Jan Laros

Develop your skills for S/4HANA

At McCoy & Partners, we are involved in several S/4HANA implementations. In this next generation ERP of SAP, developers need to improve their skills to make optimal use of HANA and present a User-friendly interface. Even interfacing can be different than before. In this blog, we will share our development experiences in S/4HANA and give you some advice to prepare for the transition.

Seems to be the same

The first time you log in using SAP Gui and Eclipse, the world seems to be the same as it was in SAP ECC. Most of the traditional transactions are still present and the well-known ABAP Classes, Functions, and Executable Programs are still available. You have to look further to find the new functionality of S/4HANA which is developed using CDS and Fiori.

It's all about CDS

CDS stands for Core Data Services. CDS provides a data model that represents the relationships that exist in the database. CDS allows the developer to define entity types (such as orders, business partners, products, etc.) and the semantic relationships between them. CDS as a technology isn’t new in S/4HANA. What is new, is that SAP ships thousands of CDS Views out of the box in S/4HANA. We can now focus on building functionality while using these CDS Views. Therefore, CDS provides us with a useful abstraction into the database.

SAP has also built new Fiori applications on top of this CDS-model, but partners and customers can also do that. CDS is much faster than BAPI_READ*, because it makes optimal use of the HANA database. As a developer, you should become familiar with consuming, extending and building new CDS-views. They are found everywhere in S/4HANA, even in the data gathering for the new Output management. Start as early as possible integrating ABAP CDS into your development work!

Fiori blooms, but needs a lot of water

Just like CDS, Fiori existed before S/4HANA, but the number of apps is fast growing since the first release. The latest S/4HANA release 1709 features more than a thousand Fiori apps.

Fiori apps come as standard with S/4HANA, but you need to activate and configure them for use from the Fiori Launchpad. Unfortunately, a lot of troubleshooting is involved to make them work. Get well acquainted with the browser debugging tools and SAP Gateway error logs.

Extending Fiori apps and developing new apps

Become familiar with the new 'ABAP Programming Model for SAP Fiori'. In this model, Fiori Elements is used a lot, to ensure consistency across different apps and to speed-up development of apps. With Fiori Elements, you can prevent a lot of custom coding when creating apps by using the most common application patterns.

Once you are familiar with the basics of Fiori you can move to more advanced techniques of developing apps using SAPUI5. SAPUI5 is a well-documented JavaScript framework developed by SAP. The “Getting Started” section provides a very good “Walkthrough” which can be used to gain first hands-on experience with SAPUI5.

There is an API for that

Every ERP system needs integration with other applications. A lot of interfaces are custom built. When working in the new Digital Core less custom functionality translates to less pain during upgrades. It's not well known, but SAP S/4HANA already ships with a number of out-of-the-box API's for use. Start looking at the API Business Hub for SAP S/4HANA Cloud artifacts, which are also available in S/4HANA on-premise as OData API and SOAP API. You can even consume them in SAP Process Orchestration and expose them to other applications.

Lastly, the same API's can be used to expose from S/4HANA to your Digital Innovation System like SAP Cloud Platform. Integrate with S/4HANA using standard API’s and benefit from the cloud innovation services.

The strength of SAP’s technology offering is becoming evident. In 2013 SAP decided to open-source parts of their UI technology in OpenUI5. Invest your time in researching CDS ViewsFiori apps, SAPUI5 and S/4HANA API’s as you prepare yourself for this latest round of innovation from SAP. As a developer, embrace this change coming from SAP and you are ready for the next implementation of S/4HANA.