Building blocks for the future normal

6 August 2015

DJ Adams

DJ Adams

Principal Consultant & Mobile, UX and Development Centre of Excellence Lead

S/4HANA is here. It's now. It's cloud ready, HANA powered, and has an awesome user experience in the form of SAP Fiori. SAP Fiori is powered by the UI5 toolkit. To successfully understand and embrace the future normal of SAP, it's important to ensure that understanding, that embrace, is built upon firm foundations.

30 Days of UI5

I've just finished curating and contributing to a series called "​30 Days of UI5​". It is a set of 30 daily blog posts on the subject of UI5, the toolkit that powers SAP Fiori UX. The posts were written not only by me, but also by some of my illustrious Bluefin Solutions colleagues such as John Murray​, Sean Campbell, James Hale, ​John Appleby​, Chris Choy, Nathan Adams and ​Jon Gregory​. Not only  that, we had some great contributions from our SAP colleagues ​Thilo Seidel​ and SAP's Chief Design Officer ​Sam Yen​. Awesome work.

UI5, in its original SAP-licenced flavour "SAPUI5", and the open sourced flavour "​OpenUI5​", was born in late 2008, and has reached a level of maturity today to the extent that a milestone release, 1.30, ​is imminent​ (hence the 30 days idea!). But more importantly than this age-based and version-based maturity is the simple fact that UI5 powers the Fiori revolution.

The future normal

"Yes, *yawn*, we all know that​", I hear you say. Maybe you do. I've been saying it often enough, and I'm still proud of the designers and developers at SAP who have made this happen and continue to make it happen. But perhaps what's even more important to realise is what that means for us, for me and for you, in the context of SAP Fiori and more specifically in the context of S/4HANA, the future normal.

Step back in time with me for a second, to R/2. If that's too far, let's just go back to R/3. If that's too far, let's look at your SAP systems today. What are they capable of? How malleable is the UI layer, how can you imagine modifying or extending it to suit your business processes? The answer may  depend somewhat on the particular technology involved (classic dynpro, web dynpro, or even the  Persona layer you're using), but the point is, you've become innately aware of how the UI layer can  be stretched and improved - where it stretches naturally, and where it stresses and breaks.

What's different?

With the future normal, that is changing for your business users. With a complete Fiori-based frontend, the rules of the game are different. Different in ​what ​can be achieved, different in ​how  things can be achieved, and different in how things ​should​ be achieved.

What does that mean? Well, the mechanics are fundamentally different. ​Outside-in applications written in UI5, the toolkit supplying the power, the libraries, the design and the runtime for Fiori are a different prospect, a different platform, and a different context for your developers and your design teams. But there's more. Not only do we have a change in technology, in particular in relation to extending existing SAP-supplied apps​, but there's also a understandably strict set of  SAP Fiori design guidelines​, painstakingly put together, and followed by the application builders. Fiori's philosophy ​includes a different way at looking at applications and how they should exist and  relate. And implicitly, how they should be extended and copied.

A foundational understanding

Understanding anything fully starts with the foundations. Understanding the future normal of SAP starts with Fiori and UI5, at least, looking at it through the eyes of your business process owners and users.

And it just so happens that we have an upcoming event tuned to exactly that S/4HANA: Understanding the future normal​ :-) It's free, there's breakfast and coffee, and there are still some spaces left. So see you there

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About the author

DJ Adams

Principal Consultant & Mobile, UX and Development Centre of Excellence Lead

DJ Adams is a developer, author, speaker & teacher living in Manchester, working as a Principal Consultant here at Bluefin. He also heads up our Mobile, UX and Development Centre of Excellence in the UK.

He has a degree in Latin & Greek (Classics) from the University of London, and despite having been referred to as an alpha geek, can nevertheless tie his own shoelaces and drink beer without spilling it.

He has written two books for O’Reilly (Programming Jabber and Google Pocket Guide), co-written and edited a book on UI5 and is a co-author of the SAP Press book Practical Workflow for SAP (3rd Ed.). His latest book, also for SAP Press, is SAP Fiori and SAPUI5: Debugging the User Interface.

He writes posts on his own weblog, on Language Ramblings, on the SAP Community Network and here on Bluefin's website. He's been hacking on SAP software since 1987.

He is an SAP Mentor, a member of the SAP Mentor Advisory Board, and a member of the SAP Developer Advisory Board. He created one of the first SAP developer communities back in 1995, and co-created the SAP Developer Network (now known as the SAP Community Network) back in 2003.

He's been involved in teaching kids to code, ran a Code Club at his local primary school, ran a centre in Manchester for Young Rewired State, and has been a volunteer at Manchester CoderDojo.

He is married to his theoretical childhood sweetheart Michelle, and has a son, Joseph, of whom he is very proud.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race