As software architect working for an ISV I was involved in a huge software development project. We created AddOns to SAP ERP, CRM, SRM, BI, SAP for Insurance as well as own application from scratch that have size & complexity of SAP’s applications. This is possible because the ABAP application server is more than a runtime for ABAP programs. It is far more than a development environment for SAP Gui and Browser based applications. It contains a lot of reuse tools which I called a Reuse Tools – the Treasure Chest of ABAP Systems in my last blog.
For larger custom development projects or partner solutions this is extremely important because we can use those existing solutions, among them you find
- a Business Partner application that is extensible without modifications
- an organizational management that allows to define organizational structure as well as process-oriented organization
- a Locator Framework as well as the BUS-Screen Framework
- Change Documents to ensure revision security
- frameworks for business rules
- Business Application Log to store and display error messages
- BOR objects, SAP Business Workplace and SAP Business Workflow for business process management
- Type linkage of workflow runtime for asynchronous processes and publish & subscribe interfaces
- Parallelization Framework for mass processes
- frameworks for document archiving and document processes
- frameworks for data archiving and archive search & display
- Print Workbench and Correspondence Tool for output management
- frameworks for error handling in batch and online processes
- frameworks for personalization
- Generic Object Services
- generators that create dialogs for creating and maintaining customizing
- tools for authorization issues that is integrated in nearly all above mentioned frameworks
These are some of the tools a software architect in the ABAP world has to know to build an application right from scratch. But the word “scratch” is misleading because ABAP applications can be built using a set of stable and mature frameworks so no one has to reinvent the wheel.
In my opinion these frameworks are the biggest strength of the ABAP application server and gives it an outstanding position. It allows customer as well as ISVs to build new applications that integrate with SAP Business Suite. In other words: the foundation of SAP Business Suite is not only the foundation of SAP ERP, CRM and so on – it is much more: it is the foundation for software solutions of the whole SAP ecosystem and part of the value chain of the ecosystem. They are guarantees for stable and robust SAP- and SAP-based solution and therefore for “SAP” as branding.
What should SAP do?
At first SAP should be well aware this tool layer is a strategic asset for the whole ecosystem because it’s an enabler for value creation in many ways. We can create AddOns to SAP Business Suite, complementary applications, application for integration purposes and much more. And if we know how to use them we can create new apps within shortest time. But therefore we need information:
- Which framework should be mandatory in every custom development project?
- Which frameworks are recommended in custom development?
- How do we have to use these frameworks?
Some of those frameworks are well documented in SAP Library, training courses, SAP Press books blogs and whitepapers. But I’m sure that there is more information that SAP could publish perhaps as whitepaper. And it would be great if more developers and product managers from SAP would use SCN blogs and wiki to explain this platform.
With a little help from the community…
On SCN there are many contributors who spend their time blogging about reuse tools and explain in the forum how to use them. There are many highly skilled people like SCN Top Contributors, Topic Leaders, forum moderators and SAP Mentors who would love to discuss which and how to use reuse tools and which ones should be improved. Together we can give valuable to SAP and make suggestions in which direction they should be developed in future.