In the last 12 months I got in contact with a lot of new IT topics and technologies. This is my personal list of highlights.
The Most Useful Tools
Last year I got in contact with three tools and nearly became addicted to Twitter, MediaWiki and my beloved NSP 7.01.
I love Twitter because it is perfect to keep in touch with other people especially other SAP specialist.
At work the wiki was the most useful tool in my company: If I answer questions of my collegues I write an short article instead of sending exactly the same answer by mail. The difference is that now everybody can participate and even improve the article.
I’m using the wiki to make notes when I have to analyze the code of other people so I’m doing informal documentation – and I use it for teaching my trainees. When I learn new things at meetings I’m writing them down so that others can participate and useful information that can help many people are spread within the company. Unfortunately more and more people insist of so called “topless” meetings (meetings where laptops are forbidden). Short meetings should be topless in my opinion – but under some circumstances we should use computer to takes notes:
- If in a meeting technical details are discussed by people who don’t meet day by day there is the danger of a misunderstanding. So it is useful to make notes using mind maps or in a wiki if they are of public interest.
- If someone does a presentation it can be useful to write down further notes and questions.
A wiki can help us that we avoid misunderstandings and spread information. And those information can be used that people prepared and this can lead to more efficient meetings. In my opinion managers are starting to understand how useful social software is.
Another most important tool is the ABAP Application server NSP 7.01. In the last year I took part at SDN Community Day and SAP TechED in Berlin and of course I had to try out everything I learned. A TechED we have access to demo systems but in three or four days I don’t have the time to try everything out. Fortunately I can download the NSP 7.01 demosystem from SDN so I’m able to test new SAP frameworks and technologies.
By the way: When I’m learning something new using my NSP system I write it down in a blog or in my company’s wiki. In my opinion this the rule of thumb: if someone takes part at an event and learns something new that is of public interest then it should become company wide knowledge by publishing it using Web 2.0 technologies and I’m doing this in my free time mostly.
My First Open Source Project
I am a strong advocate for Open Source Software. Some weeks ago I decided to start my own Open Source projects and started with a library of XML utilities in ABAP: http://code.google.com/p/axl-project.
This was an interesting experience for me. When I’m programming at work I’m very conservative and most of the time I’m using well understood (a polite name for obsolete) techniques and frameworks. In an open source project I can try out something new and this is a source of inspiration.
I realized that in an private Open Source projects I’m far more productive compared to work. The reasons are simple: I can focus on coding – no one is interrupting me, there is no reporting, no excel sheets, there are no meetings…
Of course this wouldn’t be possible without an NSP demosystem.
The Most Time Consuming Project
The most time consuming project was the ABAP book I wrote together with my collegue Thorsten Franz. We both worked for the same project in Frankfurt and we started to discuss what we learned in different ABAP projects for our company and soon we decided to write a book about business programming in ABAP. It was a challenging experience and I hope that we will be able to start a new project, soon.
When writing this book I learned a lot because we questioned everything what we did so far. Interestingly we didn’t have the time to do that at work – but this is not unusual. So my pessimistic view is that without periodic reviews and discussions programmers and software architects don’t have the chance to improve. The consequence is that most people do the same errors again and again – and even consider the errors as “best practices”.
If you want to improve you have to question yourself: ask different people about their experiences and try to keep your knowledge up to date. Writing a book was a really good opportunity for doing that.
The Most Interesting non-SAP Technology
One year ago I was involved in a BSP development project for my company in within one week we created an AJAX-application, an RSS-feed and some ABAP web services. This year it became clear that we can use web interfaces and applications in a rich internet application. If I remember the Twitter feeds at the time everybody was experimenting with Adobe Flex and Adobe Air applications.
The Most Interesting Future Technology
Since two years I was working with semantic web technologies and in my opinion it has much potential. This year I started to use them in ABAP development and this will be one of my major topics in 2009.