Important changes to the ABAP Development Tools (ADT) release cycle
A new ABAP Development Tools client version every 3 months
In 2012 we introduced the Eclipse based ABAP Development Tools (ADT) to the world. Since the very first day we have released new client versions around every 3-5 months. Customers need the newest ADT client version to connect to the newest ABAP server version. However, ADT client updates could be skipped and installed only when needed because most customers do not immediately upgrade to a newer ABAP server version. For customers who are developing on an SAP BTP ABAP Environment system this situation has changed.
Why? With the introduction of the SAP BTP ABAP Environment (https://community.sap.com/topics/btp-abap-environment) we offer a new ABAP server version every three months, now. The cloud-based ABAP systems get upgraded automatically. Customers who want to connect to the upgraded ABAP system need to update to the newest ADT client version.
More information regarding our ADT support strategy can be found here: https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#/notes/1856565
A new Eclipse version every 3 months
Starting with the release 2018-09 the Eclipse platform has changed its release cycle. Previously, Eclipse released one new feature release each year followed by three maintenance releases. Now, a new Eclipse feature release comes out every three months and the maintenance releases were dropped. The reason for it is mainly, to improve the ability to innovate and release new features faster. It also makes Eclipse updates smaller and less disruptive.
What does this mean for the ABAP Development Tools?
The ADT release policy has always been that the ADT plug-ins can be used with the last two feature releases of the Eclipse platform. This has not changed. In the past this meant that ADT plug-ins could be installed on an Eclipse platform which potentially was 24 months old. This is not the case anymore. As mentioned before, now Eclipse releases a new feature release every three months. Applying ADT policy to the new situation means that ADT plug-ins cannot be installed on an Eclipse platform which is older than 6 months.
What are the advantages of the faster release cycle?
Before we supported an old Eclipse release for up to 24 months. This meant that there were cases in which we could not adopt new and innovative Eclipse features immediately because they were only available in the newest release. Now, thanks to the new release cycle, we can adopt and provide new Eclipse features much faster.
Side note: Java Virtual Machines (JVM)
Prerequisite for running Eclipse is a JVM installation. There has been changes in this area as well which are documented in the following SAP Note: https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#/notes/2700275
Summary & Outlook
If you are a customer of SAP BTP ABAP Environment, you should consume new ADT client releases as soon as possible. Furthermore, the release cycle of the Eclipse platform has changed and requires faster adoption of new versions as well.
Find more information on how to efficiently distribute client updates within larger organizations in the ABAP Development Tools Installation Guide (chapter 6.3 “Recommendations for the System Administrator”).