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SAP injects more low code into ERP platform for non-coding biz types

Following AppGyver and Ruum, Build potentially takes pressure off devs’ create-this-feature-now list

SAP has launched another initiative aimed at helping so-called citizen developers build applications on its enterprise software platforms.

At TechEd in Las Vegas, the German software giant is revealing SAP Build, a low-code environment the company claims will give users access to the end-to-end processes, data and context to build applications within its enterprise software portfolio.

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It draws on SAP Business Technology Platform, a piece of middleware that sits between applications, in a way the vendor claims will allow users to create and augment enterprise applications, automate processes, and design business sites with "drag-and-drop simplicity."

In a pre-canned quote, Juergen Mueller, SAP chief technology officer, said: "SAP Build uniquely brings together the world’s most powerful business applications with a platform that’s been truly designed to rapidly unleash business experts."

A rose by any other name...

The company perhaps forgot to mention that SAP Build is a name already taken by a user experience service it also offers, a point which won't be lost on those who suffer the indignity of SAP constantly changing nomenclature.

Nonetheless, SAP says new SAP Build will give unified development experience to citizen developers. This includes "full visibility into the dynamic range of their processes" and "real-time insights and easy-to-use tools."

Users will be able to "easily" integrate systems; intelligently monitor, analyze, and automate processes; and build applications. The solution also includes 500+ pre-built industry and business-process templates, the company said.

Tobias Hofmann, another Germany-based software developer and SAP consultant, said offering a single tool for citizens developers would be a good idea, as currently they "don't have a tool that helps them to cut through all the red tape and technical depths."

However, questions remain over the service, including whether it is just another way of connecting standard services. Hofmann asked: "Why did the customer not already do this and why is SAP not delivering these as default apps?"

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There were also unresolved questions over whether it would be available for the latest S/4HANA generation of SAP software, as well as the still widely used Business Suite releases.

Last year, at SAP TechEd, the company launched a unified low-code/no-code development environment on its Business Technology Platform called SAP AppGyver. At the time Hofmann said it was a strong idea, but the documentation for the API hub was complex, meaning users would need to involve developers to connect their systems to other applications.

He said there needs to be more from the latest low code offer to help it take the pressure off developers torn between creating new features and performing strategic platform upgrades.

"A nice template won't help when the citizen developer still needs to figure out how to create variables, deal with data models, manually transform them and figure out on their own how to run a workflow. Maybe SAP solved this and the new SAP Build is more than just a collection of templates and a bare integration of AppGyver or Process Automation," Hofmann said.

SAP's earlier efforts in low-code/no-code have also involved a partnership with specialist Mendix and a different SAP technology called Ruum.

SAP was asked to provide additional comment. ®

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