BSP, open source, Flob and the ecosystem

Writing this on the high speed train on the way back from SAP Teched. No wi-fi in this train, but at least there is power.

I’m straying way into geek territory here, so apologies if there are a couple of technical inaccuracies. I was the token suit at the Adobe SAP Tech Ed Hackathon on wednesday night. (Dennis was there too, but as he doesn’t own a suit, I can’t really label him one.)

TechEd 194

(photos Nigel James)

 The session was put together by Matthias Zeller from Adobe. Thanks Adobe.

We heard interesting and detailed  presentations about SAP and Adobe in action with Philips Lighting and News International, as well as majority Desk, SAP and Ruby, Flex islands and Thomas Jung demoed the Matrix  Screensaver written in ABAP.(This is a geek joke, in response to the suit line,”where’s the business case?”)

 Thomas and his ABAP Matrix Screensaver


More significantly he demoed a solution he has built in his own time. This solution adds Flex controls into BSP, easily allowing customer developers to dramatically improve the look and feel of BSP applications. 

At the session Thomas and the gang released this as an open source project. It is called Flob (Flex on BSP).  More details to follow soon, and Thomas will be appearing on Starship enterprisey radio in the next couple of weeks to explain it all.

This interests me for several reasons.

1. It enables some flex goodness in BSP. Although no longer used to build new applications, several  SAP applications are partly built with the BSP technology, so it will enable customers to spruce up these applications dramatically. This is particularly interesting for parts of HR and CRM.

2. Increasingly, it will be the customers who chose how they want to interact with the SAP applications, not SAP telling them the way they have to do it. There is an explosion in client-side UI innovation, and customers will want to exploit this in ways that SAP can’t and probably shouldn’t control. Widgets and Wii hands are just the beginning. I’ve argued before that UI is Fashion, and this trend will only accelerate.

3. In the SAP space, open source is providing a compelling distribution mechanism for customer, independent consultant or leisure time developed code. The ease of the licence model is key.  Lawyers are kept at bay. Other examples of this being SAPLink, and several scripting language projects.

4. SDN brings together a critical mass of like minded people to improve and consume the solution. And I’m predicting that we will see more open source innovation at the edges of SAP.

5. Also, with Eclipse becoming more significant in the Netweaver stack, open source is becoming more important in the core too. in Klaus Kreplin’s keynote we saw Eclipse playing a very significant role in composition environment. Eclipse featured strongly in the Demo Jam, with a demo of an eclipse ABAP editor project from SAP. This lifted the roof.

The contribution of the memory analyzer is goodness, but SAP has much to learn about open source – and IBM, Sun and Adobe have been more embracing of open source.  Co-innovation insists on openness and participation, it is not a one way street. I sense SAP is still figuring this out, as Dan points out when he examines the EULA for the SAP subscription licence. James Governor asked some pointed questions at the blogger meeting with Zia about SAP and Open Source.  Interesting and exciting times here in Bureaudisney.


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3 thoughts on “BSP, open source, Flob and the ecosystem”

  1. Thomas,

    I think it is great that SAP is starting to open up and in particular starting a project at Eclipse. I think SAP will get a lot out of the experience and enjoy the benefits of working in an open community.

    Ian Skerrett
    Eclipse Foundation

  2. It’s been a while since I was in development, but the split development environment between SAP tools like the SE80 workbench and the Eclipse Java/WebDynpro tools was awkward.

    In particular, debugging applications across the Java/ABAP split, with the Eclipse debugger and ABAP debugger open simultaneously was very challenging. It’s possible to get breakpoints to generate debugging sessions in ABAP, and to flip back and forth, but it’s not productive at all. Nobody would claim to enjoy the experience.

    What was particularly painful was that a developer was placed in the position of loving ABAP for the business logic – it really is unparalleled there, and loving whatever language the front-end was written in, but hating the union of the two. Having the ABAP editor/debugger available in Eclipse could _really_ change things.

    Creating a unified IDE for *all* SAP oriented coding would be a major boon to everyone in the SAP development world, both internal and externally. The developer productivity that this would unleash would be staggering.

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