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Where in the World are You?

Those of us who have been around SCN (SDN) for a while might recall the really passionate efforts of Eddy De Clercq (his Grumpy persona much missed by me around here lately) also assisted by others such as Valery Silaev in creating a world view of SDN members back in June 2006

“This is yet another example how SDN brings people together and can collaborate without hearing/speaking toe each other. The result is a real fine application. But you don’t have to believe me, have a look at the new SDN world yourself and don’t be a killjoy by not submitting your data.”


Version 1 –  We are the world – first attempt to put the SDN Community world on a map.

Version 2 – Le petit monde de Freddy -How a relatively simple idea and implementation became a little nightmare, which ended in a better world after all.

Version 3 – From the Grumpy Old Man: Hoy en el mundo – What happened with the SDN World today?

His application is no longer hosted or accessible but the idea has lived on in my head for a really long time. Wouldn’t it be great, like in Dopplr or TripIT if someone here created a REST application or some widget thingie to allow community members to map themselves? Perhaps linked to their Business Cards?

The idea came up in my thinking today when Jim Spath asked who else in the St. Louis area was going to SAP Inside Track or might consider going from a geographic/local perspective. See: Call for Speakers SAP Inside Track Saint Louis July 30th, 2010

So who is up to the challenge to create a New World view with voluntary self mapping?

I’d love to see where my colleagues are (if they choose to expose that) and invite them…where else? … my basement.  By the way just had a visit this week from SAP Mentor Suresh Datti.

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  • … but I’m not sure where such an app would be hosted. There have been quite a few blogs where someone described how they added Google map functionality to such-and-such an SAP function, but generally they are hosted by that person’s company or a generic provider like Google.

    (as an example, I have a little app hosted with the Google platform which shows where SAP NetWeaver courses are running try this)

    Would the SDN hosting team be happy to provide the resources? If so, what are their requirements for building such an app?


  • Really like this idea Marilyn! Had heard and read about the map Eddy had created, even though that was before my time in SCN. So the idea is not new obviously, but in times with more and more Inside Tracks, community meet-ups and people connecting in all kinds of ways beyond just following each other on SCN and other sites  it would be even more awesome to have such an SCN member Map.

    I recently discovered ZeeMaps, which is based on Google Maps, but essentially they consider their map a map based wiki. It seems indeed very flexible in terms of what you can do with it, icons can be fully customized, map markers can include all kinds of description web-links, addresses, pictures etc.
    Not sure we would want to host something like this on yet another external site, I would definitely love to check out some options also to build/implement something hosted on SCN itself. However ZeeMaps could be an option, so I wanted to throw out a sample URL, that I just clicked together, didn’t add much yet, only myself and Gali for a test, feel free to check it out further, if anything it could give us a few more ideas:

    The Map could be embedded relatively easily here on SCN somewhere, at least technically that is the case, I have not fully checked into their license agreements yet, of course there would be some more due diligence needed. But yet again, maybe this is merely to give us a few more ideas on what’s possible anyway…an integrated map, that automatically picks up data from SCN based on information released in the Business Card would of course be even nicer.

    • Hi Marilyn, Hi Martin,

      you’re right, we’re not far away. A possible solution would also be using my ZGEOCODING Project to encode the addresses from the SCN Business Cards. As I’m already planning a Demo Jam submission showing that project my example data could perhaps be SCN members instead of Customers.

      I’ve already built in a “search nearby” function into ZGEOCODING which allows you to search for persons near a specified coordinate. In connection with a mobile phone GPS you can then search for SCN members nearby :-).

      But is there another way than grabbing the Business Card HTML to extract the user information?

      Best regards

      • Hi Gregor,
        This sounds very fascinating! Didn’t know about this ZGEOCODING Project of yours. Would love to know more or hear how you would think it could be implemented into something on SCN.
        To grab user information, currently this is certainly a weakness as many of you know.
        One thing I am hopeful of is that we are currently fixing/enhancing the RSS feeds that are behind the “List of Contributors” page on the left (used to be called “Top Contributor”). At the bottom right of that page you see an RSS icon, currently that feed only returns 10 results, but we are fixin that, so that it returns basically all results (if desired) based on the topic and country selection taken on that screen, through a parameterized RSS feed.
        Could something like that help? I guess the Feed would also need to contain address information (if released by the user on the Business Card)?
        Or would something work better that would be a push button from the business card, to “submit” address information from there and then it goes e.g. in such a Geocoded address record and from there to a map?
        • I suppose something we need to know is how accurate I want my lat/long to be from my business card. For example, if I decide to publish my BC details as “Australia”, then where would that appear on a map? Is it better to allow the BC owner to decide where they appear to be? Maybe I’m happy for people to know the city where I am located, but nothing more than that? Trying to work out where someone is from their town/city and country is often not accurate enough. For example, do those people outside Germany know how many Walldorf’s there in in Germany?


          • Very valid point Michael! Not everybody would want to pinpoint their location to the exact address or coordinates. However possibly, if we had a way to access the data easily, SCN users could already only put City name/Country/Zip Code in to their Business Card, but leave the street address off and make it visible accordingly. I guess these Geocoding Services, that ultimately pinpoint an address to map coordinates will then typically use the middle of the city or something like that as the coordinates?
          • Hi Martin,

            you’re right, when you feed the Geocoding Service of choise only with the availiable data it will return the coordinates only as exact as it can. In an ABAP system there is already a Geocoding avaliable which has data for countries and states like USA and Californa or Germany and Bavaria.

            In my ZGEOCODING tool I use the Geocoding provided by OpenStreetMap called Nominatim. The great benefit is that you can setup your own Geocoding Server and you don’t have to have your data leaving your network. Also it can be commercially used as long as you indicate OpenStreetMap as the source.

            Thank you for pointing me to the RSS Feeds for the SCN Top Contributors. It would be great if the Feed could be requested incrementaly. One parameter to define the length of the output and another for the requested page would be fine. Also it would be great if the RSS feeds could be requested per country.

            Best regards

  • Another thought I had is, if we want to built this ourselves, one way of doing it would be through an Xcelsius/Crystal Dashboard, I’ve not built one myself yet, but seen several map based Dashboards with either regular maps or even with the rotating Xglobe…
    Xcelsius could then possibly read some information from the SCN business card through some database connection… (again some due diligence would be required of course)
  • I have thought about this several times and while it would be possible to scape peoples cities out of SDN, sorry SCN, it would be nicer if there was some resty api to call that would deliver the business card as an xml message?

    I remember well that previous incarnations were quite slow and crashed my browser.

    In order to be performant it would need to need to only load pins per zoom level.

    Just my 2 pence worth,

  • Hello Marilyn,
    with your blog and Harald´s tweak blog in my mind, my opinion is we desperatelly need to have an API to access the SDN content/business cards etc. Once we have it working, the community members can build/ develop various add-ons instead of trying to hack the site. Like this you can use the enthusiasm of the community instead of listening the complaints about which you can do very little.
    Cheers, Otto
    • Absolutely!  and with folks like Martin, Gali, Gregor, Nigel, Michael N., Yourself (yep and Sue) thinking about this, I’m sure we can make this happen sooner than later.  There certainly are much better prototypes since the days we all waited eons for Freddy’s World to load.  Building something we know folks want seems just plain ‘ole logic. And I’m eager to check out the suggestions from Martin and Gregor from a user’s perspective.  Like Sue I think the only resty things I do are (well in my case) granny naps.

  • Hello Marilyn,

    My suggestion would be to use additional filters/tags, so specific areas of interest/jobs could be extracted and mapped.

    You may be interested in finding every Basis administrator in Japan for instance 🙂

    Reading some of Mr De Clercq’s blogs and he covered georss. Google maps can read georss feeds.

    Adding specific events to the map may be useful.

    Example below for the community days rss feed.

    Of course it would be better if the original information was geotagged by the author.

    The following uses website to convert the SDN Day rss feed into a georss feed. (

    Short url:

    which is this long url.



  • We were not able to launch Eddy’s project in our own landscape those many years ago however we did start a custom SDN Google map to replace and the biggest issue that came was many in the community travel so they’d perferred a service like Dopplr to show where they are “going to be” instead of where they live and second – less than 7% were willing to share their exact location for saftey reasons.

    I had started conversations with Dopplr about a “group” for the community and be happy to introduce any of the community team if they want to continue the thread…

  • Hello,

    just thought it might be pertinent to point out that SCN business cards currently only allow you to hide/make visible your entire address contact details. It’s not possible to just show which town you are in for example, and hide the street.

    I don’t mind SCN administrators knowing these details, but perhaps I’d not want to encourage a slew of junk mail to the office by making my work address easy to data mine.

    Perhaps opt-in/out of the map could be controlled if these details could have their visibility controlled at at a more granular level?

    • Good point Chris and one that would need to be addressed to make town location and subsequent geomapping available.  While I do warmly invite friends to “my basement” I don’t relish being deluged by junkmails, telemarketers and other unwanted guests.