The SAP Web Application Server is the underlying technology of
almost all solutions of mySAP.com. This is the new name for what has been
referred to previously as SAP Basis, and reflects the significant web-enabling
enhancements embodied in this new incarnation of the SAP technology layer
- native support for HTTP and other Internet protocols, server-side scripting
Never-theless, the SAP Web Application Server still supports all proven
SAP programming models.
We at SAP are using the SAP Web Application
Server in its newest release as the technical foundation for mySAP CRM
3.0, mySAP Workplace 3.0, and for the upcoming releases of mySAP APO and
mySAP BW. It is also the foundation for SAP R/3 Enterprise, the successor
to the R/3 ERP solution.
In fact, starting with Release 6.10, the
SAP Web Application Server is at the core of all major SAP application
components. This new release numbering scheme reflects the fact that the
SAP Web Application Server is no longer just part of R/3, it is a component
in its own right. Because of its value as a web application development
and deployment platform, the SAP Web Application Server will be delivered
to customers starting at the end of June 2001.1
So what can you use the SAP Web Application
Server for? Given all its native web capabilities, your options are wide
- Web development platform: The SAP Web Application Server provides
a platform for quickly developing and deploying dynamic and collaborative
web applications or other thin-client applications (WAP, PDA, and so
- Application server: It can act as a server for bringing browser-based
applications such as employee services, Internet shops, and engineering
collaborations to users, whether they are inside or outside a company.
- Frontend integration: It can act as a frontend to access other
web applications for collecting and aggregating information and data.
- Technology platform: It is a major, but evolutionary, extension
of the former SAP Basis, with all its
development and deployment features and benefits.
This article offers developers and administrators
a preview of the many new features and benefits of the
SAP Web Application Server.
New Development Features You Won't Find in SAP Basis
With pre-6.10 releases, two protocols are generally used to connect the
SAP application server to the Internet: the SAP dialog protocol and the
RFC protocol. Support for HTTP has been external to the SAP application
server, supported on the Internet Transaction Server (ITS), which offers
access to any SAP transaction over the Internet through its built-in HTML
GUI. ITS is well suited for bringing the "classical" enterprise
applications to the browser for zero installation deployment and access
from anywhere in the world. However, it is less than ideal for native
web applications that are not easily derived from standard SAP GUI screens.
The SAP Web Application Server,
on the other hand, is a native web server, and HTTP support is native
to this platform. It contains the "Internet communication manager,"
which receives HTTP requests and maps the requested URL to an ABAP class.
This class acts as the HTTP handler and has access to the submitted URL
request and response structure.
With 6.10, a new program model for web application development is introduced:
Business Server Pages. BSPs allow developers to design the web UI of an
Internet application based on HTML templates. They may contain server-side
than the capabilities of HTML business functions in ITS.
A BSP application consists of a collection
of HTML pages that describe your web UI. You can use any kind of HTML
tags in your pages. Each HTML page contains embedded server-side code
upon a corresponding URL request.
The SAP Web Application Server
introduces the Web Application Builder,
a tool that is completely integrated with ABAP development tools and enables
programmers to develop Business Server Page applications.
You can also use external web devel- opment
and design tools (which support the standard WebDAV interface) in order
to create or change the page layout.
If you compile and activate such a page
in the development environment, the ABAP compiler checks the script code
for syntactic correctness and builds a local ABAP class. This provides
an extremely easy-to-use, robust, and productive development environment
for web applications, and eliminates many of the complications associated
with previous web development tools.
BSP applications can be set up quickly, since you can use all the traditional
ABAP techniques (Open SQL, internal tables, etc.) for page generation.
As your web applications become more complex, however, HTML scripting
has its limitations, and turns out to be a rather low-level way of designing
web UIs. Adding your company's branding, for example, requires developers
to tediously dig through HTML code, with no easy way to change the layout
of an existing web application.
One part of the answer is provided by Cascading
Style Sheets, which can take care of customer branding. Cus-tomers can
apply their own styles for fonts, colors, etc.
Another piece of this solution is custom
tags, which have been used in Java environments for some time. Cus-tom
tags allow developers to create specific tags that can be used by web
page designers just like ordinary HTML tags, but that create tag-specific
TIP: Custom tags provide a series of benefits, including:
- Custom rendering: Using custom tags allows for custom
rendering. If you are not happy with the standard look and feel
of a particular tag, you can create your own rendering without
being forced to change the page design.
- Reuse: Custom tags are reuse items and thus dramatically
reduce the size of the web page. Even more important, they can
separate design elements from logic, which also leads to a clearer
separation of responsibilities between the web page designers
- Browser independence: Custom tags can provide and improve
browser independence. Anyone who has written a serious web application
knows that only the most trivial web application runs on all browser
platforms without modification. Custom tags can hide the technical
details of a given browser platform and offer a uniform and portable
way to define web UIs.
- Data binding: You can attach data sources directly to
custom tags. The logic behind the tag may access the data from
various types of backend data sources, convert the data in a presentation
format, and create a chunk of HTML, XML, or even WML for presentation.
Custom tags will be supported in the Development
Workbench for Business Server Pages in the near future.
The SAP Web Application Server not only supports interactive Web UI
development, it is also a platform for collaborative Internet scenarios
based on XML. When working with XML for collaborative applications, you
will find many different formats in place. As a result, you need strong
mappings and transformation support. To address these needs, an XSLT processor
has been integrated into the Web Application Server, which allows the
application to transform XML to XML, and XML to native ABAP data structures.
Service, ESMTP, and MIME
The infrastructure for external communication has been revised completely.
Previously, SAPconnect connected partner products for e-mail, fax, and
SMS to an SAP system using Remote Function Calls (RFCs). Now the ESMTP
Internet protocol for communication between e-mail servers is natively
supported in each mySAP.com component. Functions for MIME format handling
are also provided.
Enhanced Development Tools and Features
In addition to the comprehensive extensions of the ABAP language,
and tools for web application development enabling and Unicode support,
there are numerous new features and enhancements that help to write
state-of-the-art, robust, and extensible applications.* These include:
- A completely overhauled file and export/import interface, supporting
Unicode and very large datasets (larger than 2 gigabytes)
- A brand-new exception-handling scheme, like the kind you find
in new object-oriented languages
- Extension of the RFC protocol to pass deep, nested structures
between remote applications
- Dynamic and generic programming with data references, which
can significantly reduce memory consumption
- A Coverage Analyzer for ensuring that all relevant execution
paths of a program are really tested
- An enhanced tool, the ABAP Debugger, which can debug HTTP handlers
and alter the execution flow during debugging**
- A new Code Inspector for a hierarchy of static checks regarding
performance, security, syntax, and semantic correctness
- A more powerful syntax checker with more useful information
and help options
- A tool to migrate customer exits (transaction CMOD) to the
newer extension technique, called Business Add-ins, which allows
for multi-level extensions of applications (e.g., generic, industry,
country version, partner extension, customer extension)
- The Package Builder tool to structure, encapsulate, and decouple
sets of development objects for safe parallel development in independent
* For details on many of these new features and enhancements,
see “ABAP 6.10: New Unicode-Enabling Features, Plus a Whole
Lot More!” by Karl Kessler and Andreas Blumenthal in this issue
of SAP Insider.
** For more information on the ABAP Debugger, see the article
“Software Testing and Development with the ABAP Debugger”
in the Apr/May/Jun 2001 issue of SAP Insider (Vol. 2, No. 2).
Support for Unicode
SAP has long supported different code pages, such as ASCII, EBCDIC, and
double-byte code pages, in order to allow for multiple character sets
and a wide variety of languages. However, problems occur when there is
a mix of texts from different incompatible character sets in a single
application or database. Exchanging data between systems with incompatible
character sets also can lead to undefined situations. The solution to
this problem is to use Unicode, a code comprising all the characters used
throughout the world.
The SAP Web Application Server now provides
support for Unicode.
For more on Unicode support within the ABAP language and tools, see the
article "ABAP 6.10: New Unicode-Enabling Features, Plus a Whole Lot
More!" in this issue of SAP Insider.
New and Enhanced Application Integration Services
Beyond web development capabilities, Release 6.10 of the SAP Web Appli-
cation Server brings a whole set of enhancements for configuring and running
applications and end user services.
ArchiveLink, the standard interface and service layer for the integration
of third-party document and content management systems, has been significantly
enhanced in terms of usability and robustness. The new Document Viewer
provides overall document viewing
capabilities for almost every image format available today, while the
Document Finder provides an
attribute-based search of documents stored in multiple content manage-
Services - Quarterly Adjustment
The addresses maintained by Business Address Services (formerly called
"Central Address Management") can now be checked periodically
against the published postal data of various regions and countries.
The Post Processing Framework (PPF) enables administrators and end users
to selectively print and send messages, or to invoke activities or workflows
as the result of transactions, depending on customer-specific configurations
and conditions. The PPF is used mainly in the new SAP CRM, SAP APO, and
SAP BBP components.
SAP Smart Forms were introduced in SAP Basis Release 4.6C as a tool for
creating and maintaining forms.
Several enhancements come with Release 6.10, including web properties,
some new window types, and further usability enhancements.
to Archive Development Kit
The Archive Development Kit (ADK) has been enhanced to:
- Provide more detailed archiving
- Improve control of the archiving process, including restart of long-running
- Guarantee long-term access to both Unicode and non-Unicode archived
Ease of Installation and Administration
On the system administration side, the
SAP Web Application Server introduces new features to improve security,
sup-port, configuration, and role management.
User and Role Management
Release 6.10 supports LDAP directories for user and role management,
beyond the existing user management facilities and LDAP interfaces of
and Encryption Capabilities
With the SAP Web Application Server, SAP delivers complimentary cryptographic
software that secures server-
to-server communication. Any two
components of mySAP.com can now communicate in a secure way, providing
authentication and encryption by using standard Internet security protocols.
The new Note Assistant tool helps
you to implement SAP Notes. You can use this to automatically apply code
changes in SAP Notes from the
SAP Service Marketplace.
With the System Landscape Installation Manager, SAP moves from single
component installation to system landscape installation. A graphical planning
tool makes configuring your system landscape easy - distributing components
to your physical servers using Drag and Drop, thereby reducing installation
to the Computing Center Management System
Several functions of the Computing Center Management System (CCMS) System
Component Repository have been improved and extended.
Agents now enable the monitoring of components
that do not possess ABAP interfaces, such as an SAP Internet Transaction
Server (ITS), and of components that are not part of the mySAP.com environment.
With Release 6.10, the availability and
operating attributes of components in the SAP environment can now be monitored
centrally. Using agent
technology, you can, for any monitored component, execute automatic reactions
to events and error states centrally
Configuration Set Functions
Business Configuration Sets (BC Sets) record customizing-setting snapshots.
BC Sets can document customizing settings, transport them into another
system, and import their contents into its tables (activate BC Set). In
contrast to a transport request, you can handle individual values, not
just complete rows, transport them into a target system, and import them
into its tables. This gives customizers and implementation teams a chance
to look over the settings before adopting them, which is a big benefit
for global rollouts.
The SAP Web Application Server not only provides complete support for
web application development and execution and for full Unicode enabling,
it also comes with a rich set of new and enhanced functions. With these
capabilities, you will see many benefits for custom-built and SAP application
components based and built on SAP Web Application Server 6.10. Migration
will be very easy, and overall performance is equal to - or in some cases
significantly better than - earlier releases.
Looking for more information on the Web
Application Server? Delta training will be available in the near future.
Watch for further updates at www.sap.com/technology.
Franz J. Fritz has a Ph.D.
in mathematics and 30 years of experience in all areas of IT. Workflow
and business process management have been particular areas of interest
for much of his life. He has worked for SAP since 1993 as Program Director
and Vice President with responsibility for the Business Process Technology
and Internet-Business Framework departments. His current responsibilities
include overall technology architecture and technology product management.
Note that a pre-release version with the code name "road runner" has been
available since November 2000.