On the 27th of May I got a mail from Mark Finnern asking me if I want to join the SDN Community Day in Melbourne. After a quick look at the wiki page I was sold. Melbourne is always worth a visit, I still had good memories of the SDN meets labs conference in Walldorf and it would be a chance to finally meet Thomas Jung in person. Fortunately the event organizer Douglas Hay made it possible that I could join without paying the full conference fee. In the end I tried to return the favour by giving a BOF session. The next paragraphs briefly describe the event, my BOF session and how it was to finally catch up Thomas “Mr. SDN” Jung.
The event was pretty small which made it easier to speak with more people. I really liked the introduction for the BPX community because I never had the time to fully look into it. I was also very impressed by Marco ten Vaanholt the head of the BPX group. He is a great guy so when you see him at TechEd make sure to have a chat with him. I definitely have to spend more time in the BPX community.
Mark organized a speed networking session which was quite nice. Everybody sat at a table with 4-5 strangers and after 5 minutes you switch the table and get to know 5 new people. It worked quite well and there were a lot of interesting conversations. There are a few things that stood out:
- People still talk a lot about BSP development versus ABAP Web Dynpro. Hopefully after the event everybody knew that both technologies have their place.
- CRM is still a hot topic. There were a lot of talks regarding CRM implementations.
- The BI got a lot of love. Most people agreed that it is one of the coolest system to work with.
I never attended a BOF before but found it quite interesting. The first session I attended was hosted by Mark Finnern and only Matt Harding and I attended it. We had a good discussion about SDN in general and further improvements. Matt Harding raised the point that the Weblog section is not very mobile phone friendly. The problem is the frame which is always around the blog post. I am working on a small hack right now which I hope to release in the upcoming weeks. It should make the blog section easier to use from mobile phones.
The next session I attended was hosted by Thomas Jung and he talked about the different UI technologies SAP offers and when to use them. It was quite interesting but more like a presentation than a BOF. The problem might have been that there were too many people in the room. However Thomas was able to successfully solve the BSP vs. ABAP Web Dynpro problem which I mentioned earlier.
My BOF session on “Unit testing in the ABAP world or how to write software which stays soft”
Since there are no instructions on how to do a BOF I want to briefly describe how I did it and what I will do differently next time. Maybe some people find it useful.
At first I created some powerpoint slides for the session but soon realized that this is not what a BOF is all about. In the end I had just a piece of paper in front of me with ~20 topics I could talk about. I also highlighted the ones which I thought were most important.
When the session started I was really glad that 7-8 people attended it. Normally testing is not everybody’s favourite topic. I was even more impressed that when I asked who was already writing unit tests nearly everybody raised their hands. I started the session by giving a brief introduction of the topic. Afterwards I just followed the discussion I tried to incorperate the topics which I found important.
In the end I was quite satiesfied with my first BOF session but I would do some things differently. The idea with the piece of paper in front of me works well and keeps you focused on the main topic. Especially if one discussion ends and you want to start another one. While the main focus of a BOF session is to have a good discussion I think it is also crucial to make sure that not one person takes over the session with her/his problem. Everybody should have a chance to raise questions and get some feedback. Moreover I would try to act more like a moderator since the session is not owned by one person. Overall it was a great experience and I hopefully I will be able to do another one soon.
I want to add one more thing. Sometimes it might be interesting to publish the result of a BOF session as a blog. A few people took notes during my session but it might be a good idea to record the whole session and publish it afterwards. Here is a list of things I found interesting during my session:
- Everybody who attended had to test software in some way but only one person had visited a testing course. This is quite shocking and I am motivated to help some people to improve their testing skills. If you are in the same situation have a look at the free online course from Cem Kaner (One of the leading testing experts): http://www.testingeducation.org/BBST/. It teaches you all the basics about testing and should be helpful even for developers who are not working in the QA department. I also plan to write a blog about this issue.
- Developers have to start to learn more about how to build an application in a way that it is easily to maintain and to test. Developers should follow two concepts: Encapsulation and Separation in order to improve the testability. One example is to clearly separate the persistence layer from the application logic. If you are interesting in this topic have a look at Thomas and Rich Next Generation ABAP Development Book. Their example pretty much follows these two concepts.
- SAP has to improve the testability of their products. Especially the CRM system is horrible to test as Doug Munford mentioned. The good news is that, according to Thomas Jung, they are making progress. For example all the new enterprise services are fully automated tested.
- Software only stays soft if you have a quick way to verify whether a change was successful or not. Most of the times the only way to quickly verify is to run automated test against the test object. However developers have to gain the skill how to write the tests in a way that they run very fast. Otherwise they will not get executed after every change and the advantage of regression testing is greatly reduced. This is a skill most developers do not have at the moment but in my opinion will be very important in the future. Thereby we have to come up with a solution for this problem.
Meeting Mr. SDN
Definitely the highlight of the whole day was to finally meet Thomas in person.
We had a lot of interesting conversations and it was a lot of fun talking to him about the time when we were both very active in the BSP forum. I think this forum post is a perfect example on how much fun we had back in the days. I was also lucky to get a sneak peak at the Next Generation ABAP Development Book book and really liked it. Meeting Thomas reminded me again why I like SDN. There are just so many nice members in the community.
The community day was a fun experience. I can wholeheartly recommend it to anybody who is interested in the community. So make sure that you attend one when you go to TechEd. Furthermore you might want to host a BOF session. It is a great opportunity to have a discussion with a lot of smart people over a topic you are interested in.