UI5con 2023 took place again this year as a face-to-face event. Just like last year and before Covid, the event location was at an SAP location: ROT03. While communicated as an on-site event (location Germany, registration), it was again a hybrid event. The main organization and communication were directed to the on-site event and participant experience. The online community was thankfully not left behind. The Audimax sessions were streamed live. The videos are available on YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2. Other sessions were recorded. While the online format was not fully aware to everyone, it was an option. A great thank you at least from my site to make the content available not only to the on-site participants, but to the worldwide UI5 community. Why is this important? Simply because UI5con 2023 was sold out. Some people traveled rather long distances; my personal impression is that most people came from a manageable distance. At least the main language I came across was German.
News and newsworthy
The keynote mentions all the news around UI5. The news that will impact working with UI5 are for sure: UI5 2.0, Web Components and TypeScript. The news are basically the same news that were shown at last years keynote, or were announced. This time they are not only announced. This time it is for real.
TypeScript was also possible to use in the last years. 2022 the usability of TypeScript really started to change things and made it easy to develop UI5 apps using TypeScript. It did not work 100% as it should in all cases. But now, starting with 1.116.0, TypeScript is a first-class citizen in the UI5 universe. Over the last year, the APIs were checked and made ready to work with TypeScript. Generators, tooling, Fiori tools, etc. were also checked to make using TypeScript easy. But the TypeScript promotion does not only apply to UI5. The tooling is also supporting better and better TypeScript. Therefore, 2023 is the year to not only start using TypeScript, but to use it for all your new UI5 apps.
UI5 2.0 was secretly leaked already at last years keynote. When the UI5 team announced to remove legacy APIs, it was clear: UI5 2.0 is coming. 2023 is the year UI5 2.0 was announced and shown. The UI5 2.0 version is only available internally at SAP, but this will change. The approach the UI5 team is taking here is interesting. Instead of going for a breaking 2.0, they are opting for a best practice approach. As long as you are using the current best practices for UI5 development, you can use 2.0 without having to deal with breaking changes. If your code is already aligned with modern UI5 development, not using any deprecated APIs, you can start migrating to 2.0. For everyone still using deprecated APIs, and that may be everyone that developed an UI5 app on an older release and did not adopt the app over the years, it will be a breaking change. It will now depend on how far back the UI5 team will go as the starting point for the legacy free development. I hope not too far back. Actually, I hoped for a breaking change version. And I won’t give up my hope for a fast innovation release like 3.0. The hidden gem here is: JQuery will be included in UI 2.0. I guess the first JQuery free version is going to be UI5 3.0.
UI5 Web Components
Web Components will have a more drastic impact on UI5 development than UI5 2.0. UI5 Web Components has the potential to be a game changer. Not only because it can make UI5 apps faster. That’s a nice side effect. But Web Components makes UI control development based on a web standard. Developing a UI control in Web Components means that it can not only be used by UI5, but also in other frameworks, like Vue, React or Angular. For companies this means their effort into a UI5 control allows them to reuse it in other frameworks they use as well. For non-UI5 developers, the transition to UI5 gets easier. And in general: the enterprise grade UI5 controls can be used across a wide range of web apps. The question is now how this will effect UI5. In a bad way, developers may see UI5 only as a way to gain access to a set of UI controls. Adopting the control, but not the framework. If it works out, developers will come to UI5 through the Web Components UI controls and start using UI5 as their preferred choice for enterprise grade apps. The next years will be thrilling.
Of course, there were other news as well. The UI5 tooling is released as version 3, making live even easier for developers. Work is one regarding the horizon theme (well, until the new CDO decides to leave a stance at SAP and developers a new theme). MDC controls look promising. A somewhat hidden announcement wasn’t done at the keynote, but in the Fiori roadmap and at the Adaption session: adaption project is coming to VS Code. One less reason to use BAS. One good decision for the developer experience. Testing is yet again a hot topic. Let’s see how this is going to be adopted in Fiori land. WDI5 is making huge progress and can add value, so please use it. If not, use at least WDIO. I presented about this topic at UI5con 2019 (slide 57+).
The good, the bad, the ugly
Compared to last year’s hybrid UI5con, this year it was again a one day event with several sessions going on in parallel: presentations, workshops, demos, expert talks. And as always with an event at ROT03, I have the feeling that the location is not the best choice (large Audimax, small rooms). Either you have a crowded – yet small – room or a large Audimax and many empty seats. The walking distance is short, yet you always meet people going to their next session. The after party with beer is legendary, and once more, the weather was just perfect. My personal highlight was when Andreas Kunz and Peter Müssig had to give some autographs to some enthusiastic UI5 developers.
The SAP UI5 developers shown an impressive on-site presence. I was missing more Fiori people: Fiori UX, guidelines or Fiori Launchpad. While the UI5 developers can create UI5 controls, these must follow SAP design guidelines. When you want to discuss some control limitations and the answer is: yes, valid feedback, but the limitation comes from the design team, it would be beneficial to have a contact from the design team available on-site. Regarding limitation: it would be nice to see that UI5 ensures that their controls do not only fit the internal idea of a usage scenario, but also reality. It is nice to define some limitations and disregard everything as crazy or “why would you do this? There is a better approach”. Sometimes these limitations come from SAP. It is how SAP works, how customers work, it is called reality. It is one of these moments when I think my old demand is still valid: SAP employees should first work for 5 years at customers before they are allowed to implement any feature. I know that a (tree)table with 10.000 entries is crazy, but that’s what you get. Loading only a partial set of data (position 3.400 to 3.500) is not always doable when using SAP standard, as the methods return all data at once. The control must work for such amount of data and “this is crazy” is not a valid argument. I’d really like to see a better understanding of real world use cases. And not SAP people treating such scenarios instantly as out of scope or as a funny story. Design thinking is not only to get an app into production. It is also about empathy, understanding different point of views. Maybe it is time for SAP to make Design Thinking a mandatory training?
Looking at my post about last year’s UI5con, all the concern I raised about the real world problems are still valid. Look at the blocks Customers and Missing. I could copy & paste both blocks and they would fit perfectly in here.
One more thing
With that, let me introduce a one more thing moment in my post. We have UI5con for the UI5 developers. We have SAP events that show were the portfolio is going to. But there is a gap: what about the people that work daily with Fiori? How can these connect the dots between a TechEd or Sapphire and UI5con? The world at customers where you have to work with an on premise Fiori Launchpad. Were you have to adopt a standard SAP Fiori app, be it a rather old freestyle or a newer Fiori Elements app? And where do you go for information and exchange when you have to adjust a Dynpro (ABAP) app via Personas? Or have to work with one of the many more tools and products available in the Fiori universe like MDK, mobile start, mobile services, workzone, etc.?
My personal feeling is that there is something missing (no, not more cowbell). Just like ABAPConf came to perfectly fill the gap left between SAP events and the ABAP dev reality, I think a FioriConf can add tremendous value to all Fiori people out there: developer, architects, consultants or admins. Do you agree? Do you think a conference focused on Fiori makes sense?
Here is my call to action: FioriConf 2024
Target audience: the people that work with Fiori daily to ensure the end users can benefit from Fiori: Fiori developers, consultants, admins, architects. For these people, the conference should provide a platform to share their experience and to connect with each other and with the SAP teams and people defining Fiori.
Format: building on the experience gained thanks to ABAPConf, why change a format that as shown that it works? FioriConf should be free, online and live. Content defined by the community with support from SAP.
Developers: Fiori developers are the ones that use SAP technology to create apps. This includes UI5 developers, but goes further: mobile developers that use the Fiori for iOS/Android SDK, that use Personas to develop flavors with the goal to make existing apps more Fiori like, and the MDK developer. An important role is the ABAP developer. Using RAP – or even SEGW – to create services, annotate services to empower Fiori Element.
Admins, Consultants and Architects: what does it help to develop an app when the end user cannot access it? To enable the developers and guide them is the role of the architect. Define best practices, landscapes, guidelines. How to get from idea to an app. Consultants to work closely with the end user, define requirements and identify gaps. Admins, responsible to transport the Fiori app to production, to manage, monitor, support it. To ensure governance is applied.
Technologies: the above roles demand that a broad range of technologies is covered: while being important, it is not only UI5. Other important technologies must be included, like MDK or even more important: Personas.
Solutions: Fiori is not just the Fiori Launchpad. Solutions that target the end user, the Fiori experience, must be included in the conference: Fiori Launchpad – on premise or cloud -, Fiori UX, design guidelines, mobile start, mobile platform, even some Build solutions.
If you think this a good idea, then join me and register for FioriConf 2024. Every registration helps finding out how many people are interested in such a conference. Your registration comes with no obligations, it is just to know who wants that FioriConf 2024 is happening.
In case someone from SAP that works with Fiori is reading this and wants to support this: feel free to get in touch with me.