal by iFrame.
  • Portal launch: Just like embedding the portal, but to not make it too ugly and more obvious for the end user that he is working with another portal, you can also simply start the SAP Portal (or MOSS) in a new window.
  • RSS: publish information like links by RSS.

ASUG: Portals of the Year

The portals of the year award was an ASUG contest that ran last year. The competitors presented their portal implementation during ASUG webcasts and later the members voted. The winner of the competition was: City of Burnaby. You can find more about the contest winner and the contest at ASUG.

A Closer Look at All the Greatest and Latest Features of NetWeaver Portal 7.3

Some of the new features are:

  • AJAX framework: faster, open framework, customizable, new signature design, improved performance & user interaction
  • Web Page Composer 2.0: searching & tagging, mashup, time-based publishing & recall, staging. New role: Area Management
  • Wikis: portal add-on, Views: admin & user, version control, self publishing, blacklists, user banning, collaborative authoring, no extra license, integrates with: SSO, TREX, PCS
  • KMC: archiving, multiple upload, light RM, ACL indexing. KM isn’t a CM, DM or RM system, it serves as a simple content store and is used by Wiki, WPC and forums. There were other sessions on how to itnegrate DMS / ECM solutions into the SAP Portal
  • Unified access: CTS+, top-down approach, simplified content creation, roles: free-style (as today), workcenter, backend, package
  • No more support for Internet Explorer 6 (for more information: SAP PAM)

When you use WPC, it will get upgraded. Depending on the customizations done in WPC (pages, layouts, applications) this demands some work. Business Packages from 7.0 won’t work with 7.3 (someone from SAP can please share some more information about this? Many customers do use the portal because of the BP offered by SAP and need compatible BP for 7.3 with their current system, ECC 5/6).


SAP Portal Influence Council

ASUG offers the great possibility of influence councils where you can talk directly with PM from SAP. SAP presented Portal 7.3 and was open for feedback. The Portal will expand its 3rd party list, specifically when it comes to ECM/DMS, CMIS isn’t considered urgent. While talking with participants I noticed that companies have problems finding skilled SAP Portal consultants. People that understand how to code, implement and maintain the portal and business packages. Let’s hope that with Portal 7.3 more professionals will focus on the portal, if not, companies may stop using the portal because they cannot find skilled people to run it.


How Serco managers large volumes of data in diverse industries for SAP Portal Best Practice

The SAP Portal is used to deliver a single look and feel for > 10.000 users. The portal parts used are TREX and collaboration. Their portal has some impressive usage statistics: ~930.000 objects in TREX, ~380.000 views/month and ~67.000 logins/month. To deliver the portal content they use the KM for the html pages and the PCD for the navigation. As the content providers are not web designers, they have one portal content editor form, but many forms for showing the content.
They make extensive use of a 3rd party statistic tool to know how the portal is used:

  • # users / pages / logins
  • Pages not used
  • Technology installed on client machines
  • Navigation paths


What else?

  • Some customers prefer to extend their SAP Portal with 3rd party applications, ranging from statistics to CMS solutions. Most of these solutions were chosen because the SAP Portal isn’t offering an out-of-the-box solution at the time the customer implemented the SAP Portal. In regards to CMS, many want to analyze Web Page Composer 2.0 in 7.3.
  • Almost all presenters expressed their concerns about the performance of the portal, but nobody said that their portal is slow as the portal scales very well.
  • Mobile framework is in development. SAP presented the Portal on device together with Gateway.  The mobile framework demo SAP presented is using jQuery Mobile. That is the same Javascript framework as Sybase is using for their web containers. Looks like SAP is investing in jQuery Mobile. Anybody knows if SAP is also contributing to jQuery Mobile? One benefit in using the SAP Portal over Sybase for starting to go mobile is that you already have the necessary landscape: no need for Sybase + MI (DOE). You can start now and explore the benefits of being mobile and later go for more full apps (Sybase).
  • Gateway is an add-on to your landscape.
  • The portal is ready for the cloud.


  • HTML 5 or native app? Nobody does have a definitive answer, but Sybase has web containers available that allow you to expand your HTML (5) web applications seamless to a mobile device. You can even use Sybase to develop an HTML 5 page for their web container and put the resulting HTML file to any webserver – as it is just plain HTML. Of course you’ll have to life with one minor problem: when there is no Sybase web container available for your device, you’ll have to wait that Sybase will deliver one. In case you don't have access to Sybase, you can start gaining knowledge with phonegap and later switch your "native" app to Sybase.
  • Enterprise Workspaces is a separate product, so if you are using EWS 1 and want to use Portal 7.3, you’ll have to wait unit EWS 2 is out.
  • L-Shapi API and the JSON navigation: don’t really like that the Javascript get’s the JSON data from a servlet that delivers way too much information and that is using WSNavigation.
  • The portal team was proud to be able to say that the ramp-up of SAP Portal 7.3 was a success. If the Business Packages won't support 7.3 it will make it hard to see a great adoption rate.
  • I saw nothing (new) from UWL: will the UWL be continued or be replaced by POWL and share the fate of the KM?

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SAPPHIRE NOW and the ASUG annual conference 2011 in Orlando are over, and after I needed some time to recap the whole event I will now share my personal view. A SAP Portal (7.3) focused blog on the event will follow soon. It was my first SAP event as an SAP Mentor, and being one changes entirely how you experience an SAP event. Thanks to SAP for giving me the opportunity to be part of this amazing pack.


SAPPHIRE started on Sunday with the SAP Mentors welcome (I hope there is an NDA on it and nobody can post it on youtube). That's were the new Mentors get their shirts with their number and twitter handle on it (should I start an Idea   Place idea for a new twitter handle?).



There were 4 keynotes, 3 from SAP, 1 from ASUG - I only attended the SAP keynotes. SAPPHIRE NOW transmitted the keynotes live, The specified item was not found.. The Monday keynote laid down the content for the next 3 days: innovation. Without innovation your company won't survive, and SAP made it clear that they do innovate: mobile, HANA, cloud, on demand.


The Tuesday keynote mentioned many SAP customers, HANA, mobile and included live demos. It demonstrated the other focus of SAP and the event: customers.




The last keynote on Wednesday focused on HANA and was fun to watch. Time is relative and when it is clear that you cannot make it in the given time, just add an additional hour. SAP HANA is here, it is a game changer and it will play a major role in the future of SAP. To get the most out of HANA you’ll have to combine it with at least mobile applications.









My session schedule was full: after the Monday keynote I had the choice between 3 parallel portal related sessions and this didn’t really change during the following 3 days. SAPPHIRE and the ASUG annual conference are just too much for only 3 days; the conference should be at least 4 days. While on the ASUG sessions you get an in-depth view on the current problems SAP customers have and how they solve it, SAPPHIRE shows you what to expect from SAP in the near future. If you cannot focus on one event only, you'll have a problem with the immense size of the convention center: miss successive sessions or run. To give you an impression: I shot the following video while going on Wednesday from a mobility session to the ASUG SIG Portal Influencer session. Both were on opposite corners of the convention center - I needed more than 7 minutes for the walk.

After the portal session I had to go back to the mobility forum for another session. That makes more than 15 minutes just walking.

The SAP Community Network (SCN) too was present. I know of at least one micro forum session that was about SCN on Monday: explaining what SCN is and does, New SCN Community Social Responsibility Initiative for 2011, how to participate and the benefits it offers for everybody. The session was held by Chip Rodgers ... "Act 1" of SAPPHIRE NOW.


SAP Mentors

SAP Mentors have the opportunity to attend mentor-only sessions with executives from SAP and partners, as well as access to the Global Communications sessions.





Aslann and Finnern organized at the end of every day a SAP Mentors wrap-up. The location was communicated by tweets: not only SAP Mentors showed up but also a crowed interested to know who we are and what we do.



SAPPHIRE closed with a Sting concert presented by SAP and Deloitte.



What else?

  • Public transportation is nothing you can rely on. Save the money and walk.
  • Wifi at the OCCC actually was good; as long as you didn’t go down to the show floor.
  • I do have the coolest smartphone of all.
  • It is a good idea to follow the SAP Mentors (@SAPMentors) on twitter when there is major SAP event. This is not like the usual: follow them and with luck you will get some information. SAP Mentors communicate live from sessions and their conclusions during SAP events. It’s one of the best ways to stay up-to-date in almost real-time.
  • TechED Las Vegas, 12 – 16 September. If you don’t just want to participate but also be a speaker: check out this blog from Tammy Powlas.


The SAP Portal is a product that - by its nature - is accessed by a browser. The SAP Portal supports the use case of an external portal so it can be accessed by several browser types. And the market is full of browsers, to just name a few:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Chrome

And every browser is available in several versions and flavors (desktop / mobile). The most common browers used by companies are Internet Explorer and Firefox. As Firefix (FF) 3.6 is out since several months and soon will get replaced by Firefox 4 I wanted to update the portal's SPS to get support for the latest version of Firefox. Why Firefox? Firefox is a widely used browser that is adopted by many  companies and that adheres to web standards (W3C) and (many) end-user  prefer it over the Internet Explorer. So I planned to do an upgrade to a newer SPS of the portal to at least EHP1 SP8 ( to get support for FF 3.6.

Reading the Open Source at SAP in 2010 I thought this should not be a problem. Until I read the PAM: no FF 3.6 support. It looks like this isn't even on the roadmap for NetWeaver 7.0X.

Release history of Firefox:

  • Firefox 3.5 was released on June 30, 2009
  • Firefox 3.6 was released on January 21, 2010. That's almost one year from now.

Source: Wikipedia

SAP Portal added support of Firefox 3.5 in January 2010 (almost 6 month after the release of FF 3.5). More than one year after the release of Firefox 3.6 there is no support for this version available.

Without the support for Firefox 3.6 in the latest SPS I'll have to wait for the next SPS that hopefully will include support for a recent Firefox version. The problem with the missing Firefox support is:

  • End-users will have to use FF 3.5 and when the (companys) browser gets updated to FF 3.6 you'll loose support
  • When Mozilla releases Firefox 4.0 they will shortly after drop support for FF 3.5, and because SAP won't support a product that the vendor is not supporting, the support for FF 3.5 by SAP will also stop.

It looks like Mozilla wants to maintain FF 3.5 at least to February 8, but End of Life for FF 3.5 was already announced and planned for August 2010. Short: luckily for Firefox users, Mozilla had to delay FF 4. If not, there wouldn't be support for Firefox in the SAP Portal. As a company that wants to use Firefox with SAP Portal, you are forced to run an old and no longer recommended version of Firefox ("All users are strongly encouraged to upgrade to Firefox 3.6")

This is leaving me with one question: Why is SAP not going to support FF 3.6?

There is hope: In 7.3, Firefox 3.6 will be supported. As 7.3 is in ramp-up it isn't available to all customers. This typically needs around 6 months after the product entered ramp-up.

  • Where the developers focused on the NetWeaver 7.3 release with no time to make the current portal Firefox 3.6 compliant?
  • Is Firefox not considered as a browser that customers are using?
  • How does this fit into the Open Source@SAP announcements? 
  • How can you run an external facing portal with SAP Portal when the portal isn't supporting the most used browsers like Firefox and Chrome?

The support of Firefox from SAP leaves you with more questions than answers. In the PAM for 7.3 there is only FF 3.6 mentioned. Will this be downported to older releases as well? What about FF 4? When 7.3 will leave ramp-up and FF 4 is already available, how long will it take to gain support for FF 4? Will this be included in the final version of 7.3? Or do customers need to apply shortly after a new SPS to have FF 4 support?

What is on my browser support whishlist:
- Google Chrome
- Firefox 4
- WebKit
- Opera
- Mobile Browsers

From time to time I like to check the job market to see what I'm missing. With the SCN Career Center this is easy: just click the link in the SCN top level navigation and start searching.

First I checked the SAP Portal demand for Brazil. Well, I tried to search for all open jobs in Brazil, but the search form isn't working 100% - search buttons throws a Javascript error.  Good news for my employer: no jobs posted for Brazil. This means that either there are no jobs available in Brazil or that SAP Brasil isn't pushing the adoption of the Career center. I opt for the last. As I'm more interessted in the global demand, I searched for all job postings that are related to portal.

What I have observed from looking at the posted job offers:

  • ESS/MSS is, together with BI, one of the most used Portal usages
  • We get Safari support because Apple is using SAP Portal
  • Many companies are searching architects
  • There are a lot positions open for developers (WebDynpro Java too)
  • Most companies don't understand what they are searching. 10 years of SAP Portal experience? More generic text about the company than about the job.

What does this mean for someone that is a Portal consultant?

  • You need to know Java, VC and WebDynpro and how to integrate them
  • Knowing only portal is not enough. You need to know how to integrate other product like: ESS/MSS, BI, MDM, SRM.
  • This implies that you have a good understanding of SSO, Security, Web (2.0), ESA / WebServices / Rest, Functional and technical aspects of the portal + business package and several SAP solutions that can be accessed by web, basic understanding of ABAP and ERP, UI and UX, follow newest trends like mobile.
  • Mobile Portal is nothing companies are searching. My guess is that they don't know that it is a really good idea to use the SAP Portal for mobile SAP access. Hope that this will change.

Does participation in SCN increases your chances to get hired?

Having a permanent work visa is a requisite for the jobs posted for USA. I could work in Europe, but the number of portal jobs posted for Europe is nothing compared to USA. I don't have a visa for USA, the country flag in my business card is set to Brazil, so I don't know if active SCN contributors in the portal area from USA get job offers. I guess that when a company posts a job offering they don't get a list of possible matches from the SCN community presented. That way they could pre-check some users to find out if they fit their need and, more importantly, check their contributions done to know if they have the right knowledge.

  BTW: saw a job posting from IBM, Honolulu. Would move to Hawaii today.

Tobias Hofmann

Mobile apps or HTML?

Posted by Tobias Hofmann Dec 8, 2010

Recently there has been a series of blogs about developing mobile applications using HTML5:

You cannot ignore it: mobile access to SAP is a hot topic. As there are also series of blogs focused on mobile business using Sybase and almost all news around SAP and mobile involve somehow Sybase, it's interessting to see what customer are using. At TechED Las Vegas I had the chance to attend some lectures about mobile applications running on BSP and SAP Portal. The Demo Jam winners demonstrated a HTML5 app. The question  now is: mobile access to SAP data by an app or HTML?


There are use cases where you need a local app installed on the device. MAM is a good example:

  • you'll need a local database
  • long offline time
  • complex data to be modified and
  • to be synchronized
  • background sync

Drawbacks from using apps:

  • Distributing apps is a challange, updating them too.
  • Sensitive data stored on the device; ensure security of data.
  • SAP MI, Gateway, Sybase or 3rd party mobile software bring their own infrastructure that needs to be integrated into the current landscape
  • Mobile policies change. Now the users are using Blackberry, soon  some will switch to an iPhone, Android or WM7 phone. And you'll have to  develop a version of your app for that device. Project  Gateway promises to ease this work.
  • An app for iPhone works on iPhone, but not an Android, BB or WM phone.


  • simpler use cases, no RFID, tag scanner or other special device hardware needed
  • online & offline
  • local storage of data
  • can be used by mobile and standard browser (1 application for all)
  • use of mobile device features like GPS

The usual offline access mode that demands for a local app is obsolete: we are living  in an online world and being offline means that you are either offshore  or in a  plane (and that is also changing: on some planes wifi access is  already reality). The background sync from apps is sometimes not even  considered, as the user will get a notification by e-mail or initiates the activity as part of his daily routine (while beeing in the train, bus, traffic jam,). Another point to consider HTML(5) is the experience available for high number  of concurrent user access to your web server.

The maiority of use cases is online consumption of data, the interaction  sometimes is only that the user is hitting the "approved" button or to  look simple data up like the phone or e-mail adress. To consume employee  data you may use a local app (+db) and store the contact data on the  device, but you cannot store all the employee data - at least when your  company has more than 1000 employees - or company policy don't allows  it. As this data is changing, doing a sync is mandatory; you don't  want to have an outdated phone number when you need it. A feature that counts more than offline storage of these data is to asve the contact data into the devices PIM.

Considering the number of concurrent users: while I attended the  lectures at TechEd LV I left with the impression that most mobile SAP  applications are made for a small number of users. 50 users already was considered high;  and that a really big issue is the sync of the data (users of MI may  remember the DOE sync issues). Looking at the usual "simple" use cases of  mobile applications, HTML(5) is the right choice: independently whether  you are using BSP or the Portal, you already have the knowledge of a  high number of users accessing SAP data. There won't be surprises when  >50 users are accessing the application at the same time.

The technolgies available and from what I've seen at TechED is what the customers are using for their development are:

  • BSP
  • Java (NetWeaver AS Java and SAP Portal)

The problem I see in developing HTML5 apps with SAP is that  there is a gap in the solution offering from SAP: there is no offering from SAP.  If you want to develop such a HTML5 application, you'll have to do it by yourself. And mobile browsers are not really supported (Service Market  Place: PAM).

Do you want to use BSP or AS Java or the SAP Portal? Of course I only can recommended using the SAP Portal. It offers:

  • Profiles
  • Filter content based on URL (Filter ID)
  • Made for browser access
  • System landscape with SSO to backend systems
  • Caches
  • Portal services

With profiles, roles and filter ID the portal filters the navigation. Instead of having 20 apps for ESS and MSS on the home screen, the users may only have 2: ESS and MSS that open the navigation of the area in the portal depending on the associated roles of the user. With SSO, it is also possible to easily integrate other web content (ex.: ITSmobile transactions). The HTML application can reuse interfaces already in use: Web Services  and JCo/JCA/BAPI from WebDynpro applications. The same HTML5 application can be used by mobile and desktop access. No need to develop the same application several times. Once logged in the portal, the end-user can make use of the portal services like UWL, favorites, KM (download documentation), or other APIs available.

This blog is a follow up to my Using Filter ID in SAP Portal. To conclude the blog I want to share some hints to remember when setting up filter IDs:

When working with filter IDs to filter the navigation of the user, keep in mind that the filter ID only filters what the navigation will show and not to what the user has access. When the user knows how to find out the underlying PCD path (ROLES or navurl) he can still construct an URL to call link that were filtered out.
A filter ID can be a number or a word: 10 or Internal or Internal10  
Portal rule: The portal alias has to be in the form portal/alias; as it is defined in web.xml. You cannot use /irj/portal/alias or /portal/alias in the rules collection.

Filter ID only works for entry points. Not for roles and not for subfolders. When you have to following TLN for a role:


You cannot assign a filterID to "Sub Internal" to make it appear in the desktop.


How the portal is interpreting the filter ID property (parameter: FilterbyDesktopView) is configurable: SAP Help. In the default configuration you activate (true) or deactivate (false) the filter ID feature, but in fact you are not setting true or false values, but 0, 1 or 2. Whereas:

  • 0: Filtering is disabled.
  • 1: Activated. If not matching filter ID is found, all content is displayed.
  • 2: Activated. If no matching filter ID is found, all content without a filter ID is displayed.

To demonstrate the difference in the configuration when setting the parameter to 1 or 2, consider the example of internal and external destop in the previous blog. The parameter is set to true (1). For the internal role you have configured the entry points:


Internal -> FilterID for internal desktop
Internal 2 -> no filter ID assigned

As both internal and external desktops are configured to use a filter ID => Internal 2 won`t show up as an entry point in both desktops. That is true whether you activate Filter ID by setting it to 1 or 2.


image image

External has filter ID "External" assigned and External 2 has no filter ID assigned.

Both have filter ID "Internal" assigned


Now you access the portal via the alias: portal/example and that desktop has the Filter ID "10" assigned.With the parameter FilterbyDesktopView set to 1, the result will be:


As the desktop is using a filter ID that no entry point is assigned to, all content will be displayed.

With the parameter FilterbyDesktopView set to 2, the result will be:


The selected desktop is using again a filter ID that no entry point is assigned to, but this time only the entry points that have no filter ID will be shown. As the other 3 entry points have either Internal or External as filter ID, only External 2 will be shown.


PMC235: Petrobras: SAP NetWeaver Portal as an Application Portal

On tuesday, October 19 I will present the 1h educational session PMC235: Petrobras: SAP NetWeaver Portal as an Application Portal (4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.). Petrobras is using the SAP Portal as an internal portal for accessing SAP data over the web. These applications span a wide range of use cases: from financial to HR applications. The portal itself is used by more than 60.000 users throughout Brazil.

I will present how and why we customized the portal to achieve:

  • High user satisfaction
  • Single Sign-on from the browser to the backend
  • Integration and access to backend data (WDJ/A, VC, BSP, Java)
  • Corporate design
  • Custom iViews (with support for several browsers)
  • Significant performance enhancements
  • Transparent user actions by analyzing access data
  • Maintenance and infrastructure

To conclude this blog a short outlook: Mobile SAP Portal


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