Build Me an App That Looks Just Like Fiori
Originally published in InsideSAP Magazine
SAPUI5 is a hot topic right now due to the popularity of the SAP Fiori mobile application suite. SAP Fiori is a collection of apps built on frequently used SAP functionality, they provide users with “an easy to use, consumer grade experience”, and SAPUI5 is the HTML5 library that makes it possible. A lot of customers are so impressed with the simple, consistent look and feel that they are requesting developers to “build me an app that looks just like Fiori”. Building mobile applications is not as simple as choosing a framework because it is aesthetically pleasing, there are many factors you need to consider, in this article you will get introduced to SAPUI5 and get an overview of what it delivers and what it doesn’t.
What are the limitations?
If you have read any articles on Native vs. HTML5 mobile development you will are probably aware already what the limitations are. - Very limited support for offline storage, simple scenarios can be catered for using the available local storage API’s, limited to 5 MB. Alternatives are available using third party plugins and techniques. To get any kind of data synchronization to a SAP backend would require a significant amount of effort. - Minimal support for devices OS capabilities like GPS, audio and video - Minimal support for application security It has to be said that some of these short comings are not within the scope of the product and could be addressed by SAPUI5 when combined with a hybrid container like Apache Cordova (previously PhoneGap) and a mobile platform like SAP’s SMP 3.0. On the horizon OData Version 4 promises to provide better offline data sync capabilities and as HTML5 matures it is likely these feature and others will be incorporated into the product.
There are many things you need to consider when developing mobile applications for an Enterprise, multi-platform support, security, performance, usability, backend integration and offline capability to name a few. No one product will meet all your requirements. SAPUI5 is a good choice for rapidly creating online mobile applications that have a consistent consumer like experience and work across all devices. Where SAPUI5 excels is in providing simplified integration, allowing your backend and frontend developers to easily communicate requirements and respond to them quickly. It has been designed to be extensible making it easy to grow and cater for your future requirements. Backend services are provided to manage both the development lifecycle and how users access applications, providing a consistent approach with existing developments and functionality. Lastly it is supported by SAP as part of the Netweaver licence and when it finally becomes Open Source it will be used by and supported by a much bigger community of developers, all the more reason to “build me an app that looks just like Fiori”.