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:
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 3: Continuous integration
Developing for NetWeaver AS Java means that you have to use the NetWeaver Developer Studio. The recommendation is to have for every NetWeaver release the corresponding NWDS version installed on your computer. When you have to take care of developments running on 7.0, 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 you end up having 4 NWDS versions installed. NWDS for NetWeaver 7.0 an be downloaded at SCN. Until recently this was also true for CE.
Hope that the CE 7.2 download comes back as it included a NWDS for CE 7.2. For installing NWDS for CE 7.1 you have to download the installer from SAP (S-User required). That is not really complicated, but when you are switching workstations, travel or want to share your NWDS installation with a co-worker things get complicated. You have to download NWDS and install it. There are several pitfalls associated with this:
Even when you have the time and bandwidth, you still need to have administrator privileges to install NWDS:
The NWDS for CE download link mentioned above includes a step by step manual for installing NWDS CE. Step 3 is important:
“The installer starts SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio automatically and invokes the Eclipse Update Manager where you can select the available NWDS features that you want to add to your installation.”
This sentence means that you effectively install a basic Eclipse that needs to download and install all the features that transform Eclipse to NWDS. In my case, the basic NWDS CE 7.1 was roughly about 71 MB in size:
The preferences show that nothing SAP related is available. No Java, Portal, Web Dynpro Java, DTR or any other feature and perspective related to SAP development available.
Without these features you cannot develop. That’s where step 3 comes in. And therefore, to the 3 above mentioned possible pitfalls you have to add: 0.1. proxy configuration If you corporate proxy isn’t permitting Eclipse to download the features you have a useless basic Eclipse installation. NetWeaver AS Java CE comes with an update site feature (http://server:port/updatesite) (1). You can use the one provided by SAP or the one provided by your 7.1 administrator.
After you managed to install NWDS CE 7.1, how do you get that working version portable? You may be tempted to zip the folder and to copy it to an external drive to make it available as a portable NWDS (it is Eclipse and Java after all). If you do so you will notice that the installation folder is still only 71 MB. So: where are the downloaded files? NWDS CE 7.1 won’t copy them to the eclipse/plugins|features folder. They are downloaded to
(username)/.eclipse/ com.sap.netweaver.developerstudio.studio_7.1.0_xyz/configuration/ eclipse
That’s where the downloaded SAP features are. This installation path makes it complicated to use NWDS when the administrator of your company installed the features: your user does not have access to the folder. Copying them from there to the eclipse directory to make Eclipse aware of them won’t work. Inside the above directory is a file called .eclipseextension. That’s the only hint you get from SAP, but it’s enough to identify it as an extension directory. Copy that directory to another location (e.g.: X:\CE). From there the SAP features can be installed. The manage configuration dialog (Help -> Software Updates lists the features available.
This will install the features. After a restart of NWDS all SAP features are available:
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:
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.
In the blog SAP NetWeaver Portal: Development Options the different alternatives for developing SAP Portal applications where outlined, including a small guidance when to use what and why. One thing that stands out it the fact that Web Dynpro Java (WDJ) is part of the Portal Developer training and certification. Why? You don’t need WDJ for portal development, and WDJ standalone rarely makes sense. So: why WDJ at all?
For those saying: Web Dynpro Java should be preferred over JSP and Visual Composer development because it is enterprise ready. Short answer: No.
Of course there are some very specific scenarios where WDJ makes sense, but until today these scenarios stamped the proof of their existence in the comparison of WDJ against WDA; like: when you have a really high number of users. The problems you get with WDJ are endless and feared in IT organizations. Just the problems with transporting the application led companies to prefer WDA over WDJ.
The alternatives to WDJ SAP gives you are:
a) Portal development, including J2EE applications running directly on top of NetWeaver AS Java
b) Visual Composer (see the blog Modeling is the next generation of programming languages.
I won’t consider BSP or WDJ or anything other ABAP based here. If you want to run your (maybe even public) web applications on your productive ABAP instance is your decision.
Finding developers with the needed skill set is easy: JSP and web applications are standard, developers from Open Source and other venders like Oracle can reuse their skills.
Visual Composer (VC) on the other side allows easy and fast creation of web forms and to display backend data. At the same time when a WDJ developer is still creating the HTML table where the information retrieved from a BAPI will be shown the VC application is up and running. You can easily create mockup services and start modeling the application without waiting for the backend system to be ready. Just enter some dummy data and you can start developing your application. VC is not meant for highly customizable applications, but for normal applications where you want to expose and write data from a backend. Sure, the first versions of VC (specially 7.0x) are not really what you expect, but starting with VC 7.2 it is a very powerful tool.
The skills? VC is a modeling language. Every developer and even business users that have a basic understanding of NetWeaver and UI controls can develop their own applications. Training is easy and fast: in just a few hours people can already start using their first application.
A central web based access to information and application makes sense. J2EE and JSP applications can run on every device, something that WDJ cannot and never will. Visual Composer is more complicated. When you use the flash runtime, you get an application using flash - nothing someone really wants. But the application will work on Android devices with flash installed. When you use Web Dynpro as the runtime, you get the limitations of WDJ. What’s missing is a new runtime, one that enables the easy consumption of VC applications on every device. Like the new SAP UI5. With a HTML5 runtime VC applications can run on every device. This will close the gap for Portal on Device (PoD) and the missing mobile compatible applications. If you agree with this, here is an Idea Place where you can vote for a HTML5 runtime for Visual Composer.
A problem for JSP and VC is that SAP didn’t really paid attention or invested in the tools like they did for WDJ. Creating a JSP page using the SAP taglib for HTMLB UI elements means that there is no wizard available. You’ll have to create the layout manually. VC comes with a graphic modeling tool that helps you to not only create the model but also the UI of the application.
-- == Short English version below == --
Wiki page do evento: SAP Inside Track Rio de Janeiro
Com a chegada dos palestrantes às 8hs começou ão a preparação final do evento. Depois que os primeiros participantes chegaram e o café-da-manhã foi servido o primeiro SAP Inside Track no Rio de Janeiro começou pontualmente.
Últimos preparativos (mão: Marlo, SAP Mentor no fundo: Henrique)
Além de agradecer ao patrocinador Gonow e a PUC por oferecer a sala, a importância de ter um evento de alta qualidade no Rio e o novo SAP Community Network foi destacada.
Marlo durante o keynote
A primeira sessão explicou o que é o programa do University Alliance e porque a SAP está procurando universidades para participar. Obviamente é uma situação de ganha-ganha. A universidade ganha um curso atraente e a SAP consegue colocar recém-formados com conhecimento dos produtos SAP no mercado.
A segunda sessão foi apresentada pelo SAP Mentor Matthias Steiner remotamente da Alemanha. Ele explicou a motivação da SAP com a nova plataforma Neo (JPaaS e on-demand). Foi a primeira palestra sobre Neo no Brasil. O que é interessante desta plataforma é que Neo usará servlets para o desenvolvimento e que é uma plataforma aberta. Não somente em relação ao software utilizado (muitos Open Source), mas também na integração com a infra-estrutura de desenvolvimento no cliente. Você já tem um CI? Pode usar sem problemas junto com Neo. Até pessoas de outras partes do mundo se conectaram para assistir a palestra sobre Neo.
O Neo está em beta, para quem quiser participar – Announcing: Project River.
Esforço total para assegurar a qualidade da conexção durante a sessão do Matthias. (Henrique + Marlo + 3 Laptops e 1 iPad)
O SAP Mentor Henrique Pinto explicou a estrategia da SAP em relação a HANA.
Para muitos profissionais HANA ainda pode parecer um produto SAP impossível de acessar, mas o roadmap da SAP é bem claro: HANA é o futuro da SAP. Além de BI on HANA vai ter ECC on HANA. A idéia é de que ao longo da próxima década HANA substituirá o banco de dados atualmente usado para o ECC. Já que hoje o banco de dados é usado somente para salvar os dados do ECC.
O Fernando da Rós apresentou a última sessão no track Descobrir sobre o produto Nota Fiscal eletrônica da SAP. Ele explicou a necessidade e os benefícios da solução. A palestra foi muito bem recebida, já que todos já haviam trabalhado com NF-e. Considerando que o Fernando é o cara de NF-e, todos aproveitaram a presença dele para tirar dúvidas.
Durante a hora de almoço os participantes tiveram a oportunidade de assistir um concerto live de OK Go.
Após o almoço foi a vez das sessões do track Aprender: hands-on time! Eu mostrei algumas ferraments que podem ser usadas durante projetos que usam agilidade, alguns interessantes apenas para desenvolvedores, outras também para funcionais: CollabNet ScrumWorks, Sonar, Jenkins, Selenium, TestNG, MyLyn.
Enquanto o Henrique se encarregava de solucionar os últimos problemas da sessão #6, o Marlo Simon começou com a sua sessão #7. Depois de explicar HTML5, REST e JSON, foi a vez do Ronildo – que se conectou remotamente da SAP São Paulo – para explicar Gateway. Depois de uma breve introdução teórica sobre Gateway ele mostrou como criar um serviço REST. Para mostrar que realmente é simples consumir um serviço REST criado pelo Gateway, o Marlo mostrou uma aplicação que consumia este serviço. Resultado: acesso a SAP de um iPad, usando HTML5 e REST.
Marlo apresentado HTML5
A última sessão foi apresentada pelo Denis da Gonow trazendo um caso real. Este caso também usava o iPad para acessar dados no SAP mas nesta vez com uma arquitetura bastante comum nos clientes SAP: SAP + PI + acesso móvel.
Como brinde especial os participantes ganharam uma camisa pólo do SIT RJ como presente.
Tivemos mais Paulistas no evento do que Cariocas. Talvez tenhamos que criar a marca SIT RJ e exporar o evento para São Paulo ou para o exterior (SIT RJ Buenos Aires).
Marlo e Henrique precisaram menos tempo ir de São Paulo ao evento do que eu de Barra ao Centro.
O aeroporto ficava a 5 minutos do local do evento.
Nossa camisa especial para o SIT RJ!
-- == Short English version == --
If there is demand, I will write a more complete English version
SAP Inside Track Rio de Janeiro is over, and when you didn't join us IRL or online, you missed quite an event. We had sessions about the importance of University Alliance and what are the benefits for universities, students and SAP. We had a special guest from Germany talking about Neo - thank you Matthias for taking the time to explain to Rio, Brazil and Latin America what we can expect from Neo. The demo at the end showcasing Neo and the new HTML5 UI was really spetacular.
Other sessions covered SAP HANA, the short to mid term strategy and the different use cases. Nota Fiscal eletronica (NF-e) was also covered by one of the forum moderators and topic leaders: Fernando da Rós. He gave some details into the solution, if you know him from the forums, you can only imagine how much he can share at an event.
The second part of the SIT was dedicated to hands-on:
- Agile in development, tools and possible ways to start going agile: Scrumworks, Sonar, Jenkins, jMeter, myLyn. Considering SAP Portal or Neo development, that are some tools you should know for creating better applications.
- HTML5 and how to consume a Gateway REST service in an iPad HTML5 app. Live coding, and it worked. Great session from Marlo and Ronildo.
- Real world application done by Gonow for a customer showed how to realize an iPad applicatoin (native) that consumes SAP data.
--== see English version below ==--
25.11.2011. Este é a data para o primeiro SAP Inside Track no Rio de Janeiro. A agenda está completa e o evento só tem sessões impressionantes. É impossível de destacar uma sessão:
Não importa a sua área, seja ABAP, Java, funcional, cliente ou consultant. O evento está oferecendo muito para você. Além disso, conta com a presença de dois SAP Mentors e de topic leaders do SCN. Por exemplo: quem quer tirar dúvidas sobre o SAP Portal pode entrar em contato comigo durante o evento. É uma ótima oportunidade de fazer rede e aumentar a sua visibilidade como um profisional SAP.
Ainda tem tempo para se registrar. Clique aqui e registre-se hoje!
Local do evento: PUC Rio de Janeiro, Av. Marechal Cámara, 186, 7. andar
Equipe SIT Brasil (email@example.com)
--== English version ==--
25.11.2011. That`s the date for the first ever SAP InsideTrack at Rio de Janeiro. The agenda is complete and the event only offers great sessions. It’s impossible to highlight a session:
Excited and want to join the event? Use this form to register.
Location PUC Rio de Janeiro, Av. Marechal Cámara, 186, 7. andar
Equipe SIT Brasil (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As I’m one of the topic leaders I Announcing SCN's Topic Leaders for 2010-2011. SAP certification isn’t really cheap (normally in the range of 500US$ to 750US$), so this is a good incentive to study and go for a certification. The voucher is not bound to a specific certification or topic: I can choose from whatever certification SAP offers. Of course it only makes sense to go for a certification test that I can pass. In my case: SAP Portal related.
SAP offers three SAP Portal related certification:
Already certified as a technology consultant I wanted to extend my certifications to either development or solution consultant. Not being really a developer – I write POCs (aka the fun part of developing) – I opted for the solution consultant. The KM isn’t the greatest product, but it offers some nice features and the certification covers TREX too!
C_TEP_30_04s is in grey, and grey means: under development. I contacted SAP Education Brazil to know when the certification will be available again and got this answer:
“Não aplicamos mais esta prova.” (English: we don’t offer this certifcation anymore)
“segue as provas substitutivas;
(English: The substitions certifications are the ones for technology consultant)
Currently this means:
=> You cannot take anymore the solution consultant certifcation
=> R.I.P. C_TEP30_04s. I never had the chance to kow you.
With one of my two options gone I will try the development consultant certification, but I don’t really believe I will be able to do so:
This certification is also marked as “under development”. I hope that this doesn’t mean that this certification is also going to die. Another alternative is to go for the higher levels of the technology consultant certification. But the SAP education site only showed me associate and no professional certifications for portal.
----==== short english version below ====----
Junte-se a nós na universidade PUC no centro do Rio de Janeiro para o primeiro SAP Inside Track Rio de Janeiro em 25 de novembro de 2011. Venha aprender e compartilhar seus conhecimentos com seus colegas e também conhecer outros profissionais da área em um ambiente informal. Inside Tracks têm sido realizados com sucesso em várias partes do mundo, incluindo Europa, Australia e Estados Unidos e Canadá e este não poderia ser uma exceção.
Esse será o primeiro SAP Inside Track no Rio de Janeiro, portanto, nós convidamos você a participar e nos ajudar a fazer um grande evento.
Não se esqueça de convidar seus colegas !
O numero de assentos é limitado, então o que você está esperando? Clique aqui e registre-se hoje.
Nós temos um número de sessões limitadas, então se você está interessado em apresentar clique aqui e registre sua proposta de sessão.
----==== English version ====----
Join us for the 1st ever SAP Inside Track at Rio de Janeiro on 25th November 2011.
To participate, register here.
To participate as a speaker, submit here your abstract.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 experiencehana.com. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the new features are:
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).
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.
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:
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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 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.
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:
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 (https://service.sap.com/sp-stacks) 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:
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:
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.
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
- Mobile Browsers