SAP Turns to Pattern Development

SAP's proprietary Web Dynpro user interface development technology reuses components.

As it moves toward a service-oriented architecture that encompasses its enterprise applications and its NetWeaver integration platform, SAP AG is rewriting its proprietary Web Dynpro user interface development technology to incorporate pattern-based development.

SAP wants to simplify development by creating reusable components that will result in 80 percent less coding for corporate developers building composite services. It also will provide a tool for business analysts with some development skills to build composite services, said SAP officials in Walldorf, Germany.

Web Dynpro enables developers to define screens and workflows using JSP (JavaServer Pages) rather than SAPs ABAP programming language and to call services within the companys R/3 and MySAP applications. These services can be assembled to provide Web services.

The next generation of Web Dynpro, due in the next 15 to 18 months, will take a pattern-based approach to development, said Franz-Josef Fritz, vice president of technology product management and architecture at SAPs Walldorf headquarters. Patterning recognizes when some basic functions work the same across different applications and then componentizes those functions as templates. Developers will be able to call on an SAP-created component, such as search, for example, and plug that in across multiple applications.

"The strength in this behavior is that we do not have to build a UI every time because the behavior is basically reusable," said Fritz. "The idea of Web Dynpro is we do not really care whether the run-time infrastructure is Java, ABAP or something else."

"Building components is a business for programmers, but building composite [services]—this is something we want to give over to analysts," Fritz said. "Once you have a service, you dont really care what language the service is provided in."

Fritz acknowledged that an analyst would still have to know some ABAP and Java to code exceptions.

Reusable code is a good thing because it saves time, said Inde Uppal, a free-lance SAP consultant in London.

"You have standard tools with SAP to develop screens and logic, and they can be reused, using existing tools," Uppal said. "Web Dynpro is another tool that lets you develop front-end applications to interrogate [a back-end SAP] application. Its a useful benefit—reused components, objects and all that—because it reduces development time and it makes the context of something that can be used by 20 people all developing an application and used by five different applications."


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