Q&A for new cloud extension developers at SAP TechEd 2020

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy December 9, 2020
A fast-paced Q&A accompanied what for me was a very late night session devoted to developers interested in building extensions to SAP landscapes using components in the SAP Cloud Platform.

SAP dev whiteboard
Developer whiteboard used for the demo (DJ Adams )

It was stupid o'clock (as in about 3.15am my time) when I got the first analysis out of the SAP TechEd 2020 keynote when D J Adams tweeted that he was limbering up for an equally stupid o'clock Developer Keynote. Full details of the demo content are included in DJ's story, originally posted in the SAP Community, along with the all-important call to action that 'all developers are welcome.'

Given I've not attended an SAP hack night for some years and I was still wide awake (sad I know), it seemed eminently sensible to sit in on the session. I'd heard those earlier sessions that I'd missed raised good questions so that was my focus. 

During the 40'ish minute presentation, which the team had pre-recorded and which took the form of a sprint review, I counted 70 questions in the chat. Almost all were answered by the team - an astonishing feat given the speed at which these things happen. Critically, the team that recorded the session was on hand to answer questions in real-time, hence the reason why DJ and others were up and about across different timezones. 

The quality of questions was, in my view, excellent, as were the answers.

Below is my personal selection of the questions that I sense are of interest to those who are new to SAP and the SAP Cloud Platform which provides the preferred means with which to build extensions. This Q&A also raised questions that have exercised the minds of those who are rooted in the traditional SAP ABAP world but who wonder what the developer future looks like. 

The Q&A is presented to diginomica readers in the form in which it happened with only the lightest of editing. The post-event commentary in my Tweetstream was equally interesting but the one message that piqued my interest centered around a concern that SAP showcased the use of too many IDE's. The response by Thomas Jung nailed the central message SAP is trying to get across: that ALL developers are welcome and that SAP doesn't want to restrict any developer from using the tools with which they are most familiar. 

I'm aware from a variety of executive conversations during the last eight months that SAP is prioritizing the developer role. That came across in the keynote but as always, keynote statements need matching to on the ground experience. Based upon what I saw, the team accomplished that, leaving little room for doubt that SAP remains serious about the importance developers play in the ecosystem going forward, and especially in the white spaces that SAP will not touch. 

From a customer perspective, the clear message is that ABAP is alive, will remain central and supported well into the future and those SAP investments are protected. Most importantly, there is a clear path to easy development in the cloud for SAP cloud application landscapes because SAP has done a good amount of heavy lifting around tedious developer tasks. 

On with the Q&A - enjoy. 

Qu: What's the future of ABAP, will it be influenced by many other languages like Java now a days. Do we need to focus on other languages/Skill as well in point of view of ABAPER to stay in market?

A: ABAP will continue to be enhanced and refined for many years to come. There has been a huge investment in the language and it has proven itself time and again. As far as skills are concerned, I would say keep up with current ABAP tech including the RAP, but also allow yourself to expand into other development models like CAP. Makes for a more well rounded developer. [Rich Heilman]

Qu: What is the most important skill to know in the future for SAP development?

A: There is no one single skill except maybe the skill of learning itself. Our industry is constantly changing and growing. The best developers are the ones that keep their skill sets up to date. This keynote will demonstrate how you can both leverage your existing skillset while also growing into new topics as well. [Thomas Jung]

Qu: As the Mot(t)o is to avoid custom development, how can SAP ensures that they provide all necessary functionality in S/4HANA?

A: I wouldn't say that that the motto is to avoid custom development completely. But instead to do custom development in a way that keeps your core business applications clean. This is the approach we are showing here with side by side development, eventing, etc. [Thomas Jung]

Qu: Do you see Full Stack developer is in need of an hour and will be a prominent role in the near future for SAP development?

A: If you look at both CAP and RAP they are full stack programming models. There is a lot of value for a developer that can work the entire stack. [Thomas Jung]

Qu: Will there be more focus on complete documentation about CAP and all new technologies/frameworks/libraries?

A: We're constantly trying to improve documentation on all points, I'd say that the CAP documentation is constantly evolving and we hope the context is a useful one. [dja]

Qu: Don't you think that CAP and RAP models will lead to two separate developer community going down the line in SAP world?

A: I don't think so. First of all, they share such a rich seam of similarity - domain driven development, modeling via CDS, annotations, service-based orientation. So in fact, given that the programming language contexts are different (ABAP, Node.js & Java) I would say that they would bring the communities closer, not push them further apart. [dja]

Qu: Side by side development is difficult for customers who have legacy add-on. If you give advice them, what you will say them to prepare new environment (SCP/new programming model/new coding rule)?

A: Embrace RAP and the ABAP on the SAP Cloud Platform - and if its a partner with a legacy add-on also look into the new Multitantcy that was just announced in today's executive keynote. [Thomas Jung]

Qu: Is SAP shifting it's focus from SAP's OpenSQL to MySQL or any other "more used" query language. Will this make OpenSQL obsolete/less used?

A: There's no focus shift here. If you're referring to the use of SQLite in the CAP component, that's just a really nice and simple way of providing persistence for local development and testing. [dja]

Qu: In CAP node.js is extensively used. Most of the community blogs and deveveloper.sap.com also contains may tutorials onit. Can't we use python instead? Because python is now booming every area

A: Python is not supported for CAP directly, no. Yes, Python is booming but so is JavaScript (Node.js). [dja]

Qu: I do not have any knowledge on ABAP. What is the best source to learn ABAP in trial version?

A: There are some nice beginner tutorials that work on the free trial on SAP Cloud Platform, ABAP environment available here: developers.sap.com/tutorial-navigator.html?search=abap [Thomas Jung]

A grey colored placeholder image