Improving the OSS note experience

| 2 min read

I remember the time when OSS was a fledgling service, and it ran on an R/2 system in Walldorf. You accessed it via the R/2 SAPGUI just as any other R/2 system. It was great, and the volume of notes being generated then (I remember particularly at the time I was working at Deutsche Telekom in the early 90s) was small enough that I could read each and every note that was written on certain subjects that interested me. I used to come in early in the morning, grab a coffee, and then browse the new OSS notes. The systems were bigger, the note numbers had less digits, and I had more hair.

Those were the days.

Anyway, many years later, we still have OSS notes. Higher note numbers to be sure. But has the general OSS notes experience improved? Not that much. While we now also have a web interface (via in addition to the R/3 system based access to OSS, that web interface could do with some love.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to refer to an OSS note, and the note’s sub-sections, via first class URLs? So I could say, in some HTML (in a Wiki, or in a weblog entry, or wherever) “refer to this note” and put an HTTP link direct to the note, rather than tell the user how to go through the rigmarole of searching for it and navigating the forest of JavaScript, new windows, and frames, to get to what they’re looking for? How about something like:

That would be great for starters! For authorisation, how about simple but effective basic HTTP authentication? If you’re going to use the web (HTTP), embrace it, don’t program around it.

And while we’re at it – how about offering RSS feeds of notes by component? That way, it would be straightforward for people to keep up with OSS info using tried and tested technology, and open tools that are out there right now.

For many SAP hackers like me, OSS is still a very important source of info. Small improvements like this would make our lives a lot more pleasant.

[The concept of a “first class URL” is of course from the RESTian (REpresentational State Transfer) view of the web. For more info, see the REST Wiki.]

Originally published on SAP Community