iViews Bring Master Data into the Portal (Part 2)

Part 1

The Java-based interfaces of the SAP NetWeaver MDM server, called Java APIs, create the connection between an SAP NetWeaver MDM repository and the SAP NetWeaver Portal component. The interfaces are joined with the SAP NetWeaver MDM connector, which you must install on the SAP NetWeaver Application Server component, the runtime environment for the portal. The SAP NetWeaver MDM connector enables configuration of the connection with the administrative interface of SAP NetWeaver Portal.
You must create a system object and an alias for each SAP NetWeaver MDM repository in SAP NetWeaver Portal. The system object represents exactly one repository in the portal environment.
Coupling the portal to a repository also requires user mapping. One user of SAP NetWeaver MDM is assigned to one user of SAP NetWeaver Portal or several users of SAP NetWeaver MDM are assigned to a portal role. The assignments are visible to the portal and to SAP NetWeaver MDM in a common LDAP directory. Because each iView that is displayed in the portal is linked to exactly one system object, you can access individual repositories over the portal interface.

Exchanging data with eventing

When users with the appropriate role and authorization log on to the portal, iViews give them exactly the functionality they need for their work. For example, a user with the role of “business expert” can modify customer, vendor, product, and employee master data, but cannot create new data records.
But if business experts – purchasing agents, for example – want to know which of a company’s vendors start with the letters ABE, they can simply use the portal to search for the related data in the repository that contains the vendor master data. Such users need only two iViews on a portal page. They use the search text iView to define the search criteria and start the search. Another iView returns the results and displays the appropriate vendors. Information from master data records is displayed at the field level.
iViews – like search text and result search – are configured to integrate with each other automatically. The eventing technology of SAP NetWeaver Portal enables iViews to exchange data with each other. And SAP NetWeaver Portal can also limit the interaction between iViews on a portal page. This concept of selective interaction is appropriate when information should be redirected only to specific iViews.

Information from repositories with a click

You can also use SAP NetWeaver Portal to configure and perform complex repository and cross-application search scenarios. For example, employees in the purchasing department need more than just product information; they also need to know which vendors supply the products. They must therefore query the repositories that contain the product and vendor master data in tandem.

EPCF Repositories and Portal Integration
EPCF Repositories and Portal Integration

Based on the product number and description, the search result iView displays an overview of all available 19-inch flat-screen monitors on the portal page. To display detailed information along with the product master data on a given vendor, an additional iView, item detail, is required to query the vendor repository. SAP NetWeaver Portal creates the connection with the resulting iView. It places a field, “vendor details,” with the corresponding link in the resulting iView. The iView event builder of the framework defines the related parameters for the queries, such as “vendor name,” “vendor number,” and “address data,” along with the target of the query (the item iView for the vendor). When users click on the “vendor details” link, the portal page displays the vendor information along with the product information.

Checking stock levels with mapping

Let’s say that an employee in the purchasing department now wants to see how many 19-inch monitors are actually in stock along with the product details. With this knowledge, the employee can order replenishments on time and avoid delivery bottlenecks. In this case, the query about the product master data in the repository must be linked to an availability check in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) back end. Stock levels are not master data and are not found in a SAP NetWeaver MDM repository. The query could run with a BAPI; IViews do not allow BAPI-based queries of back-end systems. SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer comes into play here. It easily creates and models Web-based applications. Even previously described queries in back-end systems (like SAP ERP) can be realized with coupling with an appropriate BAPI. Models created by SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer can then be displayed on a portal page as an iView.
The result set iView creates the appropriate parameters for the back-end query, such as the availability check for monitors in the warehouse. You use SAP NetWeaver Portal to create a field for the availability check in the search result iView. A link to the field is attached, and additional parameters for the query are created in the ERP system. When a user clicks on the availability check link, the query starts in the ERP back end. The product ID for the search in the ERP system, which is stored in the product number field of an iView, is automatically mapped to the material number field in a SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer iView. The software then transfers the query to a BAPI, which uses the material number to check to see how many 19-inch monitors are in stock. The result is returned to the SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer iView and displayed on the portal page along with the product details.
It’s easy to imagine other portal-based scenarios. For example, the open catalog interface (OCI) protocol can integrate shopping-cart functions with iViews and link them to OCI-compatible applications like SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SAP SRM). You could use SAP SRM to search an SAP NetWeaver MDM repository just like you search through a catalog, select the required products or materials there, put them into a shopping cart, and order them.

Dr. Andreas Schaffry
Dr. Andreas Schaffry