I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Blogger Program at SAP TechEd && d-code last week. I had a busy week of meetings and meet-ups, keynotes, briefings, etc. and I also did a couple of presentations on SAPUI5.


Several times I found myself trying to explain to people why this web development stuff is so hard.


My pitch went something like this.


“This SAPUI5, Javascript, oData, Gateway stuff is not as easy as some people make out. It is not just opening up the manual and doing a bit of reading. Neither is it taking a few OpenSAP courses or doing a few tutorials and you will have it covered. Learning the syntax of Javascript is not enough. Learning all the SAPUI5 controls off by heart is not enough. Knowing how to use transaction SEGW to model your Gateway service and then falling back onto good old ABAP to do the heavy lifting is not good enough either.”


“All this stuff takes time to learn, time to get experienced with, and requires time to fail. You will not get this right the first time – or the second – or the third. As you learn more you will come up with new, and better, techniques to achieve what you want to achieve. Sometimes these new techniques will be developed because you realise you could have done something better. Sometimes a colleague will share his techniques and you will find pieces of them better than yours. Sometimes you will learn from others sharing via SCN or Stackoverflow.”


“Also the underlying technology will change – and you will need to change to adapt to it. For example, the whole way that SAPUI5 does in-app navigation changed in release 1.16 and, while the previous techniques will still work, the new way needs to be absorbed and understood.”


“It is all about experience. And the only way to get experience is to do it. Then do it again, and again, and again. Refactor old code to adopt new techniques. Share and learn from others. Always be looking for better ways. Rely on proven design patterns rather than create your own.”

You get the idea I hope.

So, I am in this meeting with Sam Yen. Sam is the Global Head of Design and User Experience at SAP. He is largely responsible for SAP’s focus on design, and design thinking, and the end-user. He is a designer – I am a techie. Sam listens to me struggling for several minutes to describe how important I think experience will become with SAPUI5 developers and he sums it up in two words.

“It’s golf”.

Don’t you hate that?

http://www.heyuguys.com/images/2013/01/Happy-Gilmore-Adam-Sandler.png

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11 Comments

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  1. Chris Paine

    More like surfing – relearning, redoing, reunderstanding, remaking yourself – it’s a way of life, not an exec retreat.

    Besides surfing is, like, way cooler than golf 😎

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  2. Robin van het Hof

    Great post, and it perfectly reflects the feeling I have when I see certain posts on SCN or Stackoverflow which shows there are people who try to “just do” UI5 without any prior knowledge, experience, or broader overview of the whole concept.

    On a slight side-note, I’m not too sure if you need a jack-of-all-trades type of developer — someone who knows Javascript/UI5, OData/Gateway, ABAP as well as UX — because in the end I fear you’re left with a master-of-none…


    (and on a bigger side-note, it’s actually summed up in three words, not two 😛 )

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  3. Kenneth Moore

    Not another slow adoption technology!  Uhg!  ABAP Web Dynpro sound familiar?  By the time customers begin to master it, SAP has all but stopped development on it and moved on to the next big thing.  A continuous and vicious cycle!

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    1. Tom Van Doorslaer

      Hi Kenneth,

      I can reassure you that Webdynpro is still a very relevant development framework.

      There are even a lot of similarities between the architecture of SAPUI5 and WebDynpro, so any investment in WDA is surely not lost.

      On the topic of slow adoption: Well, that’s not really SAP’s fault, right?

      It’s more a problem of organizations resisting change and not wanting to move to newer technology. SAPUI5 has been around for 2+ years already by now. HTML5 for a good bit longer already.

      So just because companies are hesitant to leave their comfort zone and adopt something new, doesn’t mean that SAP should stop innovating.

      Let’s be honest, COBOL isn’t exactly a leading technology anymore either, is it?

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      1. Kenneth Moore

        Hello Tom,

        The combustion engine isn’t new leading technology either, but nearly every automobile maker depends on it.

        One of SAP’s strong point is that they support past functionality for…well, forever.  Kudos for that!  I know WD4A will not go away, but new development will slow to be certain.  Hardly any WD4A sessions at d-Code anymore.

        The communicator has to understand his audience.  No matter how great your new idea/product is, you can’t force customers to adopt.  They adopt on their on timeline, upgrade on their on timeline, etc. according to what makes the most since to their business.  Upgrades don’t happen every year so the customer may not get the new technology for years to come.  It has less to do with hesitation and comfort zones or fear of new technology.  More to do with ease of adoption and ROI.

        Something easier for them to adopt w/o much interruption will be adopted sooner.    That’s common sense.

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        1. Tom Van Doorslaer

          Aha, now I can follow your train of thoughts.

          It’s true that there are very little sessions on WD4A at teched, and that development seems to have slowed down, but that’s a perception. Truth is that there are still many new developments in WebDynpro, but that they drown in the monsoon of Fiori, Personas and Hana.

          That is a flaw in SAP’s communication and marketing which I want to address at Teched (hence why I submitted sessions which go against the flow)

          Take for example the asynchronous data loading and notification service

          Or the advances in FPM

          Or the pagebuilder

          or,… the list goes on

          Adoption is indeed done on the own time and pace, but it shouldn’t hold back any other advances. SAP is not blind to adoption issues though. They are working hard on tools to make SAPUI5 more accessible.

          But being a different programming language from ABAP, engineers will have to put in an effort to move from WDA to SAPUI5. Eventhough I see a very real opportunity of bridging the gap between both technologies, but I still have to flesh out that idea.

          there are however two things i’m convinced off:

          a) SAPUI5 will become more important, and sooner or later, you’ll come into contact with it, so better prepare and find a way to be relevant (either by learning Javascript, or by learning to build the backend services)

          b) WDA will not disappear any time soon and will continue to evolve

          ps: thank god horse and carriage have been replaced already by combustion engines. Although adoption of the electric motor seems to lag a bit.

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          1. Kenneth Moore

            Well, if you watched the Jetsons cartoon as a kid, we’d all be riding in flying cars by now.  I also thought by now the entire SAP R/3 would be Web Dynpro and not 90% Dynpro.  Time will only tell if your predictions come true about SAPUI5 and I will become irrelevant.  😛

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