There is a good discussion over at the SAP Developer Network around AJAX and SAP Web Dynpro. Benny Schaich-Lebek, who works in the SAP NetWeaver Product Management team, sparked the discussion with his controversial Blog entry “AJAX @ SAP – an Old Hat!”. I know Benny and he is a very knowledgable guy. Unfortunately the use of German “humor” in his Blog did not work out for all readers (read some of the comments).
Basically Benny states that Web Dynpro uses XML communication between server and web client and therefore is leveraging the basic foundation of AJAX. While Web Dynpro developers do not write Java Script the Web Dynpro engine generates Java Script based on the Web Dynpro model which is leveraged on the client.
Benny’s Blog trigerred also a more detailed response by Daniel McWeeny. Unfortunately Daniel has not all the facts straight (see Benny’s comment to Daniels Blog).
However I think the whole discussion misses an important point. AJAX has become the buzz word du jour because Google, Flickr and others use it for innovative new web based applications with rich client user interfaces. So this is not about the technology but about improved user experience on the web. And I think this is where Web Dynpro falls short. Web Dynpro UIs resemble pretty much HTML user interfaces. I talked with a number of SAP UI developers who feel that the Web Dynpro UI patterns are very restrictive and do not allow them to provide an innovative new UI experience to customers. Switch over to another development group at SAP working on Visual Composer. They recently integrated the possibility to generate Flex/Flash user interfaces based on Visual Composer models, providing a very rich user experience for Business Analytic Dashboards.
I need to close for today but plan to write a more extensive Blog entry about the disruption rich client UIs will bring to the enterprise software space.