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Customer Feedback on the Pilot Version of the ABAP Development Tools for SAP NetWeaver aka ABAP in Eclipse

The Customer Engagement Initiative for the ABAP Development Tools for SAP NetWeaver (aka ABAP in Eclipse) took place in the timeframe of October 2011- April 2012. Within the CEI about 20 experienced ABAP and non-ABAP developers at selected customers and partners evaluated the pilot version of ABAP Development Tools for SAP NetWeaver with regard to different aspects including developer efficiency, usability, feature scope, documentation and more. Following the initial blog Customer Engagement: Evaluation of the Pilot Version of ABAP in Eclipse this blog now offers a comprehensive summary of the customer and partner feedback collected during the engagement.

The overall perception was very positive. The participants appreciated the future-oriented approach to offer ABAP development tools on top of the Eclipse platform. Generally the new ABAP IDE was perceived as quite ‘smooth’, very stable, conclusive development environment with simple user guidance. The ABAP development tools are well arranged within Eclipse, very good integrated and connected with each other via good navigation and many useful keyboard shortcuts utilizing the modern Eclipse IDE capabilities.  The provided documentation was helpful, reducing the learning curve for beginners.

The entry barrier for traditional ABAP developers was experienced as medium because the developers needed some time to familiarize themselves with Eclipse and its different handling in comparison with the ABAP Workbench. Especially the first steps with the ABAP Development Tools were partly challenging: create project, connect to the ABAP backend system, navigation between objects was a bit unusual (e.g. the ABAP Workbench forward navigation via double click is realized with F3 or Ctrl+Click in ABAP Development Tools). It took also some time to learn the new shortcuts and icons. Generally conversion with the keyboard commands and new navigation commands required a small acclimatizing. Nevertheless after some time the participants reported back that it really makes fun to work with the ABAP Development Tools. Newcomers in ABAP with Eclipse experience (e.g. Java developers) felt themselves faster at home: projects of different servers can be opened simultaneously in the same Project Explorer view, the IDE can be adapted more flexibly to own needs and is expandable over plugins. The transition was perceived as low, easier, but the developers still have to get to know the ABAP environment, language, Data Dictionary tools etc.

The stability was rated as very high. During the evaluation phase no crashes or errors were reported. Since the backend ABAP system in the context of the customer engagement was delivered and ran on a virtual machine, the performance was difficult to estimate and not comparably with genuine development.

The increase of development efficiency was positive proven by different features. Much typing can be removed from the daily developer work because of very versatile code completion and auto insertion. The fast search for ABAP development objects in the ABAP backend was quoted as ‘cool’. Better representation of complex objects via the new Outline View, more direct interaction was experienced in the comparison to SAP GUI like e.g. selection of a class in the Outline View navigates directly with high performance to the appropriate source code part. The possibility to access several ABAP backend systems within one Eclipse client and parallel development in multiple editor windows (the participants opened up to 10 of them) was rated as the top feature.

The provided functionality was in most cases easy to find (e.g. in menus, toolbars, context menus, using right mouse button). For some not-Eclipse experienced participants it took initially some time to find SAP specific functions in the ABAP in Eclipse environment. The new UI flexibility was very well accepted and UI customization was used by the majority of participants: show/hide views, full screen editor, editor split, etc.

The usability and user-friendliness of the new IDE was rated good to very good after initial familiarization time. The IDE is faster, the usage feeling is more lightweight, less switching between keyboard and mouse. Though the Eclipse is a paradigm change for the classic ABAP developer, the participants admired its usability after spending some time with it.

The quality of the provided documentation (Installation Guide, Getting Started Guide, ABAP System Help) was rated as good. The correctness, technical consistency of terms among each other and with their presentation on the UI was stated as very good. The information was in most cases findable and helped the users to complete the required IDE tasks. Still better user assistance would be appreciated to help experienced ABAP Workbench developers getting more productive with the ABAP Development Tools in Eclipse: explanation about how the well-known ABAP Workbench functionalities are realized in the ABAP Development Tools in Eclipse, information directly in tooltips, more details, sample project including source code for get a quick start, better promotion of new useful shortcuts for faster learning of the new IDE capabilities, some kind of migration help ‘ABAP Workbench->ABAP Development Tools’ for classic ABAP developers‚ ‘Tip of the Day‘ for productivity increase with Eclipse, more context-sensitive F1 help for ABAP commands and so on.

Generally the participants found it reasonable and helpful to use SAP GUI for not natively available in Eclipse ABAP tools. For SAP GUI experienced developers it was not a problem to use SAP GUI window integrated within Eclipse environment. Though the SAP GUI integration was accepted only in transition phase and should be necessary if possible only occasionally, since Eclipse classical look and feel gets disturbed thereby. To work fluently and smoothly the native Eclipse tools are much more suitable. The participants considered thereby less the aesthetic aspect and more the aspect of the different operation and navigation in Eclipse and SAP GUI.

The top features from the participants’ point of view are:

  • Mature code completion (also for ABAP commands and DDIC object names)
  • Parallel development in several ABAP backend systems with display and edit of multiple ABAP development objects in multi-tab editor
  • Better usability and user friendliness (e.g. better “felt” responsetimes for editor tasks like activate/save/navigate/code formatting etc.)
  • Compare source code versions across different ABAP systems
  • Fast Search for ABAP Development Objects (running in background)
  • Code information about ABAP objects
  • Source code templates
  • Outline View of components and sub-components
  • Local refactoring support (e.g. rename, clean-up unused variables)

The missing features and shortcomings (unranked) from the participants’ point of view are:

  • Best practices for traditional ABAP developers used to the ABAP Workbench (e.g. how to use ‘proven’ tools / techniques in Eclipse)
  • Need to use integrated in Eclipse SAP GUI window for Data Dictionary and Web Dynpro for ABAP tools
  • Some functionalities are partly accessible in Eclipse and partly in SAP GUI
  • More enhanced and automated code completion (e.g. show parameter and return values for methods, open automatically during typing )
  • Access to the most important lifecycle management services (CTS)
  • Support of modifications and enhancements scenarios
  • Global refactoring support (e.g. rename for report or class, change package assignment)
  • More templates for new objects
  • Handling for texts (e.g.message texts, T100 texts etc.)

All in all the evaluated pilot version of the ABAP development Tools for Eclipse was considered as a very good starting point showing the potential of a modern, Eclipse-based ABAP IDE with room for improvement. Most participants consider using the ABAP Development Tools in projects with a large share of object-oriented ABAP development and generally in all projects containing ABAP custom development or mixed development scenarios with ABAP and other technologies. For the future the participants wish further development and functional enrichment of the ABAP Development Tools in Eclipse (e.g. native integration of Web Dynpro for ABAP tools), better tool support for graphical editors and more offerings for generative development techniques.

Altogether this engagement was a very positive and productive cooperation of customers, partners, SAP development and product management. Since the responsible product owners of the ABAP Development Tools for Eclipse participated in the pilot program, the collected feedback was directly rolled into the responsible development teams and will directly be considered to improve and enhance future versions of the new IDE. 

At present preparations for the first official shipment (currently planned for Q3/Q4 2012) are in full progress. Stay tuned to get your hands on the new ABAP IDE soon!

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  • Dear Olga,

    As I have said before (and got a stream of very nasty abuse on SDN for saying so) I am a big fan of Eclipse..

    What I would like to know is that do you have to be on a certain EHP level in order to take advantage of this? My system is on ECC6.0 EHP5 – is that good enough, or do we have to do an upgrade (and it is an upgrade no matter what people say) to EHP6?

    Cheersy Cheers


    Cheersy Cheers


    • Hi Paul,

      happy to hear again that you like Eclipse :-).

      Yes, you would need to upgrade, since the ABAP Development Tools in Eclipse relies on the changes in ABAP backend itself, which will be provided in the newer SAP NetWeaver release.

      Best Regards,


  • Hi,

    As someone who has spent most of my time working with NWDS (i.e. Eclipse) for a long number of years now, I hardly spend any time in the SAPGui any more – so I see this as a positive move.

    I was sceptical when I saw early versions at TechEd a couple of years ago but I can’t help thinking NWDS should be the one stop shop for all development in SAP, regardless of ABAP, Java, whatever now.

    I’m hoping that as time goes by, we’ll see closer integration between the ABAP and Java worlds in terms of infrastructure, transport management, version control etc. taking the best of both worlds and combining them and building on things like NWDI & CTS+.  I’d also like to see other newer technologies from SAP, such as Sybase SUP, be incorporated into the standard NWDS platform, instead of requiring a seperate install.

    Ultimately, I assume (or at least hope!) that each and every development type will just become a Development Component (DC) type within NWDS, blurring the lines between the different technology stacks.  I think that would be a very cool result for all SAP developers and indeed non-developers too.

    Having said all that, I really do wish NWDS could be polished further as in places, there are still bugs and issues, even with the latest versions on 7.3 SP7.  After all the iterations of Eclipse -> NDS -> NWDS it still doesn’t quite feel as solid as SE80 does!

    Just my thoughts.


    • Completly agree. The current state of NWDS 7.3 SP7 is very poor, with lots of bugs (and yes, Sybase should be integrated ASAP).

  • why abap in eclipse ….

    SE80 is solid in all aspects and it is continuously improving by SAP in every new version for ex. see – SAP NW 7.02 ABAP EDITOR. ABAP in Eclipse is always consider as a secondary or last option by any SAP ABAP PROFESSIONAL.

    because SE80 Rocks 🙂 .

    my thinking.

    • Hi Ashish,

      i strongly disagree with you. While SE80 is solid it lacks most of the features I am used to in any modern IDE. If I look a the top features from the pilot version I think each feature alone would make me switch to the Eclipse based tool.

      I’m really looking forward to the general availability of the tool.

      @Olga: Will there be a release available on SDN as well?


      • Hiii Christian,

                             i also know SE80 lacks some features and i am not against  ABAP in Eclipse IDE ……  upgrading you self is always be better that is SAP ……… but It would be better to say more about ABAP in Eclipse after use of it . i’d developed my java projects in eclipse IDE for java and it is fabulous for java developer but in case of ABAP up to which level it’ll help to ABAPER’s  can’t say 🙂    so just wait for it .

        after that we’ll talk over a new topic SE80 vs ABAP in Eclipse 😉

        • Hi Ashish,

          when you experience the new IDE in Eclipse you will see that it is not SE80 vs. Eclipse. It is SE80 plus Eclipse that makes you happy in future. You will not loose the good and proven concepts from SE80. The development experience (server based, tight integration with CTS … ) is the same in Eclipse then in SE80 but with a much better user experience.



  • Hi thomas ,

                      SE80 plus Eclipse sounds really good 🙂   i’m also waiting for Eclipse and wanna write code inside it 😉 but as you seen recently SDN -> SCN change some people like this and some not so i feel same case may be occurs with eclipse let see ….. but i am ready to update my self and wanna get advantage of SE80+ Eclipse 🙂   when will it available  ???


  • Great article.

    My absolute dream is incorporate ABAP into Visual studio ( 2011 🙂 ) and not eclipse .

    But I’m sure in comparison to ABAP development in SAP it’s quantum leap.

    The current development IDE in SAP is few years behind standard industry tools , i don’t mean to obvious thing like intellicanse (Microsoft visual  code completion )  but rather tools for code review , developers collaboration and other state-of-the-art tools.


  • I attended a session in Dec-2010 TechED where I was introduced to ABAP in Eclipse, eagerly looking forward for the trial version in SDN.

    Can we know when exactly this will be open to the developer community for a “dry run” ?

  • Hi Olga,

    i have got some additional questions:

    – Will the first official shipment of ABAP in Eclipse be able to fully handle WD-ABAP Development and Adobe Forms Development (Integration of Adobe Lifecycle Designer) ?

    – If not, is there a roadmap for both ?

    – Which Netweaver-Release/SP will be necessary ?

    Thanks in advance,

    Armin Hofius

  • SE80 PLUS Eclipse?!?!?! It’s nonsense… I can do everything in one tool, why would I use two?!?!

    I will not touch this until I can retire my SE80, and even then I’m not sure I’ll move.

  • Please, if you’re going to release this against a very stable SE80, test and test, and further test the IDE. The tool must be very stable for people to switch, and judging by the current state of NWDS you still got some serious testing to perform.

    If you dump an unstable mess in the marketplace people will just ignore it, you can be sure of that. I’m sorry I’m forced to use NWDS because of WebDynpro JAVA/BPM.

  • Hi Olga,

    Last time on Dec 1, 2011, you informed us about the Evaluation of Pilot Version, and now within a short span of time you have provided us Customer Feedback. Its good to know that customers have given a thumbs-up to ABAP Based Eclipse IDE.

    Olga, what about the debugging capabilities (both session as well as external breakpoints) are handled in Eclipse IDE, because when, I was doing development on WD JAVA (NWDS) we need to create Debug Configuration is NWDS as well as on Server side in config tool Debug Settings need to be enabled.

    Is it possible to set directly a session or external breakpoint in ABAP Based eclipse IDE, or still developers need to create debug configurations.

    HTML5 or SAPUI5 Support????


    Waiting for release of NWDS for ABAP 🙂

    Best Regards


  • Interesting read.   I’m kind of a wait and see type person.  I’ll wait until I have it in my hands before I jump out and say – it will be better than SE80 or it will be a lot worse.   As far as one or the other, SE80 will probably be slowly phased out.  So many people use it right now.   I see it something like structured programming to ABAP objects.   It’s a slow process.   It may never be done.  There are so many programs that are structured.  And if it isn’t broke we won’t change it.  As long as structured programming is available it is faster to do something that people know – I get that push back a lot.   And so, my ramblings do have a point, it will be easier for people to use SE80.  They can get their work done quicker that way.  So will they ever move to Eclipse?  It will be interesting to see.

    I’d love to read a review from someone who actually tried this.  BUT the people who tried it are not the ones that will be saying it is quicker to do it the old way.  They by definition are people willing to try different things that eventually will make programming faster.

    Sorry to get off-topic.   But it seems like SE80 will never be gone.  There just will be another tool introduced.

    Good blog – and looking forward to when I can play with it!


  • ABAP Development Tools for SAP NetWeaver (aka ABAP in Eclipse) is now generally available with SAP NetWeaver AS ABAP 7.03/7.31 SP4!

    Download and installation instructions (SMP login required): 

    In the near future we also intend to offer a trial version on SAP SCN.

    Join ABAP in Eclipse community to stay updated about ABAP Development Tools, discuss IDE-related topics, publish interesting materials or links or make enhancements proposals!

    Best Regards,´