What is SAP?
SAP is both the name of the company and the name of the software they supply, infact it is one of the biggest companies in the world. Despite this many people will have never heard of it other than maybe seeing it on the side of the mclaren F1 team or on various other advertising bill boards. That is unless your company uses it and you are familiar with it through work! That is how I got into it and would think how many people get into SAP. The main reason for this is that in order to familiarise yourself with the system and its development opportunities you ideally need a full up and running system, which means working for a company that uses SAP. Having said this it is possible to install local versions of SAP like mini SAP in order to use the various components but having access to a fully blown system makes things a lot easier.

SAP Development using ABAP
In its simplest terms in order to create the SAP system, first a 4th GL programming language was created in C called ABAP. This stands for advanced business application programming, well the actual meaning is in German but this is the English translation. Once the ABAP development platform was created the SAP system was then entirely built from the ground up using it. Therefore if you are interested in development/programming with an SAP environment you need to learn ABAP. It is a fairly straight forward language to get to grips with and is basically a database language that allows you to select, change and display data using various commands and built in tools such as ALV. Once you have a good understanding of the language you will not only be able to create new functionality for your SAP instance but also understand and change the existing code which makes up the standard vanilla SAP system.

SAP development beyond ABAP
In the early days all you had was the core SAP system which was all coded in ABAP but in recent years SAP has been opened up to the web and allows for other languages to be integrated with ABAP in-order to select, manipulate and display data via web pages on the internet. This means you can use languages such html, JavaScript, Ajax etc alongside ABAP or even instead of ABAP in-order to create web applications in SAP.

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