I am not the best writer of blogs but I wanted to force myself during 2018 to get more of my thoughts out there. I decided to write because of a unique convergence that brings Fiori, SAP UI5, and SAP Screen Personas together with the recent release of SAP Screen Personas 3.0 SP06. I am trying to be as honest as possible around this technology and not going to go technical because I can’t speak as a technical expert on that front -that’s why I rely on my team but I wanted to share what I have experienced so far on this subject.
I will try and cover off other areas in the coming weeks including a webinar:
- Design Thinking / Prototyping & technologies to use and why
- Why enterprises should see the value of SAP Screen Personas 3.0 SP06
Why am I blogging:
I wanted to talk about SAP UX technology and how the SAP Screen Personas 3.0 SP06 is a game changer or at least is something all SAP UX consultants (technical or design) should sit up and take notice of. It’s now an even more interesting technology when it comes to quick development via low code UI5 engine. Yes, a UI5 engine!
Just like a change cycle, I would imagine some people out there will be in the stages of doubt and scepticism on what they have read about SAP Screen Personas and in my view, is still not widely adopted. I am hoping after reading this you will move quickly to the discovery and understanding stage of the new capabilities.
Ok, so let’s start by saying that there is not always a right or wrong technology. It isn’t a prescription or as straight forward as you think. There are a number of points that need to be considered just like when you’re designing for end users. As a non-developer and more focussed on human-centered design, I have always been a supporter of SAP Screen Personas and used the technology as well as worked a lot with SAP Fiori and so I will give my honest opinion. I plan to write my own approach, methods & practices for consideration of what technology to use and when to use it but that’s for another day.
Why talk about SAP Screen Personas 3,0 SP06?
Well, I have mentioned the phrase ‘game changer’ which is described as ‘a person or thing that significantly affects the outcome of something’ and this latest release hits that mark and I will explain why soon….
Let’s go back a step or two. For those of you that don’t know much about SAP Screen Personas…Simply put, it’s a tool for rapidly changing SAP Dynpro transactions and Web Dynpro applications in core SAP. Its explained as being like a ‘skin’ over the top of GUI or Webgui.
The last two service packs have brought important functionality & innovation with adaptive flavours which automatically change flavors (screens) based on the size/resolution and now in SAP Screen Personas 3.0 SP06, the support for flavors on mobile devices featuring the new mobile rendering engine (Slipstream Engine *SE*).
Fiori App Development
On the topic of which technology is best for you. This is where some people miss the point. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. SAP Screen Personas & SAP Fiori complement each other and should co-exist. Where a standard Fiori app exists and your environment / back end configuration is in place, you would always adopt it even when it needs to be extended. Why wouldn’t you? They look great and are quick to deploy and simplifies your process but as mentioned I will talk further on this in another blog.
I appreciate you can do so many more things in UI5 with navigation and design and this needs to be recognised but having said that if you have a design background and/or a working knowledge of HCD (Human Centered Design) it is amazing what we accomplish with SP06 and the new Slipstream Engine.
First Impressions of Screen Personas 3.0 SP06?
My first impressions on the new SAP Screen Personas 3.0 SP06 functionality and the UI5 engine (Slipstream Engine) is that it’s brilliant! When you get your hands on the new rendering engine, there are slight nuances between designing the flavors in the browser and rendering them via the UI5 engine but we will publish what we found later next week. I am sure these points will get ironed out by SAP. But overall, I am a big, big fan and I believe what we are seeing now is the start of a low code journey to a better UX.
Surprisingly SAP hasn’t made much fuss about this just yet but they will soon I am pretty sure. I guess because they haven’t made much noise, it will keep a lot of you still in the stage of ‘doubt and scepticism’ about the product, but watch this space.
We wanted to build a prototype that would make people sit up and notice. Not a simple transaction but a complex one and one that made sense to mobilise. We started firstly with all the standard LM (Warehouse management ITS mobile transactions) but they were too easy (Yes, we were getting cocky now and turning these around in minutes/hours), so we pushed ourselves and thought…….why not try MIGO_GR? There’s a lot going on with the transaction, it’s incredibly powerful and how many times do we see the goods receipt checks happening on paper and then a stroll to the warehouse / store to login to SAP and carry out the transaction. What can I tell you about it? Well, it was pretty straight forward and took one day to develop.
For our design team to take a complex MIGO transaction and be able to create a mobile app that can use the camera function for scanning in the bar codes in ONE DAY is bloody impressive! Yes, so we have our own Fiori standards and apply these as guidelines for Screen Personas adaptive designs but still, it’s very impressive.
Just imagine, for customers who aren’t on S/4 HANA and want to create a custom app for MIGO Goods Receipt. You will have to put in some serious time and effort to get something up and running in SAPUI5 technology. My very rough estimates on a comparison between a basic custom app vs the Slipstream Engine would be at least 20 times more effort put into a Fiori development as opposed to SAP Screen Personas SE development. I am serious and will prove this on a video I intend to record.
The best bit is you really don’t need to be a developer. I know there are other products out there amongst the SAP partners that deliver a UI5 app but you still need to be a developer to deliver the app in my opinion.
With this technology, I could do it! It is far less technically challenging and for me, that’s a god send. Where I struggled was the use of camera functions but there is a lot of info you find on google to write a script (or copy it as I did) to use the native phone functions for scanning in bar codes and consuming it within your app.
What I can say is, we have worked closely with SAP on the BETA programme for Slipstream Engine (SE) and it works! It works and it looks and feels like an app! For you experts, you might spot that it isn’t a Fiori app (the giveaway on our app is the ‘powered by slipstream’ logo on our design but we put that there because I wanted people to recognise it. For me, as an end user, I wouldn’t know (or care) the difference providing the experience is as good. Most of us really wouldn’t be able to distinguish and we certainly wouldn’t notice if you followed our correct guidelines.
The other important point I wanted to mention is that your key stakeholders would be delighted in the knowledge that your design team (if your one of a few to have one), or your internal consultants or your business analysts with any design flair could produce these types of apps without the specialised skills normally required. No more complicated landscapes or a plethora of obstacles are in your way and you should be able to deploy an app incredibly quickly. I mean, if you can reduce the time and effort whilst still delighting your end user audiences & provide a better overall user experience then why wouldn’t you give it a go?
So where do I see this going? Well, SAP always talked about SAP Fiori and hinted using Screen Personas as a complimentary alternative to GUI but now this co-existence of the two technologies is very real and makes even more sense. I believe it is the start of something big for ‘low code development’ at SAP. These technologies are absolutely 100% complimentary, look almost identical (if you know what you’re doing) and massively reduce your time to value.
That’s why, for me, this is a no brainer and also a game changer – so my advice to you designers, UI5 guys, business analysts and the like, is to go explore the technology, find what SAP screen Personas 3.0 SP06 is great at leveraging and also what its not so good at, have a play, have fun and make a difference.