Reuse Tools the Treasure Chest of ABAP Systems
In my opinion the ABAP application server is the best platform for developing business applications because it contains a huge set of frameworks which make it possible to create applications within shortest time. This was one reason why SAP Mentor Thorsten Franz and I wrote the book “ABAP Objects: Application Development from Scratch”. We decided not only to cover ABAP language, persistence, architecture applications and best practices but also important business frameworks like the business partner application, related UI frameworks like the locator and BUS-screen framework, business application log and parallelization framework in package FS_PPF and some more. These frameworks are widely used in SAP Business Suite and I find them very useful to create partner and custom applications.
Those frameworks are located in package SAP_ABA and at first I was surprised to find packages whose names starting with the letters “FS” there because “FS” usually stands for financial services. In fact those packages contain software frameworks which have been developed in the context of financial services (especially banking solution) and have proven to be useful , stable and mature. This is especially true in the banking area because stability and performance is absolutely essential. The banking solution deals with mass data many times greater than in insurance area where I am specialized in. So I always have a look at those solutions and especially at parallelization tools like the one in FS_PPF and how it is used. I admire the smart usage of GUIDs to achieve uniform distributions and so optimal packaging strategies in parallelization.
So many frameworks from financial services found their way into AS ABAP – I mean software component SAP_ABA and in the foundation of SAP Business Suite Foundation (software component SAP_BS_FND). In my opinion this is the right decision for many reasons:
- It helps to reduce complexity: There is no need for 4 or 5 parallelization frameworks with SAP Business Suite and industry solutions. If there is an outstanding tool which is outstanding, powerful and easy to use and administrate it should be used instead of weaker tools.
- It helps end-users: just image if there would be 3 or 4 different application logs.
- It allows ISVs and customers to create add-ons to SAP Business Suite which are conformal and use the same technology. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
- The focus on a few strategic frameworks makes it easier to improve them and develop new features.
Since I’m working as software architect I’m looking the tools within packages FS_REUSE and BS_REUSE and found out that in NW 7.01 resp. ERP 6.04 a lot of new frameworks found their way “down”, for example:
- FS_ARCHIVING_ENGINE for archiving mass data
- FS_CHDOC for change documents
- FS_CNS for change pointers
- FS_HDS for hierarchical derivation (i.e. decision trees) which is used in ECH framework
- /BOBF/MAIN – the business object processing framework
Of course it doesn’t mean that I’m using them as soon as they are published. Since those frameworks are not described within SAP Library they are not “released”. Furthermore I have no information whether the downport is complete and the frameworks ready to use. By the way: if I decide to use them I’m using only development objects which are exposed in package interfaces. Controlled use via package interfaces instead of random and reckless access is what separates a SAP professional from an SAP amateur. Unfortunately many consultants, especially many of those who made their first experience in times of SAP Release 3.0 or 4.0, didn’t learn the package concept which is available since AS ABAP 6.10 and programming software that makes my hair stay on end: of course it works but it is likely that there will be problems in the next release upgrade. That is the reason why above mentioned book “ABAP Objects: Application Development from Scratch” explains the package concept in detail. So if you hire a consultant for ABAP development ask him whether he or she read the book 😉
But back to the topic. It would be great if SCN community would start to document the reuse tools using blogs and wikis. And it would be great if SAP communicates which of those frameworks are strategic and therefore recommended to use. A good example for this strategy is BRFplus by Carsten Ziegler:
- Handling business rules are essential for SAP NetWeaver platform and applications on top of it – and so it is a strategic asset that makes the difference between SAP Business Suite and other ERP software.
- If there one tool that is widely used within SAP Business Suite it makes SAP Business Suite easier to use: customers and partner learn how to use it and can apply their knowledge in many applications of SAP Business Suite.
- SAP can focus on those strategic frameworks and can offer training like lectures at SAP TechEd, whitepapers and SAP Press Books.
In the next part of this weblog series I’ll explain why this tool chest is a stretegic asset for the whole SAP ecosystem.