Why Understanding ABAP Objects Leads to Better Functional Design Techniques

  • by Jim McCallum, Senior Consultant – SAP
  • June 15, 2007
Using service-oriented design techniques and ABAP Objects allows you to identify reusable, individual components or subprocesses that can be shared by a suite of custom application design requirements. These sharable units can then be flexibly assigned to different ABAP developers, thus reducing redundant code development and increasing application integrity and efficiency.
Key Concept
Any object-oriented (OO) programming language is predicated on the idea that an object, or more formally, a class (which is the program coding representing the object) is a software representation of a model of reality. You can therefore model real-world concepts such as an employee, an organizational unit, or an employee’s benefit plan using ABAP Objects. In the class definitions of these objects, the usual and normal behavior of these various objects is modeled in the class’s methods. For example, the class definition for an employee object would likely have methods similar to Get_Age to calculate an employee’s current age, Get_Name to return a formatted version of the employee’s full name, or even Change_Position. The Change_Position method would have programmed within it all the needed validity checks and Batch Data Communication (BDC) or call transaction steps to effect a change of position action for the employee.

Functional custom application design specifications resulting from traditional SAP gap analysis methodologies usually consist of a series of one-off requirement documents. Later these are typically each assigned individually and separately to different ABAP developers without much regard for the tendency of many of these custom applications to have similar or even identical components or subprocesses. Each of these subprocesses is then replicated by each programmer as they create their programs. Of course, one programmer may not create the same subprocess in an identical way as another programmer.

A better approach for creating functional specifications is based loosely on the enterprise service-oriented architecture (enterprise SOA) paradigm and use of ABAP Objects. SOA development seeks to identify the multiple individual and discreet reusable services or processes that are required to accomplish various business procedures rather than viewing each business procedure as a single, standalone entity. Once a reusable service has been developed for use in the implementation of one business procedure, it can be reused to implement another. This speeds the overall development and achieves standardization of services. If functional analysts adjust their thinking and use this approach, they can lay the groundwork for more successful custom application development and implementation.

Jim McCallum

Jim McCallum is a senior technical consultant with SAP America who has specialized in HR ABAP since 1995. He has given many technical presentations on HR ABAP, ABAP Controls, and ABAP Objects on the local and national levels, including the HR 2004 and HR 2005 conferences.

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