SAP is evolving and gearing up to be a cloud company. Its cloud offerings are growing by the day. However at its core the ABAP language is going pretty solid. But still with the newer age technologies coming up we find its difficult to keep all things bundled up neatly in our old ways. Change is eminent. And so is the way we program using ABAP.
As you may know, SAP has therefore ventured out into open systems development and has introduced ABAP Development Toolkit plugin for Eclipse. Though there is tons of material available on this topic already, there are many still who are not familiar with using it. In this blog I intend to help you get started using the Eclipse Development environment to create ABAP Programs.
Need for ADT
So far in SAP we have been well accustomed to using ABAP Workbench to develop SAP Repository Objects such as Reports, Module Pool Programs etc. All these programs were well suited to work in a 3 tier architecture system. SAP R/3 itself was built as a 3 tier architecture system hence it made sense for us to work on the ABAP workbench. However things in the development community are changing fast. Newer technologies like Cloud, Machine Learning, AI, Blockchain etc are bringing new concepts into SAP. Our existing workbench cannot sufficiently support all the development requirements in these newer technologies.
We may not be familiar with Eclipse IDE, however for the general Open Systems world Eclipse is like a Spatula to a Chef. They have been using Eclipse as regularly as we have been using ABAP workbench. Eclipse is an open systems Integrated Development Environment. The beauty of this IDE is that it is totally extensible by means of plugins. Every software company that wants to use this IDE can develop their own plugins which can offer additional functionality specifically suited to make development easy in that language(C,C++,JAVA, PHP, Python etc). Using this feature, SAP has made Eclipse adoption easy by releasing the ADT plugin. This is basically a plugin which helps you connect to your SAP Backend repository from Eclipse easily. In addition it also has extended functionality such as code completion and offline working mode so you are not tied to your System all the time. One more added advantage is that when working on SAP GUI, you are usually restricted to not more than 6 sessions. However with Eclipse you can have n number of workbench sessions and incase you are working on multiple customer implementations you can even open multiple customer installations on the same IDE.
Let’s see how this is done.
Step 1: Install Eclipse
Most of the times when you start out at your clients place, Eclipse would already be installed. However if it is not, you can download Eclipse from Eclipse.org. (Remember: Eclipse is continuously being updated every quarter, so depending upon the time you are reading this blog Eclipse version may have improved further. I have documented this blog on Eclipse Neon 3 Version)
Step 2: Install the ABAP Development Tools for SAP NetWeaver (ADT)
Installing Eclipse itself will not let you develop ABAP programs. For this purpose you have to install the ADT plugin to your Eclipse. SAP releases new updated version of the plugin for newer releases of Eclipse. These plugins are not limited to ABAP but also cover topics such as BW, CLOUD, CLOUD Integration, HANA etc. You can check all these tools at the link https://tools.hana.ondemand.com
- In the Eclipse menu bar, select: Help > Install New Software…
- In the dialog box add the URL
https://tools.hana.ondemand.com/neon(e.g. for Eclipse Neon)*
- Press Enter to display the available features
- Select ABAP Development Tools for SAP NetWeaver and click Next
- On the next wizard page, you get an overview of the features to be installed. Click Next
- Confirm the license agreements and click Finish to start the installation
*If nothing happens when you add the URL in the install New Software box, this would indicate there is an issue with your browser certificate path for the website. Check note 2616258 on how to resolve this issue.
Step 3: Switch perspective
- Switch to the ABAP perspective by clicking the Open Perspective button or using the menu: Window > Open Perspective > Other.
Step 4: Select the ABAP perspective
A perspective is the specific way in which the development environment is laid out. In ABAP Workbench we did not have the concept of perspective because we were restricted to only ABAP based development. However in Eclipse you can develop in any language and each language will have its own set of tools and developers in that specific language would want the workbench laid out in a way that is comfortable to them.
The ABAP perspective, usually has the following views
- Project Explorer View
- Outline View
- Editors Area
- Features Explorer View
- Other Views
Each View can be closed and opened separately. If you accidentally close a particular view, then you can always open it through the menu option Window > Show View.
Step 5: Create a New ABAP Project
Open the File menu, select New and then click on ABAP Project. Choose the ABAP backend system from the list of SAP System connections and press the Next button. One thing for this to work is that you need to have SAP GUI installed on your machine. If thats the case then Eclipse would simply read the entries from the logon pad and you can then connect to any of the servers that support ABAP Development on Eclipse that you want.
Step 6: Select Connection Settings
Once you select the server click next and confirm the connection settings and click next.
Step 7: Enter your log on data
Now enter your login details just like you would enter on your SAP GUI Login Screen.
Step 8: Project created Successfully
The ABAP Project has been created. It represents a system connection to your chosen SAP system. From the screenshot below, you can see that I have opened connections to DE3 system client 110 and 199 and another customer installation S4H.
As you notice we can create multiple projects in the same IDE if we are working on multiple systems or multiple customer projects at the same time. As you will see in the later blogs I publish that its easier to open multiple session windows in Eclipse. Doing this in our usual SAP GUI is not possible. In fact in SAPUI we are restricted to only 6 session. This is by far one of the biggest advantage of using Eclipse as we are generally used to working with multiple windows comparing various repository and dictionary objects when we are developing any object.
Ok, so now that we have our project ready, in the subsequent blogs I plan to touch the various repository objects that we usually create in our day to day SAP Development work. To set things in context I plan to do a one to one comparison where ever possible to explain how things are done in SAP GUI vs SAP IDE. So stay tuned.
P.S : I know people are interested to learn these things but don’t always find an opportunity to get their hands on a sandbox or development system. If you are in the same boat then SAP has made that a bit easier for us. SAP has released a Free Trial version of SAP 1708 HANA system. I strongly suggest you start on this server. Though this system is Free trial but there is a charge for the cloud platform hosting. But when it comes to learning, this in my opinion is a small fee for a major achievement.
Please follow this link incase you want to know how to get access to the Free Trial SAP Instance.
Ok that’s it for now. See you in the next blog.