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Benchmarking your NetWeaver knowledge in an iPhone App

Firstly let me be clear …. this blog refers to a free iPhone App available on the iTunes App Store.  This blog is intended to spread the word, but not for commercial purposes, as the App is free and no there is no advertising or other income.  Let’s just say that building this App was a personal exercise in learning new technologies but with a SAP flavour.   Inspired by SAP Mentor Dagfinn Parnas’ blog about SAP Support Note Viewer for Android grows up (new version), I decided to share my own experience coding an SAP-relevant App on the iPhone.

I have worked with SAP technologies since the mid-1990s.  I think it would be fair to say that the pace of technological change in SAP during the NetWeaver years has increased dramatically, as developers (such as myself) need to absorb an ever growing mass of concepts, knowledge, and skills.  Thankfully things like SCN and TechEd have helped us to ride the change, but nonetheless it is still a challenge to keep up.

How do I keep up?  In addition to those knowledge building initiatives that might happen during working hours and surfing SCN, each year I buy a SAP Press book or two, review TechEd materials, and I undertake a personal technical project after-hours.  So this leads me to the App.  This year (having finally ditched my personal Windows laptop for a Mac) I decided to explore iPhone development as my technical project to feed an interest in iPhone solutions.  I wanted to conceive a project that would (1) provide me with an understanding of iPhone development,  and simultaneously (2) help me to build my own SAP knowledge, and (3) be something that I would actually use to reinforce and expand my SAP knowledge. 

At the same time, working with so many SAP professionals, it occurred to me that everyone wonders how their own knowledge levels might compare with their peers.  So I figured it would be interesting to have an App that could provide people with a basic measure of this (albeit with little scientific integrity).

The result of this is Uber Geek, a quiz on the iPhone / iPod Touch for NetWeaver professionals.

Being a developer, most of the assessment categories are currently development focussed.  At the time of this blog the categories are ABAP, ABAP Objects, Adobe, Portal, Transaction Codes, Web Dynpro ABAP.  If there is continued interest, I am planning further categories in future.

When you first download the App, you are requested to complete a 30 question quiz for your chosen topic.  The result is posted to a twitter account (without identifying you).  I harvest the results and resupply them back to you via the app, so you can see (for instance) how you compared with the average result of all others who completed the quiz in the same topic.

Even if you don’t have an iPhone, you can see the statistical results here (optimised for Safari on the iPhone, but can be viewed using any modern browser).

I find it a useful tool to (say) try a quick quiz during the train ride into work.  There is even a ‘learn’ mode on the app that targets questions you previously answered incorrectly, or those questions you have not seen.  My hope is that everybody that tries it learns something new.  Note however that this is really intended as a fun quiz and is NOT intended as a tool for serious uses – such as certification preparation, or consulting advice.  You should reference other sources for those things.

The App can be found in the iTunes store here

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  • "Good job soldier!"...We are in the same way..., I've changed from Win to Mac and I've started to study how could I work in both technologies/companies (SAP and Apple). Thanks a lot! See ya!
  • Very impressed with this John. I would be very interested in learning more about how you approached this development. My wife has just bought a mac so I'm keen to download the sdk onto it!


    • Thanks Ian.  If you are interested in looking into iPhone development, I would certainly encourage it!  You will find the concepts translate quite readily from the SAP development world, and can have a 'reverse feedback' effect in helping you to better understand development in SAP.  You will initially find the 'square bracket' notation of Objective-C a bit perplexing, but once you get past that hurdle you will be fine.  There are a multitude of online resources to help you get started.  Start with, get a Hello World scenario working and you will progress from there.  I also purchased a couple of books but the most useful primer I found was 'Head First iPhone Development' which was quite well structured and fun to work through.  You can download the SDK for free and run apps on the simulator, however if you want to run them on your device you will need to become a registered developer, which costs about $US100. 
      This is a process which I commenced 6 months ago.  In that time I probably spent the first month learning, then coded a couple of 'pilot' apps (one with integration to SAP) before focusing on Uber Geek, which took about three months in lapsed time (but since all this was undertaken in the evenings, I expect it took around 120 hours to code).  Uber Geek could have been coded in less time, but I spent much of my time trying to fine tune the usability (eg. minimizing the amount of key presses required to progress through a quiz).  If you read the Apple Human Interface Guidelines (and you must if you want your app approved by Apple) then you need to think carefully about usability.
      Interestingly, I engaged a number of Apps to help me write this app!  I used a To-Do list app to tick off my features and defects that I needed to code for.  I used an educational iPhone development app to learn more whilst on the train to work.  I am completely sold on the promise for smartphones to transform our productivity.  Good luck to you!
      • John,

        i bought a book, but not being a developer i had to put it aside for now, but i'm trying to get through Safari the content that I need and it has mostly worked so far. the biggest kick i get is from people who don't know anything about iPhone and think it's just another phone and not a development platform. the next big thing for me is discovering new apps almost on a daily basis and wondering how i could get by without them until now. only today i came to the realization that i can actually do cash transactions and explain it at twitter/greg_not_so at the same time. windows just seems such a bore.

  • I'm not the kind of guy who loves apple.. i don't have iphone, itunes and other things BUT i really enjoyed this post.
    In my opinion, every developer should learn other technologies.. be beyond SAP and ABAP world.


  • Very cool - I'd consider crowd-sourcing the questions. Create some sort of database where users can add questions and possible questions. I'd also talk to SAP about being able to use the example certification questions.

    If you push this the right way, you could have experts (for example, SAPMentors) post questions and answers.


    • Thanks Richard.  You are the second person to raise the possibility of crowd-sourcing in as many days.  Food for thought.  I would prefer to stay away from any linkage to certification, because the expectations of users might be misguided (passing the quiz does not imply you would pass a certification exam).  A few of the questions have the same flavour of certification questions, because in some topics there are very obvious questions to ask in a multiple choice format.  But that is where the similarity ends ... this quiz only accepts one correct answer per question, not multiple correct answers (like in a certification exam).
      Your idea of possibly sourcing from SAP Mentors is a great idea.  I know a few of the mentors and might float the idea with them.  The quiz content could then be 'owned' by the mentor group.
      • I've already posted to the internal SAPMentor forum about the blog.

        I'd rather not see the content owned by SAPMentors - questions should be from the whole community but you might have questions that originate from an SAPMentor being tagged with the SAPMentor logo.

        I also like the link to Twitter but you might give users the opportunity to publish their results linked to their twitter user. You could also have something like foursquare badges linked to scores - "I'm the top scorer on the ABAP Fundamentals Quiz". Since the quiz should be entertaining, you could have joke questions as well - ABAP trivia, etc.


      • Hi Julius.  That is very generous.  Thank you.  I will look at the questions and if I end up incorporating them I will look to list your name as a contributer in the App store description in the next release.  I am also thinking about setting up a mechanism for others to contribute, as per earlier posts to this blog.  Once again, thanks for being a community contributer!



  • John,

    i lost my ubergeek app during the last iOS upgrade, but was happy to add it back in and now i'm getting ready to use your help app. any interest in expanding the library for your ubergeek? i may have a list of questions from one particular area of and it might help expand contents of your app and generate some licencing revenue for you in the future, i hope.

    • Hi Greg,

      I do intend to expand the scope of questions for uber geek in a new release.  I have been looking at options for crowd sourcing of questions.  When I come up with an approach I will announce it here.  For the past month my attention has been entirely on myHelp, so now I can return my attention to uber geek.  I did have to recently submit a fix for uber geek because the Twitter posts stopped working, but that is still awaiting Apple approval.  Certainly my vision is that it could be a useful learning aid.  However, I don't want to position it as a certification learning tool because that would be an issue for SAP.  One of the issues with crowd sourcing is how to ensure that I am NOT being given questions straight from a certification exam!