SAP Drills for Developers

SAP is extending the reach of its NetWeaver development environment beyond its own enterprise apps.

SAP AG is looking to make developers more productive by extending the reach of the companys development environment beyond its enterprise applications and with a new online community and tools.

NetWeaver Development Studio, which will be introduced at the SAP TechEd conference in Las Vegas this week, is based on the Walldorf, Germany, companys NetWeaver application integration platform.

NetWeaver Studio is similar to Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio .Net in that its a visual development platform used to build applications.

It also provides capabilities to graphically create different screens in an application and supports code writing and code generation for visual elements to appear on a screen, according to sources familiar with the environment.

Because Development Studio is based on NetWeaver—a stack designed to make it easier to integrate SAP applications and build composite applications using SAP services—developers can take advantage of the back-end connectivity that is part of NetWeaver to build in integration with SAP and non-SAP applications.

The NetWeaver technology, part of SAPs Enterprise Service Architecture for Web services, includes SAPs Enterprise Portal; Exchange Infrastructure; and the combined Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition and proprietary ABAP Web application server.

It also includes the Business Information Warehouse, Mobile Infrastructure, Composite Application Framework and Master Data Management module.

In addition to the new development environment, SAP will announce at TechEd the SAP Developer Network, officials said. The online community provides tools, services and a place for SAP developers to talk, interact and learn from one another.

The goal of the Developer Network is to build support for NetWeaver, which rolled out last year. It signaled a sea change at SAP in that it represents SAPs ability to provide a platform that is easier to integrate to and build new types of applications from, rather than just allowing developers to create a collection of disparate applications.

SAP user Jim Haney is excited about a graphical environment for NetWeaver. "It will isolate having to deal with a lot of the details under the covers, and it will bring people up to speed differently," said Haney, vice president of architecture at Whirlpool Corp., in Benton Harbor, Mich.

If SAP can get momentum with its developers, that should translate to non-SAP developers giving NetWeaver a closer look, said James Holincheck, an analyst with Gartner Inc.

"The strategy is to play from their strength," said Holincheck, in Chicago. "[SAP] is also courting developers who have domain expertise to develop things that SAP doesnt want to develop. xApps [have largely been] developed by third parties."

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