Why we are steering clear of SAPUI5

SAPUI5

While plenty of people might be embracing UI5 for mobile apps, Greg Donaldson from 10seconds software isn’t one of them. He explains why here.

 

In many ways, we are the perfect fit to adopt SAPUI5. We have been building mobile SAP solutions for a number of years and have six packaged SAP approval solutions that work on any mobile, tablet, or desktop browser. We love responsive design and HTML5, but we have decided to stay clear of SAPUI5 as our strategic direction.
The general consensus in the SAP community is if you are building a web application, you would use SAPUI5. But why? Is there something special in the enterprise space that requires this? Should all enterprise systems like Oracle also adopt their own JavaScript framework? We are not so sure.
SAPUI5’s architecture allows you to extract data from any data source (via JSON or oData) and is not solely limited to SAP. Therefore can we simply compare SAPUI5 against all other data agnostic frameworks to decide what is the best JavaScript libraries available to achieve your goal? Or do we believe the control library, theming and easy integration with the Gateway oData services is the best in the marketplace? These questions are not designed to be confrontational or anti-SAPUI5, but to challenge architects’ assumption that SAPUI5 is always the right component in your toolbox for SAP web applications.

Below are the main reasons we are not moving to SAPUI5:

  1. Proprietary framework – no thanks

    We love industry standards and the problem is SAPUI5 will simply never be one. Alternate mainstream frameworks such as AngularJS, Ember, or Knockout have huge communities behind them. Innovation is rampant in the UX space and SAPUI5 with its proprietary licensing, small community, and SAP quirks will always be playing catch-up. Take a quick look at the number of contributors/commits on GitHub between OPENUI5 and other JavaScript frameworks, and you will quickly see a vast gap.

  2. SAP back-end upgrade?

    How can we ask our customers to perform an expensive SAP upgrade or to install the Gateway so we can serve up some pretty HTML? Our strategy is to take advantage of the tens of thousands of remote-enabled functions SAP exposes, which allows us to integrate with SAP instantly from Version 4.0b onwards.

  3. Browser support

    Nothing gets an end-user more disappointed than when we can’t support their browser or device of choice. We have invested a huge amount of time being compatible with as many types of mobiles/tablets/browsers as possible because this is important for our customers’ needs. We simply would be too restricted using SAPUI5 and fail to deliver our true ‘bring your own device’ offering.

  4. Front-end developers don’t care

    The best front-end UX developers are worth their weight in gold – they can take something complicated and make it simple and intuitive for the end-user. That is the end goal. Our experience has shown the best front-end developers are not from an ABAP background, and generally know little or nothing about SAP. These people we hire have never heard of or care little for SAPUI5. What are we going to achieve investing in them learning this framework?

In conclusion, we did find SAPUI5 to be a pretty solid offering. Its foundations are built on the excellent JQuery framework, and in some cases can allow you to integrate quickly with SAP. SAPUI5 will be right for some companies, however for us and our SAP customers today, we strongly believe we have made the right decision.
Greg Donaldson is director of 10seconds software. This article was first published in Inside SAP Summer 14/15.

 

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