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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

In this post, I’d like to present the different options for building task UIs with SAP NetWeaver BPM and help customers make the right choice for their project.

The incumbents

When building user interfaces for your NW BPM process, you have the choice between multiple UI technologies:

  • Web Dynpro Java
  • Visual Composer
  • Web Dynpro ABAP (CHIP)
  • Adobe Offline Forms

Edited by Moderator: Jocelyn Dart

Please note that as of 7.3 EHP1 SP5 Open Task UI is also available

For further information see Christian's blog

In this post, we will focus on the first three options and ignore the offline forms.

Let’s look at each technology in detail:

  1. Web Dynpro Java is a mature and robust framework, which allows developing complex business applications. It has very good tool support and fully supports all SAP product standards like accessibility or globalization. The developer tools are fully integrated into the NetWeaver Developer Studio (NWDS).
  2. Visual Composer (VC in Eclipse) is a tool for rapid development UI composition. Since it doesn’t require any programming skills, it can be also used by non-developers (business experts) to create simple UIs. Although it lacks the full flexibility and power of Web Dynpro, it can be a good option for simple task forms.
  3. Web Dynpro ABAP is very similar to its Java counterpart. If most of the business logic and business data resides in an ABAP system, it could make sense to also implement the UI there. That way, existing functionality like F4 value help can be used. 

All three technologies will be supported by SAP until at least 2020.

For a general comparison and recommendation on Web Dynpro Java and Web Dynpro ABAP please also check this wiki page:

The new kid on the block

The SAP UI Development Toolkit for HTML5 – better known as SAP UI5 – is a new framework for building web-based and mobile applications, based on HTML5 and JavaScript. While released in beta only in early 2012, it has already raised some buzz in the SAP developer community.

Can you use this new technology in NW BPM? The answer is "Yes, you can".

With the BPM Java API, which is available since NW 7.3, you can access task instance data and perform task actions.  For more information on how to do this, you can check out this article by Harald Schubert:

However, using this approach currently has two caveats:

  1. You still need to assign a Web Dynpro or VC component to the task definition, in order to define the task interface.
  2. You need to build your own inbox, since the standard UWL will always open the task UI that is linked to the task definition.

We plan to address this in one of the next versions, so that there is better support not only for SAP UI5 but also for other UI technologies like GWT or JSF.

Edited by Moderator: Jocelyn Dart

Please note that as of 7.3 EHP1 SP5 the above caveats no longer apply.

For further information see Christian's blog


The following table lists UI frameworks from SAP:

Web Dynpro Java
VC (Eclipse)Web Dynpro ABAPSAP UI5
Integration in BPM sinceCE 7.11CE 7.2NW 7.3(standalone)
Supported data typesbuilt-in simple typesVC typesString, boolean, INT4CSDL (ODATA)
Custom Input Validationyesnoyesyes
Programming LanguageJava- ABAPJavaScript
Auto-generation from BPMyesyesnono
Integration with BPM nativenativenativevia API
Can show task in UWLyesyesyesno

So which technology should you choose? As always, it depends on various factors. Besides the more technical aspects listed in the table above, you should also consider

  • The available set of skills in your organization
  • The end user requirements (occasional users, power user)
  • Supported browser versions
  • Access via mobile devices and tablets
  • Integration into existing application landscape / portals

What is your opinion? Do you have experiences in using NW BPM with alternative UI technologies?