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SAP Applications Development

SAP Applications Development

ABAP is the SAP programming language. The syntax of the programming language is similar to COBOL, but it is very different from languages such as Java, C, or Python. Since ABAP is a non-standardized programming language, it is only used in connection with SAP programs. However, ABAP has powerful concepts for developing business applications in this environment. Since 1990, ABAP has also been a so-called object-oriented programming language.

As an SAP developer, you work closely with other software engineers. Together, you will develop, implement and maintain the modules and features of the software that works for your customer or employer. Specifically, these can be architectures, applications, and specific solutions.

ABAP is one of the many application-specific fourth-generation languages (4GLs) first developed in the 1980s. It was originally the report language for SAP R/2, a platform that enabled large corporations to build mainframe business applications for materials management and financial and management accounting. ABAP establish integration between independent software.

ABAP used to be an abbreviation of Allgemeiner Berichts-Aufbereitungs-Prozessor, German for "generic report preparation processor", but was later renamed to the English Advanced Business Application Programming. ABAP was one of the first languages to include the concept of Logical Databases (LDBs), which provides a high level of abstraction from the basic database level(s),which supports every platform, language and units.

The ABAP language was originally used by developers to develop the SAP R/3 platform. It was also intended to be used by SAP customers to enhance SAP applications – customers can develop custom reports and interfaces with ABAP programming. The language was geared towards more technical customers with programming experience.

ABAP remains as the language for creating programs for the client-server R/3 system, which SAP first released in 1992. As computer hardware evolved through the 1990s, more and more of SAP's applications and systems were written in ABAP. By 2001, all but the most basic functions were written in ABAP. In 1999, SAP released an object-oriented extension to ABAP called ABAP Objects, along with R/3 release 4.6.

SAP's current development platform NetWeaver supports both ABAP and Java.

ABAP has an abstraction between the business applications, the operating system and database. This ensures that applications do not depend directly upon a specific server or database platform and can easily be ported from one platform to another.

SAP Netweaver currently runs on UNIX (AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, Linux), Microsoft Windows, i5/OS on IBM System i (formerly iSeries, AS/400), and z/OS on IBM System z (formerly zSeries, S/390). Supported databases are HANA, SAP ASE (formerly Sybase), IBM DB2, Informix, MaxDB, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server (support for Informix was discontinued in SAP Basis release 7.00).

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F.A.Q. about SAP Applications Development

What is a SAP Developer?

SAP is the #1 creator of business software solutions. It's the fourth largest software company globally -- just a couple notches behind Microsoft. What this means is that there's a huge market for developers who are knowledgeable of SAP solutions -- outside of the parent company and outside of Germany. Among these solutions are SAP Business Warehouse, SAP Business Objects, and Sybase mobile.

SAP has contributed to one thing that most software companies haven’t – its own computer language. One possible role for a SAP developer is to write programs using Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP). Some SAP projects are also developed in Java.

Many U.S. companies use SAP technologies. By perusing job posting, you may find some big names: Costco, REI, Nike, even Raytheon.

There are a lot of different roles from SAP systems analyst to SAP architect. It can be surprising just how much know-how and education these positions require.


The bachelor’s degree is the typical entry point for a career in software development. Industry-specific knowledge can be important – in the case of a SAP developer, it is often finance or business.

Many nationally advertised SAP positions favor candidates with master’s degrees; depending on the position, the master’s maybe in business administration or a more technical field.

Higher-level software development positions typically ask for experience taking a software product through the lifecycle. They may ask for knowledge of specific models -- e.g. the Full Lifecycle Model.

Those with SAP expertise often go on to work as consultants. There are two types: functional consultant and technical consultant. The functional consultant is focused on meeting business needs and the technical consultant, well you can guess what their focus is.

SAP Certification

Like its "big brothers" Microsoft and Oracle, SAP offers a host of certifications. They are available in technology, development, and application.

It is possible to simultaneously earn a master's degree and SAP certification. The masters may be in any of several fields, including business engineering and computer science.

Job advancement takes more than just technical skills. A 2012 survey of SAP professionals asked what skills were most important for advancement and raises. Project management topped the list. Business skills and communication skills were also seen as important.

Developers can find lots of resources on the site of the SAP Community Network.