Keeping Track of the Software Development

Feature Article | November 29, 2006 by admin

Getronics PinkRoccade

Getronics PinkRoccade

With approximately 10,500 employees, Getronics PinkRoccade is the market leader in the Netherlands for ICT Services. The software vendor enables constant and secure access to the information required from any location. The portfolio of development, integration and hosting of business solutions addresses global enterprises as well as local businesses. Based upon SAP NetWeaver, Getronics PinkRoccade developed a complete new family of software products for local governments – especially with the help of two key components: SAP NetWeaver Application Server (SAP NetWeaver AS) and the SAP NetWeaver development infrastructure, installed as usage type DI.
SAP NetWeaver AS provides tools for model-driven, service-oriented Java development. The SAP NetWeaver development infrastructure on the other hand handles all processes in the software life cycle – from product creation, to setup of the development landscapes and testing, and to assembly and deployment of the software. The infrastructure, integrated with SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio, synchronizes the work of the development teams. In the process, software development is based on SAP’s component model, which defines reusable components that form the applications in different layers.

Central availability of sources

Component Hierarchy

Component Hierarchy

The SAP NetWeaver development infrastructure makes both sources and archives centrally available to an development team. Although one database can store all objects, logical storage locations separate the product states. Therefore, access to different states can be filtered and avoid any accidental use of the incorrect version. All dependencies on all levels are well-defined. Each development component (DC) project contains its interfaces and its dependencies in its metadata, the coding itself is not affected. This information is read by the development infrastructure to control the build processes. Multiple items are validated: are all users of other components defined and are they available in a good state?
Other DCs that depend on the one built first are rebuilt automatically – this allows to let developers decide when to build their DCs instead of waiting for a complete build of the whole application. In the next step, the new software components (SCs), units of delivery and installation which gather DCs into functional groups, are assembled and tested to become ready for the use in productive runtime systems, the use in the next software layer or as the basis for the new release. All these processes – check-in of required objects, imports during development and consolidation, and deployment into the production system – are modeled one-to-one in the transport studio of SAP NetWeaver. “Tracks” define the development environments for the development teams. That gives the administrator perfect and separate control of all projects. Developing applications as reusable units in a consistent environment following a clearly defined process is more efficient and significantly lowers development and maintenances costs.

The “CiVision” product family

Getronics PinkRoccade already has delivered several products based on SAP NetWeaver to the market: the “CiVision Event Permit” application allows citizens to request permission to hold public events. The “CiVision Addresses and Buildings” application registers the origin of addresses used by a municipality; the midoffice ”CiVision Publiekszaken” application handles all the data flowing between a municipality’s Web site and the SAP R/3 back-office and vice versa automatically. ”The sales of our SAP-based products exceed our expectations,” says Ronald Spoor, Director Operations, Sector Local Government, Getronics PinkRoccade. “The SAP NetWeaver development infrastructure has been a decisive win in helping us create the new software product family ‘CiVision’.”
The product architecture “CiVision” features a user interface (UI) based on Web Dynpro and Java running in SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Portal. The interface connects the user with an ABAP back-end system. Part of the functionality handles all the requests from a municipality’s Web site. The midoffice application generates a high volume of such requests and transmits them to legacy applications and applications running on an ABAP stack. Getronics PinkRoccade built these applications by using Web Dynpro Java and some new business logics and persistency based upon ABAP.

Consistent application development

The architecture of the CiVision products is structured in layers, with intense reuse of middle and basis layers by the application layer on top. The basis layer contains software components (SC) developed by Getronics PinkRoccade and those delivered by SAP: It contains all the technical features that are reused by all other components. The second horizontal layer consists of two components that contain the common functional features that are reused by the components built on top of the horizontal layers. The third layer is made up of all applications built for a specific functional purpose.

SAP Component Model

SAP Component Model

Using that structure, the administrator sets up the development environment for each layer, which defines the development systems for the creation of each release. After one layer’s release, the results serve as starting point for the next layer. The entire process is aligned with the SAP component model. All objects are created in the context of this model and all steps – from setting up the development landscape to the transports of software from development to testing and delivery – occur in one centrally hosted environment. The environment’s features include source code control, central build and archives management, and central landscape and transport administration. It allows perfect separation of code lines of different products in a single SAP NetWeaver development infrastructure – even for different releases – and creates an option to ship sources, allow modifications, and even merge them with support packages later on.
Work in all layers followed the same process. The team gained immediate access to the central development environment. By sharing access to the centrally stored object versions – both sources and archives – relevant for the project, the team developed new functionality on top of the existing layers. Developers could always access up-to-date objects in a consistent state. “They were able to find all objects in the development configuration they loaded into their integrated development environment (IDE). And they explicitly put the structure of their application into their projects. This significantly boosts reuse and makes changes and maintenance more predictable.”

More transparency and control

The benefits of the new development process appear even in small teams. However, the bigger the team the bigger the gain – especially if the team is spread over different locations. The teams’ work can be integrated to synchronize the independent release states and to define the layers and the reuse of components of a complete application. Administration of development becomes much easier with clearly defined roles for transport and landscape administration. Administrators have a central point of view. “We are in full control of all development projects with the SAP NetWeaver development infrastructure and have been able to shorten our time to market dramatically,” explains Spoor. “The layered development, change management, and software logistics features are strong and unique in the market. This really helps us keep track of our development, delivery, and maintenance tasks at an affordable cost and with reasonable effort,” says Spoor. “SAP NetWeaver helps us continually meet requirements in a fast changing local government market.”

Wolf Hengevoss

Wolf Hengevoss

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