Top SAP technology trends of 2016: ABAP, CDS and Solution Manager

This article is Part 3 of a five-piece series on upcoming trends in SAP software for 2016. In this segment, we will discuss changes and updates to ABAP, Core Data Services and Solution Manager within SAP products.

Moving forward with ABAP

ABAP looks to be making another leap forward this year. The new NetWeaver release, NW 7.50, offers important and useful ABAP language features. In particular, SAP drives toward its goal by making OpenSQL reach SQL Standard, although this goal will not be fully reached in ABAP 7.5.

The trend is there, though. After richly enhancing it in ABAP 7.4, the standardization continues in ABAP 7.5. Some of the major features are UNION/UNION ALL, extended use of host variables in all parts of OpenSQL statements, new SQL expressions and functions and subqueries for INSERT statements. These new features enable developers to construct more compact SQL code, which can be executed on the database server, effectively performing a code pushdown.

An interesting new feature is replacement objects, which effectively redirect access from table objects to views. These are defined on the DDIC level and instruct the kernel to redirect read access to the reference views instead of the original table. This is important for the simplification of the data model in S/4 to provide backward compatibility. With the release of S/4 1511, there will be many more such cases.

Further, debugging ABAP Managed Database Procedures (AMDP) is easier, since you do not need a database user account anymore. This can now be done from ADT (ABAP in Eclipse), allowing for seamless transitions from ABAP to SQL script debugging and vice versa.

Core Data Services (CDS) consumption — features such as table functions (seamless integration of CDS and AMDP), new SQL functions, consumption of associations in query and CDS views with input parameters — have changed as well. Table functions are defined in CDS and implemented as AMDP methods. This is possible because AMDP can now have tabular return values. This new mechanism supports the breakout scenario: the use of HANA native capabilities from ABAP via CDS.

One more thing to note here is that the SAP NetWeaver Application Server for the ABAP 7.5 release supports Unicode systems only. If you are still using non-Unicode systems, you should consider the options for updating your code. There are services available that leverage automation to achieve Unicode-compliant applications with minimal manual effort and zero risk.

Expanding Core Data Services

CDS is another area people will be interested in. Fully transparent SQL extensions have now been created with support for table functions. This is exciting because starting with this feature, you can offer CDS-like consumption of database logic. Plus, CDS views can now be directly mapped to an entity set, making their consumption via OData services easier. The rich annotation set helps a lot in this regard.

CDS host variables are now available, as are additional string and date functions. Input parameters are supported by all database platforms, offering a straightforward way to query views. CDS associations published for public access can now be accessed from ABAP code using path expressions, and it is also possible to use conversion functions, such as currency conversion, in the database layer. This allows for additional interesting pushdown scenarios, thus improving processing speed.

New tools for Solution Manager

Another topic of special interest is the Business Process Change Analyzer (BPCA) and Scope and Effort Analyzer (SEA). BPCA is a code change impact analysis tool that compares the components required to execute a business transaction with the changes from a set of transports. This can also include EhPs/SPs once they are imported into a system. A further focus of BPCA is test optimization, in which coverage is optimized while the number of test scenarios that have to be executed is limited. SEA’s focus is on providing initial sizing and effort estimates for EhP updates where the customer has not yet installed the EhP. This is done by sending an extract file to SAP OSS, which returns information that has to be imported into Solution Manager. Both tools make extensive use of UPL to limit the impact on only used business functionality.

Which of these changes will have the biggest impact on your day-to-day operations? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to check back soon for the next part in our SAP technology trends series.

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