Going for a ride with Eclipse and ABAP Development Tools
About this blog post
The SCN Mission called ABAP in Eclipse Explorer Challenge inspired me to write this blog post about how I discovered ABAP, how I discovered ABAP-in-Eclipse and my experience so far.
I started my career as a software developer writing green-screen applications in RPG on IBM AS/400 back in 1998. Even by ’98 standards, the green-screen editor was outdated and required a great deal of willpower to master. Mouse? We don’t need no mouse: function keys go all the way to F24! And look at our 8 possible colors!
So when that company made a move a few years later to build Windows apps in C#/.net 2.0, I was thrilled to use MS Visual Studio 2005. Windows! User-friendly controls! Graphics! Events! Object-oriented language!
About a decade later, that same company made the move to SAP and I wrote my first lines of ABAP in 2012.
First steps in ABAP
After taking my first ABAP lessons and using SE80, I had mixed feelings. It felt like moving to an old language with an old code editor. ABAP is a language with a lot of history and I saw it as powerful and capable as any modern language, but not as sexy. I could not even test-drive my OpenSQL statement with joins as there was no OpenSQL tool. Even after two years, I never became completely accustomed to SE80 and I always wished I could do ABAP in a modern editor.
But I kept on learning and improving with ABAP/SE80: it was still way better than RPG, it’s green-screen editor and green-screen world!
And here comes ABAP-in-Eclipse
In the beginning of 2014 I found out that ABAP development was now possible with Eclipse! Unfortunately, I had to set this new toy aside when I learned that our NetWeaver version was way behind the requirements. But from now on I knew that a time with a better development environment would come.
Fast forward to October 2014: I had the luck and privilege to attend SAP TechEd&&dcode in Las Vegas. One of the lectures got my attention right away: DEV165-Code better with ABAP in Eclipse. (Thank you Thomas Fiedler, Christiaan Edward Swanepoel and Sebastian Wolf!) It was the first time I could use ABAP-in-Eclipse and it felt familiar right away. I was smiling all along. The developer environment I was hoping for was finally here!
Meanwhile, a sandbox system at home just got updated to NetWeaver 7.40 and I could try ABAP-in-Eclipse to my heart’s content.
The Feature Explorer
The first thing you have to do when starting Eclipse is take the Feature Explorer tour. It’s useful to everyone, even if you have experience using Eclipse for some other language or a lot of experience in ABAP. There are unique features that you will not be able to live without.
My favorite new feature from the tour: Quick Fix! Automatic variable declarations, refactoring aids, and much more! There’s no SE24, but Quick Fix helps in providing code generation.
My favorite new feature not from the tour: SQL Console! At last, I can type and OpenSQL statement and run it, just like in any other SQL database.
My suggestion: Add an Advanced Feature Explorer tour, including the SQL Console and debugging.
My favorite things about ABAP-In-Eclipse
- The ABAP Development Tools are a downloadable and separate plugin, not a bundled/branded version of Eclipse for ABAP.
- SAP makes it clear that it’s the future of SAP development by making new ABAP/HANA features available only in Eclipse. (i.e. HANA database views and procedures), but SE80 is still completely compatible and uses the same code repository and locking system. So if you have coworkers telling you that using Eclipse is like cheating on SE80, you can still choose Eclipse and let them stay with SE80.
- Some features are not in ADT yet (like SE11), but SAP GUI is integrated and the transaction opens in an Eclipse tab. It’s a temporary situation and SAP have plans to improve ADT to include those.
My least favorite thing about ABAP-In-Eclipse
There are no plans to make an Eclipse version of the dynpro Screen Painter. That’s sad.
Don’t repeat my mistake: you can try ABAP-In-Eclipse right away
You don’t need to wait for a NetWeaver update on-premise like I did.
- Get yourself the Developer Edition of NetWeaver 7.40, available as a virtual appliance: Developer & Trial Editions: SAP NetWeaver Application Server ABAP and SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA
- Install Eclipse and ADT by following these instructions : SAP Development Tools for Eclipse
- Explore and learn!