Monday, 05 April 2021 11:32

Smart controls – A journey through history to create a perspective on future innovations

Written by Dirk Becker
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“© 2020. SAP SE or an SAP affiliate company. All rights reserved.” “Used with permission of SAP SE”

In times when Low-Code/No-Code becomes increasingly important in the context of software engineering, and when we see citizen developers step into the shoes of advanced JavaScript developers, it is more important than ever before that a UI framework like SAPUI5 offers capabilities that make UI development fast and easy with drastically reduced TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Smart controls exactly meet this demand. This blog post describes the history of the smart controls and provides a glimpse of future development plans.

The early days

SAPUI5 started as a plain control library in 2009. Application development capabilities like MVC and data binding were added. The introduction of SAP Fiori in 2013 paved the ground for a broad adoption of SAPUI5 in SAP business application development. But UIs became increasingly complex, and there was a growing demand to provide bigger reusable building blocks and y, such as personalization. With Simplified Financials (sFin) in ERP as a front runner, the smart control library was introduced in 2014 to provide larger composite controls with integrated generic controller logic. Those ‘smart’ controls not only boost by enabling easy creation of applications, but also ensure a consistent look and feel all across the application suite. The representation of the data within the controls follows logical consistency and most recent UI guidelines in combination with up-to-date UI themes. Self-evident, out-of-the-box ingredients are accessibility, product standards, and end user enablement, such as personalization and variant management.

A long journey: OData V2 and smart controls

The history of the smart controls is closely connected to SAP’s journey with Microsoft’s Open Data Protocol (OData) that started with OData Version 2 (V2) for smart controls. When OData was chosen as the standard protocol on which SAP builds business applications, the smart controls leveraged a coherent interpretation of the OData annotations. This explains the most current naming: OData V2 smart controls. Together with the ABAP Backend, Core Data Services, SAP Gateway, and SAPUI5 Model servicesthese smart controls are powerful cornerstones to build robust and compelling business applications with SAP Fiori powered by SAPUI5.

Feature richness with smart controls and smart templates

Over time the scope of the smart controls increased with each ERP application based on SAP Fiori. New smart controls were created, and integrated logic was expanded. The most used smart controls are the smart table and the smart filter bar, but smart field, smart link,

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