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Examining SAP Portals

This tip answers some common questions about SAP Portal.

Several people have emailed me with questions regarding SAP Portal. In this tip, I will answer some of the most common and try to help you gain a perspective on this product.

1. Does SAP Portal function with Internet Explorer 6.0?
Yes, Portal does work with IE 6.0. I have had the best luck with service pack 1. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Netscape. Unless you seriously limit your portal functionality, IE is the only option right now.

2. Should I use the Portal Development Kit (PDK) for development of applications for SAP Portal?
Absolutely. The PDK is a great way to build portal applications locally that can be easily deployed on a Portals server.

3. What Java IDE is recommended to use for development? There is information for Borland JBuilder and Eclipse. What versions of JBuilder are supported by plugin?
SAP is currently moving to exclusive PDK support on Eclipse, the open source development environment. JBuilder 6 appears to be the last release that will have a PDK plugin. JBuilder 7 currently does not and SAP has made it clear that it will likely not produce one.

4. I have noted some incompatibilities between PDK and SAP Portal. For example, calls from one iView to another function with PDK and not with SAP Portal. Can it be a problem with my setup? How can I fix it?
Yes, there are some differences between local PDK and Portal server deployment. However, this often has to do with the actual portlet deployment configuration and not the iView, itself. Make sure that the deployment configuration on both the local and server side are the same.

5. Should I mix HTMLb and HTML?
You can mix the two, but you may run into customization problems. HTML and HTMLb, despite the similarities in name, function under two very different programming paradigms. HTML is a mark-up language, designed strictly to format existing data in a more legible format. HTMLb is actually a series of Java tag libraries that emulate the look of HTML tags but are actually Java function calls on the application server. Depending on the skill level of your user-interface developers, you may want to stick with strict HTMLb, training those programmers to build front ends using these emulation tags. If you have Java proficiency, you may want a mix of HTML, HTMLb, and embedded Java. However, mixing it up like this can make future programmers really have to work to change the application.

6. Should I have more than one JSP per iView, allowing navigation between them?
Yes, using multiple JSPs in an iView allows a more comprehensive view of your data. It also distributes data logically across multiple pages rather than cramming it into a single iView. The PDK provides guidelines for building JSP Dynpro pages that demonstrate how to use the Portal Java extensions for navigation between JSPs in an iView.

Keep sending in the questions and I will try to answer as many as possible in upcoming tips.

Author Austin Sincock is a freelance Java/SAP consultant who contributes regularly to Web and print journals. He can be reached at Check out his upcoming book Enterprise Java for SAP

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