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Reaching Out – My First Steps

Following on from this post, last night I attended the Liverpool JavaScript User Group meetup for the first time.  The topic was An Introduction to Node.js and was pitched at both noobs (like me) and experts alike.  I initially had a couple of reasons to attend, mostly stemming from DJ’s original post I referenced in my last one, that started this whole “Reaching Out” initiative for me.  Mainly:

  • Get involved with some “non-SAP” stuff
  • Start building a network and knowledge in the broader web development world

As it turned out, I actually got a little more than that, which I’ll come to shortly…


This isn’t a ‘blog post to describe the content of last night’s Node.js introduction, however I will say I found it really useful and in the space of 30-40mins I got enough of an overview of what Node.js is to understand how I could use it and what it basically is.  I can understand a bit more why people like Tobias Hofmann and John Patterson as well as others have been talking about Node.js in recent times, with posts such as this and this.

Getting this insight into non-SAP technology, in a non-SAP environment was really what last night was all about for me and I’m so glad I made the time and turned up.  Not because I am now a Node.js expert (I’m not) or even just because I’ve gained a little Node.js knowledge (I have.)  The real win was purely and simply being involved in some interesting tech stuff that wasn’t SAP driven.

After the presentation, during the Q&A time, there were a number of good discussions around Node.js that also branched off into other, related topics.  As is often the way, I learnt lots from this unstructured discussion.  Most importantly, I was able to understand and follow the discussion, even though most of it was about subjects I have no personal experience or knowledge in.  Further, I was able to contribute to the discussion with (hopefully) valuable input.  Why am I highlighting this when to many of you it will seem a very basic achievement?

Outside the bubble

The thing is, it doesn’t matter how good you are and how deep or wide your knowledge of SAP goes, step outside the bubble and it is a different world.  Outsiders talk a different language, use different tools, have different motivations and requirements.  They don’t get what us SAP folk are talking about and it would be too difficult for us to explain our stuff to them, and them their stuff to us.

Of course, the above paragraph is a load of ****.  The truth is, when you are talking about software development, methodologies, paradigms, architectures, etc. it doesn’t really matter what your skill set is.  There is an underlying common language that all techie people speak and understand.  Sometimes, it can take a brief trip outside of the bubble to make you realise there isn’t actually a bubble and it only exists in your own head.  I’m glad I made the effort to attend last night, if only for it making me realise its actually easier to get outside the bubble and all it takes is a little bit of personal effort.  I’m looking forward to next month’s meetup which is all about using JavaScript to create games – I’m thinking Angry IDOCs unless Martin Shinks has finally copyrighted that title…

Bonus stuff

As an aside, the meet up was hosted in rooms owned by DoESLiverpool.  As I had arrived a bit early, I was treated to a tour of the space and facilities by Adrian McEwen who is a co-founder of the DoESLiverpool site.  The place is rammed with 3d-printers, laser cutters, vacuum formers and all sorts of other very cool stuff.  Arduino and RaspberryPi devices are everywhere.  Basically, if you are into meddling/hacking/making stuff you are in the right place.  They also have some co-working desks and I’m hoping I’ll make the effort to turn up and work there on the odd occasion in future.  I suspect I’ll benefit greatly from working in a completely different environment.


Coming back full circle to reaching out to the non-SAP world, here are some very shallow observations I made last night, mostly judging books by covers:

  • There were ~25 people in attendance
    • Most appeared under 30
    • Only 2 were female
    • I was the only one in a suit (maybe I was the only one who’d gone straight from work?)
    • I asked and ~5/6 had heard of or were aware of SAP

Ultimately, it felt very different to a room full of SAP consultants.  Not better, not worse – just different.  I’m still positive this can only be a good thing for me.

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      Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas
      Tammy Powlas

      Well done, Gareth

      It seems JavaScript is everywhere these days

      It is a great idea to do what you did.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Tammy,

      I'm sure I saw a quote on twitter or t'internet somewhere recently that basically said something about everything will eventually be coded in JavaScript.  Certainly seems to be heading that way.


      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      Wow, Gareth, I am so impressed.  I don't know if I could step outside my comfort zone in such a way, and I really applaud you for taking this all important first step.

      What on earth possessed you to be wearing a suit?  Don't you keep gym attire in a backpack?

      What did people think of what you do for a living?  The 5/6 who had heard of SAP?

      What are your next steps?  Would you like to do a little Workflow demo for them? *heh heh heh, just kidding.

      Keep it up!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Sue.

      To give some perspective, all I did was turn up to a room of fellow geeks.  The challenge I guess was the fear that there'd be nothing in common or no understanding to share.  As it turns out, that is definitely not the case.  Like most things, the first step was the hardest.

      As for having gym attire, that would require me to go to the gym 😉

      My evil plans (muh ha hah ha) are to do an overview of OpenUI5 at some point in the near future - I need to get my head around it enough first though 😉


      Author's profile photo John Studdert
      John Studdert

      Well-written blog post with a great perspective. Since my background is actually originally as a developer completely outside of the SAP world, I've always been struck by how insular the SAP world can seem in some ways.

      Thankfully that's changing rapidly now, and from posts like the above it looks like this change is being driven on the ground as well as by SAP's recent more "open" approach (open-sourcing SAPUI, the courses, even a free [if basic] tier to the Learning Hub etc.). Kudos!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks John.

      I totally agree about the insular world - I guess this is exactly why DJ created his first post and why I was finally inspired enough to try and personally do something about it.


      Author's profile photo Paul Bakker
      Paul Bakker

      I like it. A few years ago I went to a 'mixed gathering' like you described above. As soon as the other developers (mostly Java) found out that I worked with SAP, I was fielding questions all evening. Sometimes about the ABAP language, but mostly asking how to break into the SAP world!

      From their questions I got the impression that they see us as a bunch of German-speaking ubergeeks who drive Porsches and wear clothes made out of gold. Slight exaggeration - but a lot of them did slyly ask about the dollars.

      Unfortunately for the image, I drive an old Toyota.

      You sometimes forget, when you work completely inside the SAP bubble, how much interest there is from the outside. We should engage more.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your thoughts.  The impression of "us" from outside the bubble is a tough one.  Possibly me turning up suited and booted to a room full of hipsters didn't help... 🙂

      "We should engage more" - could not agree more!