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Comparing different IDEs for Cloud Application Programming (CAP) development

Our lessons learned developing an Enterprise-Ready application with CAP and Fiori Tools in the Business Application Studio

By Robert Eijpe, Sr. Enterprise Architect for SAP at NL for Business
September 23, 2020

Nowadays, SAP delivers a lot of possibilities to build a future proof SAP application. I compared the ABAP Restful Application Programming (RAP) model and the Cloud Application Programming (CAP) model in my first blog. In this blog, I will compare the different IDEs for CAP development and will explain why we choose for the Business Application Studio.

Supported IDE

Our decision, explained in my previous blog, for the Cloud Application Programming model with Fiori Elements and UI5 custom extensions for UI development, also drives our IDE decision. In theory, we can choose any vendor-independent IDE or text editor to develop our application. But if we want to minimize our development effort by using the SAP provided tooling for CAP, Fiori Elements, and UI5, we are limited to five different IDEs. SAP Web IDE full-stack on SAP Neo cloud platform. Business Application Studio on SAP multi-cloud platform. Microsoft Development environment is called Visual Studio. And the open-sourced flavor Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio Code Remote.

 

Deprecation of SAP Web IDE on NEO

When we access the SAP Neo cloud trial environment, we will get a message that the SAP discontinues the Neo environment from November 13, 2020. As a result, also the Web IDE will be stopped for the trial environment. In Keren Rotenberg’s blog, SAP advises using the SAP Business Application Studio. SAP continues the Web IDE for licensed customer/partner cloud environments, but SAP invites its customers and partners to try the SAP Business Application Studio. So based on this information, we should choose the Business Application Studio as our IDE for our developments.

 

SAP Business Application Studio

When we looked at the Business Application Studio, we see that it seems like a cloud version of Visual Studio Code, the open-sourced IDE version of Microsoft Visual Studio. In real Business Application Studio is based on the open-sourced Eclipse Theia framework, which runs in a virtual container on the SAP Cloud Platform with an SAP specific setup.

This Eclipse Theia framework reuses quite a few technologies and concepts from the Visual Studio Code. In a nutshell, the technology stack and the architecture of both are very similar. They both implement similar extension mechanism with the same APIs. We concluded that SAP Business Application Studio, Microsoft Visual Studio, and Visual Studio Code in the base are the same.  The SAP tools for CAP and Fiori Tools in the SAP Business Application Studio are available as plugins for SAP Business Application Studio and Visual Studio Code. And many plugins of the Visual Studio Code marketplace can be installed in the SAP Business Application Studio.

Strengths of the IDEs

We conclude that the IDE decision is only about the feature set of the different flavors of the same IDE. SAP Business Application Studio is cloud-based and comes with a predefined setup. We can store five different configurations (containers) per developer and run two of them together. SAP will manage the IT infrastructure, and it will guarantee that we will get a consistent development environment for a small license fee per developer.

When we want to work offline, we can choose Visual Studio Code or Microsoft Visual Studio.  We don’t need to pay a license-fee when we develop in the Visual Studio Code. Visual Studio is the best IDE flavor when we need Microsoft specific requirements.  If we want to maintain our own web-based IDE, which runs in our IT infrastructure or on a docker container at a cloud vendor, then Visual Studio Code Remote will be the solution. But in all these flavors, we become responsible for the setup of the developers’ IDE. And even more important, not all SAP tooling or latest versions will be directly available as a plugin.

Our IDE decision and motives

To build our solution, we choose the SAP Business Application Studio. The main reasons for this choice are; In our project, we don’t need Microsoft specific requirements; we want to avoid setup and plugin availability issues, easy and flexible growth of our development team, and low maintenance cost for the environment. And of course, we can always switch to one of the other flavors.

With the decision for our IDE, we were ready to start our project. We will build our Enterprise-Ready application with CAP and Fiori Tools in the Business Application Studio. In my next blog, I will share my lessons learned using the SAP tooling in the Business Application Studio.

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