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Author's profile photo Fred Verheul

Kick off meeting VNSG focus group Custom Development

Next Tuesday, on March 25th the new focus group Custom Development of the Dutch User Group VNSG will have its kick off meeting!


VNSG_Logo_Zonder_Tekst_Small.jpgWhat’s all this nonsense about a new focus group you might ask. Doesn’t the Dutch User Group have a special interest group for developers yet? Well, to be honest: no, we didn’t. Shame on us. But on the bright side: in June 2013, during a Dutch sap_mentor meet up, Roel van den Berge, Jan Penninkhof and I recognised this gap and decided to do something about it.

To their credit: in the past the VNSG has been organising biannual ‘Developer Day’ events, in close collaboration with my former company NL for Business, and these were always well attended and received very good feedback. In our opinion though more regular meetings (which are not intended to replace these events in any way) can bring developers together more often, and help in sharing best practices and collaboration between Dutch SAP customers.

So we expressed our intent to start this focus group to the VNSG back office, used sapteched_amsterdam (how convenient!), the SAP Inside Track Eindhoven (aka sitnl) and the latest Developer Day this january to reach out to interested Dutch developers, and shortly after, we met the official prerequisites. We found Jan-Willem Kaagman, a senior ABAP developer working for a Dutch SAP customer, prepared to be the chair of the new focus group (thanks Roel) and now we’re ready to launch!

Totally off track: we met Jan-Willem through sapinnojam prior to sapteched_amsterdam where he joined a team with Roel, with yours truly as a Design Thinking coach and Jan as a technical expert. Which goes to show what can happen to you when you join these events 🙂 .

General: purpose and mission statement

From the home page of the focus group (translated into poor English): “The focus group Custom Development wants to facilitate knowledge exchange and sharing of experiences between members of the VNSG on all things related to software development on SAP platforms. This includes Business Suite related best practices as well as new technologies.”

The target audience consists primarily of developers working in the SAP ecosystem, but of course (depending on the topics discussed) anyone can join. However, keep in mind that, in order to attend the meetings of the focus group, your company must be a member of the VNSG.

Officially each focus group has (only) a chairman and a secretary, but to make this work we decided to go for an extended task force, consisting (at the moment of writing) of Jan-Willem, Roel, Jan and myself. Anyone willing to help out and contribute to the success of the new focus group is of course more than welcome!

Selection of topics

We’ve already identified a lot of interesting topics worth discussing such as:

  • New tools/products of SAP like ADT, HANA, SAP River, UI5, etc
  • ABAP quality tools, like Code Inspector, ABAP Test Cockpit, etc
  • Custom Code Management (as part of Solution Manager)
  • Development methodologies like XP, Scrum, Kanban, etc
  • DevOps, Continuous Integration/Delivery
  • ABAP frameworks like BOPF, BOL, etc
  • Developer best practices: SOLID (in an OO context), TDD, …

If anyone has any more/other suggestions, please leave them in the comments. I’m sure the list above isn’t exhaustive, but we should be able to have interesting content for at least the next couple of years 🙂 .

Kick off meeting

So what do we have in store for the first meeting on Mar 25th? Well, we’ve got two presentations in which we’ve tried to combine old and new (thanks again Roel):

  • The first presentation will be a journey of discovery through the features of the new ABAP Development Tools aka ABAP in Eclipse. We managed to get famous Dutch ABAP veteran B. Meijs (Ben for intimi 😉 ) willing to share his first experiences with the new tooling. Ben should know all about this as he was one of the organisers of the first Dutch Codejam on this very topic, only weeks ago!
  • The second presentation will feature Jens Weiler, product owner of the ABAP for SAP HANA Integration team from SAP, who will explain ABAP on HANA to us. We’re very happy that Jens is coming to The Netherlands to speak in detail about this topic.

At the end of the meeting we will have some drinks to celebrate this first meeting. I want to thank our sponsors (also prominent members of the focus group) for making this possible. In alphabetical order:


Ciber NL




NL for Business



Pyramid Applied Solutions

As you can see from this list the focus group is already broadly supported!

Next steps

After this initial meeting we’ll have 3 more regular meetings in 2014, on May 22nd, Sep 23rd and Nov 20th! Mark your calendar!

We’ve also already been in touch with the UEX focus group, represented by Marcel Rabe and recent HDE Tamas Szirtes (both very active in The Netherlands) and decided to organise a combined meeting that will be dedicated to SAP Fiori. Hopefully we can share more on that later.

But first: see you all next Tuesday!

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      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Hi Fred - These are the list of questions which i have asked experts from ABAP for HANA group  but i didn't get any convincing answers..Hopefully if this can be clarified during your meet with SAP then that would be great and helpful to the community members. I am sure everyone has this question in their mind including yourself...


      Whether ABAP can be used as a first choice for building new applications which will solely run on HANA. If SAP says this is true then why are they saying that HANA Native development should be used for building new applications?



      HANA platform has inbuilt Application server (Two-tier architecture) which provides runtime environment for Serverside Javascript / SQL Script / River while ABAP / Java environment is typically based on 3-tier architecture(Requires additional application server layer if we want to use ABAP / Java for HANA)..Why can't ABAP/Java be brought within Application services component of HANA platform and provide similar 2 tier architecture set up where by providing multiple options(Serverside Javascript/River/ABAP/Java) to customers to build native applications on HANA? Whether SAP has any future plan to extend HANA Native development capabilities to ABAP / Java?



      Author's profile photo Fred Verheul
      Fred Verheul
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Abdul,

      I'll certainly forward your questions on Tuesday.

      My guess for the moment:

      1. While AS ABAP can be used, that doesn't mean you should use it. There is no contradiction in SAP stating that AS ABAP on HANA can be used for native applications running solely on HANA, and saying that HANA native development should be used for such applications. Adding a heavyweight application server like AS ABAP on top of HANA adds a lot of overhead, while not adding much value for developing new applications, which is perfectly fine using native development.

      2. As mentioned above: AS ABAP is a very heavyweight app server that you don't just add to the HANA application services. Same for AS Java. Another option would be to add only the language itself and a much smaller version of the runtime (if at all possible). But even then, why adding other languages, making this built-in app server heavier and heavier, when it doesn't add new capabilities?

      That said, we'll see what happens on Tuesday 🙂 .

      BR, Fred

      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Hi Fred - Thanks for the response..With respect to point#1 Let us say a customer has upgraded to Business suite on HANA and now that they have ABAP AS + HANA XS in their landscape.They have the requirement to build a new report / application..My question is what is the approach the customer has to take ie.use ABAP or HANA Native development (Javascript / River language)..If we go by the SAP Deck which i have shared we should use HANA XS and not ABAP...My question to SAP is why ABAP shouldnt be used and what is the point in brining ABAP much closer to HANA.Why are they even making such investments..In my opinion either ABAP or HANA XS should be used for building new applications and it cannot be HANA XS alone..SAP has to clarify this...

      Point#2 HANA native development is restricted to the community who has got expertise on Server sideJavascript / river...In my opinion native application development should support ABAP AS and Java AS similar to the offering in SAP Netweaver world..I m not against Javascript infact i love it but whatever  SAP suggests( use only Javascript / River) and limiting the HANA Native capabilities to particular programming language doesn't make sense..They could add light weight ABAP AS or Java AS as well making appealing to more broader development community...

      Hope i will hear something from you after your session with SAP 🙂



      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Hi Fred - I have summarized my questions..Looking foward to hear answers from you after your meeting with SAP...Hope SAP answers straight forward 😉

      1. What is approach (ABAP or HANA XS Development) to be used for building new applications that will run exclusively on HANA?

      2. If HANA XS is the answer to the first question then why ABAP shouldnt be used for building new applications on HANA? Is it the end of ABAP era as new applications shouldnt be developed using it?

      3. Why can't a light weight ABAP AS / Java AS be added to HANA in order to build native applications using 2 tier architecture similar to XS?

      4. Whether SAP will continue to use ABAP for building new applications / Products they develop or they will use HANA XS / River only?



      Author's profile photo Fred Verheul
      Fred Verheul
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Abdul,

      Well, we got some answers. If I don't write them down good enough, I hope Jens Weiler will chime in, but here goes:

      1. You decide. That is, if you indeed have the Business Suite (or something) running on HANA, and you then want to develop a brand new app: make your decision based on available knowledge/expertise and the specific requirements for your application: the ABAP application server is still the best option for heavy transactional applications.

      2. This question is not relevant anymore after the answer to question 1, but to clarify: ABAP is still very relevant, and as Jens said: after some quiet years there's now a massive investment in ABAP on the way with the 7.40 release and HANA optimizations.

      3. SAP will never (but never say never 🙂 ) release an ABAP application server that's not backwards compatible with the version that's running the Business Suite (which is too heavyweight for the purpose you describe). As for Java: no clear answer, but not likely to happen: a choice has been made, now just deal with it! 🙂

      4. SAP will certainly continue to build new applications using ABAP. Refer to answer 2.

      I hope this helps.

      You might also want to listen to (the English spoken part of) the third edition of the otherwise Dutch HANACafeNL podcast (from about 15 minutes onwards) where Jens discusses some of the points mentioned above, amongst other things of course.

      Cheers, Fred

      Author's profile photo Jens Weiler
      Jens Weiler

      Hi Fred,

      no need for me to jump in - perfect answers 🙂 .

      Cheers and have a nice evening


      Author's profile photo Abdul Hakim
      Abdul Hakim

      Hi Fred - Thanks a lot for clarifying the questions with SAP. Definitely most of the developers have this question in their mind..Now we have the clear cut answer from Jens...Thanks a lot to both of you...


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Nice blog Fred! See you tomorrow!!

      Author's profile photo B. Schlicher
      B. Schlicher

      Besides the beautiful topics on CD, maybe an idea to take a look at our strengths to face the increasingly outsourcing of beautiful development work to India or other countries.

      See you at 13.00h

      Author's profile photo Fred Verheul
      Fred Verheul
      Blog Post Author

      Any discussion that's of interest to developers is okay with me. This one should qualify 🙂 .

      Thanks for the input, this is exactly what we're looking for.

      See you in an hour. Fred