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Is it Really Over for ABAP Developers?

Years ago, the same question turned up for COBOL developers. People thought that as new technology came into play, COBOL would soon die and be deemed obsolete. COBOL has been around for 59 years now, and a lot of industries, banking most especially, still use COBOL to maintain their mainframe systems. And since COBOL developers are now a rare kind, COBOL programmers especially the very skilled ones, are compensated so much better than other new tech programmers.

So, what about ABAP? This has been a decade long discussion in forums and blogs that kept a lot of developers paranoid about their future. This is still a hot topic worth discussing and I would like to encourage readers especially developers, that just like any old language like COBOL, ABAP is here to stay, BUT… it is a YES, that does not come without any conditions.


SAP was born in 1972. Since then, a lot of companies have implemented SAP into their system using both standard and customized implementations. I was introduced into the world of ABAP in the year 2006. Back then, it was popular for companies to upgrade from R3 to ECC systems, and in every migration, ABAP is still the main language used to optimize these applications.

There a lot of SAP legacy systems around the world. With this, companies still heavily depend on ABAP code. ABAP is still the core language used to maintain these applications, even with the introduction of new technology like SAP HANA. There are countless customizations of SAP business processes in different industries, and with this, ABAP developers will still be in demand to work and maintain these kinds of systems.


Originally, this was not really the route SAP wanted for companies and their users. SAP still encourages businesses to use the standard modules that come with the package. However, customization is inevitable since each company still has its own unique set of business rules and processes that are different from other competitors. SAP applications will always need to have a way to adapt to these processes and one way to address this gap is through code customization.

Note however, that SAP is always trying to improve its ecosystem and one way they are trying to do this is the introduction of Custom Code Management. This tool encourages developers to have a central point of customization so as to improve coding standards and prevent chunks of custom code scattered all around the system. However, even with this new way to manage customization, ABAP is still the core framework used to extend, enhance, and modify SAP functions.


So yes, we will not easily do away with ABAP coding given the history of legacy systems. Code customization is also mostly needed for unique business processes to work within the SAP application. However, ABAP is no longer just a stand-alone technology and it now comes hand-in-hand with something else in SAP. I started my SAP career as an ABAP developer and as I was exposed to project after project, I was no longer doing just ABAP work. I eventually became a techno-functional consultant for SAP HR, which means I was doing both ABAP development and process designing for a particular module in SAP. Also, I was exposed to SAP PI (Process Integration), which is another technology that uses both Java and ABAP. Overall, even if ABAP will not become obsolete, the language is now mostly used together with something else in SAP. So, it is actually a good idea to acquire further skills in SAP to be able to use it alongside ABAP coding.


SAP offers free courses in where you can start learning their new tech and innovations. It is encouraged we continue to upgrade our knowledge and skills instead of worrying about our future. Here are some suggested topics that are worth learning to enhance your career in ABAP and in SAP in general.

  • Object-Oriented Programming in Java
  • SAP Business byDesign (offered in different modules)
  • SAP Cloud Platform
  • SAP Fiori
  • SAP Hybris
  • SAP Leonardo
  • SAP SuccessFactors

Courses for these topics are available in Keep busy, stop procrastinating. J Happy Learning!

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  • Hi Ivan,

    So ok, and what qualifies that ABAP will go away for new systems? ABAP is more modern and received more enhancements than ever before. So I don’t see the need to turn the main focus. To be fair, you need to be more open to other languages as well, because these hits you from the side.. such like java, javascript, R and some other stuff, for example odata. But the big thing in the middle is ABAP and will remain ABAP in the S/4 Context, at least for the next years.


    • The only thing I can think of where ABAP will go away is when SAP overhauls its own system makeup. Say for example, they decide to change the implementation and framework of their on-premise systems into solely using java. But I don’t think this would ever happen. As I mentioned in my article, I believe ‘…ABAP is here to stay…’ because of all the support legacy systems need.

      I do agree with you that we need to be open to other languages such as java or javascript because SAP is expanding its technology that touches other platforms. It is also the reason I encouraged readers to continuously learn and upgrade their skills thru avenues like


  • Sorry but I think in the US, ABAP is going away or at least is becoming a commoditized skill.  As a freelancer it’s getting more and more difficult to find good projects that pay above a salary rate.  We have a lot of competition from offshore development and rampant abuse of sponsored visa workers.  And the work itself is getting less rewarding…here are the likely scenarios happening:  liason or requirements gatherer for offshore, break-fix development, working 80+ hours per week on behind schedule projects with no specs, etc.

    I don’t mean to always present doom and gloom, in fact amazingly I’ve been able to parlay a development position at my current client, transitioning from an integration test lead role.  Good luck to all.

    Feel free to connect with me on social media…

    Glenn Allen
    Twitter:  @glenn_a_allen


  • I started in ABAP in 1992 / 93 and back when I started R/3 was just coming out, everything was client server, and SAPQuery was about to make abap obsolete, or so we were told.

    Then we had the .com boom, and ABAP was gonna be out, JAVA and Javascript were king.

    Then we had Visual composer, and that meant that end users could develop their own applications, and we would all soon be out of a job…

    Then it was HANA and ABAP was no longer necessary as you cut out the middle layer of code, and get the front end to go direct to the DB, except in reality its not like that.

    I can recall hearing from SAP that ABAP will be obsolete / superceeded, and I have heard this regularly every 3 years or so as the latest new tools come into the market. This trend just continues.

    ABAP is really not like Cobol at all, SAP have been very active in keeping the syntax and the semantics up to date, and it means that ABAP is very much still a powerful tool, and often the only way to achieve the desired back end functionality.

    I do not see any signs of it being obsolete, just the fact that people have to keep telling us that it is soon to be obsolete are signs that it still is far from it.

    I look forward to another 25 years of people telling me it will soon be obsolete.