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The other day I was watching Finding Dory with my daughter and I was surprised by all the similarities of real world challenges within this movie. This Finding ABAP story is about finding your ABAP roots, overcoming all the challenges along the way, meeting new friends, trying to be non disruptive, spotting new use cases and finding your way into a new future. So take a deep breath 😉

 

The early days
The movie starts with Dory, suffering from short term memory loss, suddenly realizing that she has lost her parents and she wants to start searching for them. Without any second thought she starts swimming to the other side of the ocean. Marlin, her friend since Finding Nemo, is more the person who thinks, comes with alternatives, doubts, … all to avoid new stressful situations.
Let’s plot that on an SAP developer nowadays.

The early days (A long time ago in a galaxy far far away 😉 when I was developing ABAP programs I used some SELECT and WRITE statements to generate reports. Or I started transaction SE71 to deliver new SAP Script forms. When I was really lucky I was allowed to create new transactions on top of existing SAP functionality by reusing Function Modules (later called BAPI’s). It was the time that customers wanted to adopt the system to their processes. It was also the time that existing transactions were copied to Z-versions in order to implement customer-specific transactions. It could lead to ZAP in stead of SAP. On short term customers were very happy with a personalized system, on the long term it lead to high cost of ownership as upgrading was really difficult. Sometimes the custom developments had to be redeveloped again.
Can this not be simplified? Customers want to run simple. How can we keep the core stable and add agility? With SAP Cloud Platform you can.

 

Scary?
Sure. You could try to stick to the known, #MakeABAPGreatAgain and #ABAPisNotDead. But there is no need to say so. ABAP is great and will remain to be great. It is about finding new solutions by exploring new technology. Why else is SAP Cloud Platform stuffed with new services like Machine Learning, Workflow, Predictive Analytics, IoT, … you name it. It is to simplify processes at your customer. It is to support end users in their decision making process. The more and better reliable  information we can provide the better decisions can be made, in real time.

 

Find new friends
In your personal journey I recommend to always stay curious and find new friends. Sure SAP has a lot of API’s that you can use. But what happens when you combine API’s of different suppliers. What if you combine device API’s with other device API’s and glue those together with SAP Cloud Platform? You create a total new use case! New solutions, new possibilities. Like Marlin and Nemo did when they used a bucket full of seawater to commute from the open sea to the Marine Life Institute. To show what I mean I often use the example of a meditation device (Muse) that comes with API’s to read brain activities. If we combine the information of the Muse together with a activity tracker we are able to analyze a persons well being and if you then combine that with personalized advice on how to relax or breath you have a new stress prevention program.

 

Overcome challenges – There is always a way
Don’t get stuck in your ‘old’ way of thinking. Don’t let your common behavior block you in spotting new possibilities. Use your current knowledge and combine that with new knowledge to deliver new solutions. Just like Marlin and Nemo who got stuck in a water tank somewhere at the Marine Life Institute and found a new way out. [Spoiler alert] They ‘just’ jump out of the tank into a water fountain that ‘shoots’ them to an aquarium where in the end they’ll find Dory again.

 

Closing shot
In the end it is not about finding ABAP, nor is it about finding HANA or any other language. Use any language you want to achieve your goal. The program you develop is not the goal, to make your customer or enduser happy – that should be your goal. Don’t get focused on old or new knowledge too much.

Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world.

Albert Einstein

Be open to all the new possibilities with SAP Cloud Platform, embrace the openness, stay curious and just keep swimming, eh, developing.

 

Final remarks
Be aware that not all ABAP developers are like Marlin and try to avoid new possibilities. Also be aware that not all HANA developers just jump into the sea and start swimming. We are all swimming around in the same SAP ocean. We can reuse what is already available. Start to build on top of existing API’s, combine them into new solutions without to adjust the core, that needs to stay stable, and on which new innovations or new functionality get installed easily.

 

So when you visit SAP TechEd this year bring an open mind. Don’t just go for the latest and greatest in ABAP or HANA. Take a deep dive in the open SAP sea. See what the platform has in house to explore new worlds, new galaxies to make your customers happy.

 

Enjoy!

 

Based on a talk I did at SAP Inside Track Frankfurt and the Dutch SAP Development Community.

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4 Comments

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  1. Moya Watson

    THIS is classic.  What a great and fresh perspective. Thanks for weaving (waving?) the tale, Twan 🙂   Hope you enjoy all there is to learn at SAP TechEd!

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  2. Paul Hardy

    In some ways the disparity is not that great…

    In the past when your customer was not happy with the standard SAP system you used Z transactions in ABAP and so on, in order to fill in the gaps.

    In a cloud S/4 HANA world, with a stable unchangeable core,  when your customer is not happy you build something in a non ABAP language and connect that to the S/4 HANA system via the public APIs, in order to fill the gaps.

    In both cases the principle is identical, the goal is identical, it is just that how you do it has changed. And when it comes to extending S/4 HANA public cloud edition you will be “Finding ABAP” is not the language you can use…..

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    1. Rolf Paulsen

      Nice article Twan, and I agree, Paul. To be concrete, when it comes to business logic it will be about “Finding Java” as the most relevant one. Be aware there are thousands of developers who found Java many years ago. These developers are experienced swimmers. They are used to integration of any APIs and modern agile development methods. 

      Likewise established UI frameworks like angular will become the key players in custom SAP development, not SAPUI5/Fiori. E.g. because of missing OData tooling on Olingo (except for trivial JPA CRUD applications) and in parallel focus of Fiori on OData which is proprietary in HTML5 UI development. Compared to OData it is much much less effort to produce simple REST services in any programming language e.g. Java that can be used on SCP. 

      (BTW I have no idea what “HANA developer” might be, except the people inside SAP who develop this database.)

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