I have been an ABAP developer for the last 12 years and have no experience with any of the newer open source technologies.
Given that there are many such developers on this boat, it'll be great if someone could chart out a skill upgrade path for us. There are a plethora of new tech that it's quite overwhelming to know where to start and how to proceed.
Please leave your comments below if you are one such developer or if you have any advice for this subset of the developer community.
I would recommend the learning journeys:
ABAP Programming - Upskilling from SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA
SAPUI5 and SAP Fiori Applications
If you want a free curse try this one
Getting started with UX
|ABAP New Syntaxes|
|ABAP CDS/CDS Annotations|
|SAP FIORI/Embeded Analytics|
|Native HANA/XSA Development|
|SAP BTP/ SAP CAP/ SAP BTP Services|
|Certifications||Learning content is free for some of the certifications.|
For any of the below mentioned "buzzwords", I would suggest to just start by 'browsing' what interests you most on the Internet. I use YouTube a lot to get short little videos as 'micro-learnings' so I discover myself if I want to pursue some topic. Don't waste effort ploughing through books, blogposts or tutorials if you are unsure they will provide value ...
From the SAP-side, the Learning Journeys website (link) offers interesting paths to explore "new" SAP-related technologies and solutions. I'm not going to offer any suggestions here, because your interests, industry-of-choice, IT-role ... can vary to mine.
Regarding non-SAP, I would highly recommend to start reading up (atleast) on things like Containerization (Docker, Kubernetes come to mind), tinker with a free account on a Hyperscaler (like Azure or something) and learn to work with Github (as a code repository) ...
After the "discovery"-phase, just start doing something. Even if you were to exchange the above mentioned proposals with AWS, Node or TypeScript, you'll still be on a good path of gaining knowledge (also outside the SAP-Ecosystem) provided you use good, recent sources. Some of those sources can be online courses, a well-organized YouTube channel, developer tutorial portals etc.
Finally, just be aware that you are no different than most people in Tech : we all have the same feelings of overwhelm and urgency to keep up with 'everything'. Yet, that is impossible. Choose your areas of interest and dive in slowly, but with a definite interest. Nobody says you need to become a guru on a given topic.
And just to put all of this in perspective : the world still runs on Cobol, Java and Mainframe (and SAP-ERP for that matter) to a large degree, even if it is not advocated that way ...
Hope this helps, and good luck on your approach
You already have some great responses here and I'm not going to try and repeat the areas that have already been touched upon. But let me add my 2 cents worth.
First is to consider on your upgrade path do you want to move your existing ABAP skills to the cloud (IE Steampunk and RAP) or expand beyond ABAP to other programming models and languages? No right or wrong answer there. Personally I tend to recommend both to people. Expanding your ABAP skills and looking outside of ABAP to other capabilities on SAP BTP will make you a more well rounded developers and able to work in a variety of different projects and capacities.
All the new terminology and product names can be overwhelming. There was a good discussion thread from TechEd 2021 where this was discussed: What Are You Looking Forward to Learning or Doing ... - SAP Community Groups -- that might help you get going.
To get you started on the ABAP on BTP (Steampunk) path I would recommend this learning journey: Get Started with ABAP Programming on SAP BTP
Or if you want to start exploring non-ABAP; I'd recommend looking at SAP Cloud Application Programming Model (Node.js): Learn Developing with SAP Extension Suite | SAP Learning
In addition we have over 1000 free hands-on tutorials most of which can be performed on the SAP BTP trial or free tier. Hands-on learning is a great way to explore new topics: SAP Tutorial Navigator | Tutorials for SAP Developers
I'd also point you to the SAP Developers YouTube channel: SAP Developers - YouTube
We do a weekly news program, have 2 minutes of videos to explain high level concepts, we do 20 minute Tech Bytes how-to videos and longer live streams and instructional videos.
Wow! This is the kind of stuff I was looking forward to. These are some great resources you've pointed to. I'll explore them one by one in the coming weeks.
You had read my mind. The cloud vs Non-ABAP was the question that was itching in me. Thanks for the guidance. Hope a lot of folks like me will benefit from this here in this community.
One follow-up question, if I may - If I have to diversify into AI/ML from ABAP, is there any standard path or is it an unexplored wilderness yet to be walked on?
It's not unexplorered wilderness but also not a direct path that uses much in the way of your existing ABAP skills. If you are looking to go into AI/ML, I'd recommend learning the basics of Python. There's lots of good general stuff in the open internet to get you started on Python. Learn the basics of the syntax and then come back to AI/ML specifics in BTP. I think you'll find that much easier to digest.
Welcome to the club kartefact. It will be a long journey but without the first step, we will not be there. I've started since years but I found myself still need to learn a lot of things (just 20-30% that I have done so far because in my case, my current project is not a full SAP development project).
Above comments already provide you a lot of useful resources, what I want to add here are
- Git, Docker, Kubernetes and CLI tooling
- Basic Web development (HTML, CSS), REST API and also JS frameworks like React, Angular or Vue because we will learn component base web development from those frameworks.
- Follow the Developer Advocate Team like D.J, Thomas Jung and other, they are awesome.
- Visit developer.sap.com, SAP developer YouTube Channel, Twitter, GitHub
Good luck to you 🙂
I'm after almost 30 years of ABAP programming in similar place as you and I agree it is quit overwhelming.
All the answers you got so far also list quit overwhelming options pointing in all directions, so in that perspective the answers is not really helpful, but I guess both you and I know that there are really no easy way to deal with the overwhelmingness.
For me, stuck on older SAP ERP systems, a major obstacle is the lack of access to the new systems where all the exciting new stuff is available. I have historically installed testdrives in both windows and linux and used that with great success to stay on pace with development, but I have had no success with the latest free trial options, so I have lost my pace. I haven't looked closely at the new Free tier concept yet, but it looks like something I could use to learn more about BTP.
A perfect world for me would be cooperation between a lot of different experts. Although I have done a lot of dynpro programming, I see myself more as a backend programmer than a frontent/UI programmer. Today I work closely together with CPI/PI experts to create interfaces. In the same way I see an option for old ABAP programmers to work together with UI experts (Fiori, Screen Personas, SAPUI5). Frontend experts are not always the best experts of core business logic, so they would also benefit from this cooperation.
So I agree with Thomas Jung. First we must consider which path we want to take, pray that we take the right path into the future and then focus on that path in all the overwhelmingness.
Wow! It felt like I was the only person who was not able to keep up to speed with the newer tech. It feels good to know that I'm not alone. Thank you for this acknowledgement.
Similar to you, I consider myself more a backend developer than a frontend one. I guess most of us from that era are, but with the new changes in tech, it looks like you cannot avoid learning frontend development. I completely agree with what you've said. It is quite difficult to learn "Everything". We need to choose our paths carefully and work on it diligently to keep up. Or it can get quite overwhelming quite fast.
Having said that, I also think that using one of the learning journeys mentioned e.g. ABAP Programming - Upskilling from SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA would definitely help segregate the wheat from the chaff and help us focus on what WE want to learn.
All the best to you and our clan to choose the "Right" path (y).
oh a nice question. And I really appreciate all the content collected in the answers below. Still, there is one thought I would like to add:
I personally believe that there will always be a need for S/4 (or in more general: ERP) ABAP developers. Even in a far future with loads of companies running the S/4 system in the cloud, there are many use cases that can BEST be handled within the system. That is why I personally think embedded Steampunk is so important.
What you need for this? RAP definitely, so EML and stuff should be a focus. Because the new APIs (like these) are running with EML.
And that is a story where you can start latest with the next on Prem release, but basically right away:
- Using RAP and creating abstraction layers to create every new extension (that makes sense to be put in the S/4) as "clean" as possible, meaning using the new interfaces (if available) or create classes as wrappers where you can replace the current API / SELECT in the future, once this "embedded steampunk-ish" coding is maybe the rule, you can "easily" (whoever had the pain of replacing old to new BAPIs, e.g. for PO...it is not easy :)) change that to the new, cloud enabled APIs.
So all that cloud native, CAP, even BTP ABAP is a good future topic, but I feel like the "core solution extension"-developer (trying to adapt to AEM terminology) in S/4 will be needed as well. Knowing all these APIs. These are assets that all the pure cloud native developers are not bringing into the game.
And maybe 15 years from now, people will be like "MARA? Never heard of. Ah. You mean that I_Product basis table?"
I can relate so much.
It's been 8 years experience of ABAP for me and yet there is still much wilderness to explore in the ABAP Developer world, not just SAP ABAP. Not only what to learn, also what to NOT learn because some of the things I thought were relevant are actually, not really recommended to learn anymore such as Webdynpro (maybe some will argue because in some places with some clients this is still needed).
However, I don't really have anything more to add because some of the suggestions already covered it such as Clean ABAP concept, FIORI and SAPUI5, RAP, etc. Also, an event like DEVTOBERFEST also can be a door for you to discover the latest technology in SAP including ABAP related.
Happy Exploring fellow Explorer ! 😁