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Tips and tricks from Mastering SAP Technologies

Simon Kemp shares the tips, tricks, thoughts and ideas he took away from the recent Mastering SAP Technologies conference held in Sydney.

I thought the easiest way to collate the info was by topic rather than by session, so here goes.
(Disclaimer: I hope all this information is accurate, this is just what I took from the event, so no guarantees, but I will do my best. These are my own views and not necessarily the views held by either the company I work for or SAP. Feel free to chime in to correct me if you see something wrong.)

ABAP – the best thing since… well, ABAP really
ABAP is dead… long live ABAP! Next generation ABAP that is. What was once old is new again, at least in my mind (being an old 4.6C ABAPer). I can highly recommend the new Next Generation ABAP Development 2nd Edition book by Rich Heilman and Thomas Jung. Thomas attended MST2011 and here are some insights and tips gleaned from the couple of his sessions I made it to, including the keynote on day one – fantastic, a keynote with code in it!
 
All new UIs delivered by SAP will be done using Web Dynpro ABAP (WDA) with the exception of CRM UI.
Tip 1: In WDA, use the key combination ‘CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-P’ to see some interesting memory and performance stats for your application.
Tip 2: Use the key combination ‘CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-H’ to see all the available keyboard shortcuts (including the one above).

Use transaction SHMM from NetWeaver 6.20 and higher to take a memory snapshot at any moment in time for your application.

Use transaction STAD if you see a lot of server time as a problem with your app (e.g. things are taking a lot of time on the server).

Use transaction SAT to get to the new Runtime Analysis tool – don’t forget to go to SICF first to select the ICF node you want to analyse.

Use tools like HTTPWatch or Chrome browser development tools to see what is happening in your HTTP requests/responses.

The new WDA Page Builder allows you to build pages in ABAP (similar to what you would do in the NW Portal) – it allows for different levels of customization (developer, key users, end user) and is designed for building MashUps.
An ABAP CHIP (Collaborative Human Interface Part) is analogous to a NW Portal iView or SharePoint WebPart but is based on a WDA component. CHIPs are introduced in NW 7.02.
You can ‘wire’ together CHIPs which is analogous to portal eventing… but amazingly you can also use CHIPs to enhance ‘old’ traditional Dynpro screens – nice! Also you’re not limited to passing simple name/value pairs you can pass whole internal tables between CHIPs.
The side panel is an expandable area on the right-hand side of a WDA page and will be part of the NWBC in release 3.5. You can put CHIPs in your side panel.

Adobe Forms
SAP Mentor Anne Kathrine Petterøe (@yojibee) attended MST2011 too but unfortunately for her and us she was ill the first day, so we didn’t get to see or hear as much from her as we’d hoped. Here are some of the things I got from attending one of Anne’s sessions: 

Adobe Document Services Hub is a way you can share a single ADS between multiple SAP ABAP and JAVA systems running on different versions.
Attachments will be available to Adobe Forms in NW 7.02.

A new framework is being provided (not sure of the version) for handling the processing of incoming (offline) forms, which should greatly reduce the time needed by a developer to handle incoming forms.

Adobe Flex support on iOS devices – really… did she say that? Did I mis-hear her? Maybe, maybe not! 🙂

I hope to get a chance to read some of Kathrine’s material offline and hope to see her again down here next year perhaps.

Microsoft & Duet Enterprise
There was at least one third party vendor showcasing how they helped a customer integrate SAP data into MS SharePoint without using DUET Enterprise (I think they said they used the SAP .NET connector), and of course, there was SAP showing people how to use DUET Enterprise to enable integration between SharePoint and SAP. Both have pros and cons. My thoughts are that you need to make a smart choice for your particular situation – educate yourself and  choose the right tool for the right job (“if all you’ve got is a hammer… everything looks like a nail!” – thanks @ewh). Some other points to take away:
 

New version of SAP .NET connector (v3.0) recently released.

DUET Enterprise is a licensed product that you have to buy on top of what you already have (per user licence).

Don’t confuse DUET Enterprise with DUET.

Biz Pack 1.0 will be released for DUET Enterprise in Q3/Q4 2011 – more pre-built scenarios will be part of that.

Gateway 2.0 will be coming later this year (if you don’t know… DUET Enterprise is built on top of an early release of Gateway, also known as Service Consumption Layer (SCL)).

In my view, it is important not to just want to recreate the SAP screens in SharePoint. I think that is a weak use case – the real power of DUET Enterprise is to enable SAP structured data (customers, vendors, purchase orders and so on) to be consumed by SharePoint so that users can then collaborate around this data. My tip: find scenarios where collaboration is key, and you’ll find real value in DUET Enterprise. If you just want to recreate the SAP UI in SharePoint, then perhaps .NET Connector is a better choice.

Mobile
SAP Mentor and mobility guru Kevin Benedict (@krbenedict) also attended MST2011 and gave the second keynote on day 1. There was no code in Kevin’s keynote, but we forgive him that. Some things I noted:
 

Machine to Machine (M2M) promises to be a big thing – I wonder if this is also known as ‘The Internet of Things’?

Context- and location-aware apps have huge potential in the enterprise.

Mobile Business Intelligence apps also look to be a solid bet.

Using mobile apps to drive compliance for remote workers.

Handsets will change very very quickly – so don’t base your strategy on any single device!

HANA and mobility go hand in hand.

There is more than one path to mobility (e.g. SMS is huge in banking).

SAP and Sybase plan to release a joint mobile SDK (probably by SAPPHIRE 2011).

Pne of the main things I took away was that mobility at SAP is in a state of flux – there a quite a few unknowns and things will change quickly. Sybase isn’t the be-all and end-all and might not suit everyone.

Application design
One of the best sessions for me was SAP mentor Ed Herrmanns’ (@ewh) session on ‘The Design of Everyday Apps’. Here are some of the key points I took from it:
 

SAP has a target response time for their apps of < 1.2 seconds. When designing the app, the rougher the mockups are, the better the feedback is you get from the test users. Paper prototyping is much better than building a slick/finished-looking UI. Don't stop with just the UI design – look at how the whole application is architected. Back-end decisions can have significant flow on effects for the end user. Consider using the Business Rules Framework (BRF+) to allow the business to 'own' and maintain the business rules. Get familiar with common OO design patterns. They are not scary – they just solve common design problems in the best ways, so you don't need to reinvent the wheel. Check out this video for some inspiration on why not to over-simplify to the extreme. This is a topic that I feel passionate about – I am not a designer but feel that the right design can make a world of difference. Hope you find it useful to hear my thoughts on these topics. I can highly recommend attending MST2012 if you're in the region. It is the next best thing (and some would argue better) than SAP TechEd! Simon Kemp is National Service Line Lead for User Empowerment at PLAUT Australia. Read the source article at Inside SAP


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