Advanced business application programming, commonly abbreviated at ABAP, has long been a critical component of the SAP ecosystem. Today, users often leverage the code language to extend SAP programs. However, since last year's release of SAP ABAP Cloud, a new cloud-ready ABAP development model, companies can utilize ABAP more completely, to “build cloud-ready business apps, services, and extensions,” according to SAP.
During a July 12 ASUG webcast focused on discussing SAP ABAP Cloud capabilities, Boris Gebhardt, Chief Product Owner of ABAP Platform, SAP SE, described the solution as “a summary of all the ABAP innovations from the last ten years.”
Throughout the hourlong, well-attended webcast, Gebhardt walked an audience of ASUG members, SAP users, and technologists through current issues with the classic customer ABAP code, the cloud extensibility models used in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, the basics of SAP ABAP, and the extensibility models for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private and on-premises editions.
Here are some key takeaways:
Drawbacks of custom ABAP code
Throughout the webinar, Gebhardt underlined the most commonly encountered setbacks with custom ABAP code, encouraging attendees to update. While custom ABAP code is a “powerful” tool according to Gebhardt, allowing users to learn and copy SAP code into their own code and modify SAP objects, it does pose significant hurdles to organizations leveraging SAP S/4HANA and updating their SAP ecosystem.
One on-going issue is the lack of interface between SAP code and extension software. When organizations try to change objects, as often occurs during an SAP upgrade implementation, doing so may disrupt solution extensions, resulting in low and slow upgrade projects. SAP does not prioritize customer-specific upgrade projects, leaving custom code fixes to the customers.
Additionally, in order to support smooth SAP software updates, custom code cannot be leveraged in SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud with Gebhardt recommending the same steps be taken with users leveraging SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private and on-premises editions.
Specifics of coding cloud extensions
Gebhardt also detailed connectivity specifics for the various forms of SAP S/4HANA with SAP ABAP Cloud, and broke down the three-tier extensibility model organizations should use. With SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, he walked audiences through specific examples of application development, including both those loosely and tightly coupled to SAP data, and both on-stack and side-by-side, along with extensibility user personas for business experts and developers. With those specifics defined, Gebhardt mapped out how each persona could use ABAP to code specific extensions between SAP S/4HANA and SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP).
With SAP S/4HANA, private cloud and on-premises editions, Gebhardt walked audiences through a similar path, touching on some of the key rules and conditions that differentiate those solutions. For example, he encouraged users to use public APIs, leverage a “clean core” approach for smooth upgrade projects, and eventually retire all custom ABAP code.
Attendees were also encouraged to leverage a three-tiered extensibility model when coding extensions with ABAP. The first tier, known as the cloud extensibility tier, is cloud-ready and upgrade-stable development of new applications. For this tier, SAP ABAP Cloud is a necessity.
The second tier, Cloud API enablement, extends and enables tier one for private cloud and on-premises instances of SAP S/4HANA. This tier helps overcome missing SAP APIs and extension points. The third tier, of classic ABAP extensions, is used for legacy custom ABAP code and cannot follow any of the rules from the first tier. Gebhardt encouraged customers leveraging this tier to avoid and reduce the content they use.
Inside SAP ABAP Cloud
The webinar also gave attendees a deep dive into SAP ABAP Cloud. Gebhardt described the solution as the “new way to develop ABAP,” giving customers the ability to build cloud-ready business applications, services, and extensions. The solution comes with SAP Business Technology Platform and SAP S/4HANA (working with public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises editions).
SAP ABAP Cloud can connect SAP BTP and SAP S/4HANA with direct extensions. However, Gebhardt laid out some crucial rules. Users must leverage public SAP APIs and extension points and they must use cloud optimization ABAP language.
The webinar also featured Gebhardt going over the SAP ABAP roadmap and answering specific questions from attendees.
You can watch the entire webinar and hear all of Gebhardt’s insights by registering to watch on-demand here.