I have over 20 years of IT experience, but only about 2 years with SAP. I just got back from ASUG 2002, and it's...
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clear that SAP's direction is Java and XML. I think that I MUST make the transition to Object Oriented programming right now. I am reading an Introduction to OOPs and have purchased books on _ Intro to Java and Using Java and BAPIs with SAP. Am I making the right moves? Is there anything else I can do? I imagine that reading these texts will keep me busy for awhile. I was interested in learning to working with DynPro processing, but that seems to be obsolete now and there is no demand for that skillset at my company. Thanks for your help in advance.
I've been getting a lot of questions about the future of ABAP lately. Many readers are concerned that ABAP is becoming obsolete. On the one side, they see all kinds of automated tools replacing the need for classic ABAP functions like data conversion. On the other hand, they see SAP pushing towards a new, Web-driven development environment that has very little to do with ABAP.
Since you've just returned from ASUG, you know exactly what we're talking about. Java, XML, and object-oriented programming are technical buzzwords that SAP programmers need to be aware of. On the other hand, ABAP work is not going to go away either. I believe that the future SAP development environment will be a hybrid of automated development tools, Java/web-based EAI environments, and classic hardcore ABAP customizations. SAP is not about to rewrite its entire application line in Java. With that in mind, ABAP programmers should use the same "hybrid" model as they pursue their own skills development. Of course, the advantage of expanding ABAP expertise into Java and other non-proprietary solutions is that it gives you flexibility and marketability outside of SAP. I think SAP's future is strong, but it's nice to have more than ABAP under your belt. Keeping one foot in ABAP and one foot in Java-related technologies is the way to go for now.
There's another good reason for this two-pronged approach: Even though SAP is clearly moving towards a more open, Web-based development environment, SAP customers are not adopting these new technologies as quickly as expected. Many SAP customers are sticking with the classic ABAP development environment and are not taking advantage of the latest object-oriented product extensions. As a result, it can be hard to get cutting edge skills exposure and continue working in SAP at the same time. Don't be too discouraged if you have trouble "migrating" your skills from ABAP into Java/XML in the short term. Until companies choose to aggressively invest in mySAP technologies, it's going to be a real challenge to get the new skills you're keen to obtain.
But definitely stick with it, because you're absolutely right about SAP's future direction. I've always maintained that if you can mirror SAP's technical direction in your own skills, then you'll be in good shape. But you can't wait for everyone else to "get it;" you want to stay ahead of the pack. It seems like you're doing all the right things in terms of getting cutting edge exposure. It may just be a matter of time. SAP is adding new Java-enabled features to its core applications with each release, so if you stick around, you should start to see some Web-driven SAP project work. Look out for possible opportunities with Web-based SAP tools like the SAP Java Connector. And if you get an opportunity to work with BADIs, the new object-oriented development tools that ship with version 4.6, then go for it!
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