Monthly Archives: September 2014

This Week in Fiori (2014-39)

Hello there folks. That time has come around again to pull together a few links on some of the Fiori related stories and articles this week. Let’s get right to it.

Transactional Fiori App Certification by Chiranjivi R D
I touched on certification of Fiori apps in an earlier TWIF episode 2014-31 where I pointed to a Partner Co-Innovation Workshop that mentioned certification of Fiori apps developed therein. Certification, at least to me, is not automatically a good thing. I’m strongly ambivalent (if that’s possible) on certification generally, of consultants specifically, and of apps particularly.

This week, this article on Fiori app certification was brought to my attention by friend and fellow SAP Mentor Tobias Trapp. It’s all about the certification of transactional Fiori apps built by partners. With Fiori, there’s great emphasis on the UX principles, and rightly so. There are also of course also the Gateway and Business Suite add-ons too, but for me the primary goal for certification in this area must be how the Fiori app works from a user experience point of view. My general certification ambivalence is then given a run for its money here; I for one do think that without some kind of standards enforcement, the Fiori approach may be diluted. I’ve seen apps that are purportedly “Fiori” but just don’t feel right.

Only time will tell. What is your experience of custom Fiori apps? Have you seen Fiori apps that, well, aren’t?

User Experience Sessions at TechEd: SAP Screen Personas, Fiori, UX Strategy, Design Services by Peter Spielvogel
SAP TechEd && d-code, arguably the most important event in SAP’s annual calendar, is fast approaching. Already, the Las Vegas edition … which I like to call the “warm up before the main European event” :-) … is less than a month away. I noted the Fiori related sessions in a previous TWIF episode 2014-35 and just this week Peter Spielvogel from SAP writes this post detailing some of them. Ironically, he does this in the SAPGUI area on the SAP Community Network (SCN).

I pointed out in TWIF 2014-35 that there didn’t appear to be enough Fiori related sessions (although some folks on Twitter are complaining that all they hear about in relation to TechEd is Fiori and HANA, c’est la vie) but I’m hopeful that there will be at least some coverage in the “hallway track” and in the Code Jams and hands-on activities that run throughout the week.

In particular, I’d encourage you to look out for the SAP Web IDE stuff. This is the new name for SAP River RDE, which has also some history in the Web Application ToolkiT (WATT) and prior to that the SAP App Designer. What ancestry already! While some of us like to build Fiori apps from the ground up (coding view elements directly in XML, with our UI5 stickers adorning our laptops) there are a great number of people who need guidance. Guidance in both forms – technical, and design (see the certification piece earlier). And for these folks, and those looking for the right tools to extend existing SAP Fiori apps, the SAP Web IDE is something not to miss.

Introduction to SAP Fiori UX – an update
I wrote about this course back at the beginning of August. Today, along with many thousands of co-participants, I’m well underway with the course materials, into Week 3. For those of you not taking part, here are the the topics covered:

Week 1: SAP Fiori UX Basics
Week 2: SAP Fiori UX Deployment
Week 3: SAP Fiori UX Configuration
Week 4: Securing SAP Fiori UX
Week 5: SAP UI Tools
Week 6: Extending SAP Fiori UX
Week 7: Final Exam

Despite these topic titles, I must admit to having expected a little more on the “UX” part of the title. So far, I don’t remember seeing any real Fiori screen, much less an analysis of how and why it might have been designed that way, and certainly nothing about what lies underneath (the controls in the UI5 toolkit). But it’s still relatively early days, and I haven’t given up hope.

One thing I’m also not giving up hope on is the approach Open SAP will have to rectifying incorrect “correct” answers to questions in the weekly assignments. For those of you on the course (and therefore with access to the discussion areas), here’s an example of where a question was asked, with the officially correct answer actually being incorrect. (There are other instances of this happening on the course too, but I think those are down to oversights rather than anything else.)

The answer in question, so to speak, related to the deployment steps for frontend and backend Fiori components, and whether they were the same. Of course, with the variations on system landscapes, ABAP and HANA stacks, and even the deployment tools themselves, the answer is “no”. But this has been marked as incorrect by Open SAP. While in the grand scheme of things this hardly matters, to those taking the course, it’s both a matter of principle and an area that one would feel strongly about, being the type of person taking the course, i.e. one that enjoys exacting detail.

I’m sure that the Open SAP folks will sort this out before the course is over.

Before leaving this subject, I would also like to point out that the course content has been rather dry so far. For example, this week’s lectures entail the long winded description of configuration (especially in the area of role assignments in PFCG), only backed up by static slides. Unless I missed it, I didn’t see any actual real live screencasts of configuration in action. I don’t know about you, but I can only take so many slides with theory on them, I need to see things in action. As one of my favourite TV characters likes to say, “let the dog see the rabbit”!

This Week in Fiori (2014-38)

Hello again, I’m back again after a week off TWIF, a week where I managed to participate in two great events in the north of England. First, on Sat 13 Sep there was SAP Inside Track Sheffield, (organised by Tim Guest, Steve Lofthouse and others) where I presented a session on UI5.

Screenshot 2014-09-21 at 21.19.54Then yesterday (Sat 20 Sep) there was SAP CodeJam Liverpool, organised by Gareth Ryan. It was a UI5-themed day where I was totally honoured to work with Frederic Berg (one of the many UI5 heroes from Walldorf) taking the participants on an all-day introduction to building apps with UI5. We took a Fiori design led approach with the exercises and I would say that by the end of the day all the attendees had gained a good appreciation for UI5 and a decent understanding of the development approach. It was a lot of fun and very rewarding; not least because a couple of the participants were from the non-SAP developer ecosphere. Developer outreach, albeit small, in action!

Perhaps it’s worth pointing out again that SAP Fiori is powered by UI5. To properly understand SAP Fiori from a developer perspective, UI5 is an essential skill to have.

Anyway, on to this week’s picks.

How to launch “Web Dynpro ABAP” and “SAP GUI for HTML” Application Types from the SAP Fiori Launchpad by Jennifer Cha
I’ve talked about the SAP Launchpad becoming the new portal a number of times in this TWIF series, but if you need more convincing, take a look at this step by step guide. SAP Fiori Launchpad started out live (in its previous “Launch Page” incarnation) as an initial access point to the Wave 1 ESS/MSS Fiori apps.

A lot has changed since then, not least the HTML5 architecture that powers it. But more importantly, the ability to make more available through this initial access point is increasing. SAP Fiori, part of SAP’s “New, Renew, Enable” strategy*, specifically the “Renew” part, is not going to cover the entire functional breadth of, say, your ECC system. So having the ability to expose more traditional transactions in the same context as the next generation approach makes some sense, even if it does, in my mind, dilute the purity of design :-)

*actually this strategy now has a fourth strand “Design Services”. More on that another time, perhaps.

SAP Fiori and Google Analytics by Craig Gutjahr
The integration of Google Analytics and web apps is nothing new of course. But this short screencast is a nice reminder of what’s possible. The ability to track activity on a user basis, even on a page basis, is extremely valuable. Combine the detail that Google Analytics gives you, with the ability to explicitly send details on page views from your Fiori app (on a certain event in UI5, such as a navigation) and use that information for the next iteration of your app, focusing on roles and task-based activities, and you can build yourself a nice UX feedback loop.

By the way, there’s a nice example of sending explicit events to Google Analytics on Joseph Adams’s post “Optimizing page timings for Google Analytics“.

The Power of Design Thinking in Fiori Application Development by Sarah Lottman
This is a good short piece on, well, basically, talking to the user to work out what they need. I’m still not sure what design thinking is, over and above putting yourself in the users shoes and working out what they want, before developing stuff. Of course, this is very glib of me and I may have missed the mark, and the design process that Sarah describes is neither easy nor obvious. I myself am guilty of building software and then imposing that upon others, without having talked to them.

So perhaps the key takeaway is actually that one way to get design right is to use the building blocks that Sarah describes – persona creation, process and task flow mapping, and wireframing. Actually it’s often fun to skip wireframing and jump straight to throwing UI5 control declarations into an XML view structure and throwing it at the screen. Or is that just me?

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs by Various
It was going to happen sooner or later. Actually it already started a while ago, but these days I’m noticing more and more job postings. Postings mentioning Fiori specifically, and postings mentioning UI5 specifically, in the title. Thing is, with Fiori and UI5 being relative new skills on the scene, there’s room for even more confusion than normal in this area.

Screenshot 2014-09-21 at 21.01.18Take a recent post on Twitter, advertising a position thus: “Architect – Mobile Web & Fiori Job” at SAP in Bangalore (according to the link destination).

But reading the copy, the only mention of the word “Fiori” in the whole detail was in the title. Nowhere in the actual description. And the only mention of UI5 at all was as the last item in a list, almost an afterthought: “(JQM, Sencha, SAP UI5, etc)”.

I don’t understand what’s going on here. So I guess we have to just keep an eye on the details of what is actually being offered. And on that subject, keep an eye on the details on the other side of the fence too. In a previous episode (TWIF 2014-29) I noted seeing a claim of “five years plus of SAP Fiori focused delivery”. Remember, Fiori has existed for less than two years, UI5 for a bit more than that. Caveat, well, everyone.

That’s it for this week, thanks for reading, see you soon!

Scratching an itch – UI5 Icon Finder

There are a huge number of icons as standard in the UI5 library, both in the SAPUI5 and OpenUI5 flavours. Here’s the Icon Explorer from the SDK.

Screenshot 2014-09-14 at 20.35.07One of the problems I have is that when I’m looking for an icon, the search term I have in my head is not necessarily going to match up with the name of the icon in the library.

For example, I might be looking for a “cog”, with the icon on the left in mind, but I’m not going to be able find it unless i use the term “action-settings”.

And in the light of the session I gave this weekend at SAP Inside Track Sheffield on “Quick & Easy Apps with UI5″, where I focused on single-file apps, albeit with full MVC, I decided to hack together a little smartphone-focused app where I could search for icons, and add my own “aliases” so that next time I searched, the search would look at my aliases too.

It’s a very simple affair, and in this first version, is designed to use the localStorage mechanism in modern browsers so that you build up your own set of aliases. Perhaps a future version might share aliases across different users, so that we can crowdsource and end up with the most useful custom search terms.

Anyway, it’s available currently at http://pipetree.com/ui5/projects/iconfinder/ and you can grab the sources from the Github repo (remembering that the whole point of this is it’s a single-file app!).

Screenshot 2014-09-14 at 20.50.16 Screenshot 2014-09-14 at 20.48.52

Here’s a short screencast of a version of it in action:

Let me know what you think – is it useful? In any case, share & enjoy!

 

This Week in Fiori (2014-36)

When you write a series of weekly posts, you’re acutely aware of how fast the actual weeks fly by. And this last one was no exception. Lots of movement and activity in the SAP Fiori world … let’s get to it.

Introducing the New SuccessFactors UX based on SAP Fiori by Sam Yen
This short video from Sam Yen, SAP’s Chief Design Officer, is worth watching, not least for the soundbites that help underline how important SAP Fiori is for SAP, and therefore for us as customers and partners. Here are a couple of them:

“Design has been named one of the five priorities of the entire company”

“Fiori is now the design direction for all of SAP’s solutions”

Clearly building the new SuccessFactors complete user experience upon SAP Fiori is a significant next step in this direction. Even if you’re not interested in any of the current SAP Fiori apps, be interested in SAP Fiori as a UX and UI technology. Not being interested is to miss out on one of the critical new generation platforms for enterprise apps in the SAP ecosphere.

Take Part in the SAP Fiori UX Design Challenge by Susanne Busemann
Tomorrow sees the start of the OpenSAP course which I first mentioned in TWIF episode 2014-31 – the Introduction to SAP Fiori UX. As an optional part of this course, a design challenge has been set.

If you don’t know already, a large part of the philosophy behind SAP Fiori is about the UX, as distinct from the UI. The UX you get from SAP Fiori is powered by the UI that is provided by the tremendously capable UI5 toolkit (see The Essentials – SAPUI5, OpenUI5 and Fiori for more details on UI5 and its relationship with Fiori).

Even as a out and out developer, and primarily (or at least originally) a backend developer – a “data plumber”, I have found in my UI5 and Fiori development experience so far that prototyping the user experience is a important part of building great apps. So I’m happy to see that folks are encouraged to dip their toes in the design pool.

See you on the course!

My Personal Ux, Fiori, Portal, Cloud Cheat Sheet by Aviad Rivlin
My friend and fellow SAP Mentor Aviad has appeared on TWIF before, specifically in TWIF 2014-30, talking about the SAP Fiori Launchpad and the SAP Portal of course. This time he’s back, with a nice little set of links to great resources relating to Fiori, Portal and the cloud. It’s a super combination and not a little fascinating, for reasons I’ve mentioned before – there’s a convergence of SAP Fiori’s Launchpad with the older SAP Portal concepts, which is not unexpected as both serve similar functions.

Aviad intends to update the blog posts with new links as and when appropriate, so it’s definitely worth bookmarking.

SAP Fiori Application Integration with SAP Enterprise Portal by Ido Fishler
On the subject of SAP Fiori and SAP Portal, here’s another timely blog post on the SAP Community Network by Ido Fishler. He takes the reader through the steps required to get an SAP Fiori app integrated (via iView) into the SAP Enterprise Portal. Whether you’re running an SAP Portal or not, it’s definitely worth a read – the “exhaust-knowledge” alone is worth the price of a coffee for sure.

Well that’s all for now, folks. I’m off to document episode four of a rather exciting series I’m building on the subject of OpenUI5. Until next time, share and enjoy!