SAP Fiori Mobile Client: Return of the walking dead
Soy un perdedor
I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?Loser – Beck
The announced end of life for the public SAP Fiori Mobile Client is canceled. Scheduled initially for Q1/2021 it is now delayed to Q1/2022. That is another 12 months with the official Fiori Mobile Client (FMC) available in the official app stores. This is good news for FMC users as it matches the minimum expectations and requests raised. A few days before the deadline was prolonged, SAP gave an overview of the current FMC situation and its mobile platform portfolio. The presented alternative to the public FMC app was to use a company app store with a custom build FMC app. As this alternative comes with additional effort and costs, it is good to see that SAP reverted their decision and decided to extend the availability of FMC. Now, with 12 month more time, customers that use FMC can evaluate better the alternatives and use the time to prepare their Fiori on smartphone strategy accordingly.
Remember: the end of FMC in a public app store is only prolonged. It will still happen. To end its availability was already decided. We get more time only because the resistance and noise were ways stronger than expected. SAP Note 2992772 is currently at version 22! In 18th November 2020, it was at version 5. Someone was very busy updating the note continuously with the latest updates). FMC is a new kind of zombie software: killed, resurrected and walking around until it gets killed again.
Don’t be too happy about the additional 12 months. Kapsel is dead, and with it the foundation that builds FMC is dead. SAP is going to push MDK and low code. The hybrid app development model is not any longer part of their mobile strategy. The native SDKs (Fiori for iOS/Android) are available. If you ever had the chance to use them in a project, you know that they are nice, but after the SAP developers had their chance to take selfies at Apple, these SDKs are somewhat abandoned: documentation, samples, UI controls, developer experience. It’s enough to use it, definitely not enough to be excited. Not even SAP Education is offering a training on them (FFA100, FFA200, FFA300).
Announcing the end of an offering, then being surprised by negative feedback, then trying to justify the decision by declaring that only a few users are affected by it and that there are several alternatives available to finally postponing the end date. At best, that’s agile and listening to customers. In reality, it’s far, far away from trust or empathy. As I have written in my other blog about this topic: is the SAP Mobile team so far away from their customers that they do not know how their product is used? Or do they only talk to a selected group that supports whatever they come up with? Do they gather feedback from a wide and representative user group? Or where they simply forced to cut FMC? At least we know that SAP is listening and acting, maybe only too late.
Having FMC back solves a lot of problems short term. Let’s take a look further down the road. As I wrote in my previous blog on this topic, ending FMC is just the result of SAP pushing their low code tool MDK. This is not solving the root problem when you are investing in Fiori. To get back at having a mobile friendly access to SAP and apps, several points must be addressed:
- Support PWA for Fiori. The mobile team already wrote in the end of FMC announcement note that PWA is the future. Why is the Fiori Launchpad not a PWA app? Where are the official tools to have any SAPUI5 based app as a PWA?
- Provide a supported UI5 control for QR and barcode scanning. One of the reasons people were upset and why SAP is prolonging support for FMC is the barcode feature. Knowing now that this is a rather popular feature for mobile apps, SAP Mobile should provide an UI5 control for barcode scanning. This will provide tremendous value to mobile services users as they can provide the same feature via a UI5 app.
- Provide OData offline functionality for any UI5 app. Another advantage of using Kapsel was the OData offline plugin. You get offline support via the native SDK and MDK, but not with a UI5 app. If you remove hybrid development from the list, add at least an equal alternative for UI5 apps. A UI5 plugin that enables easy offline usage as well as sync ensures the investment in mobile with SAP was the right decision.
- Provide a generic SDK. The Kapsel plugins are a great help to get enterprise features and to make a hybrid app work seamlessly with SAP mobile services. For instance, the SSO plugin handles the SAML 2.0 flow very well. Having the same experience with the Cordova plugin for in-app browsing means a lot of work. Provide it for Ionic, Flutter, React Native, whatever has a reasonable user base.
- Inform a valid support timeline. The end of FMC was only postponed to Q1/2022. It will still get removed from the public app stores. The Kapsel SDK is currently scheduled to be unsupported end of 2022. In Q3/2022 we will have to wait for SAP to announce if or not the support is prolonged or not and SDK 3.3 is made available.
Regarding the ability to plan and adjust scopes at customers: transparency and alternatives must be provided. The first step is done by removing hybrid development as one of the pillars for mobile apps. Everyone should know that you cannot start a new project based on Kapsel. Next step must be to provide the above listed alternatives 1 – 4. Most importantly PWA for Fiori and offline capability. If these are provided, SAP will have a strong case to push their customers to use Fiori. For customers it will be close to a no-brainer to adopt Fiori, as they will get so much more out of it. If this is provided, MDK can then be used as a tool to develop all the other custom apps.