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Advanced business application programming (ABAP) is a 4GL application-specific programming language developed in the 1980s by the German software company SAP. The syntax of ABAP is somewhat similar to COBOL. ABAP was and remains the programming language for the development and modification of SAP applications.
The widely installed R/3 system was first released by SAP in 1992 and developed in ABAP.
In 1999, SAP released an object oriented extension to ABAP, which denoted ABAP objects. In 2004, SAP introduced its current development environment called NetWeaver, which supports both ABAP and Java.
Translated from German, ABAP stands for Allgemeiner Berichtsaufbereitungsprozessor which means “generic report preparation process.”
ABAP programs reside in the SAP database and are edited using the ABAP Workbench tools. They are compiled, debugged and run within the context of the SAP basis component, which is typically implemented as part of the SAP Web application server.
ABAP programs can be categorized into reports and module tools. The term “report” is freely used to denote programs that manipulate data in a list-oriented manner.
SAP customers can create custom reports and user interfaces using the ABAP programming language. ABAP is easy to learn for programmers, less so for non-programmers. Programmers learning ABAP are assumed to have working knowledge of relational database design and object oriented programming concepts.