SAP launches support for its ABAP programming languages to give developers the ability to build more functionality directly into the S / 4HANA Cloud version of its ERP system.
However, some developers were disappointed, claiming that SAP did not support the version with a full range of APIs. They also said a lack of availability on everything except the latest version made it of limited use to many SAP customers.
Talk to TechEd, German vendor developer conference last week, CTO Juergen Mueller said that ABAP support in the cloud “bridges this latest gap between on-premises and the cloud by delivering a new, truly ready-to-use ABAP environment. the cloud directly into S / 4HANA Cloud “.
The official name is SAP S / 4HANA Cloud ABAP Environment, but since it’s based on an internal project that earned it the nickname steampunk, most developers would likely call the new product Embedded Steampunk, he said.
The development environment is available in the public cloud for selected customers on RISE with SAP, the vendor’s lift-shift-and-transform partner plan, as well as the S / 4HANA Cloud 2108 edition, which has reached general availability in August.
Developer advocate Rich Heilman said Embedded Steampunk allows developers to create custom code in ABAP on the S / 4HANA public cloud system. “I’m really in the S / 4 stack here, not side by side. I can directly select data from S / 4 database tables using S / 4 Core Data Services views, or I can call a local S / 4 API. way, I can build tightly coupled extensions that can’t work side by side. “
But there were limits to what developers could code directly on the cloud system. “It’s not the classic freestyle ABAP that you know on site,” Heilman said.
Harald Kuck, head of the ABAP platform, set the direction of Steampunk news in a September Blog, in which he said the SAP ABAP team had been “rejuvenated”.
Steampunk is the name of ABAP on SAP’s business technology platform, a middleware that sits between applications. This is what has just been launched directly on the S / 4HANA application system in the public cloud.
Steampunk is designed to provide a “dedicated stable public interface between the platform and the solutions, ensuring hiccup-free upgrades.” It is expected to provide “an enterprise-ready environment for cloud development,” including a new version of the ABAP language and the RESTful ABAP application programming model (RAP). It creates a “cloud-ready” runtime environment with construction integration, standardized system updates and configuration, and automated operation.
With Embedded Steampunk, things would “change dramatically,” Kuck said.
“S / 4HANA Cloud and Steampunk share the same ABAP platform line of code (marked in blue) anyway, Steampunk being kind of a trailblazer when it comes to innovations. So it’s just a logical next step for integrate the Steampunk development model directly into the S / Pile 4HANA Cloud, “he added.
While welcoming the launch in principle, the developers pointed out that the issue is API support for Embedded Steampunk and a lack of availability on relatively recently released SAP systems.
Although SAP S / 4HANA Cloud ABAP Environment is now available, in a limited sense, SAP application teams have yet to release the APIs needed to express all functionality and give developers the ability to build software that fits. connect to other SAP systems, said Sören Schlegel. , development architect, J & S-Soft, a German software development and consulting company.
“They provided the technology, but the application makers need to provide more information. You can develop an S / 4HANA cloud system using built-in Steampunk, but you need API whitelisting. If you don’t have that many APIs, then what can you do? Features are limited and that’s a big deal, ”he said.
The usefulness of the built-in Steampunk in the real world was also limited by the versions of S / 4HANA it was available on. The technology won’t be available on S / 4HANA 1809, launched in 2018, for example. At just three years old, this would be considered a recent release in SAP terms.
Schlegel said even customers with migrations already underway to S / 4HANA 2020, 2021 or 2022 would not have access to the latest technology, including the RESTful application programming model. Because the test cycles for SAP upgrades were so long, the technical pressure to upgrade to a newer system started as soon as the current upgrade was complete, he argued.
Tobias Hofmann, another Germany-based software developer and consultant, agreed that the lack of availability of older systems would limit the practical utility of on-board Steampunk.
“Steampunk is welcome. It’s a great technology that will help developers. But as always, it’s only for newer, more successful customers. don’t gain anything. The built-in Steampunk is just S / 4HANA Cloud clients on the latest version, “he said.
In other TechEd news, SAP launched a low-code / no-code unified development environment on its enterprise technology platform. The SAP AppGyver promises to enable business users to build new applications, extend existing ones, or automate complex tasks without adding workloads to stretched IT departments, according to SAP.
Hofmann said it was a strong idea, providing the opportunity for users to develop and prototype concepts before bringing in developers to test their work, which saves them time and gives users a feeling appropriation of their business applications.
But here too, there are limits to what SAP offers. For example, the API hub documentation is at a technical level, which means users should involve developers to connect their systems to other applications in any case, he said. “The user looks at GET and POST and thinks, ‘Wait a second, I just want to consume a service.'”
Schlegel also pointed out that SAP’s recent low-code / no-code efforts have involved a partnership with specialist Mendix and a different SAP technology called Ruum. Now that users are introduced to AppGyver, users may wonder why they should believe it when there have been so many changes recently, he said.
We reached out to SAP to give them the opportunity to respond to specific reviews regarding both AppGyver and Embedded Steampunk. ®