July 20, 2021

ABAP ... A vital part of success

AuthorGabor Toldi

When you think of software, America and Asia are the first locations to come to mind, while Germany is not immediately thought of as an innovation driver in this area. Nevertheless, Germany plays in this top league, worldwide and in Europe. It is well known that a soccer club owes its rise to the Bundesliga only to the stable success of SAP.

If you talk about SAP among your acquaintances, you often hear "I don't know." Yet almost everyone has benefited indirectly from it, from numerous supply chains in industry, to production, accounting and human resources, to managing patient records in hospitals. SAP is used everywhere, sometimes in the background, sometimes in the foreground.

And because companies do not emerge from a construction kit, but organize and restructure themselves like organisms, adaptable software plays an essential role.

True to the motto "When two do the same thing, it is far from being the same", the processes of two companies serving exactly the same market are not the same, and to meet these requirements there are ABAP.

Development of the ABAP programming language

To be able to control, you need information, and to be able to control companies, you need evaluations. Thus, the abbreviation "General Report Processor" was created with the original goal of being able to write evaluations (reports).

But soon it developed into "Advanced Business Application Programming"(ABAP) as a 4GL (fourth generation language). Characteristic of a 4GL is the use of more understandable and application-oriented paradigms. Despite its larger language scope compared to many other programming languages, ABAP is therefore one of the easier programming languages to learn and allows the development of complex applications.

Those who have made excursions into other programming languages and have struggled with arrays and co. tend to miss the capabilities of the ABAP runtime environment, such as internal tables, the database access integrated with Open SQL and the performance optimisations through SAP buffering.

Old and new combined ...

...just as you sometimes have trouble adding or integrating something new to an old house, the principle of downward compatibility that exists in ABAP is both a blessing and a curse. The scope of the language, which has grown over the years, allows the use of old procedural programming and new language commands and OO-based development both separately and combined. Only in the direct OO environment were a few old braids cut off.

The advantage is that with extension of the ability, thousands of programs did not have to be rewritten and continue to perform their work obediently. The disadvantage, however, is that the newcomer in the ABAP environment must learn and master old and new components, similar to a historian.

Long before GitHub and others, ABAP supported versioning and collaborative work among multiple developers.

As ABAP has grown over the years, it will continue to grow in line with requirements and meet new challenges.

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