Why I am excited about the SAP Developer Network
When R/3 came out in mid 1992 it was shipped with an integrated development environment (ABAP) for client/server applications. SAP pioneered the famous 3-tier application server platform which proved to be highly performant, platform independent, fully based on relational database technology.
In the early days of R/3 many customers used SAP’s ABAP Workbench to develop missing functionality. Then Release 3.0 came out which had so much functionality that customers were primarily busy with customizing issues.
In 1995 SAP embraced the Internet with the very first version of ITS. That opened up a total new space for developers allowing to build radically new scenarios running in a web browser connected to existing R/3 installations. Consequently, the first technichal developer’s conference (nowadays simply called Teched) was organized in Orlando in 1996.
We had about 700 attendees then, talking mainly about how to build Internet application components. BAPIs were born to encapsulate business logic written in ABAP and to make them callable from a web session running on ITS. While Orlando was organized similar to a classical SAP customer event such as Sapphire it soon became clear that the technical community around SAP preferred a more handson experience.
People wanted to get educated, they wanted to test-drive new technologies rather than listening to marketing presentations. Since Hasso and Bill were celebrating SAP and Microsoft at that time, us techies were told to run OLE with SAP in all directions.
Later, in the late 90’s ABAP had its comeback since ABAP had learned to talk to a web browser directly through business server pages. Web programming in ABAP had never been that easy. Just enter the Workbench and link your ABAP code into an HTML page, activate it, and launch the page in the brower.
Developers have quickly adopted this new way. Somehow, the advent of BSPs has coincided with SAP’s engagement into the J2EE market. SAP showed up at the Java/One conference which was a pretty new experience for us all.
Over the years SAP’s technology has been perceived as robust and scalable, but proprietary and therefore it never really reached beyond the SAP eco system. When Hasso did his key note at Java/One that was a major step towards the external developer community.
Today we offer a developer edition that you can download from the SDN homepage that contains cool development tools based on Eclipse. Having been to all Techeds I think SDN will be our ongoing online developer’s conference with articles, samples, discussion forums around SAP’s technology, and I invite you all to participate no matter whether you code in ABAP or Java or even both.