UI5 and Fiori - The Story of Open and Free

| 2 min read

30 Days of UI5 — Day 17 by John Appleby

DJ kindly asked me to write a blog for his 30 days of UI5 series to celebrate version 1.30 of UI5. My immediate reaction was what, me, what do I have to add to this subject?

I then realized that I had a little part in the UI5 story thus far and folks might enjoy the story, and the update, of how Fiori became Freeori.

It all started with a late night phone call with Den Howlett, where we discussed, as we sometimes do, the state of the SAP Union.

We became engrossed in a conversation about the new Workday version that had just been released, with its responsive and modern user experience, and wondered how SAP could compete in UX quality. To that end, SAP had recently released Fiori but adoption was poor with just a handful of users navigating the complex licensing policy around it.

At that time, it was necessary to pay for core SAP licenses, Gateway integration licenses and separate Fiori licenses. There were some pros to this – the paid nature of Fiori meant that Fiori was getting development dollars, but it wasn’t getting adoption. Without adoption of a modern user experience, SAP would be in trouble in the mid-term.

From that conversation came a blog Should SAP Fiori be Freeori? which framed the conversation in a way we believed SAP would understand. That was key to our argument – we believed that Fiori was the solution to renovating the SAP user experience and that charging for it would risk SAP’s long-term future.

What happened next?

Geoff Scott, CEO of ASUG chimed in withTime for a UX Revolution, Not Evolution and then Chris Kanaracus, that time at IDG, now working at ASUG, continued the discussion with SAP users rattle sabers over charges for user-friendly Fiori apps and did a fantastic job of rallying the user groups and getting great quotes from the ecosystem:

"DSAG’s position is clear. We say [Fiori] must be part of standard maintenance" – Andreas Oczko, DSAG Vice Chairman

"In a cloud world, you’d expect Fiori to be part of the upgrade cycle" – Ray Wang, Constellation Research

Dennis then put the hammer in with The SAP Fiori or Freeori discussion heats up, comparing a potential $5-700m one time sale with Fiori to the risk of losing lucrative support revenues.

I received a few back-channel messages about this, suggesting that things would move, and sure enough, SAP opened up the Fiori product to all customers at no charge. What incredible news.

What does this look like one year on?

The concern my colleagues at SAP had was that charging for Fiori ensured that there was attention to the development. However the reverse hasn’t caused an issue. On the contrary, Fiori has more investment and Sam Yen’s User eXperience group have gone from strength to strength.

SAP S/4HANA has been released and Fiori is at the center of the user experience. The core UI5 and Fiori technologies have significant investments and with UI5 1.30 we see new functionality – just check out the release notes to see the extent! They include a focus on performance improvements and new page styles.

Personally, I’m incredibly proud of the individuals in the SAP ecosystem who have worked on this. The impact of renovating the SAP User eXperience shouldn’t be underestimated.