SAP AG is tightening the integration between its Web Application Server and the Java programming language, expanding development options for developers currently using SAPs proprietary programming language, ABAP.
The Walldorf, Germany, company announced at Sun Microsystems Inc.s JavaOne developer conference in San Francisco last week that its Web Application Server will be compliant with J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) this quarter and that officials expect it to pass Suns J2EE 1.3 Compatibility Test Suite this quarter as well.
The upgrade of Web Application Server, Version 6.2, will combine Advanced Business Application Programming with Java, allowing developers to move between the two.
The current edition of the server software, Version 6.1, contains ABAP and Java, but the environments cannot be combined.
The combination of ABAP and Java to come in Version 6.2 opens up a new developer pool for SAP, as well as the ancillary companies that develop SAP components. There are about 1 million ABAP developers and between 3 million and 4 million Java developers, according to SAP officials.
"This is a really significant change, very significant," said Michael Hickman, global product manager for GE Global Exchange Services, which develops, among other products, SAP adapters for Global 2000 companies looking to integrate with their supply chains.
To develop SAP adapters, GXS, based in Gaithersburg, Md., had to send a small group of Java developers to SAP to become ABAP-certified. "They were in training for 15 weeks combined," Hickman said. "It was a significant investment, not just in money but in time. I would imagine that amount of time would be reduced to maybe a week or two if they could have programmed in Java."
SAP also plans to develop internal applications in both Java and ABAP. As a result, the company will deliver some applications in Java and some in ABAP.
Mike Venner, an ABAP programmer for the past five years, is excited about Javas inclusion in SAPs Web Application Server. "This will give me a chance to branch out," said Venner, the Business API lead at Backsoft Corp., in Sarasota, Fla., which develops SAP interfaces. "I think it will work out OK, to be honest. A You scratch my back, Ill scratch yours kind of deal."
Related story: Special JavaOne coverage