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hofmann
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Firefox and the SAP Portal: a topic that always will be the source for questions, doubts and discussions. In Support for a recent Firefox version in SAP PortalI wrote that currently you have to use Firefox 3.5 and not the actual version 3.6 with SAP Portal but that SAP is promising support for 3.6 in NetWeaver 7.3.

 

Looking at the actual roadmap 2011 for Firefoxyou may ask: how SAP will support Firefox in 2011 giving the recent history of not supporting the latest release? The roadmap for Firefox includes 4 new version of Firefox: “Ship Firefox 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the 2011 calendar year”. This announcment raises some questions regarding the usage of Firefox together with SAP Portal (or BSP, WebDynpro):

         
  • Up to now, to get support for a new browser version you need to wait for a new SPS from SAP that includes support. If this will continue it will be necessary to apply 4 SPS to get support for all 4 new Firefox versions.
  • When Mozilla continues to drop support for earlier versions they won’t support FF4 when FF6 is out and drop support for FF5 when FF7 is out. Looks like Mozilla is aware of this problem as they state that “we must support older branches with maintenance fixes” in the roadmap. I hope that this translates to: FF4 will still be supported when FF >= 7 is out.
  • Releasing 4 versions in one year means that the development cycle is fast with less time between releases. Between a RC with bugs and the stable version may only pass a few days. This isn’t giving product vendors or clients enough time to test everything.
  • The impact on the end-user isn’t a factor that someone will be able to predict. What if the final version is FF7 and the company is using FF4? It’s hard to explain why the company is soo much behind the latest version to the average user. The easiest way is to blame SAP. IT department can say: SAP is only supporting this old version, so we are stuck with it. Despite the fact that the IT department simply didn't have enough time to evaluate FF 7 and by no means it was SAP's fault.
   

Given the release history of FF4 it is hard to believe that we will see 4 new Firefox versions in 2011. Looking at the already identified problems by Mozilla (in regards to the plugins) I doubt that we will see FF7 or even FF6 in 2011. But even if we will get FF4 and FF5, that is 2 new versions in 2011. What we need here is to stop supporting versions and look at the underlying HTML, CSS and Javascript engines and support these engines.

 
  • HTML and CSS need to be standard. The code has to pass the W3C validators. Instead of tweaking the code to work with one specific browser it has to work with all browsers (IE6 will be the biggest problem here).
  • The Javascript framework should be based on an open version like jQuery, instead of having a proprietary Javascript that can only be tested by SAP, partners and customers. A possible benefit would be that bugs and incompatibilities between browsers would be identified and fixed faster. Not to mention that a replacement of the JS version would be easy.
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