SAP Business Package for FirstSpirit™

The industry standard: SAP NetWeaver Portal

The SAP NetWeaver Portal is the first choice for all medium-sized companies and international corporations who already use SAP business solutions.

The aim of the platform is to enable a central view of all relevant applications of a company. At the same time, an infrastructure is provided which makes knowledge management and collaboration solutions available.

FirstSpirit™ provides an equally powerful content management solution, which integrates perfectly into the NetWeaver portal. The result is a company portal which really deserves the "Enterprise" attribute.

Content management system in the NetWeaver portal

The "content management system" topic is represented in the standard NetWeaver portal by a simple, rudimentary solution (the so-called "web page composer"), which quickly reaches its limits. This gap is closed by the SAP Business Package for FirstSpirit™, which was developed together with our partner HLP.

Functionally and technically, the business package is the market leader in the Enterprise Content Management sector in the SAP NetWeaver portal. This is proven by its many years of productive use, even in extremely large portal installations with far more than 100,000 portal users.

The charm of the solution is the skillful combination of the comprehensive content management functions of FirstSpirit™ and the extensive portal infrastructure.

Seamless integration of look and function

A central paradigm of FirstSpirit™ portal integration is the approach in which editorial content from FirstSpirit™ is perfectly integrated in the portal servers, especially with respect to the "fully coordinated" look. This also includes using the "native", portal server specific mechanisms to automatically output the content and navigation elements in the current look & feel of the portal.

Advantage:

Even complex layout scenarios can be completely covered by this, always starting from the defined corporate design.

The editing process is not affected by this flexibility of the portal look. Editors continue to maintain their content as usual, without having to worry about the output logic.

Single sign-on (SSO)

Efficient content management in the portal requires that the switch between the live portal and the editing environment is only "a click" away. To ensure this, a single sign-on has been implemented between FirstSpirit™ and the portal server. Within the portal, each page is checked to ensure the logged in user has write privileges for the object.

Advantage:

Each editor can immediately modify the content using a "one click edit" button. Content management could hardly be any quicker or more practical.

Content maintenance without portal know-how

Displaying editorial content and embedding it in existing portal navigation is a technically demanding task. Aspects such as

  • seamless visual integration,
  • support for any designs required and
  • hyperlink capability through special portal links

are necessary properties, which make the added value of the solution plausible. Nevertheless, in FirstSpirit™ the focus is on ease of content maintenance.

Advantage:

An editor can completely concentrate on the creation and maintenance of their content without having to have any portal know-how. For example, setting a link to other pages is done conveniently using a tree selection dialogue, even if technically complicated portal references are created as a result in the background. FirstSpirit™ ensures the link consistency, even if the referenced element is moved.

FirstSpirit™ also does the layout creation completely in conformity with the portal due to its powerful template engine, without the editor having to concern themselves with it at all.

Native portal navigation

Truly deep portal integration of a CMS stands and falls with the elegant integration of content in the portal's own navigation structure. FirstSpirit™ generates "native" portal navigations.

Advantage:

Administratively generated portal menu items and content menu items from FirstSpirit™ are no longer visually and technically distinguishable. This makes it possible for all portal functions available in the standard, e.g.

  • the portal's own bookmark management,
  • navigation forwards/backwards using portal buttons and
  • click history or automatic breadcrumb navigation
  • to be automatically used for FirstSpirit™ content too.

Integration highlight:

The particular power of the navigation approach in the SAP Business Package is seen when more complex navigation concepts such as the so-called merging concepts are used in the SAP NetWeaver portal. This then makes it possible, for example, to integrate any FirstSpirit™ menu structures in existing portal menu items of SAP portal applications. Supplementing existing portal applications, for example, to include detailed editorial help texts, is therefore child's play – completely without programming.

Navigation: More than the standard allows

The SAP NetWeaver portal supports personalized, role-based navigation. With the help of the FirstSpirit™ Business Package, you can flexibly adjust the navigation logic to your needs. This solution extends far beyond the SAP standard and allows dynamic navigation logic, for example, based on

  • profile information (location, organisational unit)
  • editorial categories
  • tagging, which verifies individual areas with keywords.

Advantage:

The portal navigation no longer only represents a permissions structure, but can also cover content and personal aspects of the portal user. In this way, target group oriented navigation can be implemented, which guides the user to the target far faster, even in complex and nested corporate structures.

Personalized presentation of content

Portal servers provide sophisticated user, rights and role management, which enables personalized display of content and applications. FirstSpirit™ supports the rights and role management of the portal server by re-using the existing permissions infrastructure. This makes it possible for editors to define read privileges for their content, while the portal server checks compliance with the runtime privileges for each user.

Advantage:

Re-using the portal infrastructure for security and permissions, avoids duplicate data storage for users and roles, while at the same time the complete permissions control for content can be carried out by editors in FirstSpirit™. Administrative interventions on the portal side are no longer necessary for permissions control.

Dynamic widgets enhance the level of interactivity and personalization

The FirstSpirit CMS offers dynamic features which companies can use to further boost the appeal and acceptance of their portals. Integrating widgets enhances the level of interactivity and personalization, creating additional incentives for visitors to return to the portal on a regular basis. Company portals need to be truly accepted by users if they are to deliver a swift return on investment, boost employee efficiency and add value to external target groups, such as customer and partner portals.

FirstSpirit allows you to integrate other provider's apps, e.g. Google, while at the same time enabling you to create your own company widgets in the CMS. Users can simply compile their own custom portal page by dragging & dropping their preferred components. In doing so, they create their personal dashboard with portal content they find relevant.

Cooperative portal function in FirstSpirit™ content

Modern portal servers already frequently provide document centred cooperation functions. Examples of this are, among other things,

  • page rating
  • feedback forms
  • recommend page function
  • full text search.

These added value functions on documents are completely supported by the FirstSpirit™ portal integration.

Advantage:

Within the portal, editorial FirstSpirit™ content can be evaluated and given comments by all portal users. All content on pages and in documents can be found using the portal search, whereby permission control is also fully supported here. Therefore, each user is only displayed the search results for which they have appropriate read permissions.

Combination of applications and content

The full capability of a corporate portal can always be achieved when work processes and editorial content are optimally combined. To achieve this, FirstSpirit™ introduces a new role: the portal editor.

The portal editor cannot only create and maintain conventional editorial content but at the same time is also able to use FirstSpirit™ to directly position and configure applications (portlets/iViews) previously released by the portal administrator in any places within the portal.

Advantage:

Portal applications and editorial content can be freely combined and positioned by using FirstSpirit™. At the same time, the arrangement of the elements on the page can be determined by the FirstSpirit™ editor, for example, the choice of a single or multi-column layout.

The portal administration is therefore relieved of many tasks, as the usually technically motivated integration of applications in the portal shifts to the portal editor in FirstSpirit™. Ultimately, the complete content and applications of the portal can therefore be conveniently maintained by FirstSpirit™.

Scalable architecture

The topic of "scalable architecture" plays a decisive role, especially in the major customer or key account environment. The SAP Business Package for FirstSpirit™ supports different architecture and infrastructure models, which also allow complex, distributed portal architectures. Which architecture is the "right" one in the respective context is highly dependent on the application case. The following shows possible architecture examples supported by FirstSpirit™.

Flexibility through distribution

The SAP Business Package for FirstSpirit™ allows architectural separation of the portal server and page delivery server. Both systems can, but do not have to be identical. The result is two architecture approaches with different advantages and possibilities.

Internal content delivery

A very pragmatic portal architecture consists of using the portal server not only for delivering the navigation but also for the content pages.

Advantage of this approach:

  • Low system complexity
  • Few components involved

Disadvantages of the approach:

  • The portal server is "encumbered" with the page delivery
  • Higher resource consumption in the portal

External content delivery

As an alternative to the above architecture, the SAP Business Package can be used to also deliver the pure content pages via an external server or if applicable via an external web server cluster. In this case the portal server solely undertakes generation of the navigation, while the FirstSpirit™ content pages are delivered via an external web or application server.

Advantages of this approach:

  • Relief of the portal server (useful, e.g. if there are many JSP pages)
  • Separate scaling methods for the content delivery

Disadvantages of the approach:

  • Slightly higher system complexity
  • Performance optimization

Different architecture approaches can be used to achieve various options for increasing speed, especially in the SAP portal. The SAP Business Package for FirstSpirit™ fully supports these options.

Especially in companies which want to publish an extremely large number of content pages in the SAP portal, these are properties which have a decisive influence on the feasibility and acceptance of a central portal strategy.