Conventional ABAP/Dynpro development, ITS, or native JSP development
undoubtedly play a role in your SAP application development efforts:
- ABAP/Dynpro has been the tool of choice for many ABAP developers
who want to adapt SAP screens or to build their own applications.
- ITS emerged as the workhorse for first-generation Web enabling of
- JSP development has proven invaluable for creating Web applications
in a J2EE environment.
However, none of these approaches to UI
development provide ideal support for creating browser-based interfaces
for the current wave of business applications:
- ABAP/Dynpro cannot really support a modern separation of frontend/presentation
and backend/business logic.
- ITS, while able to provide Web-based access with a customized UI,
cannot provide the full power and flexibility of modern UI design.
- The JSP approach does not provide browser independence, is still
pretty low-level, and is strictly bound to the Java/J2EE platform.
All of these Web-based approaches (except
for the original Dynpro) fail to provide a convenient mechanism for input
checks, input help, support for multiple languages, and easy-to-use error
Web Dynpro, the soon-to-be-released SAP
development and runtime environment for creating browser-based interfaces,
addresses these shortcomings. Moreover, it ushers in a new and radically
improved approach to creating those interfaces.
Imagine a UI development environment that
combines the strengths of the GUI/Dynpro approach offered in SAP R/3 —
including such things as dictionary-based field validation and error handling
— with Internet innovations such as zero installation, worldwide
access, and integration of arbitrary content via hyperlinks. Now imagine
a UI programming model that delivers both a comprehensive development
environment and a runtime environment, together with seamless integration
in a software lifecycle and distribution infrastructure, to handle all
installation, upgrade, administration, and monitoring tasks.
Web Dynpro development provides declarative,
code-free design of sets and sequences of screens, interactions, data
bindings and more. This greatly expands the scope of UI programming beyond
control libraries such as HTMLB, basic Server Page technologies such as
ABAP Business Server Pages or Java Server Pages (including tag library
approaches), and pure “gateway” approaches like SAP GUI for
Benefits of the Web Dynpro Architecture
This new approach to creating and running business application user interfaces
results in a series of end-user, developer, and administrative advantages
(see sidebars on the following pages). It also provides very substantial
architectural advantages, such as platform independence for most Web Dynpro
declarations (see Figure 1). So the migration of a Web
Dynpro application to another platform will be much easier than in traditional
approaches, since only XML-based metadata has to be moved. With this approach,
there is a neat and clean separation of UI logic from business logic,
which allows alternative UIs for the same business logic, even on different
platforms (the decoupling of JSPs and EJBs only works inside a homogeneous
|| Platform Independence and Broad Platform Support
The architecture of Web Dynpro is shown
in Figure 2. Notice the clear division between the presentation
layer and the business layer. We designed it in this way to ensure that
short-term changes and modifications could be made in both layers without
one layer interfering with the other.
|| Web Dynpro Accesses Web, Java, and ABAP Backends
Web Dynpro Advantages
for the End User
integration (EP 5.0 and above) — including
client-side eventing and adaptation
to portal styles — so Web Dynpro
applications are seamlessly integrated
into the look and feel of a portal
interactive, desktop-style usability
delivered in the browser, no page reloads
or page-by-page scrolling in tables,
and more. The avoidance of full-page
reloads results in a much better, “flicker
free” user experience — it
only changes what needs to changed
on the screen. (The constant reloading
of the pages by traditional browser
applications can make the end user really
accessibility features — for example, full keyboard support
in the UI, section 508 compliance, and so on — that are not
available in purely server page-based approaches.
performance and bandwidth optimizations compared with other browser-based
approaches, resulting in faster response times and better utilization
of network bandwidth.
look and feel across all SAP applications based on the Web Dynpro
Pattern Framework (see below).
|The New Pattern-Based CRM UI Now Makes Use of the Web Dynpro Runtime
Framework and UI Controls
The Web Dynpro approach is broad enough
so that both SAP and customers can concentrate our investments for further
development on a single UI technology. It also allows customers to save
on their investments in existing software by using the satisfactory parts
of existing solutions (typically highly optimized business and data management
logic) and concentrating their investments on specific pain points.
It is easy to reuse existing SAP R/3 and
mySAP business functionality: the Web Dynpro design-time tools make it
easy to access SAP Remote Function modules, and they also help you to
quickly map SAP enterprise data to Web Dynpro applications.1
Web Dynpro Advantages
for the Developer
through declarative approaches to modeling
instead of programming, layout, screen
usage, navigation, and data binding.
So most of Web Dynpro development is
really programming language independent,
requires less skill, and provides much
higher productivity in UI design.
Dictionary integration for UI services
(e.g., automatic value help, type support,
reuse of central, localization-dependent
texts, short-texts, table headings,
error handling, matching (and exceeding!) the error handling in
efficiency for Java development through full integration into the
infrastructure — Design Time Repository for centralized version
control, Component Build Server for automated builds, and so on.
Many cumbersome and error-prone tasks of building, distributing,
and installing components are simplified or even eliminated, again
resulting in higher productivity and shorter turnaround times for
Roadmap and Availability
With SAP Web AS 6.30, SAP provides the Web Dynpro Java runtime and a set
of Web Dynpro development tools, which are based on the new Eclipse-based
development framework. A full Web Dynpro runtime for ABAP will follow.
(Note that the Business Server Page environment in Web AS 6.20 already
contains many Web Dynpro features for the ABAP environment.) A Web Dynpro
runtime for the .NET environment is also planned.
Initial browser support in Release 6.30
will cover Microsoft Internet Explorer (as of Windows 5.5) and Netscape
7.0 (on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux). In addition to the client-side rendering,
later releases will also provide a server-side rendering, which extends
support to more browsers and to small devices like PDAs and smart phones.
New applications from SAP will have a
Web Dynpro-based UI. Some existing applications will also get a new Web
Dynpro-based UI in addition to the existing UI, which will be maintained
for compatibility reasons. For example, some applications with Web Dynpro
UI will be shipped in 2003 as part of R/3 Enterprise Extension Set 2.
Customers who use Web Dynpro-enabled applications
only will not have to master any new technology from a development or
administration point of view — they’ll just install the application,
which includes the newest SAP Web Application Server, and use standard
browsers on the clients. If you want to get into Web Dynpro development
because you write your own applications, or you want to have a different
UI for an existing application, you will find it easy to work with the
new tools; however, for some aspects of error and event handling, you
will need some Java basics for developing your own Web applications for
the Java runtime environment.
Web Dynpro Advantages
for the System Administrator
various existing UI technologies are
merged into one unified approach over
time. This means that many efforts for
installing, maintaining, and running
different Web servers, UI servers, and
client GUI installations will simply
go away. Administration of Web Dynpro
does not mean anything more than administration
of the SAP Web AS and browser-based
Dynpro is not a specialized Web UI development
environment. It is built on top of the
SAP Web AS and therefore offers the same
support for multi-user development and
software logistics that currently exists
Client-Side Framework (CSF) provides
a user experience similar to fat-client
approaches, yet avoids any specific
installation tasks on the clients.
Don’t Abandon SAP GUI and ITS Just Yet!
Web Dynpro and SAP GUI are very different application models, and they
will coexist for some time — a fully automatic conversion to Web
Dynpros from classical R/3 Dynpros or custom-developed Dynpros will not
be possible. This will be a migration effort, and migration tools will
Web Dynpro is SAP’s long term strategic
approach to user interfaces for mission-critical
The client-based GUIs for Windows and
Java will stay around for existing applications like R/3 and will be further
supported by SAP. Some upcoming R/3 Enterprise Extensions, though, will
be built with Web Dynpro.
Now, how is this related to the SAP GUI
for HTML provided by the SAP Internet Transaction Server? SAP ITS currently
plays two distinct roles:
- It is the infrastructure for the SAP GUI for HTML, which will be
absorbed by the SAP Web Application Server. Therefore, in this role,
the ITS can be replaced by SAP Web AS completely.
- It is the infrastructure for some first-generation Web user interfaces.
In that respect, it will be needed as long as the corresponding application
releases rely on SAP ITS. SAP will continually provide information regarding
the transition of applications, such as Enterprise Self Services (ESS),
from ITS to Web Dynpro.
Will Web Dynpro revolutionize the way you tackle UI development for your
Web-enabled business applications? I believe it will. And I think you
will revel in the ease and productivity of the Web Dynpro approach compared
to what you are using now.
We anticipate swift and widespread adoption
of this tool when it becomes available in SAP Web Application Server Release
6.30, and expect this approach to UI development will soon overtake the
current tool set.
1 For more
on these development tools, see “Your
‘Easy Way In’ to Web Dynpro Development,” by
Karl Kessler in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).
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.
Recently, he took over the responsibility for technology architecture
and technology product management within SAP AG.