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Blog It Forward – Robin van het Hof

Yay! A big thank you to Julia Dorbic for adding me to the Blog It Forward Chain.

I have met Julia in August last year during a 4-day Design Thinking grassroots workshop, and during those 4 days I not only learnt an insane lot about Design Thinking, I was also fortunate enough to know Julia as a warm, open personality, a true coach, and as a result, a true SAP Mentor. Congratulations!

IMG_6378 - Version 2.JPG

Julia Dorbic (right) striking a pose with her D-Labs colleague Christina Karsten (middle),

while Fred Verheul (left) is doing something more important


My name is Robin van het Hof, I’m an independent SAP NetWeaver consultant and SAP Mentor from The Netherlands. My main area’s of expertise are the ‘old’ technologies such as Web Dynpro Java development and SAP Enterprise Portals, as well as the ‘new’ like SAPUI5 and SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

But most of all, I’m a proud father of two beautiful, wonderful daughters, Carmen (3 yrs.) and Anna (1.5 yrs.) and happily married to my wife Monique (“still 21 years, for way over a decade now”).


Meet the Van het Hof family

The early Commodore 64 years

I was born in Beaconsfield, UK in March, 1974. Only nine months later, we moved near Liege, Belgium where we lived for nearly three years — and where my little sister Lesley was born.

From Belgium we then moved to a few one-year-stays in Malaga (Spain), Sicily (Italy) and Vienna (Austria), before my parents divorced in 1980 and we move back to The Netherlands.

It may seem like my mother was married to some mobster-on-the-run, but at that time my biological father was Country Manager for Memorex.

In 1982 my mother re-married, and my new father happened to have two exciting hobbies: model trains and his Commodore 64. I wasn’t yet allowed to touch that magical beige machine, but I remember sitting next to him countless evenings, watching him typing in those BASIC commands which turned out to be rather simple but quite addictive ‘downhill-racing-snake-game’.

When I went to high school in 1986 with rather good marks, my parents gave me the C64 to encourage my rising programming creativity.

Being highly interested in those awfully expensive 80’s synthesizers (which I still am, but also still lacking the funds to actually own one or two) I started to create some interestingly but rather strange synthesizer-like programs on my new Commodore, but a few years later, after invoking one killer-POKE too many, my beloved C64 died beyond repair…


Someone else’s Commodore 64

The x86 years

Since two of my now three granddads had flown as fighter pilots, I was adamant to join the air force too, so in 1992, at my 18th birthday I was called in to serve duty at the Royal Dutch Air Force at Soesterberg Air Base.

However, during the first two months of training it appeared my visual acuity wasn’t good enough (+0.5, -0.5) which forced me to fulfill the rest of my military service first as an untrained helicopter mechanic, and after a few months — because I really appeared to be a useless, untrained mechanic — as a switchboard operator ( !) at Soesterberg Air Base…

Because my parents feared I would end up working in the Dutch equivalent of a 7-Eleven for the rest of my life after I did my service, they gave me my dad’s now-redundant 8086 PC/XT in hope it would wake up my interest in programming again.

Apparently their plot worked: After I did service, and since my interest for computers and electrical/hydraulic systems was re-ignited, I went to a school for technical education to study Control Engineering for 2 years (during which my XT was replaced by my dad’s old AT 286 and DX 387-with-co-processor-and-4MB-RAM-ikidyounot, respectively) followed by a study Industrial Automation (DX now being replaced by my dad’s 486DX and Pentium 90)

You may have noticed a recurring theme here: About every two years or so, my dad somehow convinced my mother his then-current computer was suddenly outdated and as such rendered utterly useless, and that he couldn’t do his job/hobby without the latest, greatest PC of that time. The outdated-and-utterly-useless PC then waterfalled onto my lap which I then used extensively until my dad had his bi-yearly shopping spree again…

Having to work

When I graduated in 1999, I immediately started working as a web designer for one of the gazillion interweb companies that existed back then. Java was a few years old, JSP was just released, and JavaScript / DHTML / animated GIF’s were the talk of the town.


“JavaScript – The Definitive Guide” and “JavaScript – The good parts”

When the Internet bubble imploded in 2002, so did the company I worked for. When looking for a new job, I found a job application by a small company called Topforce, who did something with “SAP portals”. Back then I thought a portal was a simple website like Yahoo or the Dutch Startpagina (“Start Page”), but after my first job interview with them I knew they were really onto something and I joined them as Junior SAP Portals consultant.

From 2002 to 2008 I did some really big, enticing SAP Portal projects (Shell, Philips, Dutch government to namedrop a few), mostly as an portal application developer/team-lead. In 2009, I founded my proprietorship Qualiture, of which I celebrated its 5 year anniversary this June, hip hip hurray!

For those wondering where my job title ‘SAP NetWeaver magician’ came from: it’s actually a moniker given to me by two distinct clients when working at Topforce; one called me a NetWeaver Magician while the other referred to me as The Wizard.


Trying to evangelize SAP HANA Cloud Platform and SAPUI5 to the less informed

Fun fact about me

Since I was born in UK, and in that regard the Brits having some odd laws stemming back from their colonial past, I have both the Dutch and British nationality — despite my parents being solely Dutch. And because of those same strange laws, both my daughters have the same dual nationality despite being born in The Netherlands…


Oh my, if only the inflatable X-Wing Fighters weren’t sold out…

Fun facts about my hometown

  • Zoetermeer translates in English to “Sweet Lake”
  • Zoetermeer is sometimes referred to as “Geek City” or “Dutch Silicon Valley” because it has a modern infrastructure and a lot of schools that offer ICT-related education.
    Also 20% of the population of Zoetermeer already has an ICT-related job. Siemens and Toshiba also have factory’s in Zoetermeer.
    The municipality of Zoetermeer appropriates a comparatively large part of the budget to PC’s for schools. To stress the ICT-tradition of Zoetermeer, the city is the first in the world to have a city hall in Second Life.
  • In 1983, my future father in law co-founded the very first mega-disco of The Netherlands in Zoetermeer, “Locomotion”.
    (Another fun fact: Some ten years later, my wife started working there as a dancer during the weekends, reportedly “so dad could keep an eye on her”. After her study at the Hotel School, she joined fulltime as a corporate party organizer.)
    Locomotion grew out to be the number one venue for party-goers for the whole region, The Hague and Rotterdam included.
    Unfortunately, since 2008 they faced a progressively declining number of clubbers, and finally in 2011 they had to file for bankruptcy.

Julia’s questions

From the questions, it seems like Julia intended to have these questions answered from her perspective; however, I will try to answer them from my point of view πŸ˜‰

Why do I like working in a Design Thinking mode?

The sole reason why I like to work in a DT mode is because it forces me — no, not only me but basically everyone — to have/think/work in a user-centric, solution based manner. This will guarantee at least a much higher success rate of your final solution.

Why is Berlin so special to me?

Having been to Berlin only once for 2 days almost 19 years ago, I can’t really say I have seen much of Berlin, but those mere two days made an everlasting impression! No, I haven’t seen much of its culture or history, despite being on the Kurfürstendamm; I attended one of the early Love Parades, one of the biggest dance festivals of that era.

Being SAP Mentors, what are you especially looking forward to this year?

Honestly, being a humble rookie Mentor there are sooooo many things to look forward to I don’t even know where to start πŸ˜‰ I just let it happen and try to be a good and giving community member. As an SAP-minded consultant, there’s also a lot to be looking forward to: SAP dcode this year’s fall, the Simplification of SAP’s offerings, the ever-evolving SAPUI5 and HANA Cloud Platform technologies as well as the growing awareness towards Design Thinking.

And know, the moment you’ve been waiting for:

I’m blogging it forward to…

Questions I would like them to answer:

  1. Which superhero / movie character / other fictitious character resembles you best, personality/appearance wise, and why?
  2. Can you share a little known fact about yourself? (The obscurer the better of course)
  3. What is the single worst purchase you have ever done, and why?

Final words

Since the success of SCN in general and this BIF chain in particular depends on its community and followers, please please pretty please follow the Blog It Forward chain so you will be notified when Matthew, Leo and James have posted their BIF. And who knows, maybe you too will be asked to contribute your own BIF!

Hope you enjoyed reading this BIF, and if you want to know more about me, SAP NetWeaver, SAP HANA Cloud Platform or SAPUI5/OpenUI5, do not hesitate to contact me!

Thanks for reading,

Robin van het Hof

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  • Brilliant - great read Robin.

    It's tickled me to see you mention the Commodore 64 as we've just been discussing that in our office - we admitted it shows just how old we are that we all grew up with one and I can see you've placed yourself firmly in the same '70s generation as us πŸ˜‰



      • Ha!  The first computer I bought for myself was a Commodore Vic20 -- the C64 was the successor to that model.  A few years later, when I was working on large, million-dollar, closet-sized computers for submarine navigation systems, the running joke was that a $150 C64 could do the calculations faster.

        When I was in high school, we had a couple of Commodore PETs in one classroom, and a DEC PDP-11 with two CRT and two line printer terminals in a small "computer room."  A few of us knew how we could POKE a certain memory location and cause the PET's motherboard to smoke, but we also knew the school didn't have budget to replace it if that happened, so we didn't do it, despite very strong teenage temptation.

        Anyway, great BIF!  I really like the informal, casual, and friendly style.



  • Dear Robin, I knew your BIF would be a great read, and I must say: it is fantastic!!! Thanks for sharing so many interesting stories about yourself- your family is adorable! Great pictures and your true Robinesque-humor comes straight through!! πŸ˜€ Happy to see you at the SAP AppHaus Workshop end of July in Heidelberg!! Another fun memory from Eindhoven, I especially like your ears, Robin aka Post-It-Spok πŸ˜‰


    • Thanks Julia! Glad I made it interesting, at least to you πŸ˜‰

      I tried to make it a "More personal - Less professional" type of blog entry, so people who I've never met or to whom I'm only a vague acquaintance, now have at least the impression I'm a best friend πŸ˜‰

      Looking forward to the SAP AppHaus Workshop indeed, and meeting you again! Feeling like a toddler going on a school trip!

      And yeah, Post-It's look good on me I guess πŸ˜›

  • My favorite BIF (not biff...) so far, layout, content, fun, pictures, Berlin, geek stuff, it's all there and a pleasure to read!


  • Hi Robin

    Great BiF and even greater that you're BiFing Leo van Hengel πŸ™‚


    ps. When will the C64 codejam or gamenight will be planned?

    • I have no idea, my C64 has gone to the happy hunting grounds decades ago πŸ˜‰ But maybe we could use emulators instead, although that's not exactly the same sentiment...

  • Hi Robin,

    really nice read. Amazing that the BIF initiative reaches again my small amount of twitter pals. The first wave is almost 2 years ago.

    Unfortunately I also poked my C64 to death some time ago so I can't attend on your C64 DemoJam I think.

    But maybe we meet again in Berlin or at sitNED later this year.

    Regarding your nice T-Shirt, I liked the blazer even more that you wore at TechEd last year in Amsterdam. You ended up much nicer than a fighter pilot in his lousy dress πŸ˜‰

    CU Mark

    • Thanks Fred, there's soooo much more to tell, but it would either be boring or inappropriate to share on SCN πŸ˜›

      Looking forward to think design again with you!

  • Hi Robin,

    Welcome to BIF family! Good to know about you. Nice pictures and well written.

    Nice to know we have Web development common in initial career path. It's my hometown opportunity that pulled me into SAP.

    kiddos are too cute and adorable.  πŸ™‚



  • Blessed art thou amongst women! Congratulations for your beautiful family!

    I have a friend that tried to join Air force to be a pilot. No way because eye issue. He ended in engine maintenance. Very hard selection.

    Thanks for sharing! πŸ˜€

    • Well said Marssel! I do feel truly blessed with my women, small and tall πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for sharing! Unfortunately, no, fortunately the air force only wants the best of the best...

  • Hi Robin,

    An awesome BIF!!! Reading all the BIFs is really inspiring especially the struggles that everyone go through before reaching their pinnacle of Success.

    DesignThinking is something new I came across in your BIF πŸ˜€ . Seems interesting and maybe I will put this week searching about it. πŸ˜€

    I am coming to think all talented human beings with eye issues normally end up in the IT industry... πŸ˜› ... how ironical but IT industry is reaping the benefits.


    Tejas Bisen

  • Great read Robin,

    Was nice to bump into you at Sapphire Orlando this year, and I guess we'll meet at some decode or inside track this autumn as well.

    Too bad you didn't get a proper computer like the ZX Spectrum - nice rubber keys with them amazing "goto" "endif" shortcuts πŸ˜‰


  • Hey Robin van het Hof

    thanks to you answering a lot of question in the community here and on StackOverflow I was able to be very profound in SAPUI5 and I learned a lot about the SAPUI5 development process. Great reading more about you and your life! πŸ™‚


    • Glad it is worthwhile, because that is my main driver! πŸ™‚

      I'm currently on holiday so I may be a bit quiet now, but expect me to be online anytime soon again!

  • Great read, Robin! πŸ˜‰

    I am happy to know you from the web dynpro java forum. Thanks for all the help providing in that space.

    Best Regards, Ervin