The SAP ABAP programming language allows organizations to process large amounts of data within SAP business solutions. Having a working knowledge of SAP ABAP code enables customization within a system, offering greater control over essential business functions. It is supported on the SAP NetWeaver ABAP application server platform.


The SAP ABAP programming language allows organizations to process large amounts of data within SAP business solutions. Having a working knowledge of SAP ABAP code enables customization within a system, offering greater control over essential business functions. It is supported on the SAP NetWeaver ABAP application server platform.

Predictions about the death of ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming), SAP’s four-decade old programming language, have continually failed. ABAP has evolved to stay relevant through the waves of change such as object-oriented programming, Java, Webdynpro, SAP HANA, SAP Fiori, and cloud applications. With large SAP customers continuing to use ABAP, a new generation of programmers continue to join the passionate, senior cohorts of ABAP programmers.

History and Evolution 

ABAP is a fourth-generation programming language that was introduced by SAP in the 1980s. It was created for the development and customization of SAP software. For many decades, it was the only language that could be used to customize or develop SAP software components. ABAP is a multi-paradigm programming language, meaning programmers can utilize procedural, object-oriented, and other programming principles. Programs written with ABAP can run alongside those based on other languages such as Java, JavaScript, and SAPUI5. ABAP has continued to thrive even as SAP acquired non-ABAP solutions. SAP has released ABAP on the cloud, enabling the extensibility of SAP solutions to the cloud. Now, ABAP is used to develop applications for SAP Fiori, SAP S/4HANA, SAP Business Technology Platform, etc.

Should You learn SAP ABAP?

Developing technical skills in SAP ABAP allows you to modify virtually all SAP solutions and even create web applications. SAP provides its users with an ABAP Learning Journey via SAP Press in the form of books, blog posts, and videos. These tips and tricks can help you hone work processes in SAP ABAP to maximize the effectiveness of your SAP landscape.

All SAP solutions up through SAP S/4HANA can be modified with ABAP code. This means that mastering ABAP gives you the capability to develop and modify reports, interfaces, forms, data conversations, and much more. Learning SAP ABAP gives users the technical ability and skills to master their SAP environment. It is the technology that underpins SAP’s traditional Business Suite, the flagship solution SAP S/4HANA, and many others. In a competitive business environment, it is vital for organizations to have talent with fluency in SAP ABAP.

SAP says its ABAP programming language runs in over 100,000 customer systems, offering users enterprise-ready business applications that can help reduce costs as it is already integrated with SAP. With a reported 4.5 million registered ABAP developers, it is essential to have access to the innovation capabilities that SAP ABAP provides.

SAP ABAP combines SAP’s in-memory database SAP HANA with the digital user experience through SAP Fiori. This technology is consistently updated and extended to maximize its utility and functionality for added application development capabilities and new business scenarios.

How ABAP Works

As a multi-paradigm programming language, SAP ABAP allows programmers to use both procedural and object-oriented principles. This allows programmers to follow the programming model that works the best for them and for their project as well.

Each ABAP program operates within the ABAP Runtime environment, which processes statements and handles events and the flow logic of screens. Though it is SAP’s primary programming language, some applications that SAP acquired may not fully run on ABAP in SAP. However, these products will still come into contact with ABAP when they interface with a central ABAP-based system like an SAP ERP.

Since its release in the 1980s, SAP ABAP has consistently changed and evolved to best meet the needs of SAP users and organizations. To that end, SAP provides users with a set of tools and programs known as the ABAP Workbench. This development environment allows users to test, develop, and execute new programs within SAP, as well as edit existing ABAP programs, write report programs, function modules, and module pools.

This functionality helps programmers create a simple graphical user interface, handle the complete ABAP application development lifecycle, communicate between desktop applications, and access all programming objects. As it is feature-driven, the execution of apps will be affected by user actions and system events.

Before users can start working on their business processes and applications, the SAP database must first be filled. There are a handful of different methods to transfer data into the system. These methods should be weighed based on both the volume and the complexity of the data at hand that is set to be moved over. Data can also be transferred between SAP systems or from a non-SAP system to an SAP system that relies on the SAP ABAP language.

SAP ABAP also offers users different options for writing general programming, using the capabilities of the R/3 system. Users can either execute programs online or, if they would prefer, those programs can also be executed in the background. Users may opt for jobs that run in the background so they can be scheduled at different intervals.

Looking Ahead

SAP made a big move in releasing ABAP for the cloud to ease the migration and maintenance of existing applications to the cloud via the ABAP environment in the SAP Business Technology Platform. ABAP developers can now leverage their seasoned expertise on the cloud with only some training in the ABAP RESTful application programming model. They can do this despite some substantial differences between the new and old ABAP. The most popular use of ABAP for the cloud is adding custom functionality to SAP S/4HANA installation on the cloud. There are restrictions on this capability, with ABAP cloud applications only having limited access to data in the core SAP S/4HANA through a set of OData services.

Clients can be opportunistic in their application development and integration strategy with ABAP, along with other options such as Java, Python, node.js, HTML5, etc., based on their software portfolio, developers’ skillsets, and specific use cases. In addition, SAP customers with complicated customizations are now aiming for a clean core. Modern approaches allow for decoupling customizations from the core business systems with cloud extensions. Clients also aim for clear separations between SAP and third-party extensions.

In summary, ABAP can continue to play a major role in the application strategy. However, organizations must invest in upskilling and select the programming model that suits them best. They must also aim for a clean core to deliver nimble and rapid applications that impact the business.

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31 results

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  2. APIs in ABAP

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    Key Considerations for SAP S/4HANA Cloud ABAP Environment

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  7. New Features for SAP Cloud Platform ABAP Environment

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    Published: 13/August/2019

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    Published: 12/August/2019

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  9. Introducing ABAP Platform 1809

    Introducing ABAP Platform 1809

    Published: 15/April/2019

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    Published: 02/April/2019

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