I was only supposed to write a short comment to DJ Adam’s excellent blog post, but instead it grew into a rather long blog post.
The first one in over 2 years actually, so here goes 🙂
I see myself as one of those individuals who operates on both side of the bubble. In fact, I have just returned to the SAP bubble after working in the world of “pure” web development for year.
SAP is doing a great job at promoting and communicating new technologies and products to already existing SAP developers, customers, partners etc. SAP hosts a number of different events, like d-code, CodeJams, InnoJams, DemoJams, Innovation Forums, SAPPHIRE Now, SAP Insider. And the list goes on.
And then of course, there is SCN, which has been a great place for all of us to share our expertise with the world-wide SAP community.
But one thing I heard frequently from other developers at TechEd in Amsterdam last year, was that they worry about the gap between what SAP is presenting at these events and what most of them work with in real life. There is definitely a disconnect between the projects many ABAP developers work on and where SAP would like for them to be in terms of skill set.
In many ways, what the Neptune Software guys are doing, is brilliant, as they take new UI frameworks and make it available to ABAP developers in the IDE they spend 99% of their time in and is familiar with. Who says ABAP developers can’t develop great looking apps for mobile devices? 😉
Then there is the “other side”.
How many web developers do you know who has made the switch to become and ABAP developer?
Most web developers don’t even know what SAP, or enterprise applications for that matter, is. The only experience the team of designers and interaction designers I managed last year had with enterprise applications, were time capture and expense management systems. And I don’t think I have to get into the user experience of these. Needless to say, enterprise applications, regardless of vendor, do not have a great reputations among designers.
The world of web development is a super exciting place to be right now, innovation is happening with the speed of light, and there are new libraries out each day and enough cool projects for everyone. What is the incentive for good web developers and designers to leave that world to start working with, let’s say SAPUI5 apps? I see very little talk about the why.
And this is where I wish SAP was more visible in the non-SAP world.
It isn’t enough to create an open source HTML5 library and then think the developers will follow automatically. No front-end developers I have talked to know about SAP’s OpenUI5 initiative.
My former employer, Adobe, for instance, has a great evangelism team that worked to grow Adobe’s developer ecosystem. We were high and low and everywhere engaging with developers. We spent time at Adobe’s own events (developers/analyst/press), but spent the same amount of time speaking and being present at non-Adobe events. We would give keynotes, sessions, workshops, working booths and doing a lot of talking, explaining strategies, products and helping developers along.
Just to take a random example. In Munich alone, I can think of around 12 events (some of them with montly happenings) targeted at front-end developers and designers. Why isn’t SAP present at these events?
I don’t think there is one definite answer to how we should move forward to grow our developer community. I think several things need to happen simultaneously.
I defintiely wish SAP would be more present at non-SAP events and in other developer communities. That SAP would drive that conversation more than it does today. We will definitely help where we can, but we also have daytime jobs we need to take care of.
Or what about introducing a program like Microsoft’s Tecnical Communities or Adobe’s Community Professionals? Both these programs give professionals recognition and access to special products and programs, but at the same time for instance requires presenting at events or lead user groups. That way we can go hand in hand with SAP in presenting the cool stuff we see to other developer communities.