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New Features for SAP Cloud Platform ABAP Environment

Innovations Deliver Back-End Connectivity and Simplified SAP Fiori Deployment

by Karl Kessler, Vice President of Product Management ABAP Platform, SAP SE | SAPinsider, Volume 20, Issue 3

August 13, 2019

New Features for SAP Cloud Platform ABAP Environment

SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment, released in September 2018, was a leap forward for ABAP developers, enabling them to move their existing ABAP skills and assets to the cloud while taking advantage of innovative SAP HANA-based capabilities. Since its initial release, SAP has added two new important features: connectivity to on-premise systems and a simplified setup for SAP Web IDE development and deployment of SAP Fiori applications. This article examines these new features and, using step-by-step examples, demonstrates how to use them.

SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment was released in September 2018 as a platform-as-a-service offering for the ABAP developer community. It enables developers to build cloud applications with an SAP Fiori user interface optimized for SAP HANA, with a primary purpose of creating extensions to SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP S/4HANA, and provides a path for moving existing ABAP skillsets and assets to the cloud while taking advantage of the latest SAP HANA-based innovations. Since its initial release, SAP has delivered two additional innovations that provide important capabilities for ABAP developers:

  • Connectivity to on-premise back-end systems (including SAP S/4HANA, SAP Business Suite, and SAP NetWeaver 7.x), which was delivered with version 1902 in February 2019

  • A simplified setup for SAP Web IDE development and deployment of SAP Fiori applications, which was delivered with version 1905 in May 2019

With more than 100,000 productive ABAP-based systems running SAP Business Suite, SAP NetWeaver, and SAP S/4HANA on premise, robust connectivity from SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment to on-premise instances based on standard protocols such as HTTP and Remote Function Call (RFC) was a pressing need. In addition, prior to version 1905, the SAP Web IDE process for developing and deploying SAP Fiori applications involved several manual steps. Simplifying this process was a priority — SAP Fiori is the only user interface technology supported by SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment, which means a significant increase in SAP Fiori application development.

This article examines both the new connectivity to on-premise systems (which requires proper administration setup) and the newly simplified setup for SAP Web IDE development and deployment for SAP Fiori applications (which uses a different type of project template). For each, it first provides an overview of the feature and then walks step by step through an end-to-end example of using it to help you start taking advantage of the functionality in your own organization.

Enabling On-Premise Connectivity

From an ABAP programmer’s point of view, calling an RFC module from SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment should not be more complex than calling it from a traditional on-premise connection — using the ABAP keyword CALL FUNCTION DESTINATION — where all the system customization is done up front by an administrator. With the RFC and HTTP connectivity support included with release 1902, the call is now nearly as straightforward.

Architecture and Connectivity Setup

Figure 1 shows the overall connectivity architecture and setup. On-premise ABAP back ends — such as SAP S/4HANA based on SAP HANA and SAP Business Suite based on SAP NetWeaver and AnyDB — reside behind secure firewalls and cannot be contacted directly from the outside world. To open connections to authorized SAP Cloud Platform users, an instance of the Cloud Connector, which serves as a link between SAP Cloud Platform and an on-premise system, runs closely with the back-end instances. The customization of the Cloud Connector describes which protocols (RFC and HTTP) are enabled and which resources can be accessed by users of SAP Cloud Platform.


Figure 1 — Overall architecture of connectivity between SAP Cloud Platform and an on-premise ABAP back end


To configure a Cloud Connector instance, you must create a Neo subaccount in SAP Cloud Platform, since the Cloud Connector is currently only supported for the Neo environment. The enabled protocols — RFC and HTTP — will become visible in the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit of the specified subaccount. However, SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment is a Cloud Foundry-based service,1 so the ABAP program that wants to access an on-premise back end through RFC or HTTP must first contact the Cloud Foundry destination service instance, which points to an RFC or HTTP connection to the on-premise back end exposed by the Cloud Connector. Lastly, two communication arrangements must be configured for the ABAP cloud instance: one for the Cloud Connector integration, which is based on the standard SAP communication scenario SAP_COM_0200, and another for the Cloud Foundry destination service integration, which is based on the standard SAP communication scenario SAP_COM_0276.

Once the configuration is complete, the flow of control for the connection executes as follows: 1) the ABAP program contacts the destination service; 2) a request to open a tunnel is sent to the Neo subaccount enabled for the Cloud Connector; 3) the request is forwarded to the Cloud Connector; and 4) the Cloud Connector establishes a secure tunnel for bidirectional communication between the ABAP cloud tenant and the on-premise back end.

End-to-End Example: Configuring Back-End Connectivity 

To fully understand the setup and flow of control for the connection to the back end, let’s walk through an end-to-end example, where we will enable the function module RFC_SYSTEM_INFO for cloud access. Before we configure the connection, let’s take a closer look at the function module to understand its signature (that is, its import and export parameters and type definitions).

In the back-end system (SAP Business Suite or SAP S/4HANA), start transaction SE37 (ABAP Function Modules) to examine RFC_SYSTEM_INFO. This function module exports a structure of type RFCSI (Figure 2). The fields of this structure, shown in transaction SE11 (ABAP Dictionary) in Figure 3, hold technical status information such as protocol version, code page information, integer format, floating point format, database host, and SAP release — basically everything that is needed to establish a proper communication channel. 


Figure 2 — Function module RFC_SYSTEM_INFO exports a structure of type RFCSI


Figure 3 — The fields of structure RFCSI hold the technical information for the on-premise backend system


To see the actual results from the back-end system that you want to access, you can also test run the function module by pressing F8, which displays the results in the form of a long string (see Figure 4). You can view the structure in a more readable format using the ABAP Dictionary structure editor (Figure 5).


Figure 4 — The results of a test run of function module RFC_SYSTEM_INFO in the form of a long string


Figure 5 — The results of a test run of function module RFC_SYSTEM_INFO displayed in the ABAP Dictionary structure editor


Let’s now walk through the configuration steps for back-end connectivity.


Step 1: Set Up the Cloud Connector

To enable access to this function module from the cloud, start the Cloud Connector administration user interface (Figure 6) and add an existing Neo subaccount, specifying the region, the subaccount key, the subaccount user and password, and a display name (PM2019_CC in the example). The subaccount can be viewed in the Cloud Connector administration screen with its basic status information, including the newly created tunnel that connects the on-premise back end with authenticated users of the added subaccount (see Figure 7).


Figure 6 — Add an existing Neo subaccount in the Cloud Connector administration user interface


Figure 7 — The added Neo subaccount with the newly created tunnel


Next, under the added subaccount, customize the access to the back-end resources. Select Cloud To On-Premise and add the HTTP and RFC protocols (Figure 8). To add the protocols, click on the plus (+) icon and select the type of back-end system (ABAP System); the protocol for communicating with the back-end system (HTTP and RFC); the on-premise host and port; and a virtual host and port. In this example, to hide internal names from the outside world, a virtual host called m31 points to the physical host where the back end runs. For the HTTP connection, which is used for communication with non-ABAP-based services and OData client calls, all URLs starting with the root are accessible. Figure 9 shows the configuration information for the RFC connection for ABAP-to-ABAP communication.


Figure 8 — Enable the HTTP and RFC connections for access


Figure 9 — The configuration information for the RFC connection


Adding a new RFC function module to the HTTP and RFC connections is easy — simply add a resource to the connection, and in the pop-up box, specify the function module’s name, which is RFC_SYSTEM_INFO in the example (see Figure 10). You can also enable a set of function modules that share the same prefix — for example, RFC_READ*.


Figure 10 — Specify the function module to add to the connection


The Cloud Connector setup can also be viewed in the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit of the corresponding Neo subaccount (see Figure 11). With this setup, you can now run an SAP Web IDE session in SAP Cloud Platform for the Neo environment and consume any available HTTP services (for example, you can consume the available OData services of the connected ABAP on-premise back end). However, in this scenario, we want to access the back-end resources from within SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment, which requires the configuration of communication arrangements.


Figure 11 — The Cloud Connector setup viewed in the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit


Step 2: Configure the Communication Arrangements

To configure the required communication arrangements — one for the Cloud Connector integration and one for the Cloud Foundry destination service integration — select Communication Arrangements in the administrator launchpad of the ABAP tenant (see Figure 12), which takes you to the list of available communication arrangements (Figure 13).


Figure 12 — The communication arrangements are configured using the Communication Arrangements tool


Figure 13 — The list of available communication arrangements


For the example Cloud Connector integration, select the arrangement that is based on the standard SAP communication scenario SAP_COM_0200: SAP_COM_0200_KK in the example. Figure 14 shows the details for this arrangement, which references the subaccount that was enabled for Cloud Connector access. For the example Cloud Foundry destination service, select the arrangement that is based on the standard SAP communication scenario SAP_COM_0276 (see Figure 15) — this arrangement is configured with the service key of the ABAP tenant.


Figure 14 — The Cloud Connector communication arrangement


Figure 15 — The Cloud Foundry destination service communication arrangement


Step 3: Create the RFC Program

With the connections configured and available, developers can get to work using the connections in their programs, which is a fairly straightforward and familiar undertaking. First, create an RFC program that will call the function module. In the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit, create an RFC destination (ACBTESTRFC) that contains the virtual host (m31), the user and password for the access to the ABAP back-end system, the ABAP client (400), and the system number (10), as shown in Figure 16.


Figure 16 — Define the RFC destination in the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit


Figure 17 shows the actual coding of the RFC program that accesses the function module in the back-end system, which is displayed in the Eclipse-based workspace of SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment. First, the RFC destination (ACBTESTRFC) is obtained and then the logical destination is passed to the CALL FUNCTION keyword. The function module (RFC_SYSTEM_INFO) then sends the export parameter to the ABAP console display, which is located in the lower portion of the workspace (see Figure 18).


Figure 17 — The code for the RFC program that accesses the function module in the back-end system


Figure 18 — The export parameter returned by the function module shown in the ABAP console


Step 4: Create the HTTP Program

The process of creating the HTTP program, which will retrieve an HTML or XML document, is similar to creating the RFC program. In the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit, create an HTTP destination (ACBTESTHTTP) with the virtual host requesting the URL /sap/bc/ping, the proxy and authentication type, and the user and password for the ABAP back-end system (see Figure 19).


Figure 19 — Define the HTTP destination in the SAP Cloud Platform cockpit


The coding that accesses the HTTP handler (the ABAP class representing the HTTP protocol) in the back-end system is shown in Figure 20 — the logical destination is fetched and the HTTP request is built. Upon receiving the HTTP response and HTTP status code, the function module then sends the output to the ABAP console (see Figure 21), which represents a simple HTML success page with status code 200.


Figure 20 — The code for the HTTP program that accesses the HTTP service in the back-end system


Figure 21 — The output returned by the function module shown in the ABAP console


Simplified Setup for SAP Web IDE Development and Deployment

In addition to the on-premise connectivity features delivered with version 1902, the simplified setup for SAP Web IDE development and deployment of SAP Fiori applications delivered with version 1905 also provides important new capabilities for developers. To better understand the benefits of this new feature, let’s revisit how the development and deployment process worked in the initial offering of the SAP Web IDE service. Developing an SAP Fiori user interface that consumes an OData service is probably the most common scenario.

Creating an OData service in ABAP is straightforward: You create a core data service and expose it as a business service using the OData protocol. To consume it from an SAP Fiori user interface developed with SAP Web IDE, however, you must create a communication arrangement with the ABAP cloud instance, which involves a few steps. First, you create a communication scenario with the Eclipse-based ABAP development tools. Then, you use the SAP Fiori launchpad to create a communication system (essentially an ABAP cloud instance); a communication user and password that is used for authentication; and finally, a communication arrangement based on the previously defined communication scenario. The end result is the URL that identifies the service. On the client side, you create a destination inside a Neo subaccount within SAP Cloud Platform that points to that service, and you use SAP Web IDE to browse the OData collections offered by the service, which are typically displayed in a list report with built-in sorting and searching capabilities.

As you can see, there are several manual steps required to create all the artifacts and link them together. In addition, the SAP Web IDE service was initially offered only for the Neo environment, and developers wanted to see a deployment option for Cloud Foundry — to simplify user administration and authorizations, for instance. With release 1905 of SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment, which is a Cloud Foundry-based service, this is now possible.

End-to-End Example: SAP Web IDE Development and Deployment 

Let’s look at an end-to-end example of SAP Web IDE development and deployment to give you a feel for how the simplified approach works. In this example, we will develop an SAP Fiori application and then deploy that application into the Cloud Foundry subaccount within SAP Cloud Platform where the ABAP cloud instance is running.

Step 1: Create an SAP Web IDE Project 

The first step is to launch SAP Web IDE from the Neo environment within SAP Cloud Platform (Figure 22). Traditionally, you would begin by starting the List Report Application template wizard (see Figure 23) — note that in this case, the environment in the template screen is set to Neo, since SAP Web IDE was initially offered only for the Neo environment.


Figure 22 — SAP Web IDE initial screen


Figure 23 — Prior to version 1905, SAP Web IDE development traditionally started with the List Report Application template for the Neo environment


As of version 1905 of SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment, you can use the SAP Web IDE Multi-Target Application (MTA) template for the Cloud Foundry environment to easily develop and deploy SAP Fiori-based user interface applications that access an ABAP cloud instance (see Figure 24). The project structure represented by an MTA template consists of modules that are the building blocks of the user interface application, and can consist of HTML5 modules, Java and node.js (JavaScript) modules, and SAP HANA database modules. For ABAP development, we are only interested in the HTML5 modules to implement the user interface (Java and node.js are irrelevant in this context, and the database modules are not needed since ABAP runs on the SAP HANA service directly).


Figure 24 — As of version 1905 of SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment, you can use the SAP Web IDE Multi-Target Application (MTA) template to easily develop and deploy SAP Fiori applications that access an ABAP cloud instance


Create a new MTA project (see Figure 25) and define the project properties (see Figure 26) by right-clicking on the project ID (mta01 in the example) and selecting Project > Project Settings. Define the logical connection to the Cloud Foundry environment by selecting Cloud Foundry and logging on to the Cloud Foundry endpoint (the public URL https://api.cf.eu10.hana.ondemand.com), as shown in Figure 27.


Figure 25 — Create a new Multi-Target Application (MTA) project


Figure 26 — Define the settings for the Multi-Target Application (MTA) project


Figure 27 — Log on to the Cloud Foundry endpoint

Figure 27 — Log on to the Cloud Foundry endpoint


After a successful logon, select the Cloud Foundry organization and space (Dev in this case) in which to deploy the application (see Figure 28). The organization — in the example, TechEd2019_CAA362-TechEd2019 — corresponds to the Cloud Foundry subaccount in which the application will run.


Figure 28 — Specify the Cloud Foundry space for running the application


Step 2: Create a New SAP Cloud Platform

Service to Access the Data Source Now that the connection to Cloud Foundry is established, create a new SAP Cloud Platform service by selecting New > SAP Cloud Platform Service (see Figure 29). Choose the ABAP type for the new service (see Figure 30).


Figure 29 — Create a new SAP Cloud Platform service


Figure 30 — Choose the ABAP type for the new service


The connection to Cloud Foundry provides access to all of the ABAP instances offered by the corresponding Cloud Foundry subaccount — in the example, we connect to an ABAP cloud instance named T03, which contains the data source we will use for the SAP Fiori user interface (Figure 31).


Figure 31 — Specify the ABAP instance that contains the data source


Step 3: Create an HTML5 Module to Build the SAP Fiori Application

SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment offers both SAP HANA persistence and an ABAP design time and runtime. For our example, however, we need to create an SAP Fiori application that accesses SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment and consumes the exposed services. To build this application, create an HTML5 module by right-clicking on the MTA project in SAP Web IDE and selecting New > HTML5 Module (see Figure 32). 


Figure 32 — Create a new HTML5 module


Choose the List Report Application template (see Figure 33) and then specify basic information for the module, including name (module01 in this case) and title (Cloud Foundry Deployment in the example), as shown in Figure 34.


Figure 33 — Choose the List Report Application template for the new HTML5 module


Figure 34 — Specify the basic information for the HTML5 module, including name and title


Next, use the previously defined SAP Cloud Platform service that accesses the ABAP cloud instance T03 (see Figure 35). The system responds with a list of services available from the instance (see Figure 36) — select the service you want to use for the connection.


Figure 35 — Access the ABAP cloud instance via the defined SAP Cloud Platform service


Figure 36 — The list of services available from the ABAP cloud instance


You can also drill down to the OData level to inspect the service — in the example, we drill down into a service related to a travel agency, which includes OData collections such as Agency, Carrier, Customer, Flight, and Booking. The system also downloads the metadata and annotations related to the selected service (see Figure 37).


Figure 37 — The system downloads the metadata and annotations related to the selected service


Choose one of the OData collections (Booking in the example) exposed by the selected service to serve as the data source for the application (see Figure 38). For the example, we also choose an association to the flight carrier (to_Carrier) to navigate to the master data entry of the given airline. Finally, test drive the application, which displays flight information (see Figure 39).


Figure 38 — Choose the OData collection to serve as the data source for the application


Figure 39 — Test drive the application, which displays flight information


Step 4: Run the Configuration, Build the Project, and Deploy the Application

Now that the application is up and running, it is time to deploy it to the Cloud Foundry environment. In SAP Web IDE, create a run configuration by right-clicking on the HTML5 module and selecting Run > Run Configurations (see Figure 40). Then choose whether to run the application as a separate web application or contained in an SAP Fiori launchpad sandbox (see Figure 41) — for the example, we choose Run as Web Application, since we want to run it directly as a full-screen application (see Figure 42).


Figure 40 — Create a run configuration for the application


Figure 41 — Run the application as a separate web application or contained in an SAP Fiori launchpad sandbox


Figure 42 — In the example, we run the application as a separate web application


Next, specify the defaults for the run configuration, including the name (Run index.html on Cloud Foundry); the target environment (Run on Cloud Foundry); and the preview mode (see Figure 43). Then build the entire MTA project — by right-clicking on the project name and selecting Build > Build (see Figure 44) — and check the build results (see Figure 45).


Figure 43 — Specify the defaults for the run configuration


Figure 44 — Build the MTA project


Figure 45 — Check the results of the MTA project build


Once there are no errors, deploy the application to the Cloud Foundry environment by right-clicking on the generated build archive (file extension .mtar) and selecting Deploy > Deploy to SAP Cloud Platform (see Figure 46).


Figure 46 — Deploy the completed application to the Cloud Foundry environment within SAP Cloud Platform


Summary

The initial release of SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment brought ABAP into the world of cloud innovation, and subsequent releases have continued to build on this with additional features for ABAP developers, including connectivity to on-premise systems and a simplified setup for SAP Web IDE development and deployment. With on-premise connectivity, a range of opportunities opens up for building cloud extensions for your existing back-end instances and bringing your on-premise-based SAP landscapes into the cloud. In addition, the new approach to SAP Web IDE development and deployment of SAP Fiori applications simplifies these tasks significantly, making your ABAP environment a strong foundation for easy-to-consume SAP Fiori cloud-based applications.

Learn more at https://cloudplatform.sap.com/business-platform/abap.html.


1 Note that since SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment runs only in the Cloud Foundry environment, a Cloud Foundry global account is automatically created for the customer. For each ABAP instance, the customer can then create subaccounts and assign users to these subaccounts to enable logon to the instance. [back]

Figure 2 — Function module RFC_SYSTEM_INFO exports a structure of type RFCSI


Figure 3 — The fields of structure RFCSI hold the technical information for the on-premise backend system


Figure 2 — Function module RFC_SYSTEM_INFO exports a structure of type RFCSI


Figure 3 — The fields of structure RFCSI hold the technical information for the on-premise backend system


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Karl Kessler, SAP
Karl Kessler

Karl Kessler (karl.kessler@sap.com) joined SAP SE in 1992. He is the Vice President of Product Management ABAP Platform — which includes SAP NetWeaver Application Server, the ABAP Workbench, the Eclipse-based ABAP development tools, and SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment — and is responsible for all rollout activities.



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