The hot topic for SAP in 2003 seems to be SAP Portals development. As SAP ramps up the effort to deliver a cross-platform portals solution, here are a few helpful links to kickstart your development effort.
This open source Java development environment appears to be the new standard for doing Java with SAP. SAP has begun offering plugins and other goodies tailored to Eclipse, including plugins for SAP Portals. Check out http://www.eclipse.org for the download. Be sure to get at least the 2.0 version.
Portal Development Kit
In an effort to allow developers without direct SAP access to build portal applications, SAP has provided a full Java-based toolkit. Check out http://www.iviewstudio.com and download the PDK for Java. Registration is free and you will find a good developers forum.
The PDK includes all the Java libraries, APIs, and tag libraries to build Portal iViews complete with HTMLB functionality. Any iView development you code in the PDK can be readily deployed to a live SAP Portals server when the time comes.
You will need a Java application server to deploy the PDK and get easy access to its documentation. Likewise, you will need the Eclipse plugins from www.iviewstudio.com for the code wizards and portal archive packager required to deploy your portal applications.
Last, but certainly not least, you will need the Tomcat Java application server. Go to http://jakarta.apache.org for the download. Unfortunately, the PDK is a little behind the Tomcat curve in terms of releases, so I recommend the 3.3.1 version for easy PDK installation. Some folks on the developers' forum have gotten the PDK to work with Tomcat 4.0, but that does require some minor tweaking.
After you have the appropriate software, simply follow the installation instructions that come with the PDK and you should have full access to your own mini-portal running right from a local machine.
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