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SAP ABAP

ABAP stands for Advanced Business Application Programming. This is a high-level programming language that is developed by SAP. It helps business professionals to develop applications for enhancing business performance. It helps in various business activities such as financial accounting, asset management, and enhancing applications based on SAP. You can also prepare interfaces and custom reports.

The SAP system uses the ABAP language to run its applications on NetWeaver ABAP platform. So business professionals working on an SAP system use ABAP. They can use it to modify the functionality of SAP applications.  The different programs written in the ABAP language are stored in the SAP database.

In this article, we will take a closer look into the details of the various aspects of the ABAP language and its functionalities.

SAP ABAP Basics

The evolution of SAP ABAP dates back to the 1980s. Back then it was used as a program for generating reports. It was also used for developing and customizing server applications. Later many new features were introduced such as object-oriented programming and ABAP objects. In 1999, a new database method was introduced. Around 2010, new syntax was launched.

Till now, SAP has developed the largest amount of code for ABAP. But there are thousands of developers who work on the ABAP language. SAP provides another technology called SAP Solution Manager or SolMan. This is used by the programmers to maintain the complete lifecycle of SAP ABAP code.

What is ABAP Workbench?

The ABAP Workbench is basically a set of tools and programs. These tools help you to develop, execute and test ABAP programs. These tools also help you to develop enterprise resource planning applications. These applications run in the R/3 subsystem. You can use the workbench tools to modify the existing ABAP programs. Along with all this, you can also write report programs, function modules and module pools.

Some of the salient features of ABAP workbench are as follows:

  • Provides a graphical user interface that is simple and easy to use
  • Helps you to handle the complete life cycle of the ABAP application development
  • Enables communication with other desktop applications
  • You can make use of the remote function call. This will enable you to communicate with external applications
  • All programming and repository objects can be accessed by the given set of tools

The important workbench tools include:

  • ABAP Data dictionary
  • ABAP Editor
  • Function builder
  • Screen painter
  • Menu Painter
  • Function builder
  • Form painter
  • Message class builder

Let us look at the most important components.

ABAP Data Dictionary

The data dictionary holds all the data for business applications. The different definitions of metadata are maintained by the data dictionary. You can refer to the dictionary objects anywhere throughout the SAP system.

ABAP Editor

The ABAP editor is where you write the code for your programs. You can also edit reports and screens. This editor helps the users to use complicated functions easily. This is possible by grouping the functions together. Moreover, it helps you to create, delete and edit entries in the templates given. You can also change the template layouts.

ABAP Painter

The SAP GUI is designed and maintained using the Painter.

ABAP platform

The ABAP platform is a scalable programming environment. This is used for developing applications in ABAP. This platform is very useful in maintaining the lifecycle of all your applications. This makes your life easier when you are using SAP HANA. Furthermore, you can build Fiori applications.

These are applications that address tasks such as looking up information and approving workflows.

ABAP Development Tools

The ABAP Development Tools is the standard IDE (Integrated Development Environment) used for ABAP application development. This IDE is based on Eclipse that is user-friendly and flexible. The ABAP platform provides you with powerful functionalities such as:

  • Lifecycle management
  • Troubleshooting tools
  • Full integration
  • Server-based development process
  • Testing

All these features combined with the powerful UI of Eclipse. This makes the platform very efficient. The platform focuses on these three areas:

  • Product– This is a new development experience for users made possible by Eclipse. The process was source code development is sophisticated. This is because it is task-oriented and test-driven.
  • Platform – The platform is based in Eclipse. You can use this to develop new tools related to ABAP. All development tasks including ABAP, HANA, non-ABAP and UI can be done. You can easily integrate 3rdparty tools and custom tools.
  • API –You can use the APIs for building custom tools for the ABAP environment. These APIs are extremely flexible as they are platform and language independent.

New to ABAP?

If you are a newbie to the world of SAP ABAP, here are the key concepts to know.

1) Modern ABAP Development

Modern ABAP development is based on technologies such as OData, Core Data Services (CDS) and Business Object Processing Framework (BOPF). With this approach, you can build applications that are ready to be launched to the cloud. These applications will be optimized for SAP S/4HANA and SAP HANA.

The modern development environment is based on Eclipse. This gives you the ability to work with CDS views and the ABAP RESTful Programming Model. Moreover, using Eclipse you can access the front-end and back-end together easily.

2) ABAP in the Cloud

SAP provides users with a Platform as a service (PaaS) called SAP cloud platform. This allows you to develop and run your ABAP applications in the cloud. You can either run standalone applications or as an extension of the SAP software.

The SAP Cloud Platform ABAP Environment will facilitate developers to use their Agile and DevOps methodologies. This way the applications are developed and delivered faster. The classic waterfall model of development is not used here. This modern approach leads to continuous integration of the services. Moreover, as a developer, you do not have to worry about the infrastructure and runtime environment. You can focus on the development of the application.

3) Quality Assurance

The ABAP platform provides you with a comprehensive toolset for application development. This includes advanced quality assurance tools. This comes with the support for conversion to SAP HANA. This also comes with the following features:

  • Troubleshooting
  • Testing
  • Test seams
  • Injections
  • Runtime monitoring using SQL Monitor and SQL Trace
  • Unit testing static code checks

4) Real-Time Programming and Industrial IoT

Many of the professionals are looking to switch to real-time strategies. This is to enhance business functions. So, the business responds to industry changes and customer demands in real-time. This enables the company to deliver personalized services that are efficient.

Real-time applications respond within milliseconds to the user actions. This way a lot of data is processed very quickly. ABAP enables real-time processing with In-memory technology. ABAP channels allow the development of interactive scenarios for users.

Industrial IoT allows the communication of sensors and industrial machinery. These are connected to the IT systems. SAP NetWeaver implements these IoT scenarios using TCP/ IP protocols. This is based on ABAP Push Channel and ABAP Messaging Channel infrastructure. The IoT devices are connected directly with the ABAP server. Therefore, the entire system is simplified.

5) Extensibility

You can use the SAP Business Suite and SAP S/4HANA to enhance your business applications. This allows you to adapt standard business tools according to your business requirements. The following concepts are involved:

  • Integration
  • Custom fields
  • Business configuration
  • Logic and custom fields
  • UI layout adaptation
  • Custom terminology
  • Customer-specific applications translation

Extensibility can be divided into two parts:

  • Side-by-side extensibility with the help of SAP Cloud Platform
  • In-app extensibility with the help of built-in capabilities

6) Custom Code Migration

ABAP supports custom code migration to the SAP Cloud Platform and SAP S4/ HANA. This is made possible through two features. They are ABAP Development Tools in Eclipse (ADT) and Remote ABAP Test Cockpit (ATC). The ATC is a toolset that allows you to run unit tests and static check on your ABAP code. It is compatible with ABAP Code Inspector for enabling smooth code migration.

ABAP and HANA

HANA is the relational database management system offered by SAP. It is an in-memory database that can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud. HANA is a combination of software and hardware. It includes:

  • SAP HANA Database
  • SAP SLT (System Landscape Transformation) Replication server
  • SAP HANA Direct Extractor connection
  • Sybase replication technology

When ABAP is used on HANA, the productivity of the system is enhanced. This is because of the Code-To-Data Paradigm of HANA. This allows you to push the code to the database layer. You can do all the necessary operations and calculations there. Then you can fetch only the necessary records for the presentation server.

There are other features you can enjoy while working on HANA with ABAP. They are as follows:

  • OpenSQL Programming - This lets you include OpenSQl statements within your ABAP code.
  • Core Data Services (CDS) Views – By this technique, data models are defined on the database server rather than the application server. So the table result view is made at the database level.
  • ABAP Managed Database Procedures – These are database procedures that run directly on the database. Using this, you can write ABAP methods at the database layers that run faster than core ABAP methods.

SAP ABAP Consultant

A SAP ABAP Consultant develops business application using ABAP. They play an important role while implementing SAP software for an organization. The different roles and responsibilities are:

  • Obtaining the documents for the business requirement from the functional analyst
  • Forming a detailed plan for the build, system testing and implementation of the applications
  • Convert business requirements into functional code
  • Document and run unit, system, integration and acceptance tests using various
  • Work with other team members to develop, design and deliver the products on time
  • Prepare the technical documentation of the software product
  • Mentor junior developers
  • Offer consulting services

Required skills

  • ABAP experience of at least 8 years
  • Knowledge of OOP concepts
  • SAP Fiori development experience of 1 year
  • HANA exposure
  • Strong analytical and communication skills

Conclusion

Nowadays, all modern companies use ERP programs for their business activities. So, SAP systems are inevitable. So, learning ABAP will help you in understanding the core technicalities of the system. It will help in developing many new enterprise applications. Updating the existing ones will be easier. ABAP offers great features such as module pool programming, inter-system communication, batch input processing and sequential dataset processing.

This is why many companies now provide SAP ABAP training to their employees. With ABAP skills under their belt, they can build business applications to improve their business.             


Tutorials

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