Baking an apple pie seems easy, you take some apples, sugar, flour, spices, butter and an egg, combine your ingredients in a bowl, mix them up and put the mixture in your oven. An hour later you’ve got your apple pie! But in real life, it doesn’t work that way. Just mixing up the ingredients makes a mess.
A pie is layered and consists of different parts, all requiring different actions to make sure they fit the design. It needs a nice dough to make a crisp pie base, a firm filling that doesn’t go too soft when you bake it, and a golden-brown upper crust, that looks inviting and gets your juices flowing.
When you approach app development like baking a pie, it all starts to make sense.
And now with Siemens and SAP partnering to connect their complementary software solutions the pie just got sweeter. The two industry leaders will combine their technologies to help companies shorten time to market by leveraging Industry 4.0-enabled data that incorporate customer insights into product development through a comprehensive solution, from product design to service and asset management.
The pie base (iPaas)
Everything starts at the bottom; in our case this is SAP Cloud Platform. The pie’s foundation needs to be stable and robust so we can build the other layers on top of it. On the other hand, we require the foundation to be flexible enough so we can sometimes deviate from the standard recipe and add new ingredients and customization.
Using Rapid Application Development (RAD), we extend and differentiate the core functionalities on top of the SAP Cloud Platform foundation. For this, we rely on Mendix as a RAD-platform. Mendix allows us to quickly develop, deploy and run applications that integrate seamlessly with the connected back-end systems on SAP Cloud Platform. Databases can be shared between multiple deployed custom applications, so there is no need for data integration or replication between apps within the same environment.
Another benefit of deploying Mendix apps on SAP Cloud Platform is the availability of a very rich collection of APIs to build solid interfaces between back- and front-end. Both Mendix and SAP offer a broad collection of standard integration content that accelerates the development of integrated enterprise applications. For example, a custom enterprise application on top of SAP S/4 HANA can be developed in hours, using the Fiori UI template and SAP OData Connector in Mendix. If needed, API Management and Cloud Integration services can be added to the recipe very easily.
The filling (data)
Without filling, a pie is empty and would just be a shell. To fill it up we need apples or in our case, data. An enterprise application is only useful when complete and up-to-date information is displayed to the end-users. To achieve this, we use SAP Cloud Platform Integration to connect to both SAP- and non-SAP systems. We can choose to stir the ingredients via Message Mapping, Content Enrichment and Value Mapping if we want to deviate from the standard recipe.
This complementary way of integrating software on top of the digital core suite, speeds up the process of developing apps, opens up new smart ways of analyzing data and keeps the core clean. Using a solid and securely integrated framework, we also enable citizen developers and product owners to closely collaborate with us in the development process.
The perfect crust (front-end)
This is the real eye-catcher. It’s just inviting you to take a bite. To achieve these finger-licking good designs we use Mendix to create custom front-end solutions. The design is tailored to the customer’s needs and seamlessly interacts with SAP Cloud Platform Integration to access and modify the data in the cloud. The use of low-code development platforms such as Mendix assures the application is future proof, allowing for changes in future iterations and low start-up costs. According to Gartner, the next two years, market demand for app development will grow at least 5x faster than the IT capacity to deliver it. To facilitate this growing demand and to satisfy our customers’ needs, we use new approaches to rapid app development.
Citizen Developers are tech-savvy people with business process knowledge on the client side. Taking them along in the development process allows us to quickly gather business requirements while delivering the building blocks of the final product. This approach enables us to focus on the technical aspects, as well on the UX/UI design, while the Citizen Developer can focus on adding business value.
Having an easy to use front-end is dependent upon the User Experience (UX). This catch-all term refers to a few different disciplines.
We gather functional specifications from the client to decide the user needs. This means focussing on what the application should do and what its users value, as well as the users’ abilities and limitations. It promotes improving the quality of interactions while taking into account the business goals.
The interaction design should be engaging with well thought out behaviours and structured patterns, allowing the user to easily understand and use the product.
Once these steps are finished, we top it all off with the visual design of the application, the user interface (UI) by implementing the corporate identity.
The perfect pie from our own bakery
Just look at it, isn’t it a beauty? Believe us, it tastes great too. By skillfully integrating all the different parts that make up the equation, we made a pie that everyone can agree on is delicious.
Do you have a recipe you would like to try out? Send us a message and we’ll bake you the best pie ever! Contact us by email or fill out our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Rik Dingemans is the Senior Solution Expert at QforIT with a background in Business Information Technology and over 20 years of experience in IT. At QforIT, he specializes in low-code app development using Mendix in combination with different integration platforms such as SAP Cloud Platform Integration.
QforIT is a Mendix partner focusing on enterprise application and integration with services and solutions that enable digital transformation and business innovation. QforIT’s trademark lies in the rapid development and implementation of reliable, easily maintainable and extensible interfaces with matching front-end solutions.