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author's profile photo Philippe Addor

SAP CPI Usability-Improvements Bucket List

I am more and more working in SAP CPI (Cloud Platform Integration), and am wondering why on earth the usability is still so poor, compared to other professional web apps, and compared to what I would check-off as one of the first things on the "quick wins list" when designing and building a user interface.

The worst thing first:

- The Edit button (actually it's just a text link): It only appears on the main view of the iFlow. Don't make the mistake to open an iFlow and directly open a script in order to edit it. You will come to realization that in the script editor (which is still not much more than a text area where you tediously format your code and hope that everything is syntactically correct...) there isn't any Edit button whatsoever! So you need to close the script in order to reopen it and then edit it. Most probably easy to implement on a Friday afternoon, but hasn't been done in all the (few) years that CPI now exists. Am I the only one to be trapped and annoyed about this all the times?

And we go on:

- Session timeouts: Why the heck does CPI kick me out of the session like seemingly every 10 minutes or so, while similar web apps like Google Cloud Engine (or just Gmail for that matter), keep me logged in at least for days if not longer? Worse, if I have been editing a script that hasn't been saved yet when that happened (during the coffee or Groovy study break etc.), after a fresh log-in (at least I don't have to enter my password anymore, just refresh the page - so what's the point anyway of the log-out?) the script is gone and some error about not found resources greets me (lucky who wisely copied the script to the clipboard before clicking the save link when coming back after a break).

- Talking about log-in/out:

  1. I have two s-user accounts with access to the same Cloud Platform Tenant. Sometimes I am logged in with the wrong one. So I'd like to check what user it is that I used to log-in in that browser window. It took me a long time to find the probably only way to do so: Hover the mouse pointer over the round "head button" in the top right corner. The tooltip reveals the username. In the menu itself - no hint to the username, which otherwise is pretty standard for web apps.
  2. Before I found out how to find the logged in user, I logged out using the according menu entry in order to be able to re-login with the correct account. This is often pretty funny too. Sometimes, after a myriad of redirects (what kind of weird self-built authentication mechanism did SAP actually come up with for their cloud applications?) I end up on an ugly blank page with just "You have been logged out" and a login link on it. So far so acceptable. But worse, often SAP proudly presents me an even uglier page with a large bold "403 access forbidden" written over a wide gray bar across the screen. I concluded that the behavior depends on the mood of the SAP servers in that particular moment...

- And the last one for now: The journey to open an Iflow after logging-in to CPI: 1. Go to Design Mode (click), 2. open your package (click), 3. choose the Artifacts tab (click), 4. open the Iflow (click), 5. Enter the edit mode (click). That's five clicks!! In PI/PO, I do the same with one double-click in NWDS (select the iflow from the list by double clicking it - start working).

Enough for this Friday! :-) Whoever feels like adding more, please go ahead. Maybe we can collect a list of improvement requests and hand them over to SAP (or hope that somebody responsible reads this). I'm sure though that I'm not the first one listing these (or similar) flaws. At least it's hard to imagine.

To be fair, I also have to give credits to SAP for their continuous improvement of CPI/Cloud Platform. I can understand that the points listed by me are not high priority improvements for the developers and product managers at SAP. However, given the high price tag of the licences and the fact that usability is the showcase of software that their users look at every day and that shapes their image of the software supplier, I hope SAP will put more attention to such details (that are often even quick-wins, as said above).

Kinds Regards,

Philippe

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6 Comments

  • Jun 12, 2020 at 12:16 PM

    Hello Philippe

    Thanks for your feedback.

    By the way, for the session timeout and losing your work, this has been enhanced by providing an auto-save feature, which saves your work on a regular interval and if your browser is closed or crashes, you dont loose you work. You can find the details of the feature in the documentation: https://help.sap.com/viewer/368c481cd6954bdfa5d0435479fd4eaf/Cloud/en-US/db10bebf11fe4dc48bd97d2c4011485c.html?q=auto%20save

    We are constantly working towards improving the UX of CPI and look forward to closer collaboration with the end users of our product. I would request you to post you feedback to this influence session: https://webinars.sap.com/sap-user-groups-k4u/en/ifgintegration#200630, since this is the official channel to collect feedback and prioritize the requirements.

    Regards

    Finny

    • Jun 14, 2020 at 09:10 AM

      Hi Finny

      Thank you for your prompt answer! I noticed the auto-save feature, but it apparently doesn't always work reliably. This is hard to reproduce though, so I can't tell more but will observe it in case it happens again... In any case, I hope there are ways to improve session handling in the future. It shouldn't be necessary to reload the page after a session timeout, instead, I hope the re-connection would be transparent for the user.

      Regarding the influence session: It is not clear to me from the linked page how I could post a suggestion. Will there be an interactive part in the webinar where I'm supposed to post my feedback?

      Regards

      Philippe

      • Jun 18, 2020 at 09:10 AM

        Hello Philippe

        I see that you have already posted a requirement in the influence session. Please add all your requirements there.

        Regards

        Finny

  • Jun 13, 2020 at 05:07 PM

    Hi Philippe,

    beauty is in the eye of beholder they say and i'm not familiar with the 'iFlow' but very much so with getting kicked out from the browser sessions. while there's definitely a room for improvement, i think, they main reason for not letting users locking the sessions is that SAP are dependent on the hyperscalers like GCP, so it makes perfect sense to me not to pay for resources just sitting idle there, however virtual and cloud they are. being secure and open and the same time is a very fine line to walk and cloud have made it even finer.

    Enjoy your weekend,

    greg

    • Jun 14, 2020 at 09:16 AM

      Hi Misiorek

      Thanks for the feedback. I totally agree with you about the beauty question. But my points where mainly about user experience (ease of use) and not about visual beauty.

      Good point regarding the resources. That might be a reason. However, I would still expect a more user friendly and "modern" way of session handling, as known from many other web apps. As far as I know, a session can be put to sleep if no interaction happens by the user, and in this time it shouldn't consume computing resources. But I'm not in the position to fully asses this in this case.

      Philippe

  • Jun 14, 2020 at 09:49 PM

    There is an opportunity to influence the priorities of upcoming improvements on SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite through the "Customer Influence" portal : https://influence.sap.com/sap/ino/#/campaign/2282

    It might be interesting to see what other people are requesting, perhaps supporting by Upvoting or introducing some things of your own ...


    Kind regards

    Nic T.

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