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In this Scripting Language Forum thread here:

How would/should you invoke a javascriptable applet from WDA or WDJ?

Dagfinn Parnas was kind enough to architect the outlines of a solution for using WDA/WDJ as a “bioinformatic” platform to launch 3D biochemcial molecule viewers with rotate capability.   

Although Dagfinn was kind enough to architect the solution I needed, he also asked the question of why a solution in SAP would be preferable to the kind of open-source solution that scientists typically prefer.

In my response, I gave him several reasons why SAP would be preferable to many bioinformaticians who are interested in a stable supported integrated data environment.

But it occurred to me that what Dagfinn and I were discussing is actually related in a very direct way to the kinds of efforts SAP has announced that it will make to try and increase the presence of SAP within university curricula (in order to grow more SAP experts organically and thereby increase the pool of SAP expertise.)

In particular, suppose that SAP were to give away NW7.0  to universities free as an IDE in return for promises from the universities to teach the stack in their curricula.  (Of course, the “freebie” NW7.0 stack would include no actual SAP applications  – just all the development tools and database.)

Furthermore, suppose that this arrangement hinged on a promise by the universities to include final “practicums” in their SAP curricula – i.e. “final projects” in which students had to actually complete prototype SAP applications in applied areas of their choice.  A permissible “applied” area could be bioinformatics (my own “non-dayjob” area of interest), or it could be economics, or electoral analysis, or any subject matter area where integration of data, data analysis, and data presentation was needed.

So, under this plan, students from all different majors could minor in a very interesting “SAP curriculum” so long as they had some rudiments of comp sci and programming from one or two introductory courses taken their freshman year.  (Forgive me for using the US academic model here – “freshman” year is 1st year of post-secondary school college training.)

Well, many of these students think they will wind up in jobs related to what they majored in, but because they’re bright, they’ll be recruited by the Big 4 with promises of much filthy lucre.  (“Lucre” is a very old English word for “money”, as in “SHOW ME THE FILTHY LUCRE!”)

And when these graduates hire on with these comoanies and get their functional training in company-paid SAP solution academies, then:

… presto … voila … lo and behold …

…BPExperts right off the shelf (because their newly-gained functional knowledge will be supported by the technical SAP knowledge they got in their SAP “minors” in college.)

As I said in the intro to this post (and many times before here at SDN), this hypothetical approach is actually reminiscent of the actual way that ATT beat the pants off IBM in the unix vs MVS wars of the ’80’s.  ATT gave unix to the universities FREE.

Something to think about, anyway.

Or not.

Depending on your point of view as to whether NW7.0 can successfully function as an independent general purpose “soup-to-nuts” (“database-to-web”) IDE.

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  1. Nigel James
    I guess I came through a path like the one you describe. After completing a IT degree I was snapped up by a Big 5 co and was packed off for ABAP certification training.

    As for University exposure my university did have an SAP program. Many of my peers did their final year projects working with industry on a real SAP project.

    I think this is an awesome initiative and I thoroughly support it. We need to show the new kids that Enterprise can be cool and sexy and not get them lured off to Web20 startups coding the future in PHP. [facebook, tagged, yahoo, digg etc]

    As for giving it away for free some of the mentors have been talking about dual licencing so that the SAP platform gets more widely exposed and could be used for startup ventures like ESME as an example and the examples that you describe in your post.

    One last point when you go to TechEd look around at the age distribution and see how many are under 28. If SAP doesn’t attract these people to the SAP development platform then the future isn’t that bright.

    Kind regards,
    Nigel

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  2. Nigel James
    I guess I came through a path like the one you describe. After completing a IT degree I was snapped up by a Big 5 co and was packed off for ABAP certification training.

    As for University exposure my university did have an SAP program. Many of my peers did their final year projects working with industry on a real SAP project.

    I think this is an awesome initiative and I thoroughly support it. We need to show the new kids that Enterprise can be cool and sexy and not get them lured off to Web20 startups coding the future in PHP. [facebook, tagged, yahoo, digg etc]

    As for giving it away for free some of the mentors have been talking about dual licencing so that the SAP platform gets more widely exposed and could be used for startup ventures like ESME as an example and the examples that you describe in your post.

    One last point when you go to TechEd look around at the age distribution and see how many are under 28. If SAP doesn’t attract these people to the SAP development platform then the future isn’t that bright.

    Kind regards,
    Nigel

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    1. David Halitsky Post author
      Nigel –

      Thanks for taking the time to respond.

      Regarding SAP exposure in universities (and more generally, non-ERP/FICO environments), here’s an example.

      In response to a question I posted on a list-server about 3D molecular viewers that are applets (not “exe”s), I got this response from Rolf Huehne of the Institute of Moleclar Biotechnology in Jena, Germany:

      **********************************************
      >> The Jmol applet (http://www.jmol.org) is capable of synchronizing
      >> different applets within a page. An example of this synchrinization is
      >> shown here:

      >> http://chemapps.stolaf.edu/jmol/docs/examples-11/sync.htm
      >>
      >> It is also possible to filter specific chains for loading, see the
      >> Jmol scripting documentation at

      >> “http://chemapps.stolaf.edu/jmol/docs/?ver=11.6#load“. As far as I

      >> know it is not possible yet to load only a range of residues. But
      >> there is currently a rapid development by Bob Hanson from St.Olaf
      >> College. So you should make a feature request at the Sourceforge
      >> project page. And if you are lucky it is implemented within a few days.
      >> If you have any further questions you should join the ‘jmol-users’
      >> mailing list (http://jmol.sourceforge.net/project/#Mailing%20lists)
      >> and ask them there.
      >>
      >> Regards,
      >> Rolf
      ***********************************************

      Rolf is a member of a team that is doing some very interesting data integration work in bioinformatics:

      http://www.fli-leibniz.de/IMAGE.html

      http://www.fli-leibniz.de/cgi-bin/ImgLib.pl?CODE=1izn&EXPAND=description,exon,alignment&EXON_MAP_SHOW=on

      And I think that Rolf’s work could easily be supported by SAP in a “win-win” arrangement that would cost SAP almost nothing but would increase SAP’s “presence” in exactly the way you’re suggesting – “presence” as a supporter and enabler of innovation.

      Regarding gaining presence as a supporter and enabler of innovation, this goes back to a topic which I addressed in my “pre-Community Day” SDN/Labs presentation in 2005.

      The title of this presentation was:

      “Beyond Best Practices: SAP as a Platform for Innovation”

      And this topic is very much related to your idea that SAP has to gain a Web 2.0 presence in as many ways as it can  (one way being the distribution of NW7.0 as an application-free IDE.)

      But my twist on this idea is for SAP not to concentrate on the “bling” aspects of Web 2.0  (You may recall my post a year or so ago here where I said that I’d like to see SAP use NW2004s to do something more significant than vibrate the CEO’s bed when SAP 4th quarter earnings come in higher than expected.)

      But I’ll discuss this in another “Ranting” blog post to be called: “Indie Music, Indie Films, Why Not Indie SAP?”

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        1. David Halitsky Post author
          When someone complains I’m posting too many no-point “ranting” blogs, I’ll just say “Nigel made me do it.”

          Seriously, though, I think that the idea of “Indie SAP” may not only help reverse the “greying of SAP” that you mention, but may also help SAP recognize possible gaps in its own thinking about what kinds of new customer demands should be satisfied by SAP, and how SAP should satisfy them technically. 

          I mean customer demands in SAP’s core ERP business competency.  For an example of what I’m talking about here, see my last post to Anton W in this Forum thread here:

          How would/should you invoke a javascriptable applet from WDA or WDJ?

          If Anton is right that SAP has overly-restricted the way one can solve a weird-*** “Indie SAP” problem in bio-informatics using NW7, then SAP should be worried that it may have overly-restricted the way one can solve an exactly parallel problem in its core ERP business.

          So the point is – by seeing how robustly NW7.0 can meet weird new demands in “Indie SAP” development, SAP may gain valuable insight into how robust NW7.0 is for meeting core business demands that may be just around the corner.

          Best as always
          djh

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