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Service-Based Application Development From a Single Source

SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (SAP NetWeaver CE) is the central platform for the development of service-based applications. It places the reutilization and combination of existing functions into new business applications (known as composite applications) at the center of the development process. SAP NetWeaver CE offers an integrated, consistent and model-driven approach and brings together the necessary runtime technologies and development tools from SAP. On the back of these prerequisites it is possible to design and build composite applications without losing the necessary flexibility for customer-specific adaptations (part 1). The Composite Application for Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) for handling return processes will be the first composite application based on SAP NetWeaver CE to be supplied to customers at the beginning of March 2008 (part 2).

SAP employs composite applications to support customers who want to continually improve their business processes with innovative and service-based applications. These are developed on the basis of a model-oriented approach and consist of a process layer, a user-interface layer and a layer for business and application logic. The business logic is made available to the overlying process and user-interface layers by means of services. This layer architecture enables composite applications to be constructed quickly and adjusted flexibly.

Central platform for modeling

The central platform for building composite applications is SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment (SAP NetWeaver CE), the integrated development, modeling and runtime environment in which SAP has bundled key technologies and tools. These include SAP Composite Application Framework (SAP CAF), guided procedures and SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer, Web Dynpro and SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe for modeling user interfaces.

SAP NetWeaver CE is oriented towards open industry standards. Only the new SAP modeling tools based on open standards enable shorter development times and a further industrialization of software development.

Key components of SAP NetWeaver CE are a runtime environment based on SAP NetWeaver Application Server and a development environment that is deployed via SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio. SAP NetWeaver Application Server supports Java Platform Enterprise Edition version 5 (JEE 5), which includes among other things Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) version 3.0 as a standardized component technology and JavaServer Faces (JSF) 1.2 for developing user interfaces. Further, specifications such as Java API for XML-based Web services 2.0 (JAX-WS) enable the development of Web services in Java. SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio in turn is based on the Eclipse 3.3 open-source development platform. As SAP NetWeaver CE as a whole is both a development and a runtime environment, composite applications can be both built and deployed.

Creating business objects

The business and application logic is defined in SAP CAF. The services for a composite application, which themselves draw data from business objects, are created and modeled here. The business objects derive either from SAP ERP and the applications of the SAP Business Suite or are specially created for building a composite application. In this case they are fixed components of a composite application and are therefore termed “local” business objects.

Thus the “Material” business object originates in SAP ERP, whereas an RMA number (Return Merchandise Authorization) for handling returns is a local business object. It is created using SAP CAF. Here the developer also defines both the attributes of the object, like RMA number or RMA status, and the operations and services that the business object is to execute within a composite application. In the simplest case this may be a matter of basic services, such as create, read, update und delete (CRUD) and search methods that are used to create, query, update, delete and locate records.

Conversely, more complex services are required for the construction of a composite application that have a considerably larger functionality than the basic services and incorporate comprehensive enterprise-focused business logic. These enterprise services are stored in the Enterprise Services Repository (ESR) of SAP NetWeaver. An example of such an enterprise service is Cancel Order. As well as the mandatory deletion of entries in the database, it may be necessary to delete production orders or inform suppliers of the deletion. The stock level must also be corrected and adjusted. These are just some of the activities that an enterprise service handles and that differ considerably from the tasks of a simple Web service.

Naturally, Web services from other sources such as an external UDDI directory or external Web services defined by a WSDL file can also be used. These can be located using SAP CAF and imported into and consumed in SAP CAF. The requirement for this is that SAP CAF is linked to the ESR or an external service registry. External Web services that are not listed in a registry can be integrated easily by specifying their WSDL address.

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