Let’s start with a bit of history to shed some light on the confusion around the naming of the product. In 2013, SAP announced SAP River, their first attempt at at modern, model-based development application. It was based on SAP HANA and was available as an early adopters program from Rev.70 onwards. It’s still around (e.g. here) and will run as a plugin to SAP HANA Studio.
In June 2014, SAP River RDE (or SAP RDE) was made available as a cloud-based rapid development solution. So while SAP River and SAP River RDE have the same goals, they are not the same product. SAP RDE is now a complete IDE that runs on HANA and works in your browser without any installation. It’s also available as part of SAP HANA Cloud Platform.
SAP River RDE is a browser-based IDE that runs both with SAP HANA XS (HANA’s built-in web application server) and SAP HANA Cloud Platform. It contains the usual features that an IDE has: code editors, wizards, code completion, excellent VCS integration (Git) and more. Language support and i18n tools are also provided out-of-the-box.
River RDE claims for itself the introduction of an innovative development process. Developing apps is mostly template-based, so the idea is to write a lot less code. In addition to the usual development tools, there is also a WYSIWYG editor available to build responsive UIs (I haven’t tried that yet, but I hope it’s a hell of a lot better than what we had in the past, I still have nightmares about Adobe Dreamweaver sometimes). It will generate a lot of code for you, including the necessary database schema, OData models, the application logic, access engine and so on.
SAP RDE also contains several ways to run and test your application within the IDE itself. You can test your application with or without a frame. There’s a service to generate sample data for you (called mock service). It’s also possible to test your app in several simulators for different device types like desktop, mobile phones or tablets.
The whole thing is highly integrated in HANA, and that includes the deployment process. When you’re done building your app in SAP River RDE, you can directly deploy it to SAP HANA XS or the HANA Cloud Platform. That allows you to quickly preview what you’ve built, enabling a much faster prototyping and development process. In theory, it would be possible to deploy to runtimes other than SAP HANA XS too.
I personally like the idea of a complete IDE that works in your browser, so I’m likely to write a few more articles about SAP RDE in the future. I’m really curious to see if it can be a complete replacement of the traditional Eclipse plugins that are used for HANA XS development today. In the meantime, here’s where you can go for further information.