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Using .Net development skills with SAP

Recently, I started to learn ABAP while working at a consulting company. My background in IT is Web development using the MS .Net platform. Can I use my .Net development skills with SAP or do I need to study Java?

Recently, I started to learn ABAP while working at a consulting company. My background in IT is Web development using the MS .Net platform. Can I use my .Net development skills with SAP or do I need to study Java?

SAP would tell you that you now have three development environments to choose from if you are an SAP customer:...

.Net, Java/J2EE, or Web Application Server/NetWeaver. And to the best of my understanding, SAP does indeed support all three environments through its NetWeaver platform. In truth, from what I have seen so far, the J2EE development environment is the most common choice (of the three) for SAP users. But then, not many SAP users are running on WebAs yet - though that will change. I do expect some SAP users to opt for a .Net development environment, so you might do really well down the line as you "wait for SAP to come to you." But of course, you never want to wait around for any technology - we've all been burned before using that approach.

Since you're new to SAP, you have a lot to learn. For starters, just getting a good handle on ABAP is valuable. But in the future, I could also see you learning more about the WebAs/NetWeaver platform. I also can't see a reason not to learn as much as you can about Java/J2EE. Many of SAP's web products are either Java-based or Java-related, such as the SAP J2EE Connector. There is a lot to learn out there - just pace yourself, and try to strike a balance between gaining the hands-on skills and doing research/training on your own time. Obviously, you have less control over the hands-on part than you do your own training, so do your best to learn from your hands-on work, then make sure to fill in the missing pieces on your own time. If you are truly fascinated by the comparison between the J2EE, NetWeaver, and .Net environments, you might want to pose a question for Axel Angeli, a technical expert on SearchSAP. I have published some of Axel's work on this topic on SAPtips, and I can tell you that Axel has a special skill in breaking down the differences between these environments. One of his most compelling (and controversial) positions is that for enterprise-level projects, the new NetWeaver development platform is superior to both J2EE and .Net. His confidence in NetWeaver/WebAs tells me that all SAP developers would be wise to learn as much as they can about these SAP technologies, and not simply assume that SAP users will rely on J2EE, .Net and/or WebSphere middleware. SAP's long term goal is to be the development platform of choice for its users, and if you know your SAP history, it's wise to take SAP very seriously on something like this. As you build on your technical skills base, I would keep SAP's long term objectives in mind.

This was last published in February 2004

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