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Tuesday, October 23

Implementing of an External facing portal- Things to remember

As already known to us that SAP EP is a central point of access to resources of the company be it structured information or unstructured documents. So basically it collaborates all the people and information of the company on single user interface. Using SAP EP, it is also possible to collaborate or to work with people who are not within the company or who are not employees of the company. These people can be vendors or partners. This is possible by using an external facing portal. Yes, it is possible to project SAP EP as web site. By doing this, standard functions of the browser become applicable to SAP EP also. Just to give an example, user can navigate back and forth using the Back and forward buttons of the browser.

Few of the nice features that can be used while implementing such a portal are Ajax Framework page (AFP), Light Framework Page (LFP), Resource sensitive page builder, JSP Tag libraries, Navigation cache and quick links. We will discuss about each of these features in brief in this blog post.

Ajax Framework page :
This page is based on the Ajax technology. We know that portal or SAP EP runs on portal server that is SAP WAS or web application server. We also know that the user interface of portal consists of masthead, Top level navigation, detailed level navigation and then the main portal area where portal applications or web dynpro applications or applications built using various technologies are shown. Now it may happen that the portal is left idle for sometime and then after an hour or so the user clicks on a link in the TLN or DLN. Guess what will happen ?
 The browser will show a page saying “page has expired” or “session time out etc” ? The answer is NO. All the standard components of user interface of SAP EP will remain intact ie the masthead, TLN, DLN etc will remain in which ever condition they were. And the action of click on a link on the DLN or TLN or anywhere on the UI of portal will start appropriate navigation. This is AJAX technology. And such a page built using AJAX technology is called Ajax framework page. This improves server scalability, speeds up navigation, and enhances the user experience.

Light Framework Page :
Light framework page is shipped with standard SAP EP installation. Light framework page does not contain many frames as the standard one contains (masthead, top level navigation, detailed navigation). It is single frame page. This is why it uses less resources to render portal content. It does not use HTMLB and client side eventing. The EPCFLevel property is set to 0 in portalapp.xml file when using external facing portals. For light framework page, light content is developed in portal content studio. So basically light iviews are created. Light iviews do not use HTMLB. The users of external facing portal are anonymous users. They are stored in the company’s user store. Portal administrator can assign roles to these anonymous users. Anonymous users can additionally register themselves on the portal to get access to more portal content. Heavy content like web dynpro views and KM iviews etc should not be displayed on a external facing portal else the performance of the portal will be pathetically slow.

Quick Links:
To each navigation node in portal, a quick link can be assigned. Quick link is nothing but a direct URL to the navigation node. For example, there is a navigation node called “Ticketbooking” within the portal. Quick link for this navigation node will be

Navigation Cache:
Navigation cache should be turned on after the installation of SAP EP. This caches the navigation hierarchies and navigation nodes. So when a user navigates to a particular iview or page, corresponding navigation node is stored in the cache. And when another user having same role logs in, his navigation to the cached nodes is quicker. This is recommended in a external facing portal implementation.

related posts:
Knowledge management component of SAP Enterprise portal
Implementing external facing portal
Creation of custom navigation connector
Navigation in sap enterprise portal
Trust between sap ep and backend system