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#sitNL, does it get any better?

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of #sitNL (over the years the hashtag has become more well known than the full name: SAP Inside Track The Netherlands). Together with Twan van den Broek, Jan Penninkhof, Fred Verheul, Sven van Leuken & Tamas Szirtes I was one of the organizers of this yearly event. In this blog I want to share why this is one of the highlights of the year for me.

Trying to describe what is so awesome about #sitNL

Media previewI keep finding myself describing #sitNL with superlatives. This is me genuinely being enthusiastic about our little event. Being part of the organization it is so great to see +/- 70 people spending their free Saturday sharing and absorbing knowledge about all things interesting in SAP-land. The agenda this year was of very high quality. A lot of the hot topics from TechEd were shared here in a casual way (meaning no marketing slides, just real experiences, impressions, opinions, demos, etc.). There were also some nice discussions. People feeling more free to ask questions and to chime in with their opinions. From experience I know that TechEd can be overwhelming. #sitNL provides a small-scale, open, house-like setting where everyone feels at ease. The delicous food that @mrsPenninkhof (Jan Penninkhof‘s wife) always prepares with a lot of dedication and love is the icing on the cake!

What kind of people visit #sitNL?

IMG_4365.JPGBy its geeky nature #sitNL always attracts lots of developers. ABAP, SAPUI5, etc. Over the past years though it is so good to see that the group of people is getting more and more diverse. People start seeing that #sitNL is not only for developers, but for everyone passionate about SAP products, platforms and technologies. It is a great way to get a good understanding of the hot topics. And it is free! This year we got 6 women attending and while we are very happy with that I think this can and should be many many more (spread the word)! Also, it was good to see that this year we got Sven van Leuken some BI-friends 🙂 It was very cool to see the Dutch BI-podcast directed by Ronald Konijnenburg. They integrated real nicely too, probably because they left their suits at home 😉

Tweet matthias.png

These kind of tweets make all the efforts worth it. Having community rockstars like Matthias on our turf is in itself really cool. Even better is that he is really part of the #sitNL community! The group attending #sitNL every year varies a lot. A lot of people that have the intention of coming can’t always make it because of private obligations or imminent go-lives, sudden production incidents, etc. From an organizational perspective it is so great to see that this does not impact the event that much. Even though we had some cancellations (which we were all sad about) the event itself was (perceived) greater than it ever was.

Hosting a session

Slides.pngThis year for the fourth time I signed up to host a session. This year it was about my TechEd mobility take-aways and I think it was very well received (slides available here). The sessions were scheduled in time frames of 30 minutes + 10 minutes Q&A and changing of rooms. So I had to pick some highlights that I thought were interesting for the audience. I chose to explain a bit about Fiori which is only out there for half a year now and already (rightfully) immensely popular. I explained what it was and what we can expect from “wave 2”. Then I told about the SAP Mobile Platform and SAP’s challenges in that area. Buying companies is one thing, but you need to explain your vision to customers so that they feel they can make a future-proof investment (much better explained by Twan van den Broek in his blog). The topic of Kapsel as part of SMP is very interesting and it provides a bridge to Fiori (not only in my presentation). Having Fiori apps run inside a container brings a lot of advantages (speed, security, device integration options, etc.). On Thursday I discovered that we could download the AppBuilder. Tried to start it and it immediately worked. The tutorials are very easy and the tool in itself seems stable and very easy to use so I decided to include it in my talk. I showed on stage how easy it is to make a superlist, consuming an OData service that I once created on our internal systems.I concluded the session with my impression of the keynote at TechEd Amsterdam by Bernd Leukert.A lot of things have been said about the keynote (bad time management, no real announcements, Ian Kimbell talking faster than his shadow, etc.) but I was inspired by the start of it: Code Enables Freedom. Bernd Leukert said “Free up your code”. I combined this with the desire of the community to make SAPUI5 Open Source (see Jan Penninkhof ‘s blog) and the song Rockin’ In The Free World by Neil Young. Main point was: SAP, you’ve taken these great open source frameworks and made your own awesome framework. It is time you give something back to the open source community. Show them how it’s done. Update 27-11-2013: by request (or peer pressure) I have uploaded it to YouTube. Hope you like it!

Next year?

Media previewWe always evaluate the event and I’m sure we’ll do that again this year. Lessons learned from last year included time management and the lack of networking opportunities. That was addressed successfully in this year’s agenda and organization. I think 30 minutes is perfect for these types of events and we made sure that everyone knew when the sessions were supposed to finish (see image) 😉 Media previewI think the location of the event attributes a lot to the atmosphere of it. Unfortunately Ciber will be moving to another office next year which means we will have to search for a new venue to host #sitNL in 2014. It will never be the same again but then again, so are a lot of things, especially in SAP-land so it’s all good. Looking forward to next year already!

Twan van den Broek

#sitNL founding father and community hero deserves a separate headline. If you ask him what makes this event so great he will undoubtedly say it’s the people that attend and provide the sessions. And this event is definitely for and by the community, but without Twan this event would be nothing. I am proud to be in his team organizing this event and I look forward to many more SITs to come!

Looking forward to reading more reactions from attendees. If you weren’t there but if you are interested in organizing your own SAP Inside Track, feel free to contact me/us as we will gladly help you setup your own SIT and provide tips, presence, presentations, etc. We are the #SCN community!

Cheers, Roel

P.S.: Hendrik Neumann: Ha! 😛

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    • I was impressed by the way the podcast was directed. Very natural and containing some fresh insights (ah when it comes to BI everything sounds fresh to me). Especially liked Danny Holten, the Synerscope data scientist, joining the convo. Cool stuff!

  • While some people haven't even fully woken up yet, others already have their blog ready already. Kudos Roel!

    Especially liked the shout out to Twan, I think we forgot to get him on stage to sing him a happy birthday song on this 5th #SitNL anniversary. I hope the shout-out in this blog at least partially makes up or that.

    Another token of gratitude to Fred and Twan again, for giving  up their speaking-slots, so that some of our new community members also had the opportunity to deliver a (great) story. True mentorship guys, kudos for that!

    • Yeah, we're reaching a point that we either have to pick the sessions we like (which is the worst option IMHO) or scale up and make more parallel tracks next year. So many people wanting to contribute. What more could you ask for?

      • Actually, I was thinking on the way back home that there might be a third option: have sessions of different length. So for instance people who are new to presenting might grab a comfortable 15 minutes to share something, while experienced duo presenters like W. Snoep and Leo van Hengel could use at least 45 minutes.

        For this to work we would have to ask people on the wiki about the estimated time of their talk: 15/30/45/.... And then plan accordingly.

        What do others think of this idea?

        • Thanks Fred 😳

          Good idea, like discussed yesterday Wim and i could both have a done a session and fill at least 30 minutes or more. A few years back i would never thought i would say this 😉

          Next year back-2-back sessions for topics which are related like Gateway + SAPUI5?

          Also the DemoJam is something i missed this year and previous year. I know nobody submitted a demo, so i will definitely do that next year!

        • Thank you Fred 😳

          Glad you liked the presentation and us presenting. Probably a bit more time for a session like we gave saturday would be more comfortable, especially in such an end to end scenario. However I think the end-to-end and the subject came over quite well by the participants.

          Good idea to let presenters indicate how much time they think they need. In my opinion sessions should have comparable lengths when they run parallel, otherwise it's getting a bit messy with break time/network time. Solution is to run same length session parallel, which could sometimes be a challenge, because of similar subjects/ topics. But that could probably be done easily, let's see how that works out next year!

  • What to add when all is being said? 🙂

    +1 to all above! Humbled by the mention, even though I see my self more on the later part of your characterisation.

    Twan, the whole orga team, all the speakers and attendees, our chef...

    the dutch-centric community is certainly a very passionate and genuine group of people and it's THE best event to wrap-up the year!

    Warm regards,


  • Nice write up buddy, you captured the spirit well. The Ciber office is indeed a perfect venue. Love the set up and coosy atmosphere. Lets see where you guys will end up the next coming months. As for the BI element, I will make it my personal quest to have analytics again on the agenda next year. Heck, as long as Leo and Wim are not talking about cooking Fiori Breaking Bad style, I actually might have a chance to warm some BI hearts 😉

  • Hi Roel,

    Amazingly fast blog post, and I suspect you wrote most of it in advance, since we already knew which superlatives would apply, right 🙂 ?

    I fully agree with the special mention of Twan van den Broek, who tirelessly dragged us all into and through this fifth sitnl . I was particularly impressed by his visiting all sessions and picking out some cool stuff for his wrap up. Looking forward to his photos too. Amazing guy!

    The time management went really well. I think that this time management, in combination with the schedule and the opportunity to have more in-between discussions/small talk, was the big difference with last year, and is in my opinion what made this edition the best ever.

    Last but not least: I will for sure miss the Ciber basement next year. This has been a most excellent location, and we can only hope to keep the spirit of the event, wherever it will be hosted.

    Thanks for writing it all down Roel!

    • Haha, no I didn't write anything down in advance. I blame it on my children who woke me up at 6:30 😉 But yeah, a lot of it was already in my head yesterday so just had to put it "on paper". Glad that you like it!

  • Hi Roel,

    Well written and fully agree with you that sitNL is a really awesome event and a saturday well spent. I really had great fun yesterday and it was a honour to give a presentation again.

    One of things still in my head is Neil Young 😉 Great idea and performance of slides with music. Already looking forward to next year. Keep on coding in the free world!



  • Congratulations on the successful sitNL. After enjoying the ABAP/HANA CodeJam with you in October, I really considered joining the SAP Inside Track, but unfortunately could not make it.

    So maybe 2014... if you have a seat for me then 🙂

  • I loved this year's #sitNL even more than the previous 2 years I attended - and I saw an awful lot of growth and depth. This year's timeboxing was certainly outstanding and the presentation skills were smooth in general whereas almost every presentation had a demo - and a successful one at that.

    Compare that with 4 years ago when I attended my first event and I can only say that I see a new class (or should I say breed) of techies arise here that bridges tech and biz and will surely make a difference.

    What's it to me? SitNL gives me unadulterated insights into SAP. Period

    Of course I'm an outsider and will always be one yet I feel warmly accepted by all of you, and again want to stress my gratitude for that. Not that I couldn't live without it or any of you but it all is just very un-SAP-ian to me what I've witnessed at #sitNL over the past few years - well except for the demos gone horribly wrong of course 😉

    Keep it up guys !and gals! I see an increasingly growing role for you in the future

    • Thanks for the kind words, Martijn! I've never considered you an outsider. Maybe you are because you're not into SAP that much but you are 100% part of this community as far as I'm concerned. Didn't get to talk to you this year and I regret that because your insights are always refreshing. I'm glad that you noticed improvements in the presentations! I was certainly impressed by a lot of them!

  • Wow, you're fast Roel. Great recap. And yes ... THANKS to

    • all the speakers of #sitNL 2013
    • all the participants that attended

    Without the above, we just end up with an empty room 😉

    Thanks for spreading your sitnl enthusiasm within SCN.

  • Great blog about a great event. This year was my second #sitNL in a row. Last year my colleague Rudy Clement invited me and my colleague Wouter Heuvelmans to join. This was the first time I heard about this event. Unfortunately this year Rudy couldn't be there in person, but he joined the BabysitNL (Twitter status link) remotely. I really like the cozy setting and atmosphere of this event. Very nice to meet all the SAP Community members. I'm looking forward to next year!! 

  • hi Roel,

    Perfect recap of a perfect day! And thanks for writing it down so fast. I absolutely enjoyed being there and even more happy to see and meet SCN members, who recently found out about the Inside Track. Very glad I was fortunate to present again, always great to share knowledge. I think the sitNL is getting better each year, with this 5th anniversary edition certainly being the best!

    Great presentation you gave! No pressure; are you putting your slides about 'keep on coding in the free world' supported by Neil Youngs music, as one video on youtube :-)?



  • Hey Roel,

    indeed a very good writeup! And a pretty fast reaction to me challenging you with the "If you blog, I blog" sitNL dinner conversation 😉 Therefore be prepared to read one of mine soon..

    Thanks to all of you for organizing the event!