Quo Vadis ABAP? I am worried.
ABAP is getting more and more database-specific features – and this make me worry. Please don’t understand me wrong – I have no problem with SAP’s technological strategy but with SAP’s communication und documentation. And I’m convinced that this will lead to severe problems unless SAP decides to deliver better documentation.
SAP said it loud and clear: not every feature of ABAP language is supported on every database platform – typical examples are ADMP and CDS with parameters. With parameterized CDS you can do amazing things: operational reporting, fast queries, and it is a very powerful tool for code pushdown to the database.
Before reading the next section I would like you to answer following questions about NW 7.40:
- Do you know which DBMS of the PAM support parameterized CDS?
- Supposed you have a complex SAP landscape with different DBMS: How do you find out whether parameterized CDS is supported in your landscape?
- Supposed you are an SAP Partner and your solution uses parameterized CDS – do you know on which DBMS your solution runs?
The answer is difficult since in NW 7.40 parameterized CDS is not supported on every DBMS of the PAM. SAP doesn’t provide any official information which database platforms are supported. This restriction is documented in ABAP Help with two sentences: if you use parameterized CDS on DBMS that doesn’t support this feature you get an exception. There is also a class that provides the information whether the system database supports the feature.
Where’s the Problem?
The answer is simple: how can we make technological decisions when SAP doesn’t give precise information which feature of ABAP (and of course AS ABAP, too) works on which database? How can we be sure that our software is running a system landscape with different DBMS? This is common in larger development systems and the general case for SAP partners.
We have the following possibilities:
- We can develop a solution that supports anyDB. This can be difficult and expensive since we have to develop two variants, say one with parameterized and one without. Dual development has its costs and if I have the choice I would like to avoid it. In the end I think I have to avoid it because of economic reasons.
- We don’t know or I don’t care about the restrictions. But then the solution crashes when it runs on a DBMS which doesn’t support the feature. In the worst case this could lead to a production downtime, which is or course no option. Unfortunately parameterized CDS has some unique features and when there are in the core of your application a change could be problematic and expensive.
- We know about a restriction and I will change the DBMS. Of course this is expensive.
- We decide not to use the new techniques at all. This is annoying since I paying for the platform. Without using new features the platform loses value.
This is the dilemma. Without knowing the facts we could get into trouble if our systems landscapes are running on multiple DBMS. Without this information SAP partners can’t neither answer the question whether their solution runs on a special DBMS nor make reasonable decision.
What do we need?
The answer is simple: whenever there is a restriction, SAP customers and partners should be informed about it. Here we need a list of supported databases. As I explained above it does not suffice that there is a solution only at runtime. I need this information in a release note so that it is an eye-catcher no one can miss by chance.
Why I am worried?
At the moment there are only a few restrictions, but as I explained above the times are over when AS ABAP was database agnostic and the whole PAM was supported. Of course it was possible to create database specific solutions using native SQL/ADBC, but the Code Inspector / ABAP Test Cockpit contains checks so that we ensure at development time that our solutions are platform independent, but I know no automated checks for parameterized CDS so far.
I think it is very likely that SAP will continue to develop ABAP features that are no more database agnostic. As I said above I have no problem with this but I need explicit information about restrictions. Everyone with complex system landscapes needs this information especially partners. If SAP continues adding database proprietary features to NetWeaver platform without precise information about supported DBMS, we will start developing solution where no one can tell on which DBMS they can run.