In last weeks demo jam session at the SDN meet labs in Germany programmers got a sneak preview of the new ABAP editor. For all who were not able to join this live session I present some screenshots here.
But first I would like to make some statements on the release plan (regarding the current discussion on SDN this may disappoint some people).
Even though the new control will be part of a 6.40 GUI patch to be released within the next few weeks, the editor is not just a frontend game. The editor can only be enabled within se80 on a 7.00 backend release (that will be SAP NetWeaver 2004s).
Also there is some confusion in the discussions here about the feature set. Alas, like with everything, the most valuable features, in particular code completion, will be available last.
In SAP NetWeaver 2004s there will be no code completion for variables, methods, or types, because currently there is no information of DDIC types or global classes available at the frontend side. All features requiring this kind of information are scheduled for the release succeeding SAP NetWeaver 2004s. Other trivial kinds of code completion such as keywords are also not part of the current release but will become available within the next months as a patch for SAP NetWeaver 2004s.
Although sophisticated features like code completion – well known from other IDEs – are not available yet, the new editor will already bring a lot of improvement over the current se80 control of today.
The screenshot below shows some of these benefits like syntax highlighting and collapsing of blocks.
The syntax highlighting is done by a light-weight version of the ABAP compiler that runs asynchronously in a background thread of the editor. Because keywords are not reserved in ABAP it must have profound knowledge about the syntax of the language. Therefore it can easily display structural errors. In the above screen shot the keyword VALUE is misspelled and thus shown in red color to mark it as erroneous.
In future releases most of the syntax errors will be displayed in real time in the editor without explicit compilation of the source code at the backend. Also very helpful are code templates which allow convenient insertion of user defined code. The next screen shot gives some idea on how it works.
Now the programmer can choose to insert some user defined code template for a form routine automatically. The templates can be managed easily as shown in the next screen shot.
Besides these features focussing on editing source code you will find a rich feature set of useful text editing functionality. Among these are clipboard ring, block text selection, multiple clipboard formats, incremental search, bookmarks, auto indent, auto correction, and printing. The editor will also be used by the debugger for displaying code. The next screen shot shows a sample debugging session.
As you might notice in the last screen shot, type information for variables is already available in the debugger. For the debugger this is an easy game because it displays only code that has already been compiled. As mentioned before we are looking forward to providing this kind of information for editing code as well.
The new editor introduces many features into the ABAP world that programmers have been missing sorely for a long time. It is my hope that programming ABAP will be a lot more fun using this tool so that it will help to increase efficiency in the development process.