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Office Business Application (OBA) Sample Application Kit for SAP

So, you're probably asking yourself: what is OBA, and why should I care?? OBAs are essentially a new breed of composite application that you build using the Office Platform. OBAs at their essence are made up of three major pieces: i) the LOB system (e.g. SAP, PeopleSoft, or Dynamics), ii) A customized Office client (e.g. custom task pane using Visual Studio), and iii) SharePoint customizations (e.g. Business Data Catalog (BDC)) Web part. The value of OBAs derives from the fact that by building them you can integrate specific parts of the LOB systems in your organization directly into the Office interface that your information workers use on a daily basis--think Sales data integrated into Excel 2007 which enables you to use the native functionality of Excel and a customized Excel client to read/write data. This same idea applies to the SharePoint environment, where developers can also create views into data using different service-bound Web parts. The net for OBA development is that if your orgamization uses Office in their daily operations and you're not building OBAs, then you're missing an opportunity to leverage your existing infrastructure (as opposed to building and supporting separate LOB applications).

For more information on OBA, I would suggest the following resources:

1. Six Office Business Applications (MS Press) or Programming Microsoft Office Business Applications (MS Press).
2. Overview of an OBA: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/HA102200691033.aspx.
3. Overview of OBA Solution Patterns: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/cc337889.aspx.
4. My blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/steve_fox) where I've listed out some additional resources to check out.

So, with the above in hand what is this Sample Application Kit for SAP?

In many cases, developers don't have the knowledge on how to programmatically integrate Office applications with LOB systems. What this kit provides is guidance on how you can integrate with Web services that have been generated from within SAP and then consume those services within a .NET and managed code environment. The OBA Sample Application Kit for SAP (a version 2.0 to the OBA Starter Kit for SAP) includes a whitepaper, installation document, source code, and client-side binaries (server-side (MOSS) code is discussed in the documents how to deploy) for you to use and learn how you integrate SAP programmatically into your Office system. The kit does this by providing an end-to-end solution, in this case a specialty travel application that enables you to create and book specialty travel packages.

The goal of the kit is to provide developers with some information on how they can go ahead and learn how to programmatically integrate SAP with Office (specifically Excel and PowerPoint 2007 and MOSS 2007), thus providing you with specific knowledge around Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) - a component technology within Visual Studio 2008 that enables you to build Office solutions, the MOSS 2007 BDC and the integration with Web services, and more generically the use of Web services developed using SAP tools within .NET and the Visual Studio IDE.

I hope you enjoy the kit, and look out for more Sample Application Kits for other line-of-business systems in the future!

Steve
Last edited Jan 28 2010 at 3:48 AM  by Steve_Fox, version 6
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