Some of you have likely heard of SAP's Mini Web Application Server (known as Mini Basis in its 4.6d incarnation)....
The Mini WAS is a full development instance of SAP WAS 6.10 that you can load on a decently capable desktop machine. MiniWAS comes with a full database install, 6.10 application server, and SAP GUI 6.10. But if you have seen the latest edition of ABAP Objects ($129.95, MSRP), you know that you can get the MiniWAS with purchase of these books. However, did you know that MiniWAS 6.10 can be purchased separately and for a lot less money?
Ostensibly, the MiniWAS is a test-bed designed to allow you to build and deploy BSP applications within the new Internet Communications Framework. SAP provided the MiniWAS as a way to get developers involved and interested in the new Web Application Server and be able to explore some of its latest tools. However, the MiniWAS can also be used to build fully enabled Java applications - both inbound and outbound.
Using JCo and the ABAP Workbench, you can easily build your own Java applications within the MiniWAS. Granted, MiniWAS has limited application functionality. It mainly sticks to cross-applications such as business partners and some activities. Furthermore, it doesn't really come with any data, save for the ever-present FLIGHT application. Having said all of that, the MiniWAS is an awesome way to start experimenting with some of the latest tools and techniques that SAP has up its collective sleeve. WAS 6.30 is on the horizon and promises to be a strong evolution in the Web Application Server releases. However, SAP has not announced plans to release it as a mini system. For now, I definitely recommend getting your hands on MiniWAS 6.10 to kick start your Java development effort.
So, without further ado, point your Web browser at: http://sap.com/company/shop/. Select the "SAP Knowledge Shop -- Public Access" link. On the right hand side of the next screen, expand the "General" tree branch and select "Web Application Server". You should get a list of three products that are available for purchase. Unless you are running Linux, the first two options, although free, are not of much use to you. You want to purchase the "Mini SAP Web Application Server 6.10 Test (English)" at a cost of 25 euros, which, depending on the currency exchange, is about $26-$27.
If this seems like a lot of money, consider the fact that you will pay no tax and no shipping on the purchase! When I ordered mine, SAP had DHL'ed it from Germany, airbourne, and I got it in about 3 days. Definitely one of the best deals going!
Author Austin Sincock is a freelance Java/SAP consultant who contributes regularly to Web and print journals. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his upcoming book Enterprise Java for SAP