S/4HANA’s Extensibility

S/4HANA is SAP’s commitment to a refresh of its core Business Suite software.

S/4HANA’s simplification mean:

    • the database schema for an application reduces down to a fraction of the number of tables that existed in the traditional Business Suite.
    • movement of application logic from the ABAP application server to either the database or to the client.
    • making the interfaces look decent by unifying the myriad user interfaces in SAP’s products as well as building user-facing interfaces and processes with an eye toward efficiency and ease of use

The biggest change for many existing users of SAP ERP software will be that the new product pushes back hard on what has become an uncomfortably common practice of significantly modifying the core SAP software.

So, how are S/4 HANA systems extended or modified?
The official platform for extension is the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP). The general idea is that SAP users and partners will be able to create small applications on HCP that can register themselves as extensions at predefined extension points in the S/4HANA applications. For more details, you can read my blog: https://tmilinovic.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/usage-of-sap-cloud-services-for-sap-fiori-development-operational-reporting-and-customer-engagement/

Why is extensibility so important?
It’s almost impossible to deliver software that will perfectly fit the needs and requirements of each and every customer.Especially today when a significant amount of the solutions are made available through the cloud in a Software as a Service solution model.

It’s crucial to provide customers with the tools and mechanisms to personalize, customize, and extend the standard delivery according to their business scenarios.

One of the core concepts of extensibility is to keep the standard SAP delivered application unchanged and build our custom extension code around it. The standard application can benefit from any future upgrades or service packs that SAP provides. Upgrade to a new version would be done automatically and without the need for any manual changes. The important thing is that custom extensions are not overwritten by the upgrade.

To summarize, custom extensions should

    • Keep SAP’s standard unchanged (no modification)
    • Enable the custom app to survive future standard deliveries
    • Benefit from upgrades or support packages

Predefined Extension Points
SAPUI5 applications and Fiori applications in general are based on the MVC architecture, or the data model-view-controller application. We can extend each and every one of these components separately and independently.

The views describe the various screens in our Fiori application and is usually written in XML format.
For view extensions, SAPUI5 provides the notion of extension points which are basically tags that are inserted in key areas inside the view. Extension points enables the customizing application to inject custom UI controls in that specific point. In runtime, SAPUI5 merges these custom UI controls into the extension point.

A similar concept exists for the controllers: each view has its corresponding controller, which is basically a JavaScript object.The controller is there to basically control the data flow and manipulation in the views.
For controller extension, a developer can add what’s called a UI controller hook which is basically a strategic hook where we can customize and inject our own JavaScript code and logic in key areas in the application.The format of these hooks are basically a declaration of a JavaScript method that the customizing party would implement. The SAPUI5 runtime merges this code into the standard controller.

SAP provides a long list of extension points both for views and for controllers available in the standard Fiori apps.This can be seen in the SAP Fiori Apps Reference Library.
The library has a long list of the available Fiori applications, where each application has a detailed description of its technical information and the available extension points that are provided within them.

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