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I’ve been an enthusiastic blogger in the last year or two in the old SCN. There are lots of things I love about the new SCN – it’s much more graphical and immediate and it allows more relationship and interaction, but the new spaces mean that blogging is very different. And I’m wondering how to continue blogging.

One relatively minor point is that the new blog engine seems a bit light on functionality. You don’t seem to be able to preview blogs before publishing. If you copy and paste from Word, it puts line breaks after each line and there seems no offline blog editor to use. When bringing in graphics, you can’t define alternative text unless you dive into the HTML editor – this is a basic politeness for people who need this for accessibility and seems an odd omission in a state of the art system.

More significantly, in the old SCN, it was a challenge to publish a blog with the archaic user interface. But once it was there, your blog was part of the SCN community, one of the 20 or so SAP blogs published that day. And as a reader one could easily scan all the blogs, and check out the ones that were interesting.

But in the new SCN, if you want to look for interesting blogs, you have to go through different spaces to find them, things are more fragmented. As a reader, it’s hard to see all the new blogs on the whole of SCN; there probably is a search or filter for this, but it’s not easy or obvious. And as a writer, your blog gets pigeon holed in one space that people may or may not know is there.

Spaces are good for communication in depth, but they risk dividing and conquering the community. Next time someone raises a controversial rant on something SAP could do better or shows us a competitor (e.g. Jarret on Workday) as an example of how SAP could learn, it’ll be hidden in just one of the spaces, and we lose the ability to connect with everyone on SAP. The risk is that SCN turns into a series of silos, rather than a single community.

This might be manageable if it was obvious what spaces there are. But at present (and I presume this would be something that is easy to fix), it’s not obvious where all the spaces are. Take a look at the screenshot below from the navigation system:

sap spaces.png

Which of these menu items under Training & Education are Spaces? It’s not obvious from the navigation at all. Training & Education is a space. SAP Certification is a Space, but SAP Careers and Skills isn’t and nor is Learning Software & Services. But there is no indication of this in the navigation, and I’m left wondering if there might be some exciting spaces in SCN that I’ve not found yet. We need clearer indication of what all the spaces are and how to find them.

I’m really impressed by the responsiveness of the SCN team – many issues have been fixed in the last week. And I think SCN has the potential to be a fantastic site for all of us in the SAP ecosystem. But systems only improve as a result of honest criticism. I hope I may be mistaken in some of the above, missing some UI options for example. But for the moment I’m wondering with apologies to Shakespeare:

To blog or not to blog, that is the question; whether tis Nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of uncertain spaces, or to sleep, perchance to dream of blogging elsewhere?

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6 Comments

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  1. Chip Rodgers

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your blog and comments on the new SCN!  Yes, you are right we do have a new approach where content lives primarily within a content space.  There is actually a quick way to see the old view of all blogs across all of SCN:

    • Go to the main home page of SCN (scn.sap.com)
    • Click on “Browse” and choose “Content” from the drop down.
    • You’ll get a list of all content sorted by most recent activity.
    • If you just want to see blogs, click on the button along the top called “Blog Posts”.  All blog posts will still be sorted by most recent activity — so even older blogs with new comments will be listed toward the top.
    • If you just want to see brand new blogs, then look for the “Sort by” drop down and choose “Sort by date created (descending)” and voila, you have the old SCN list.

    On the other hand if you just want to link to it quickly — here’s the URL for that list, so you could bookmark it as well:

    http://scn.sap.com/content?filterID=all~objecttype~objecttype%5Bblogpost%5D&sortKey=all~creationDateDesc&sortOrder=0

    Thanks again for your input John — we will continue to take ideas like yours to improve and give greater visibility and understanding to the new spaces model!  (We hope it’s nobler and we hope you don’t have to suffer many slings and arrows!)

    Chip

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    1. Patrick Flanders

      Hi Nigel..I do like the idea of an editor as part of the blog environment. I know that Jive has a rich text editor (I don’t know much about it), but sounds like you’re looking for an easy way to integrate your offline work into the Jive environment…? If so, we could probably investigate, but not sure what plans are for now.

      Sorry to be vague, but it’s a good topic for us to discuss internally. I appreciate you bringing it up, though. Thanks Nigel.

      –Pat

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      1. Nigel James

        Yes exactly Pat. An offline editor is exactly what I am thinking of. It is not a critical feature request – NTH at best but that would really be wonderful.

        And while you are opening up an API for offline blogging how about an API for other features – points, content, activity streams etc much like SAP Streamwork does? Is Jive up to that?

        N

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  2. Stephen Johannes

    John,

    You blog illustrates one of my top concerns is that spaces really separate this place into 100+ mini-communities, instead of keeping the that overall feel. Even with Chip’s awesome navigation hints, most people will not realize how to do that daily reading at first.

    That’s why when everyone else was concerned about the lack of blog moderation, I actually did not see as much of an issue impact of one bad blog is now much less than before.  I’m still taking a wait and see approach before making a final judgment on whether there needs to be a better solution.

    Take care,

    Stephen

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