Understanding SAP Fiori - your questions answered

21 July 2014

Brenton O'Callaghan

Brenton O'Callaghan

Global Head of SAP Innovation

Last month DJ Adams and I hosted ‘Understanding SAP Fiori’, a webinar designed to cover, well, everything SAP Fiori, from getting started to the customization of apps. The session was extremely well attended, and as a result of this, we were unable to respond to all of the questions asked throughout the session and during the Q&A. 

So as a follow on I’ve collated most of the questions we didn’t have time to cover, and answered them below. There were many similar questions, so I haven’t listed them all however, they have been covered off in the responses below.    

So here we go:

1) What kind of skill set is required to learn Fiori Apps considering many clients have ABAP resources available to them? Is there a roadmap available for a person coming from ABAP/BSP/Web Dynpro background?

The main skill sets for SAP Fiori apps are around OData, SAPUI5 (Javascript / XML) and some knowledge of web development. For BSP or WDA developers (of which I was one) this should not be too big a departure. Other skills that are useful to know are standard HTML5, CSS, Javascript and general web development but these are generally picked up as you go along.

2) I come from SAP CRM background. In CRM we have a CRM Web UI application, which can be enhanced as per client business scenario. Is it possible to enhance Fiori Apps? Can I add my own custom fields like input boxes, dropdown, and labels in Fiori Apps?

Yes indeed, Fiori apps are fully customisable with various enhancement points. For more information on each enhancement point please see the app's documentation, which can be found, linked to from here.

3) I assume Fiori Apps are responsive and can be viewed on tablets and smartphones. Can SSO be configured for Fiori apps on a Smartphone? I would like to know the best deployment strategy for Fiori apps on tablets/phones where I need not enter password every time.

SSO is a complex topic in an implementation scenario. There are a number of ways to achieve the best possible experience. One way is to employ the SAP Fiori Client, a native on-device app that can cache some of the assets and make accessing the solution quicker. There needs to be a balance between security and ease of access especially if you are talking about a BYOD scenario.

4) Does SAP Fiori have any offline capability?

Watch this space! There is currently limited offline capability using the standard HTML5 key/value pair storage. Offline should be enabled in the future by platforms such as the SAP Mobility Platform, but these features are not available yet.

5) What are the "enhancement points" of a SAP Fiori app?

It depends on each application. Check out this documentation for your specific app to see the enhancement options. Links to the documentation for each app can be found as part of DJ's Fiori app list app here.

6) Once a SAP Fiori app is installed on the ABAP server, how do you make its source code available in Eclipse?

There are mechanisms to extract the relevant SAP Fiori app source code for editing in Eclipse. For more information please see the developer guide here.

7) Is it best practice to copy SAP Fiori apps to make changes? Or is it possible to change the standard directly in the original source code?

Both are possible and it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Where possible, it is good to use the enhancement points where available. However, if you plan on changing quite a lot, then creating a copy of the standard app and then editing it, is advisable.

8) Can I also use the SAP Fiori apps on the Shell console?

As far as I am aware you cannot. However, I'm happy to be proved wrong on this one.

9) How can I customise a Fiori UI?

There are a number of mechanisms for customising the UI however, if we are talking about the theme across the app then the best mechanism is the SAPUI5 theme designer which is included as standard. More info can be found here.

10) Do you have any tips on speeding up the load performance of Fiori/UI5 apps?

There are a few good ways to improve performance including using the gateway caching mechanisms and also ensuring that the browser your users are using is able to cache assets for use later. Secure enterprise browsers are frequently set to disable caching, which increases app load times. Otherwise the usual rules apply of ensuring the size of the infrastructure and also ensuring that geographically your servers are not too far from the user.

11) Do the apps receive updates from the backend, e.g. if I am in the process of approving a PO and new PO has been assigned to me for approval, will this update instantly to the app, without manually syncing?

It depends on the application. Any standard application can be enhanced to periodically poll the back-end for updated data and then automatically refresh the UI. The PO application currently relies on the user triggering the refresh before contacting the back-end again however this may not be the case for all apps and should be checked on a per-app basis. As I mentioned you can enhance the apps to achieve this functionality if required.

12) Is the UI stored in the/an app or the app is just presenting the HTML5 code stored in SAP Gateway?

The SAPUI5 assets and the main UI of the app, for standard Fiori applications, is stored on the SAP Gateway server and served from there. That said, there is nothing to say you cannot store any custom apps on a standard web server as long as you are careful around the cross domain origin policy i.e. making sure you data is coming from the same place as your UI.

13) Does it support SMP as the middleware instead of Gateway?

Not currently but I am aware that this is planned for the future. That said, there is nothing stopping a custom UI5 application using SMP as its OData source providing it follows the correct API use for SMP.

14) How does, for example, PR approval fit into Workflow? Would you use business objects?

It depends on the specific scenario and without more information it is difficult to answer this question. What I will say is that for applications where there isn’t a dedicated approval app, there is a generic approval app available which provides basic information about all approvals. This is a great starting point, which can lead to the creation of your own custom approval app for scenarios that have yet to be covered.

15) Is it possible to add a custom developed UI5 app to the Fiori launch page?

Yes definitely.

16) Is there any offline time entry capability planned for Fiori?

I am not entirely sure what SAP is planning however, with the introduction of SMP3 (SAP Mobility Platform 3) to provide offline support in the future, I wouldn’t rule this out.

17) How do I make a Fiori app truly offline capable?

In the future we should see the SAP Mobility Platform answer this question. In the meantime there are other options available to achieve this around type of app, HTML5 storage and some others.

18) Can a service account be used to authenticate the session and pass user information as parameter, or does it require the user's SAP credentials?

Single sign on (SSO) is always a significant challenge for any implementation. The ideal scenario would usually be to try and get the user to be identified right through to the back-end system rather than using service users and really the answer to your question depends on the landscape available and what you are trying to achieve.

19) How can a user securely access SAP Fiori from outside the corporate network?

Similar to the SSO (single sign on) question this is a challenge that is usually specific to the implementation and system landscape as well as the security guidelines for your organisation. I have done many implementations and each would have a different method of achieving external access. It is definitely possible in scenarios such as two factor authentication web access and client certificates but completely depends on your landscape.

20) For customers who have spent a truckload of money on HR Renewal solutions.1 FP4 and now on 2.0., what is the best way forward when moving to Fiori solutions on HCM?

SAP Fiori is built on top of SAP Gateway, which provides the mechanism for data exposure. The fact that this component, which was previously an add-on, now comes as standard with NetWeaver 7.4 installations and OData itself is an integral part of SAP's HANA platform shows us that, as far as SAP are concerned, OData and SAPUI5 are the future for end-user interaction on SAP.

We all know that technology has an annoying habit of changing just after we choose to adopt something and that is just part of life. What I will say is that any renewal that has/is being completed is not a waste as clearly it should be already providing measurable business benefit and with regard to Fiori, any renewal/change program shouldn't just aim for a single point, get there and expect the world to be in the same place - times change and renewal programs should adapt to incorporate these advances or plan for the next stage if required.

21) Is it possible for Fiori to use or connect to non-SAP backend like SharePoint?

SAP Fiori, as we mentioned is the set of pre-packaged apps from SAP which naturally connect to an SAP back-end however SAPUI5 or OpenUI5, the technology that have been used to create the Fiori apps, does not require an SAP Back-end and can connect to anywhere as long as you can make the data fit.

22) Does a device running a SAP Fiori app need to be registered (something I remember with Afaria)? Or is it as simple as running a HTML5 application?

Fiori is as simple as running a HTML5 application. This may change in the future for offline capable apps but that remains to be seen.

23) With ever changing technology, what are safer deployment/development options to ensure apps, which are built today, will live on the upcoming versions of Fiori?

SAP Fiori and Fiori-like apps built using SAPUI5 are built on open web standards like HTML5 and CSS3, so they are not going away anytime soon. It is fairly safe to say that they will work in any HTML5 compatible browser both now and for the foreseeable future.

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About the author

Brenton O'Callaghan

Global Head of SAP Innovation

Enterprise technology strategist and emerging technology evangelist

I'm a globally experienced SAP expert based in Ireland and I’m currently responsible for creating and bringing our SAP Innovation & Leonardo practice to market. My day job involves helping our customers to solve actual business problems in a rapid fashion using tools such as design thinking, SAP Leonardo and much more. I'm also responsible for exploring how emerging technologies and concepts can be applied within our customer base such as Machine Learning, Blockchain, DevOps and AI.
I've a background in computer science and have spent the last 9+ years in the SAP space across a wide range of industries across EMEA and North America. I'm a big believer that the best consultants have a mix of technical knowledge, industry experience and empathy and that is what I bring with my team to my customers. It's all about bringing about positive and relevant business change with the best possible technology.
Outside of work you can find me supporting the Irish Rugby team and the Boston Red Sox as well as my new found hobby - golf!


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