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ABAP Development

Editing ABAP in Microsoft Visual Studio Code

At Basis Technologies I’m part of a team that is always looking for new ways to help our customers by exploring new ways to work with SAP systems, and sometimes that day job spills over into my own personal projects.

One area I’ve been looking at recently is the development tools for ABAP. In my opinion they could certainly use some work. While the ABAP developer tools for Eclipse are a great improvement over the SAPGUI editor, the interface still feels quite heavy and a bit old fashioned. Modern code editors are much lighter, have lots of advanced features like column editing and multiple cursors, and a much wider selection of plugins.

I particularly like Visual Studio Code, an open source code editor from Microsoft. A few months ago I noticed that it has a remote filesystem feature, so I started a project to enable use of this to edit ABAP code straight from the server.

The end result was the release of a plug-in that I called ABAP Remote Filesystem. It’s currently available in the Visual Studio code marketplace, but you can also take the easier route and search for it in the editor UI.

If you want to try it I’d highly recommend pairing my plugin with the ABAP and ABAPLint plugins (although the latter doesn’t work for function modules yet). ABAP Snippets is also useful.

ABAP Remote Filesystem is still in its early stages, and lacks lots of the features currently available in Eclipse, but is capable enough to be useful. I would think twice before using it on production code though. For now it supports programs, classes and function groups (other object types might work on some platforms) with the following functions:

  • edit
  • create
  • activate
  • search

It can also assign/create transports if needed.

abap remote filesystem screenshot

At the moment you’re still better off with Eclipse: language specific functionality like code completion and validation is still missing from my plugin, and so is the ability to debug and run unit tests.

These features are in my bucket list, but since this is a hobby project they will probably have to wait a while. It is open source though, so if you’re interested (and have some familiarity with typescript (or at least javascript) and git) you’re more than welcome to contribute.

The Basis Technologies dev team are continuing to explore new ways of working in SAP as technology moves forward, so watch this space for future ideas.

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