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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

SAP UI Clients - which is best for my situation?

When should I use SAP NetWeaver Business Client (NWBC), and when SAP GUI? Including SAP Screen Personas? What are the main differences between NWBC and SAP NetWeaver Portal? What about NWBC and CRM? SAP Business Intelligence? NWBC and SAP Fiori Launchpad? These are all questions we get asked a lot.

So I've tried to summarize the various conversations I've had on all these subjects. As I've suggested below - this is NOT the one and only permissible way to use our products - if your implementation is different, and you're happy, then go for it ;-). However, if you're wondering what we recommend as best practice for each major client, or if you're thinking of migrating from one to the other, then I hope this blog helps.

I'll start with the one I probably get asked about most:

SAP GUI standalone versus NWBC with SAP GUI embedded

Actually, this first section was the hardest one to write - the danger is, it will sound like marketing, which is not what I want to do here. What I do want to do is clarify our strategy - this is how we position the two products, and this is what we think they are best suited for. Again, if your experience is different, or if you think I've left something out, please feel free to say so in the comments.

OK, here goes: NWBC was originally developed to enable end users to consume both SAP GUI applications and Web-based content (Web Dynpro or third-party) in one environment. So originally the choice was easy:

Do your end users work mainly on SAP GUI? YES -> SAP GUI standalone


Do they work with both SAP GUI and Web-based applications? YES -> NWBC

However, in 2011 ECC6.0 EHP 6 was released, followed by NWBC 4.0 in September 2012. Put together, these two innovations offered a whole lot more:

  • Quick launch, which makes it easy to find transactions, WD applications, and third-party content…
  • New, browser-like navigation…
  • Role-based…
  • Side panels…
  • POWLs (introduced in EHP2)…

The user experience in the Business Suite was transformed from this:

to this:

So, even users predominantly working with SAP GUI transactions mostly have a better overall user experience and became more productive. This is why NWBC for Desktop has replaced SAP GUI for Windows as the standard client for the Business Suite.

I said “mostly”. There are still some reasons for choosing SAP GUI standalone:

    Do you mainly use Business Suite transactions / applications (eg VA01, FD01, MM03)? -> NWBC


    Do you work mainly with Basis / NetWeaver transactions (eg SE80, SU01, PFCG)? -> SAP GUI standalone.

    (The innovations I've mentioned above are mainly for Suite transactions, not NetWeaver).

Are your users working on Mac / Linux?

NWBC is tied very strongly to Internet Explorer and Windows Desktop. You can use NWBC for HTML plus SAP GUI for HTML, but these are intended for occasional, not everyday use. Therefore, for expert users on non-Windows operating systems, we strongly recommend SAP GUI for Java.

What about SAP Screen Personas?

SAP Screen Personas and NWBC work together:

(In Personas 2, there was one caveat. THis will be resolved in Personas 3.0 in the near future: In Personas 3.0, we moved more of the processing into the ERP server away from the browser. This  means that any rendering engine has access to the Personas resources – flavors, themes, etc.

=>  any screens you edit in Web GUI  can be rendered in any flavour of SAP GUI - SAP GUI for Windows (SAP GUI), SAP GUI for HTML (Web GUI), SAP GUI for Java (Java GUI). For more details on this, see Peter Spielvogel's blog:

SAP Screen Personas 3.0 Is Generally Available, including Service Pack 1

(Note: This feature is partially available since Service Pack One for Personas 3.0; it will be fully supported in a future patch level of SAP GUI for Windows).

(The issue with Personas 2.0 is described in more detail here: How Personas 2.0 and NWBC Work Together.)

What about performance?

Before you start implementing NWBC, read SAP Library: 8 Performance Aspects . In brief:

Logon is a one-off process over the lifetime of the running NWBC. Standard authentication processes are used for any other HTTP access to the server, for example, by Web Dynpro ABAP, BSP, and so on. Logon is very much influenced by the form of authentication used, for example, form-based authentication versus digital certificates. The logon is standard ABAP and not NWBC-specific.

Desktop Shell : NWBC for Desktop is a program running completely on the local client computer. On startup, it retrieves the navigation tree from the PFCG store with a few HTTP requests. After this, the shell has no further contact to the server, but caches the complete navigation tree on the client.

After logon: NWBC does not change the performance behavior of the contained applications. The application footprint is the same as if it were running in a standalone scenario.

So your options look roughly like this:

NWBC versus SAP NetWeaver Portal

To make this decision, there are two main considerations:

1. What does your end users do for a living – what do they want to achieve at work? That is:

Do they work mainly on Business Suite systems, with business transactions or applications? YES -> NWBC


Do they require a “Portal” – ie an online store, Intranet, or Extranet?

2. What does your system landscape look like:

Do you have a homogeneous landscape - mainly ABAP and on Premise? YES -> NWBC


Do you have a heterogeneous system landscape:

    • Java
    • non-SAP
    • Support for Cloud, including Success Factors, Ariba, Hybris, Concur etc
    • Support for Mobile?

YES -> SAP NetWeaver Portal

NOTE: "Support for Cloud" = support for consuming genuine Cloud applications, eg from Success Factors - ie public cloud. Since HEC is a private managed cloud, the situation is slightly different. I am currently clarifying this situation.

3. Do you use SRM as an integration hub for other backend systems?

In general SRM - including OBN - works with NWBC for Desktop or HTML. However, if you use SRM as an integration hub and then navigate to a remote system, then OBN will NOT work within the remote system.

So your options look roughly like this:

NWBC 5.0 AND SAP Business Client 6.0 and Fiori Integration

Yes at last.

NWBC / SAP BC supports Fiori Integration.

There are 2 questions to answer here:

1. Which Fiori client should I use to consume Fiori apps? Ie should I be using NWBC / SAP BC at all?

2. IF I decide to use the Business Client, which version - 5.0 or 6.0?

I should say at this point: We changed the name; in version 6.0, we dropped "NetWeaver" - in line with lots of other products, eg SAP Portal, SAP Gateway etc. So the new version = "SAP Business Client 6.0" (SAP BC 6.0); the old version = "SAP NetWeaver Business Client 5.0 (NWBC 5.0)".

Let's take each question in turn.

1. Which client should I use to consume Fiori content?

Our overall UI client strategy is pretty clear: In the medium term, Fiori Launchpad will be our UI client over multiple platforms and devices, available in four flavors:

Mobile Client: I won’t say much about the Mobile client; there is plenty of good info here:

SAP Fiori - Mobilizing Steps 

There is also some information in the UX Explorer.

Browser: I won’t say much either about consuming Fiori Launchpad standalone in a browser. This is perfectly legitimate; but it means that you are consuming your Fiori experience separately from all your other SAP UI technologies.

So, if you want to combine multiple SAP UI technologies in one, integrated experience, you have two options: SAP BC or SAP Enterprise Portal.

Which one is better for you?

Well, this really depends where you are now, or what you plan to do in the near future, and the criteria are similar to those above in When to Use NWBC - NWBC and Portal

The main advantage of SAP BC 6.0 is that you can launch SAP GUI for Windows native transactions straight from the Fiori Launchpad. (By default, other clients launch SAP GUI for HTML ("Webgui") .)


Are you mainly an ABAP, on-Premise, transactional, Business Suite expert user -> YES -> SAP BC

Otherwise -> Portal (as above)

2. Should I user SAP BC 6.0 or NWBC 5.0?

Well, if you are a "greenfield" customer, ie you don't have a version of the Business Client yet (eg if you run SAP GUI standalone), then it's simple: You install the newest version, ie SAP BC 6.0.

If you want to integrate SAP Fiori Launchpad in the Business Client, like this:

...then you must have SAP BC 6.0 (along with UI add-on 2.0 SPS01 or SAP_UI 750 SP01).

If you already run NWBC 5.0, and if you only want to integrate individual Fiori apps from the Index Page, like this:

... then NWBC 5.0 will support you (PL7 or later.)

(Why wouldn't you upgrade immediately, since the new version is available? Well, some of our larger customers schedule upgrades - eg every 6 months, so they may not be ready to upgrade yet - we will support these customers.)

Just fyi: Both versions are supported until January 2018. For more information on support, see  SAP Note 2302074 - Maintenance strategy and deadlines for SAP Business Client / NWBC .

SAP Business Client and S/4HANA (on-premise edition)

Yes, is the short answer.

The longer answer is clear, I think, if you look at the main supported UI technologies in S/4HANA:

- SAPUI5 for SAP Fiori (the preferred option, where possible)

- FPM / Web Dynpro ABAP (as a transition technology for Desktop applications)

- SAP GUI transactions (we almost certainly won't be developing any new transactions, and we don't recommend that anyone else does so; however, there are some SAP GUI transactions still in use in S/4HANA.)

These UI technologies are in fact the main use cases for SAP BC.

Yes, in a word: SAP BC supports S/4HANA - provided it's on-premise:

With S/4HANA, Cloud edition, you consume your applications from a Fiori Launchpad in the browser: it does not currently support a local client (eg there is no VPN option).

SAP NetWeaver Business Client and Other Clients

What about the other use cases of NWBC? Can I use it to consume Portal applications / CRM / BI applications etc, or should I use the dedicated client? Generally, this is the easiest to answer:

Do your end users work mainly (80-90%) in NWBC, but require occasional access to these applications? YES -> NWBC


Do your end users work mainly in the applications, but require occasional access to standard ERP applications (generally SAP GUI transactions or Web Dynpro ABAP)? YES - Ideally, dedicated client ; otherwise see below

UPDATE: There is, however, a third option: If you want to provide one, single point of access to SAP systems, AND you want to offer end users all the advantages of the dedicated client, then you can configure PFCG to open the dedicated in a new window, from the NWBC index page.

In brief, you embed a URL to the dedicated client in a PFCG role - specifying "Launch Application = Standalone"

For more details, see the SAP Library documentation: 5.5 Navigation Tree.

So your options at present look like this:


This is the current state of affairs with our UI clients. Please let me know what information would be of most use. Also, once you have decided which client is right for you, you can see which UI technologies you can consume in NWBC in the big list blog: