Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Learning SAP MI

There are so many posts in Forum 46 asking for advice on where to start when learning MI. In MI as well as other SAP components like XI, there is the technology consultant learning curve and the development consultant learning curve. Unlike other SAP components, I think MI is the smallest of them all. Thus I would say that there is a big chance that you can master it within a shorter period. MI administration tasks don't differ that much with other components as you only have to know some transactions and utilities. Knowing how they work also matter though.

So where should you start learning? This is kinda hard to answer. This purely depends on which level you are now and which learning curve you are planning to pursue. Here I will list up some materials that I'm sure will help you in understanding SAP MI.

1) SAP Mobile Development Kit
In that same Forum 46, fellow SDNers will surely point you to MDK as you introductory material. I do agree that reading MDK will give you an idea of the whole MI architecture. MDK however includes to many text documentations and lesser illustrations. I personally would like it restructured into more concrete groups and include more figure aides.

2) SAP Help
MDK itself is shipped with the SAP NetWeaver Developer Studio as a plug-in set. It seems that MDK documentations and samples are not updated to the latest MI version. Changes in the public APIs including the deprecation of the existing APIs should be reflected into the kit upon every release to help guide MI developers to proper use of the APIs in their programs. I would suggest the reader to check on the SAP Help documentation site for changes and new features introduced into MI component upon every SP release. You will have idea as well which new features could be implemented and which is not yet supported.

3) SAP Notes
There are also MI related SAP Notes released not only to give information on the fixed bugs but as well as give information on some technical limitations and implementation issues. Reading SAP notes on MI will let you avoid adding unimplemented or unsupported features into your program especially issues when your target device is a PDA.

4) MI API Javadoc
Before going into coding your application, I suggest you to skim thru the MI public APIs first. Knowledge on which API for which use will help you avoid the mistake of using the wrong API for certain cases and will keep you from defining unnecessary interfaces into your application. In fact, the Javadoc includes sample codes on how to use the interfaces themselves.

5) SDN MI Blogs
There are some MI related blogs available at SDN. I myself have posted several blogs on MI topic. Most of these blogs are tips and how-to guides articles which will help you easen your administration and development tasks on MI. As I had mentioned in my previous blog, I will be moving my SDN blogs to blogspot. So don't be surprised if you find the link to my SDN blogs broken one by one from now on... But I'll assure you of the smooth transition from SDN to this site. If you can find it at SDN, you will surely find it here then.

The SAP NetWeaver Mobile page on SDN has a collection of FAQs on the infrastructure level and the standard MI application level. If you are not using standard MI applications like MAM, you might find Mobile Infrastructure FAQ helpful enough. Questions related to double-byte issues, platform support and so on are collectively answered in this page. However, it seems that they are not updately frequently. There are still some commonly asked questions being posted in Forum 46 which are not yet included in the FAQs. Last several months ago, the forum moderator tried collecting candidates FAQs and their corresponding answers on the forum. But it seems that they had not finished on the selection process... I still could not see some new FAQ in the list.

7) Training
There are trainings on MI which you can avail thru SAP Education. Personally, if you are a person having a technical background, I won't recommend you to take it. But if you are to learn on the MI application and not on the infrastructure, you might need to take the training on how the business process or workflow is implemented. One famous SAP MI application is Mobile Asset Management (MAM), which requires knowledge on how the MAM middleware components are configured.

8) SAP Tech Ed
If you have a chance to join SAP Tech Ed, there might be some hands-on session on MI development. However, the topic might not suit your needs but might serve as a good starter and will give me a chance to have just a taste of it...
I had once given an hands-on session at Tokyo Tech Ed on developing an MI application. Unfortunately, I heard that there'll be no more Tech Ed here in Tokyo. Perhaps Sapphire as well?

So where do we go from here.
I have enumerated several materials to which you can get information on MI administration and application development. If you want to focus on MI application development, I would recommend you not to start developing using SmartSync functionality. Start with the simple GenericSync application. When you get acquainted with the GenericSync layer, you will be able to know how the SmartSync framework works. The SmartSync framework itself is actually just a simple GenericSync application providing some convenient interfaces to easen data and delta handling in the client as well as in the middleware.

Client-side development is purely in Java while the middleware-side primarily involves ABAP programming and the use of MI utilities. The MI client APIs Javadoc is the best reference when developing an application. MDK has sample codes but are not updated to the latest API changes; thus you will get some deprecated warnings on that sample codes. So the javadoc is still your primary reference.

Oh by the way, mobile applications are now called xApps - officially called SAP xApps for Mobile Business. Ummm, I think that calling MI applications as xApps will confuse some readers with the online xApps solutions that are using the xApps interfaces. I'm pretty curious how MI applications make us of the xApps interfaces...

In my future blogs, I will giving out some tutorials as well. I can't commit when I can publish it, but will surely create one in detail. I can give out lectures as well if you invite me... :)


siddhartha said...

Hi Jo

Ur answers and Blogs in SDN are Very helpful ,U did a grate job ,I thank you for all the effort u put in for helping us there ..

I am soory for wht happened with u in SDN after all ur effort in it,
but I am sure If ur starting blog here it will be the Best and first place to refer for every one with MI and MAM queries :-)

Thanks again for all ur works

with regards

Suresh said...

You have done a wonderful job.
looking forward for such things in future.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo,

You are doing a great job.You are a jem in MI.

I am working in India on MI-MIDDLEWARE development.
We have developed application for SAP to give demo on this 2006 TechED demo.(Smart Sync application with multi language)

I want advice and guidence from you..i want to continue my career in MI development in Middlewrae.
so can you kindly suggest me what all technologies to strenthen to become good middleware development consultant.
Can you kindly mail me at karthick3@gmail.com


Swizzness said...

Hie JO,

the tips stated were really of a great help. I`m a university student pursuing a bachelor degree. I would like to learn and be an SAP MI consultant. I just started my studies this two semesters ago and really fresh on this topic.
Do u have any advice for me on how i can create a live demo within days. I need it for a presentation on Mobile Business technologies and solutions.

u can write me personally via mail:

best regards

Swizzness said...

Hie JO,

the tips stated were really of a great help. I`m a university student pursuing a bachelor degree. I would like to learn and be an SAP MI consultant. I just started my studies this two semesters ago and really fresh on this topic.
Do u have any advice for me on how i can create a live demo within days. I need it for a presentation on Mobile Business technologies and solutions.

u can write me personally via mail:

best regards

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo,

I have read about MI and it sounds interesting to me.I have also implemented an MI-MAM application.
But I don't where in India do we implement it like in which IT companies?

Could you plz. provide some focus on career growth with SAP-MI in near future.

Thanks & Regards,

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