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SAP has been offering a trial system called Mini SAP for many years. It's a powerful application to run on your home computer, for training purposes, to try out new things, or to create custommer demonstrations. This article will show you how to get the most out of it. This tutorial is written both for absolute ABAP and SAP beginners who want to get into SAP development quickly, as well as experienced SAP users who don't know how to set up and work with the trial system.

What is Mini SAP?

The easiest way to answer this question is to explain what Mini SAP is not. Any ECC or ERP business components are missing in this package. But all basis components are available, such as ABAP, ABAP Objects, Smart Forms, ALV, Graphics Framework, all other control frameworks, SAPoffice etc.

Mini SAP, which is also known as SAP NetWeaver Trial, or SAP NetWeaver Developer Edition, is free for personal use. Licenses must be renewed every three months.

So Mini SAP is the ideal tool both for students to get used to the SAP programming environment as well as ABAP developers to use as a sandbox system. If you want to get a sandbox for the ECC components, you'll have to obtain a license for an IDES system from SAP. This would usually be too expensive for personal use.

Part 1: Download

There are several ways to get the installation DVD for the Mini SAP system. Although the old version NetWeaver 2004s (release 7.0) is contained with some ABAP books such as "ABAP Objects" by Horst Keller, I'd recommend to download it to be sure to get the most up to date version with all available service packs.

The official trial downloads have been replaced by cloud based HANA powered services, which require a paid Amazon AWS or Windows Azure account. The last official download was NetWeaver 7.03 SP4 for 64 bit or NetWeaver 7.02 SP6 for 32 bit respectively. There's still a download of NetWeaver 7.50 SP2 for Linux servers available, but no up to date version for Windows any more. The downloads have a size of from about 4 GB up to 12 GB.

Should you prefer to install an older version, NetWeaver 2004s (release 7.0) is still available as a download from SAP, as well as from the "ABAP Objects" book. As this is a 32 bit non unicode system, requirements are considerably lower.

The files you'll get are packed in the RAR format, which can be unpacked by the open source software 7-Zip or the proprietary old-fashined and crude command line tool unrar.exe. To extract Mini SAP, put the file unrar.exe into the same directory with the RAR file(s), and extract them by typing for example unrar x NWABAPTRIAL70304_64.rar at the command prompt.

Along with the NetWeaver server software, you'll also need some client software, the SAP GUI. The newest version is SAP GUI 750. The GUI that comes with the NetWeaver downlaod is quite up to date, but it's a special compact GUI version in which many components are missing. The only official download source for the full GUI version is the SAP Service Marketplace. To access it, you'll need to have a special service user account with download authorisation, that is only available to SAP customers. If you haven't got that, you'll have to go with the trial GUI version.

Alternatively, you can access the SAP system via Internet Explorer. In fact, NetWeaver is a fully functional webserver, and most of the functionality can be accessed through the browser. Still another alternative would be the SAP GUI for Java, which should be used if you want to access your system from a non Windows environment (Linux, Unix, Apple Mac OS X). The Java version of SAP GUI ist available as a free download from the SAP Service Marketplace as well.

Another useful piece of software that comes with the NetWeaver download in an outdated version is the database utility for the MaxDB database, that is underlying the actual NetWeaver software. It's good for database administration. Version 7.9 is availabe from the SAP Store in 32 and 64 bit.

Part 2: Installation - running Mini SAP in a virtual PC

The software can be installed on the 32 bit editions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista. The new 64 bit edition also supports Windows 7 and 8 as well as Windows Server 2008 and 2012. For a couple of reasons, I'd suggest to install NetWeaver within a virtual environment. For that, of course, you'll need to have a spare license of one of the listed Windows editions.

So the first step of installation would be to set up a virtual environment e.g. with Microsoft Virtual PC or Hyper-V. But now the reasons why I think it's better to install NetWeaver virtually:

  1. NetWeaver is extremely sensitive with respect to any other software installed on the same system, and easily dies during istallation for various reasons. That unfortunately also and especially includes security software such as firewalls and anti virus applications.
  2. If you do risky experiments within your SAP, you can activate the undo functionality of Hyper-V beforehand. So should your system not survive your experiments, you can quickly return to the last working state.
  3. If you have to reinstall Windows, it's quite difficult (however not impossible) to extract your packages you've developed from the system. So if you have everything within a virtual machine, you can just copy the whole VM to your new Windows installation.
  4. Your computer's name may only be up to 13 characters. So you don't have to rename your computer if you install within Hyper-V.
  5. The setup programme not only installs the files needed to run Mini SAP, but also several new services that constantly use your computer's resources, and even sets up new Windows users, which you might not want to happen to your productive environment.
  6. Should you want to update to a newer NetWeaver edition later, you don't have to uninstall the old trial from your productive environment (which can be a real pain!)

On the other hand, there are good arguments to run NetWeaver on a physical computer:

  1. The new 64 bit edition doesn't work on Virtual PC - however, Hyper-V on Windows 8.x now supports 64 bit virtualization.
  2. A physical 64 bit environment supports more than 4 GByte of RAM, hence NetWeaver would run much smoother on 8 GB or 16 GB systems.

The 64 bit edition of Windows 8.x comes with the Hyper-V server already integrated. If you own an older Windows version, you'll have to download and install Virtual PC manually.

  • Windows Virtual PC SP1 for Windows 7. To download it, you'll need to give the information that you have a Windows 7 Professional edition or better. When installing the software, it's never actually checked which Windows edition you really own.
  • Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 SP1 for Windows Vista and XP. When installing Virtual PC on a Windows Home edition, you'll get a message that this is not supported. Just click OK and ignore the message. I can assure you that Virtual PC runs fine on home editions as well.
  • Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 SP1 for virtualization on Windows 2000 (in case anyone still uses it...)

The amount of memory assigned to the virtual machine should be at least 2 GB, better 3 or even 4 GB (the maximum). Mini SAP 2004s in fact used to work on Windows XP with 512 MB, but the current unicode versions (NetWeaver 7.01 or later) definitely need 2 GB or more.

Once the virtual PC is set up, you'll need to install the Java JDK, which is needed by both the NetWeaver installation routine as well as the database studio, which is based on Eclipse. Java 6, 7 and 8 are not officially supported, but work fine with the Netweaver installer on a clean Windows installation. You can ignore all warnings that Java 1.4 is required. Make sure though you download the JDK, and not the JRE.

If you ever had any other SAP system installed on the same (virtual or real) computer, you'll need to clear every trace of that from your registry using the tool in the directory RegCleanTool. If you don't do that, NetWeaver wouldn't install.

Now you can install the NetWeaver software according to the installation instructions that come with the package. Have a look at the file start.htm in the archive's root folder for that. Should the installation time out after ABAP import (usually after several hours), you can reboot your VM, and restart the installation. Usually it finishes in the second attempt. You can also install the database utility after you've installed the NetWeaver server, but it's not necessary to install SAP GUI on the VM.

After the NetWeaver trial is up and running, your Mini SAP system can be accessed in the entire networking environment, including the host computer. You can install the GUI software on the host computer and on any other computer in the network from where you want to access your Mini SAP. As the GUI interacts e.g. with Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, the Corel Graphics Suite, any SVG plugin, and probably other software, you should indeed work from your productive environment, and not inside your virtual SAP server.

When adding Mini SAP to your SAP GUI, you'll have to select the computer name of your virtual SAP system as application server. System ID is NSP, and system number is 00. Now you should be able to start the server and log onto the SAP NetWeaver trial system.

Part 3: First steps in SAP and ABAP and advanced training

Depending on your exact NetWeaver version, you might find various links to blogs, documentations, tutorials and other online sources in transaction code SE80 (ABAP Workbench). You can have a look there for specific Mini SAP help.

ABAP Objects book

If you want to do some structured learning, there are two possibilities that I'd recommend. The first one would be to obtain the book "ABAP Objects" by Horst Keller. Some Mini SAP systems already have all code examples from that book already integrated. If not, you'll be able to download the transport files and instructions how to import them into your system from the SAP Press website. This book is generally a very valuable resource of information and reference concerning all areas of ABAP and ABAP Objects.

The second option for basic learning would be to use the free SAP documentation instead. However, the PDF files with the documentation for printout have been removed from the SAP help servers, so I can no longer provide them here.

Up to date help material, including modern technologies like Web Dynpro and the Enhancement Framework, can be found in the following documents. They're all taken from the SE80 documentation integrated in some NetWeaver Trial versions, and updated to the new SDN structure and release 7.03 help portal.

Part 4: Renew your license

Once your license is about to expire, you'll have to renew it. This can currently be done for free, and has to be done every three months. First of all, you have to use transaction SLICENSE to find out your hardware key. With that key, you go to the SAP Trial License Key Request page, where you'll enter all your information. You'll also need your SDN user ID here. If you own a service user ID, you can alternatively enter that one.

Your license key will be sent to you by mail. Before you can import it, you'll have to replace the system number in the license file with your own system number, which again you'll find in transaction SLICENSE. This can simply be done in any text editor such as notepad. Afterwards, you can import the license file by choosing new licenses and install within SLICENSE.

Congratuations! Your Mini SAP will be running for another 90 days now.