2015 Trends for ABAPers – a brief overview

It has become a common theme during and after every TechEd && d-code conference series to take a look at developer skillset requirements. Ultimately, it always begs the same questions: “where do we stand with ABAP?” or “what are new trends that ABAP developers should take into account?“.¬†Or can ABAPers actually afford to do nothing and rest on their laurels?

Me during an Expert Networking Session at TechEd

Me during an Expert Networking Session about Freelancing at TechEd 2014, Las Vegas

Below is a run down of options (including the option to “do nothing”) and trends for ABAPers. I’ve included a short POV (Point Of View) paragraph to give you my impression on relevance.

Java
After a surge in early 2000s (WDJ, CE), We now appear to be witnessing a renaissance of Java at SAP. But of course it’s never been gone completely. However Java has been rebooted by HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), one of the main platform topics this year. As far as Business Suite applications are concerned, some will be rewritten as new cloud applications for HCP and in a hybrid environment; others might interface via OData/Gateway. Custom apps and innovations will be an interesting prospect of this increasingly important platform.

my POV: If your company or business decides to innovate its own cloud-based applications on HCP then Java should be something for you to pay attention to – if not done so already. Read on if your company is more likely to focus on Fiori, UI5 and Gateway in the medium term.

JavaScript, UI5
Since the announcement of UI5 3 years ago, JavaScript has been the new kid on the coding block and is enjoying good uptake in the SAP developer community – TechEd 2014 has shown the evidence. The recent addition of OpenUI5 extended the use case to open-source, community-based extensions of UI5 libraries. In both scenarios, Gateway and Odata are providing the supported link to the backend system.

my POV: Most SAP customers are now looking at better User Experience (UX) and implementation of products such as Personas or UI5, which are now included in licence costs and can be downloaded by customers for free. Therefore, ABAPers are well advised to look into JavaScript, jQuery (UI5 is based on it) and Gateway in order to stay current and deliver the better UX using Fiori-like UI5 apps. Because of the more imminent customer focus on this topic, I see this area as the option with the biggest “skills bang for buck” for developers. Change management and lifecycling using Git might challenge Abapers initially, but is likely to become 2nd nature fast.

Hana XS
Launched 2 years ago as part of HANA SP5, XS (Extended Application Services), it includes a full AS, web server and application services in a single place.
Even die-hard abapers rejoice once they discover the opportunities of XS. If you already know OData and JavaScript – or are thinking of getting into it – it’s a great opportunity.

my POV: If your company or business is considering application development for non-cloud, in-memory then this should be something for developers to focus on. If you know you’re way around JavaScript and Gateway/OData Services already, even better. If there is no uptake in your company for HANA XS, then this option still represents a great addition to the UI5 option described above, as it taps into a very similar skillset.

Do nothing
This is the least favourable option. Here, ABAPers just keep on doing what they’re doing, maybe keeping up-to-date with latest ABAP AS features at a minimum. Bluntly, it means you are not moving on or aiming to stay current.

my POV: Despite the doom and gloom, I’d wager very much that “there will always be a backend”, meaning that, despite all new these new layers and platforms I’ve described above, the need for an optimised and up-to-date ABAP backend will remain. As a result, this will leave ABAPers with plenty of work for the next years, maybe decades. At the same time, cost pressures and increased levels of commoditisation in the ABAP area will mean that a smaller number of developers might be required. In a nutshell, you will be very much competing on price and location.

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