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TechEd 06 is coming up just as I have completed most of the Web Dynpro for ABAP tutorials kindly made currently available by SAP and SDN developers.  Anyone doing these tutorials, particular the ALV series, cannot help but think of how far SAP has come:  from “Write: /” to List Viewer to ALV Grids (non ABAP Objects) to ALV Grid Controls (ABAP Objects) to ALV Grids (Within Web Dynpro for ABAP)  But the risk of coming so far for ANY software company, not just SAP, is that the customer base will be left behind.  (This is the classic problem faced by IBM and why it could never dig itself out of its 370 grave – too big an entrenched installed base to discontinue anything.)  What SAP and the SDN community should be thinking about is how to make believers out of those portions of the customer base who have still not even made the transition to ABAP Objects ALV from non-Objects ALV, much less Web Dynpro for ABAP ALV, and still even use “WRITE: /’s” far too often (with maybe a call to a canned report heading function for the sake of uniformity.)  If this portion of the customer base cannot be convinced to make the technological journey with SAP, then all the good stuff that SAP is doing is for naught, at least inso far as these customers are concerned.  There will still be a technologically-impoverished SAP ‘Third World’, even as the SDN blogs and discussions become more and more arcane, sophisticated, and elegant.  What must be done?  Well, the WDABAP ALV tutorials are a good start, but they need to be enhanced and elaborated with, for example, corresponding tutorials for using AO Tree Controls in WDABAP.  Companies can simply not afford, time or money wise, to keep sending staff to SAP academies.  Equally importantly, there needs to be an order of magnitude improvement in the query-friendly indexing of WDABAP class attributes and methods, to cut down the time it takes for a developer to enhance the basic WDABAP tutorial models into reasonable approximations of coding reality.  I’m thinking here of a natural language, AskJeeves, “what do you want to do?” approach  Equally importantly, there needs to be a focus on creation of supply functions that can sieve data and provide these data to WDABAP (and WD) apps quickly.  For example, there need to be BAPI’s that automatically provide refdocnrs out of GLPCA for any given set of profit centers, that automatically provide refbn’s and awtyps out of COEP/COBK for a given set of cost centers, etc.  Such sieve supply functions should not be considered things one learns over time from more knowledeable co-workers, but rather part of an SAP “open-source” approach that says to its customers: OK – here’s how you get data out of SAP when wall time, machine time, and machine load are issues.  Equally importantly, there need to be a standardized set of new control structures such as the one(s) described in my recent post on SETNODE, SETLEAF, and Report Sets – control structures that can deliver organized data as quickly as the old ReportWriter programs but without the baggage that comes along with these programs.  Anyway, I think y’all probably get the point, so I’ll close with the poem of ee cummings’ which I quoted in the title of this post:  http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/769.html  what if a much of a which of a wind gives the truth to summer’s lie; bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun and yanks immortal stars awry? Blow king to beggar and queen to seem (blow friend to fiend: blow space to time) -when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,the single secret will still be man what if a keen of a lean wind flays screaming hills with sleet and snow: strangles valleys by ropes of thing and stifles forests in white ago? Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind (blow pity to envy and soul to mind) -whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees, it’s they shall cry hello to the spring  what if a dawn of a doom of a dream bites this universe in two, peels forever out of his grave and sprinkles nowhere with me and you? Blow soon to never and never to twice (blow life to isn’t; blow death to was) -all nothing’s only our hugest home; the most who die, the more we live  
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  1. Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy
    David

    You raise some interesting points here. One of the biggest problems, according to me, is consultants and developers like us. In my consulting career, I don’t see many consultants trying to catch up with the pace of SAP’s newer offerings. With the speed at which SAP has been providing new stuff, I see many of us are failing to catch up and this is resulting in shortage of desired skill level and thereby implementing obsolete stuff. Most of the SDN contributors have been self learners and when you consider the number of consultants implementing SAP solutions, the percentage of self learners is very less.

    Another point to note is SAP’s reputation in the market as a product with standardized business process and out of the box solutions. Many customers and more importantly sales guys and project planners, fail to catch that point. They think SAP is an install and run software, which is true as far as standard business process are concerned but when it comes to unique adaptation to customer’s requirements, there is always some development and customization involved. And that’s where consultant’s and customers need to be more aware of newer technologies which are going to provide what customers want as well as not impacting implementation time which is what project managers want.

    I am trying to think 5-6 years before when we didn’t have SDN community. Things which are much easier now, were never so before. I do agree with your point that there needs to be more documentation and easy to use functions but I guess SDN is a great place for us to share our learning and members like you & me and SAP as a company, to benefit mutually.

    KK

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    1. David Halitsky
      Hi KK –

      Thanks for taking the time to reply and adding further context to the problem we both see. 

      I am very much in agreement with your observations and want particularly to comment on your point about PM’s wanting to make sure that novel techniques don’t impact timeliness.

      The fact of the matter is that so far as I can seem WD-ABAP actually permits you to throw up controls faster than ABAP-Objects – much less actual code.  It also encourages reliance on z-dictionary structures, which is all to the good so far as I’m concerned.

      So maybe that’s one way to get at the problem – if one could first convince customers that WD-ABAP actually codes up quicker than ABAP Objects and is easier to maintain, then these same customers would demand more of the slow and lazy among us.

      (Not being a “true believer”, I will refrain from making the same observation using Java instead of WD-ABAP.  Much as I applaud the arrival of the “robust Java” which was announced at SDN/Labs Palo Alto 2005, I am sure I’m not the only old-timer to laugh at the fact that the brilliant Java community of the 21st centrury is just now discovering the need for the old-fashioned “MUSASS” (multi-user single address space) of the 20th century.)

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