We are into the third week of Devtoberfest and this session talks about the history of ABAP. As per the session description on the event page History of ABAP (R/2 -> R/3)

“Join Karl Kessler and DJ Adams as they have a broad and in-depth discussion on the evolution of ABAP, where it came from, how it grew and adapted to meet the increasing demands placed on it, and how it blossomed to serve ever more programming scenarios, and where it’s going, with Steampunk and beyond.

Speakers –

  • DJ Adams – Developer advocate
  • Karl Kessler – Product Management ABAP

This session is for all ABAPers interested in understanding how ABAP came into the scene, why it is designed the way it is, and where it is going.

DJ mentioned that this is a good year to talk about the evolution as SAP is now 50 years old and this topic is also explored by Karl in a blog post Evolution of ABAP. The blog is an interesting read as it takes us back to the era of R/1 or RFM (real-time system for financials and materials management) where ABAP served as a tool of reporting and then evolved with SAP R/2, R/3, and S/4 adding object orientation on the way. The blog also gives us a view of how the ABAP editor changed over time, how the architecture changed, and also how the debugger changed.

DJ and Karl spoke about their first experience with ABAP – when did they write their first ABAP code which was an interesting bit from the session. DJ mentioned his experience from the 1980s and that of writing a report and Karl mentioned his experience from a bit later i.e. from the 1990s about the debugger and the dynpros and the R/2 vs R/3 differences and how the developers used to work in both R/2 & R/3.

(Source: Video link )

The duo also spoke about concepts like dynpros, PBO, PAI, the concept of Screen and Transaction processing, commit work, and the fact that the screen name and program variable name are the same which creates a kind of a 2-way binding that exists in the UI5 today as well.

The later discussion touched the points like

  • GET events and how the reports were written around this event-driven model
  • Object Orientation of ABAP and how the ABAP objects were combined with the existing ABAP
  • Graphical capabilities like dropdowns, tree structures, and how objects helped when the GUI came around
  • When RFC was introduced and how it was overwhelming for developers to see it work
  • Share session capability within SAP dispatcher, which was one of Karl’s favorite things in ABAP – was because it was removed later
  • Where we are now – ABAP steampunk
  • The last 6-7 years have seen a lot of new things happening in ABAP
  • ABAP Expressions and RAP
  • S/4 HANA capabilities like CDS where data models are much more explicit

They ended the session talking about the Steampunk and RAP and where we are going. This is basically ABAP in Cloud where GUI is not supported so the language is more restricted.

I did not understand some of the discussion and probably that could be the case with you but the passion with which both of them especially DJ speak inspires you as an ABAPer and makes you feel like being part of a legacy.

I am glad that I attended this insightful session.

Check out Devtoberfest Learning Experience 2022 series to find my take on the ABAP sessions.


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