The SAP Fiori Launchpad concept has gone through four different versions in its relatively short history. The four Launchpad versions are each tied to a different SAPUI5 version for the front-end Launchpad code and an SAP NetWeaver ABAP UI, HANA, SAP NetWeaver Portal or Cloud Portal version for back-end services. And some back-end versions support multiple front-end versions.
Of these four versions of the SAP Fiori Launchpad, Front-End Server (FES) 1.0 and FES 2.0 are implementations of the older Fiori 1.0 concept. In contrast, FES 3.0 and FES 4.0 implement the newer Fiori 2.0 design concept, which incorporates such desirable features as notifications and enhanced and personalized navigation, variations of the grey-blue Belize theme that is applied to all the apps that run in the Launchpad, and a longer maintenance window of support from SAP.
You need these newer versions of the SAP Fiori Launchpad if you want your applications to take advantage of the features, SAPUI5 version and APIs provided on both the back and front end. The difference in UI5 versions is the primary differentiator between the versions of the Launchpad with regard to the ability of applications to run in the Launchpad.
The figure shows the version requirements. For example, if an application requires SAPUI5 version 1.44 or higher, then you must use FES 3.0 or higher. Newer versions of UI5 provide many important features, including additional controls, layouts like the Flexible Column Layout, and Fiori Elements templates and features.
Using services introduced in later versions of the Front-End Server may also require a specific version of the Launchpad. Services such as the Gateway Notification Channel or SAP CoPilot may be required or desirable for some types of applications, and they may require FES 3.0 or greater. For a comprehensive view of the new features delivered with each version and support pack of the Launchpad, it is best to consult the FES 4.0 SP00 release notes.
From a user-facing perspective, the differences between the Launchpad in FES 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 are all fairly substantial and require change management and training during the rollout of a new Launchpad version, though each interface will be mostly familiar to users of the previous one. The difference between the Launchpad in FES 3.0 and FES 4.0 is less substantial, and while due diligence in user training is advisable, users are less likely to need substantial training.
In all likelihood, a new FES version will be released along with the next maintenance release of SAPUI5 after SAPUI5 1.52. As with all updates to SAP Fiori and UI5, SAP advises customers to do their best to upgrade to the most recent version. Given the current maintenance release and version release schedule, this means planning to update your SAP Fiori Launchpad version at least every two years.
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