What is the SAP GUI
Every business software needs an interface for the presentation of data and interaction with users. SAP solves this via SAP GUI.
SAP GUI: The graphical user interface at a glance
In addition to a definition of terms, we deal extensively on this page with the technical background, history, functions and integration options of the SAP Graphical User Interface (GUI).
What is SAP GUI?
SAP GUI (SAP Graphical User Interface) is the name for the graphical user interface of a SAP system. It is necessary so that users can interact directly with the SAP software. At the same time, the SAP GUI is also a program that is installed locally on end devices. This receives data from the application server and displays it in a familiar visual form.
The SAP GUI user interface is called in Windows environments via SAP Logon. This is a program that is used to log on to SAP systems. SAP Logon lists all available systems. The user selects the desired system by double-clicking. SAP Logon then automatically connects to the server that currently has the best response time.
Alternatively, the SAP GUI interface can also be called up in the browser. It is completely written in the programming languages C and C ++. In addition, there are platform-independent versions (Java), HTML implementations and variants for mobile devices (details in the section “Which implementations of SAP GUI are possible?).
What is the concept behind SAP GUI?
Classic SAP systems are structured according to the so-called three-tier architecture, which is composed as follows:
- Data storage layer (also: back-end, database layer, data server)
- Logic layer (also: application server, business layer)
- Presentation layer (also: front-end)
In this multi-level client-server model, the SAP GUI represents the presentation layer. It is therefore solely responsible for the interaction with users and the presentation of content. There are other layers for data management and application logic.
The presentation layer and logic layer are separated primarily for performance reasons. The aim is to keep the load on the application server low by outsourcing the computing load for screen display to the users' local end devices. The central server does not have to deal with the complex screen display of SAP systems, but only has to provide data.
Which functionalities does the SAP Graphical User Interface contain?
The SAP GUI provides several functionalities for the visual adaptation of the user interface. Many settings can be made by the users themselves, while others are defined by administrators.
The SAP Graphical User Interface is delivered with predefined themes that control the color, the contrast and the display of symbols, buttons and labels. Companies decide for themselves whether they specify a specific theme or whether they allow users to select or adjust the visual details of the GUI. A uniform theme is recommended, as it prevents irritation and thus also facilitates user support. SAP regularly updates its standard themes to provide adapted and modern interfaces.
In addition to the appearance, certain display values of the SAP GUI can also be configured. For example, the display of technical designations (e.g. document types) can be switched on and off. You can also define individual suggested values or default settings for certain input fields.
ABAP developers can use the SAP GUI to store their preferred debugger approach and to configure the so-called Pretty Printer (tool for writing code). With the help of SAP Screen Personas (available since 2012), users without programming knowledge can adapt their screens (dynpros) to individual needs. The GuiXT tool has been available in "SAP GUI for Windows" since 1998 and also enables screens to be adapted.
What are dynpros?
Dynpros are program components that ABAP applications use to communicate with users via the SAP GUI. Screens of a dynpro can contain a set of standard elements or so-called GUI controls. A distinction must be made between the following types of screens with which the familiar SAP interfaces are structured:
- General screens
- Selection screens
How can the SAP GUI version be determined?
The local installation of the SAP GUI has the disadvantage that current or uniform versions are not always available on the client computers. However, especially in the case of security gaps, it is important to apply updates across the board. User support also benefits from the same version status. This leads to the question of how the SAP GUI version can be determined.
At the user's workstation, a click on the SAP Logon Pad is sufficient. In the menu there is the entry "About SAP Logon", with which both the release and the version of the SAP GUI can be queried. However, the central determination of all SAP GUI versions is more important. Unfortunately, the SAP standard does not offer this option. Companies therefore have to create their own reports that log the version when users log in. Alternatively, the current version of the SAP GUI can of course also be installed using software distribution methods.
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Which implementations of SAP GUI are possible?
The SAP GUI is mainly used in conjunction with Microsoft Windows; however, other implementations exist. This means that the user interface can also be used in browsers, Java environments and on mobile devices such as tablets. The individual variants sometimes differ significantly, which is why we would like to take a closer look at them below.
SAP GUI for Windows
SAP GUI has been available for Microsoft Windows since the early 1990s. It is therefore the oldest implementation of the SAP graphical user interface that is still used most frequently today. Access is via the SAP Logon, which the user uses to select the desired system. In the second step, the interface shows a mask in which the user must enter the desired client, their user name and password in order to log in.
Over time, SAP kept releasing new SAP GUI versions for Windows every few years. In some cases, this was accompanied by considerable changes. It should be noted in this context that GUI versions are only compatible with old and new SAP releases for a limited time. Support from SAP ends at a defined point in time, which is why updates should be installed promptly.
In the first version, the SAP GUI did not contain any graphic elements such as radio buttons, icons or checkboxes. However, adjustments were made quickly. The following were key milestones in the development of SAP GUI for Windows:
- 1996: Introduction of a Windows 95 look (flat buttons, tabs, list windows)
- 2000: Extensive redesign of the surface (contemporary look, multiple work surfaces, improved clarity)
- 2007: Introduction of a Windows Vista look (integration of Microsoft Office 2007 features, new ABAP front-end editor)
- 2010: New Logon Pad, support for Office 2010 and Windows 7
- 2012: Support for Windows 8
- 2014: Support for Windows 10, introduction of the "Blue Crystal Theme" (based on the Fiori look)
- 2017: Introduction of "Fiori 2.0 Visual Theme for Classical Applications"
- 2019: SAP GUI 7.60, introduction of the Belize theme (alignment of existing Web Dynpro ABAP applications to the Fiori design)
With the latest version (SAP GUI 7.60), SAP would like to guarantee a uniform user experience for all SAP products. The Enjoy theme that has been in use for years is no longer applicable and is being replaced by "Belize". The SAP Logon Pad is also displayed with the Belize visualization. Another technical innovation of the SAP GUI for Windows is that the saplogon.ini format is no longer supported. In the past it was responsible for establishing the connection to the SAP system and was replaced with version 7.60 by the new "SAP UI Landscape" format.
SAP GUI for non-Windows systems (Java implementation)
SAP GUI has also been available for Java environments since 2007. This programming language is ideal for platform-independent use. "SAP GUI for Java" is used on several non-Windows systems. These include, for example, Apple Mac OS X, Sun Solaris, various Linux distributors and AIX.
SAP GUI for Web Browser (HTML)
SAP GUI for mobile devices
SAP GUI in the classic sense does not exist for mobile devices. Rather, SAP and SAP partners offer numerous native apps for smartphones and tablets. Mobile apps based on SAP Fiori and HTML5 technology are also available and can be operated using any browser.
SAP Fiori in particular plays an important role in interface design. It provides the most frequently used functionalities of the SAP Business Suite both on the desktop and on the move. Thanks to responsive design, the apps adapt to different screen sizes. All common operating system platforms and browsers are supported.
SAP integration in Microsoft Office applications
Another option for accessing SAP is the "Duet" software. It emerged from a cooperation between Microsoft and SAP. The aim was to integrate the software products of both providers. With the help of Duet it is possible to access certain SAP functions from Office applications.
Outlook for SAP GUI: User experience is continuously improving
The introduction of SAP S / 4HANA goes hand in hand with a clear objective: SAP is not only becoming faster, but also visually more appealing and simpler. In the course of this, the traditional SAP GUI will be replaced by the modern HTML5 Fiori interfaces. For the first time in the history of SAP interfaces, the focus is clearly on the user experience (UX). The new UI technology is based on the advantageous properties of apps that users are familiar with from the private sector: intuitive usability, simplification of the interface and restriction to the essentials.
In addition to classic operation using the mouse and double-click, the trend in the area of SAP user interfaces is moving towards voice-based operation. Corresponding language assistants are already available today and are continuously being further developed by SAP. With SAP Fiori 3, SAP is also bringing artificial intelligence into play. An algorithm presents users with the information and business events that they need to take care of. The system then provides recommendations for action and learns from the decisions made by the user.
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