SAP Community Day and TechED Munich is over – and this in fact one of the most exciting weeks this year. It was really awesome to watch the presentations of the alpha geeks Dan McWeeney and Ed Herman. I loved chatting and hanging around with Anton Wenzelhuemer, Gregor Wolf and Thomas Ritter – it was really an inspiration.
Now I’m trying to relax and find some sleep I didn’t get in Munich.. In Munich I could watch the most innovative software within the SAP world: The ABAP editor and debugger was started on Eclipse, I watched widgets living in a 3D virtual environment and powerpoint slides quering the BI system. Why was it so fascinating? How will it affect the way I work and the software I will create in the future? I think it will take me some time until I found an answer but nevertheless I want to blog my first thoughts and impressions.
Innovation from Inside and from Outside SAP
In my opinion the most impressive topic of this year’s TechED was innovation and especially innovative user centric software. Why is this important? Let’s have a look what kind and how we are using software: If we plan out holiday we use a search engine like google to get information about the place we want to go: how’s the weather in Italy or Thailand today? We use the internet to get our tickets and within the same time we chat with our friends about our plans. At the same moment we order books via the internet or use wikipedia to get more information about the place we want to go. And when out trip is over we use a special portal to rate the hotel to indicate whether or not the service was appropriate.
Le me summarize: We are using different kind of software applications in parallel at the same time and expect that these programs give us answers instantly and we use new technologies to stay in contact with each other. I think this is the way today’s generation expects software to be because they grew up with cool software like multi user games, they use wikipedia to do their homework and to chat with their friends at the same time – so these folks already spend a lot of time in Web 2.0. Of course this idea is not surprising but older guys like me need some time to grasp it and think about the consequences.
What‘s ABAP got to do with Web 2.0?
An ABAP guy like me usually won’t get in contact with those cool new technologies I mentioned above. We are creating the stable core of an enterprise system and this is very important: without a stable core neither eCommerce nor a service oriented enterprise architecture could exist. But in fact this leads to a serious question every ABAP developer should ask himself: “Is my software ready for the future? Can I create Web Interfaces for my applications within short time? Can I change my code to support new or changed business processes?” I was surprised that some ABAP developers seemed to be a little sceptical towards those über-cool software we could see at Demo Jam: Will those prototypes be as stable as our backend software? Will they be flexible and maintainable?
Can Innovative Software and the Stable Core at the Backend Coexist Peacefully?
The questions above point to a weakness of a special kind of highly innovative software: Using scripting languages you can create prototypes within really short time but until the application is as stable as the SAP backend it will take a lot of effort. But in fact all those rapid-time developers of cool and innovative software know this truth. And sometimes they don’t even plan to build applications that are as flexible as well as maintainable as our backend software: If a change is necessary then they are not afraid to throw away the old code and rapidly create a new application.
But in general it is completely wrong to believe that highly innovative tools are only good for creating prototypes. Many of today’s and tomorrow’s applications will use different products of the SAP Netweaver Platform, so everyone should start to learn everything about its possibilities because the combination of the stable core together with the latest innovations seems to be the way to successful solutions.
SAP Community Day
For me the best way to get new insight and inspiration is networking. So it was quite clear that I had to visit SAP Community Day to chat with peers. The sessions I enjoyed most have been the following:
- Implementing cool technology – what is the business case? Discussion on how to do cool stuff while delivering business value. Host: Darren Hague
- How to keep your development team’s technical skills up to date Host: Thomas Jung
- Exploratory testing or ways to improve your manual testing skills… Host: Thomas Ritter
I think these three sessions cover really hot topics every developer is interested in. Especially Thomas’ session about exploratory testing was really great because it was the first time I was asked questions like how to measure testing skills. It was also interesting to see that most developers use to do tests, but are only a few who took courses in testing and even less seem to analyse what they are doing in manual tests.
The Need for Agility
Of course I used SAP Community Day to ask my peers how they use to develop software.
I already knew that SAP started to introduce agile methods like SCRUM in Java projects to create better software in a faster way. Now I learned that even in ABAP development development projects used it with success and developers told me that they loved it to work that way. I hope that agile software development will be one of the topics of next SAP Community Day in Berlin.
What comes Next?
For me one a very important question of TechED was how can we create modern software with very high quality within shorter time. And I think my next (ABAP) blogs will deal with that questions.