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On Saturday, February 20th, 2010, the small German town of Bonn was the location of one of the world’s major geek fests, namely SAP Inside Track. Held at the conference rooms of main sponsor AOK Systems, the event drew about 70 attendees from seven countries and three continents, who came together to contribute, collaborate, and network with fellow SAP geeks in three parallel tracks, crowned by an evening event.

Opening session rocked

The event was kicked off at 9 AM with a brief welcome by my favourite collaborator Tobias and myself, followed by the true opener, a one-hour presentation by the ultimate ABAP geek, Thomas Jung.

Crowd waiting for the event to be kicked off (picture by Gregor Wolf)

Tom couldn’t physically make it to Germany, but at the ungodly time of 3 AM Tom’s local time, he joined us through SAPconnect (Adobe Connect web conferencing) and shared his screen with us so that the 50 people who were in Bonn to attend his session could get a very exclusive preview of the latest developments in ABAP and Web Dynpro. We used a Peavey guitar amp to amplify Tom’s voice, just to stress the fact that a true rock star was speaking to us.

Tom’s session was a worthy opener for a SAP Inside Track that was, in my humble opinion, a roaring success.

International crowd

Attendees came from all over the world: Italy, England, Netherlands (you guys rock!), Belgium, the remote corners of Germany, USA (@openczun at the pre-evening event) and Australia (admittedly, our Australian guest Paul Hardy had business in Germany anyway).

SAP Mentors presence

We had a huge presence of SAP Mentors: DJ Adams, Gregor Wolf, Thomas Jung (remote), Oliver Kohl, Martin Gillet, Sergio Ferrari, Christian Günther, Tobias Trapp and Thorsten Franz were there, most of them wearing their easily recognizable Mentor rugby shirt from SAP TechEd 2009. So even though we were sad that Mentor colleagues Anne Petterøe, Craig Cmehil, and Darren Hague couldn’t make it, the “blue man group” was present and gave their best to contribute to the strong spirit of collaboration and partnership that could be felt throughout the event.

Sergio Ferrari discussing Adobe and SAP (picture by Gregor Wolf)

Great sessions

I had very high expectations for the quality of the fifteen sessions, as many of the contributors are highly reputed in their respective fields and know to be passionate about their topics. My expectations were surpassed by far. It was especially nice to see contributors who had not previously been visible on SCN rise and shine and deliver excellent presentations.

Thomas Ritter with an inspired presentation (picture by Gregor Wolf)

Renald Wittwer talking about Open Street Map (picture by DJ Adams)

My personal highlight was SCN veteran Thomas Ritter’s inspired and unique session on how to write testable software. Thomas should be exempt from all corporate style guide obligations because the stuff he does finds its way into your brain ten times better (and it’s there to last) than any streamlined material.

Each presenter was given one of the SAP books donated by our sponsor SAP Press.

Evening event

Speaking of sponsors: Thanks to the generous contribution of Sergio Ferrari’s employer TechEdge, we were able to host an evening event with a nice buffet, cold drinks – including a cask of the local beer -, and my dear colleague Ferenc Tabori from the test automation crew who volunteered as a disk jockey, soothing our minds with relaxed Café-del-Mar style music and challenging us with really loud heavy metal. I loved it! (Ferenc is one of those brilliant people who make you realize that in a crazy world, sane behaviour stands out and appears utterly bizarre at first.)

This was a nice opportunity to chat, get to know new people, and surprise our birthday child Gregor Wolf with a large champagne tart with the writing “Happy Birthday Gregor – Make from Pure Geekium”. Gregor showed the ultimate commitment, spending his 35th birthday with us and delivering not one but two well-received sessions.

Infecting people with the community bug

I heard from several attendees and contributors that this event had really changed their outlook on the SCN community and that they intended to start blogging or otherwise contributing to the community. So I’m especially glad that SAP Inside Track Bonn was not a corporate-sponsored get-together of the usual suspects, but a real community event and a chance to infect new people with the community bug. I think it worked and am confident that we will see a lot of contributions from new community members in the near future.

Participants networking in the hallway (picture by DJ Adams)

Lessons learned

For others who are thinking about hosting a SAP Inside Track event, we have recorded some tips and tricks on the wiki page at http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/events/How+To+Inside+Track. The single best advice we can give is: Get as many helpers as you can.

Future Plans

Tobias and I are already making plans for the next German SAP Inside Track. We have discovered an interesting location in Frankfurt with gourmet cooking at a very reasonable price – we will keep you posted. Watch out for our call for volunteers.

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9 Comments

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  1. Marilyn Pratt
    I’m so sorry not to have seen video footage.  Sounds like there were sessions that had to be seen and heard to be believed.  Yea, Thomas Ritter!
    Thanks for sharing your impressions and for consolidating all the great pics and links.
    Wow, you guys keep raising the bar
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      1. Thorsten Franz Post author
        Holger did a very innovative thing in not only video-taping some sessions but also making the recording itself (and knowledge management use cases around it) the topic of two sessions. He’s a natural-born evangelist and I look forward to more of his evangelizing, be it in blog or video form. 🙂
        Cheers,
        Thorsten
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  2. Holger Stumm
    Hi Marilyn, Hi Thorstem, Hi Gregor:
    Thanks for the deman. Unfortunately, I am – as most around here – in a very demanding project. I try my best, but next results will only come on weekends, and this is already trravel time to Sitzerland again for me. But I keep everybody updated, and whoever has videos, register on the Channel at Vimeo and be part of the collaboration.
    Just my videos are more than 60 GB, this means post production render time til December. Someone needs to edit that.
    Subscribe to this SAP-Group at vimeo:
    http://www.vimeo.com/groups/33161

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  3. Susan Keohan
    Hi Thorsten,
    Well, with all the buzz leading up to this event, I knew I would be wishing I had been there, but I think you really drew me in with the community angle.  Congratulations on what sounds like a great event! 
    Best,
    Sue
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    1. Thorsten Franz Post author
      Thank you. In fact, I was understating so as not to make those poor souls who couldn’t make it to the event feel envious or left out, which, of course, they all are, God bless them.
      Cheers,
      Thorsten
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  4. Neil Gardiner
    Mate,

    I so wish I was there. I would have even worn a tin foil hat in your honour. There are certain disadvantages to living this far away from the rest of the world. Not the weather though! :o) 

    Hopefully I will be able to make to Vegas this year.

    Cheers,
    Neil.

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    1. Thorsten Franz Post author
      Neil,
      I hope we will both make it to Vegas next year. To finance the trip, we could take a high-interest loan from a local thug and hope to win the money to repay it at the Blackjack table of the Venetian hotel. If instead of winning our fare we get even deeper into debt, we can always offer shoe shines to TechEd attendees. What do you think?
      Cheers,
      Thorsten
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      1. Neil Gardiner
        Mate,

        Good idea, we should get a loan, from a loan shark. And I welcome them to send thugs round. With my background I am pretty sure we will be the ones walking away. :o)

        But, if we opt for the shoe shine option that works for me too. After all, having shinny shoes & boots was paramount in the military.

        Cheers,
        Neil.

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