Northwind Metadata

SAP Fiori Elements: When to use it?

In today’s post, we will focus on SAP Fiori Elements. When to use them and why?

Fiori elements are SAP efforts to ease the development process of front-end developers by giving them a start template without much coding. Let’s drill down if these Fiori elements are for you or not.

SAP Fiori elements provide designs for UI patterns and predefined templates for common application use cases. App developers can use SAP Fiori elements to create SAP Fiori applications based on OData services and annotations that don’t need JavaScript UI coding.  -SAP

By definition, Fiori elements promise less or zero development, thanks to metadata-driven configuration. As a result, most of the starting application is code-free and only dependent on your Odata service.

Again heavy stress on ODATA. So before continuing do take note that as of today, SAP Fiori elements are only available for Odata based services.

Metadata-driven Configuration

So what is metadata-driven configuration? Metadata driven configuration tells us that most of our UI will be already declared or pre-configured at design time.

For example, we have the following metadata.

Northwind Metadata
Northwind Metadata

Usually, OData metadata contains information about the service and which entities (collection or table) are exposed for usage. With metadata-driven configuration, we can now add new information on how these entities should be treated by UI.

These configurations on how we can control or influence the UI via metadata are called Annotations.

Imagine building an app without coding a single line, and when you run the freshly created project it just serves you the UI with complete data! Viola goodbye 3 months of development.

But before going into details on how these annotations work, let’s go back and check if Fiori elements are really fit your project team needs.

Freestyle Applications

Now we know what are Fiori elements in general, let’s define the other version of apps in terms of development nature.  Any application that entails custom layout that will deviate to standard layouts recommended by SAP falls on the category of Freestyle Apps.

There’s nothing really fancy here, any previously developed app that doesn’t fit the standard Fiori app also falls to this category. In short, any app that is custom or created from scratch can be defined as a freestyle app.

One might ask: Its better to just freestyle the apps that SAP Fiori don’t support right? *HOHOHO Freedom!*

The answer is Yes and No.

You can freely build an app base on your need, but this will result in longer development time and testing. It can also result in a deviation of style from the standard one since all users want those iOS designs on there Fiori app. Fiori elements can eliminate up to 70% of your current development and standardize the layouts of your new applications.

When to Use

Below is the list of considerations you can refer to when starting a new app.

Platform

What are your target platforms? web-based application? native mobile applications? If your target platform is mostly native mobile then Fiori elements are not for you.

Availability

Do you need to support offline capabilities? Then freestyle is the more appropriate way to go.

Backend Service

What is your backend service, is it Odata or Restful? For remember that Fiori Elements are only supported for Odata services.

Design

Do your app follow these designs:

Otherwise, check my tutorial on building a freestyle app.

In summary, if your application is fairly simple and mostly displays data from the server more likely it is better to use Fiori Elements.

For more complex app and design deviating patterns use freestyle. Don’t forget to check my succeeding post which will focus on SAP Fiori Element patterns and annotations.

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