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While doing a search in Google’s Blog Search, I came across a blog post by Oracle’s Justin Kestelyn. Since the topic I was doing a search for is one of my favorite topics I decided that I would go out on a limb and respond to his blog.  The part of his blog that made me want to comment was,

Oracle is really sticking its neck out to support these open-source communities (and has been doing so for php for well over two years); the Java platform team recognizes their potentially complementary value to J2EE (witness Oracle support for JSR-223) in an SOA. This of course is something that SAP won’t touch with a 10-foot pole — Shai Agassi in fact is on record for calling open source “IP socialism.”

Everyone that knows me, knows that I’ve been working pretty hard to bring both Scripting Languages as well as Open Source to SDN, but I’m also just one of the little guys so I decided to comment with a link to something Jeff Nolan wrote on his blog, I then bookmarked the blog and came back probably every hour to see if there was a response as well as to see how much I put my foot in my mouth I guess.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “SAP won’t touch [that] with a 10-foot-pole”, just recently this was posted over on Venture Chronicles.

Well the response came and I was quite surprised, mainly because I figured I would be pushed off as someone who has no clue. Justin responded with,

Hey, from the man himself! Kudos to you but from the sound of Jeff’s post, this isn’t exactly a company-endorsed initiative.

While I first sat back and basked in the glory of being recognized I realized that – hmmm – this is probably a common thought. I spent probably about 2 hours thinking of the proper response, I think I have the proper one and I’ve been trying to post it to the blog. Unfortunately there is something wrong and I keep receiving an error when posting and the comment never shows up so I have to assume it’s not getting through but I want to be sure I make my comment, therefore I’ve decided what better place to make my comment than here and with my own blog? Hi Justin, thanks!  been trying to post this for awhile but comments didn’t seem to be working I’m just one of the “little” guys working to increase awareness with things I enjoy working with so I’ll try to answer this as best I can. From one point the answer is yes and the other no, or as German’s tend to say Jein a basic Yes and No together (Ja and Nein).  This is not something like a normal product launch or new process this is more of a movement at the moment taking place mostly within the borders of SDN. It’s endorsed in the sense that we have approval to continue our community efforts, reach out to find out what is going on out there and continue to build our libraries of information available. Not so different than what seems to be going on here. We’ve also been in close communications with some of the developers of the various language connectors and been working to help provide them with closer support and information with SAP developers. So in the sense of the typical “company endorsed” initiative I guess you could say no, but it would not be 100% accurate. It really depends on what you consider to be a “typical endorsement”?   I won’t lie, I mean I’d really like to see our efforts start hitting the big spotlights but we’ve been at it now for just a little while and we have a ways to go. I think we are making some progress, we’ve got a rather good library of information starting on our Technologies and Scripting Languages homepages. We’re pushing hard to get more information avaialable in time for SAP TechEd and I think if we have a good showing there then we’ve managed to get past our second hurdle, the first having been to show strong initial activity and having Dennis Moore host a breakfeast meeting during SAP Sapphire Orlando specifically for us.  Craig So how is SAP taking part? How is SAP contributing? Well SAP isn’t out to take over control of the exisiting tools and connectors, that was assured during Sapphire Orlando. What SAP does intend to do is to help those developers currently building those tools and connectors with better and more information, that is how SAP is taking the first steps in the direction of the Scripting Communities.  Also in Orlando was the mention of building a tool to aid developers in their work with SAP systems, this of course we’ve not yet heard more about but last week in a meeting I was assured that would change and that we can expect more information very shortly on that topic. I’m at odds of course with this “tool”, but simply because a lack of information I think and a lack of understanding in terms of what exactly the “tool” will be doing. So I pushed pretty hard in that meeting with the lead Architect and told him, “either tell the community what you are doing or don’t expect them to jump on board”.  It’s a hard thing with the Open Source and various developer communities, for one thing you don’t just want to throw just anything out there but you also don’t want to wait to long and give the impression that you don’t need the input of those said individuals either. Look at Eclipse, even IBM realized that if they didn’t make it open to the community for them to really interact with, be able to modify, adapt and alter to their needs it would never go any further — I guess we don’t need to mention how successful it is now do we? OK, I’m not even going to say that this “tool” is a comparison to “Eclipse” – it’s not, not by a long shot! Anyone making that claim should probably be banned from the community 😉 It’s a “tool” that if my understanding is correct will run inside of Eclipse as a plugin, but again I’m still trying to confirm all of this.  As for Open Source in general, well if you remember SDN and Open Source we talked about not only the launch of an SDN driven project, which sadly I must say all our volunteers have been rather busy with many other projects so we’ve seen a real slow down; the second project we wanted to see get started has had some takers but we are waiting for some real commitment though and that is one to create a KM page which shows articles and pages in the repository similiar to SDN’s “Most Recent Weblogs” page.  Other community driven projects are going strong and can all be seen on the “Community Projects” page. SDN has contemplated the idea of our own “Sourceforge” style hosting as well as providing of systems for use, in fact Andre is even looking into a hosted system for use with the Scripting Languages community so things are on the move and I expect we’ll see some major steps forward in 2007, sooner if activities of the community push the subject faster along than we anticipate.   In the meanwhile I’m doing my best here to ensure all of you know what is really going on and to give you the chance to give as much feedback as possible…

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  1. Jonathan Groll
    Maybe its just me – Craig there was the intention of reassuring “open source” developers with this post, but for me its had the opposite effect!

    Since you are in a good SAP position, and are able to “bend the ear”, how about spreading word of what for many is a major problem in the SAP space – the problem of slow diffusion of knowledge to non-SAP employees.

    For instance, there is no easy path to learning new technologies other than paying $$$ for SAP supported official courses, otherwise new “mystery tools” remain just a mystery for many months after they are officially announced. Notes for SAP courses are only available if you pay the full course fee, is it possible to pay a reduced fee just for course notes? Other training materials also exist – but is almost always unavailable for independant contractors or at financially inappropriate prices -TechEd ’05 DVD set – 377 EUR [1], not every boss will pay that upfront!!. Some steps have been taken in the right direction (eg. The flash videos for web dynpro training [2], but these are not available for permanent download – why can’t I download this at home to teach myself?!) It must be stated quite clearly that the SDN space does provide some very good documentation (eg. especially for scripting language knowledge transfer [3], and the netweaver developers guide can provide a useful context [4], and there are even “tiny” tutorials, eg. for web dynpro popups [5]). The big hurdle for SAP developers in general is that it is often difficult to “teach yourself new core SAP technologies” other than by going on course, and it is also a reality that information is just not really as “open” as it could be.

    [1] https://pgwshop.sap-ag.de/scripts/wgate/ww20150c607d/~flN0YXRlPTI5NDUwLjAwMy4wNC4wNg==?~okcode=STSE&~target=_top&~forcetarget=yes

    [2] Web Dynpro ABAP Demonstration Videos (Can be found via Thomas Jung’s blog)

    [3] https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/developerareas/technology?rid=/webcontent/uuid/af5aa755-0b01-0010-b2a2-84ceba9a5429

    [4] https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/devguide2004s

    [5] https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/servlet/prt/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/061f0ca3-0c01-0010-67a6-ecc32193442f

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    1. Community User
      I’ve not forgotten this, but as the scope of your reply and the scope of my blog were not exactly in the same fields I’ve had to readjust my mmindset so I can properly reply.

      For the most part, the problem you might out really has nothing to do with “open source” developers or developers at all; I mean let’s look at each piece. [1] TechEd DVD to go, yes it has a price but in comparison to the cost of the entire conference it’s peanuts – however the point is not about spending money it’s about getting the info and if you notice this year SDN has invited and received a very good response from the speakers and track owners at TechEd to blog here on SDN – this means you now have the ability to ask and interact with them before and after the conference. Personally I think that’s a step in the right direction.

      [2] Downloading the videos available here on SDN – problem – hands down nothing to be said other than the fact we are working on a solution that won’t kill our servers and bandwidth.

      [3-5] What documentation can’t you find? Other than what is available only to customers, which hey I can’t argue if something has a specific audience and that happens to be paying customers. We’ve made changes though to include even more like the developer’s guide and zillions of tutorials.

      As for the big hurdle, I think the addition of the Preview systems which are available for free to download here on SDN and all of the tutorials, code samples, documentation, blogs, threads, and videos makes for quite a nice learning package. Not to mention all of your fellow developers here who are all willing to help (some provided you assign the proper points — jk!)

      SDN is a perfect example of how open the information really is, and the fact that we are constantly pushing to provide more and more of that information I think says a lot as well. As for the “teach yourself”, I can speak for others but I found it very easy to learn a lot about the various areas of development/SAP that I dealt with when I started with SAP stuff in my old company back in 2003/04.

      However I can also understand your point it’s not easy but then again this is something SDN is working to make easier and your feedback is appreciated but what would be better is perhaps a proposal from you on how you think it can be made better. You’ve listed quite a bit but in the end we’re not really any closer to finding a solution for you and the others out there with the same thoughts and feelings.

      I’ve read your comment several times and the bottom line problem that I see is that you think it’s too expensive to go to the courses which you feel are the only way to learn about the new technologies – is this about right? If so then what do you propose – how can we make it a) not so expensive or b) easier to learn about?

      I can’t very well run over to the education department and say you are too expensive – I need something more to start a conversation with – I’ll do what I can, I think everyone knows that, to help but to do this I need something more. It’s not that I don’t “believe” you but it’s more than I don’t see the same as you do (that’s Craig talking before he started working for SAP last year). Help me – help you!

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  2. Rika Ng
    Well, this may sound like heresy but SDN can probably learn from other content management vendors’ developer network.

    For example, Interwoven DevNet uses a third-party forum software that does an excellent job of showing threaded discussions:
    http://devnet.interwoven.com/

    In turn, SDN can show them a thing or two about incorporating blogs and using RSS within the developer network.

    cheers,
    Rika

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    1. Community User
      Since this is the easier comment to answer of the two I have right now on this blog I’ll answer this one before moving on to the next.

      First, I’ve no idea why you decided to post the comment here, instead of the suggestion forum but no problem – I’d have answered the same there 🙂

      I’m not sure about Interwoven as it requires an account to log in, however SDN also uses a 3rd party forum software caleld Jive and it has “threaded” discussions as well, perhaps not to the same degree as others but it’s there – you can find the different forum display options within the Forum Control Panel, which is located in the top right of the forum area when you are logged into the forums.

      Craig

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