“Programmers are lazy” – InnoJam them!
“Programmers are lazy”
That’s the summary (ok paraphrased by me) that a particularly inaccurate reporter gave to the recent InnoJam solution that I and a team of crack* developer built.
*crack probably refering more to “crac” in the Irish Pub sense, than anything else.
A week and a bit later
I finally seem to have recovered from the lack of sleep and caught up enough on all the other things I’m supposed to be doing (well that’s not entirely true, but I hate doing housework) and so I thought I’d put a few little words down on paper about the whole thing.
What a blast!
Are they small enough words? Perhaps they are, and so I’d better explain them. it is quite amazing what can be achieved when you have multiple talented people, a drive to try things new, and absolutely no fear of failure, except for the fear of letting your team down. But as per the reoccurring line in the Captain Underpants series of books, before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this one…
Three weeks ago
InnoJam Australia was not going to happen. Five lonely people had put their name on the list and stumped up $300 AUD (given the way the global markets are at the moment, I’m not even going to guess what that is worth in your local currency (unless you are in Australia, in which case if you can’t guess, have I got a money making opportunity for you!)) Unless there were 30 people with their names down, it wasn’t going to happen. I thought it would be really good to go along, but the weekend was in Sydney (which is a decent way away), I’d be away from the family, I’d have to convince the boss to pay for at least some of it – it was all too hard. But I still thought it would be good for Australian SAP users for us to have this sort of thing happening. So I added my support, threw out a few tweets, commented on a few blogs, Google+’d a bit , sent emails out to all the developers in the consultancy firm I work for (and a few that don’t work there too) – and finally my boss asked, “So do you really want to go?”. Obviously at this point I’d look a bit stupid if I said no. Fortunately Matt Harding had also been on the case, and HANA was now going to make an appearance, also the price had been dropped to $180 (I’ve been told this was partly due to my making such a fuss online about the price, but I can’t remember being that vocal!) So my final hurdle was to convince the family to give me the weekend off… One annual leave day booked midweek later, and I’m booked in. Still – only 15 people listed – safe bet it’s not happening. Check again 20 people listed, no 25 listed (you sheep!), no 35 people listed – ok I’m booking flights.
Next up there were only 3 business cases listed on Idea Place. A pretty poor showing – so I thought I’d add a few. They weren’t any good really, but dig through enough fossilised poo and occasionally you’ll find a diamond (or at least some amber). Now I failed to read the small print – and come Saturday afternoon in Sydney, I got a bit of a shock…
Wakey wakey – Time to InnoJam
Earlyish Saturday morning – heading to Sydney – was going to be a nice weekend in Melbourne.
And a BEAUTIFUL one in Sydney (view from hotel)
I lamented I hadn’t brought my shorts – but think the walk from hotel to UTS building was about as much sunlight as I saw all weekend…
I arrived a bit early, wandered off and found a great Thai noodle place, by the time I got back, things were hotting up, we sat down and waited for the show to commence. It was at this point that I discovered I was going to be part of the show – oh… and present one of my business cases.
Wilbert did a great job presenting his business case (guess he’d thought a bit about it)
As did Simon Kemp, although I have a feeling he might have been in the same boat as me about forgetting to read the small-print.
TdT did an awesome job of presenting Sascha’s business case. Guess that’s one of the reasons he’s a SAP Mentor – ability to present at the drop of a hat!
In the end after a bit of fluffing about, we found ourselves divided by our own choices into 5 teams (certainly not of equal sizes or skills, but teams nevertheless). In our team we had two people who had never even touched an SAP system in their lives before 🙂 (Martin and Boris – two brothers who were holidaying in Australia and had just happened to hear about InnoJam and decided to turn up!) But that did not stop us in any way!
So back to the original story
Ah, yes, I mentioned something about being lazy… Well, that was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the difficulty of adequately documenting custom developed ABAP code . The solution our team worked on was to extract and share UML sequence diagrams from SAP. We wanted to build on the Gravity server framework to allow the remote sharing and manipulation of UML diagrams. In the end we did manage to do this, although it was a complete hack of the business process modelling tooling of Gravity.
Something that really doesn’t get enough of a showing is the immense power of Gravity, embedded within Streamwork to allow remote collaboration.
There are some videos of me attempting to demo the solution – which are not the greatest quality, but can give you some idea of how unprepared and asleep we were at the end of 30 hours.
Including the cameraman (thank Harshit!)
SAUG – Powerful Connections
Despite my poor presentations skills (or perhaps because of them) we managed to come third. Which was a incredibly strong performance considering the competition.
Having had my fair share of experience with connectivity issues, I thought I’ve make sure we had a decent slideshow for the SAUG presentation . Thank goodness we did, as it happened that 5 minutes before the presentations were about to start, the VPN to Waldorf went down and could not be coaxed back to life. It’s not as hands on – as a demo, but might make more sense!
The best bit
In the Prezi I touch on what was the best bit of the weekend. For me it wasn’t the tech, although that was awesome – and even without being on a team that played with it, I learn a lot about HANA from just talking to people. It wasn’t about having the experts there and real business challenges to address. It wasn’t even that we came third, although that was great. It certainly wasn’t the lack of sleep or having to put up with the smell of team members’ feet after 30+ hours without a shower. No, the best bit, was that we got to work as a team – with the only goal being to do as well as we could and no-one expecting any more than that. I’ve not had such a great team spirit in any of the projects I’ve worked on in the last few years. The closest thing is some of the social sports teams I’ve played with in the past. It was great that guys who do not regularly (or ever in this case) work together could so easily just get something happening. I think it is a huge testament to the SAP community and especially the community in Australia.
I should shout out at this point to those people who went out of their way to help us – Marek Kowalkiewicz helped us at SAUG and got us back into contact with Dan Rickets who provided us a Gravity server to install onto a local PC. Dan and Alexander Dreiling were immensely helpful during the InnoJam itself – without their help we would have never got anything showing in Gravity at all.
Rui & Juergen were awesome the whole weekend – I hope Rui recovers eventually. Next time Rui, we’ll have a meal before we go out 🙂
Sure I will. 30 hours of fun!
Well if you don't have team spirit, you'll be pretty miserable at Innojam. Did I say 30 HOURS? You'll be with your team a long time. You have to enjoy working with them.
Back to lazy. I really am to a point. I want to be able to do things quickly with the least amount of effort. That way I can move on to the next fun project! (Smile)
It was great to hear your story! It makes me look forward to Innojam in Vegas even more.
most of us have to spend far more than 30 hours with the people we work with! To be able to develop as good a team spirit as we got at InnoJam would result in an amazing workplace.
looking forward to Vegas too!
One of the interesting things though was that the hardest (or maybe just longest) part of the exercise was determining the format of the file being loaded into gravity, silly little things like:
* In Gravity, location 0,0 was the centre of canvas, but any other coordinates were numbered from the top left,
* The only way to control the Z location of an object was by the order it was written in the intermediate file, and
* we ALL had a problem with my feet 🙂
Seriously, though, I must thank Rui, Alexander, Marek and all the other SAP employees who worked through the weekend and night with us. Without you guys, it wouldn't have happened, and I wouldn't have had so much fun !!
It's in the Prezi, but - many thanks to:
Without the team, it wouldn't have happened at all.
PPS And thanks to for the family for putting up with me not being there for a weekend.
By the way - Martin English, saw your Storify Link on #Innojam. Cool! Some funny stuff that people commented on twitter. 🙂
Re : Prezi. Yes - One of those little things I'll take away from this too. Nigel James, Paul Hawking, Rod Taubman and Tony DT were talking about it as old hat stuff. But it was new to me. I'm a powerpoint boy but apparently PPT is a no-no in some presentation circles nowadays. 🙂
As I said at the event - I'll try to get this into CodeExchange (as soon as Rui gets those T&C changed) and we can share this tooling (perhaps not the Gravity part but at least a UML extractor) Just need to get my hands on my own 7.02 system (might be easier now I've got a lemon perhaps 🙂
Think a point that would be worth making - is that although we may have tried something technically very difficult - we didn't have any real business functional representatives on the team - whereas the winning team did - and that is/was a telling thing when it came to the final presentations. A coherent presentation with real business context made the difference!
Prezi is a very cool tool! And PowerPoint is a bad word! Welcome to the world of cloud based tools!
Thanks again for you kind word!