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Hello folks,

TechEd && d-code 2014 in Berlin is over and it was an indespensable and marvellous experience. At this point I must thank my employer for letting me attend. I’m very certain it was worth it, both for me personally and for my company. The information I was able to retrieve will most probably have impact on our business in terms of adapting new technological approaches.

Tuesday

The Executive Keynotes..

..presented by Bernd Leukert, Bjoern Goerke and Ian Kimbell were, in my opinion, very informative and interesting, though, of course there’s always a lot of management blah-blah in between where you could very well play consultant-bingo (no hard feelings please 😉 ). But that cannot be avoided I guess. I think Ian (who is hilarious by the way) really loosened things up and added a lot of humor, comedy and most importantly self-mockery to the event. During the short live demo, for example: “I want the application to be named Ian, because that’s a good name for an application!”. If you missed the event, I highly recommend to watch the replay over here SAP Executive Keynote: Bernd Leukert, Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE Products & Innovation | SAP TechEd &a… especially if you want to know more about the “Internet of Toilets” 😉

It’s nice to see SAP doesn’t have to take itself too serious anymore, even in public. In my opinion this emits a lot of self-confidence.

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DEV262 – Evolution of the ABAP Programming language (Hands-On)

I did not take a look at the presentation beforehand so my expectations were a bit off. I thought there would be a comparison of “back then” (the time of macros) and maybe “recent past” (Netweaver 7.0 – 7.31) and then Netweaver 7.40 “now”. However the session purely handled the new techniques delivered with NW 7.40 in comparison to NW 7.02/NW 7.31. Fair enough. Here’s a picture to sum up how I felt during most of the exercises in the session:

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Let me elaborate on that: I’m pretty confident in my ABAP skills, I mostly do OO-related stuff, WDA and a lot of dynamic and generic programming, i.e. I think I’m not unexperienced or lacking affinity for the language. However, the newly introduced commands that can be connected and nested in my humble opinion really rose the complexity of ABAP to a whole new level. I was able to adapt to the inline expression pretty quickly, the table expressions were then already making me feel uncomfortable and I had to look up the examples again and again to get things working. Once the table expressions were nested with groupings and so on I was completely lost, just looked up the solutions and desperately tried to make sense of what was in front of me. Phew! 😐

The session was 2 hours, though I would’ve easily welcomed another 2 hours. SAP can and most probably will make a lot of money with delta-training here.

The session was hosted by Holger Janz and Karsten Bohlmann. I found Karsten extremly hilarious with his dry attitude. It was like “The new techniques are really a big step forward, now you don’t have to feel clumsy anymore”. “Clumsy” was the major adjective to describe “classic ABAP” (that means ABAP in 7.31 or lower). I was waiting for him to say something like “If you still use classic ABAP in 7.40 then you are clumsy and you should feel clumsy.” or “The clumy minds of classic ABAPers are clearly deviant and must be purged.” (he didn’t, though , oh well 🙂 ).

Expert Networking Session about FPM for WDA

I already knew all the stuff that was being talked about here, but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to ask the architects of the framework one stupid question that has been bugging me for years and I never got a straightforward answer to it anywhere: “What’s the matter with the Admin Personalization Layer, isn’t it completely superfluous?” After some struggle I managed to get an answer from Christian Guenther which basically came down to this: It’s still there for historical reasons from the time where there was no complete implementation with the enhancement framework. Furthermore, it’s thought of as a tool for administrators rather than developers. “So would there be any use case a developer would need to use this layer instead of the configuration layer, explicit personalization or enhancements?” –> “Not really“. HA! I knew it! 😈

UXP200 – Overview About SAP UI Technologies and When to Choose What (Lecture)

Now this was a storybook lecture-session. It covered all the relevant UI technologies, i.e. the front-end technologies, the development tools, the UI clients, browser support, availability in the business suite, interchangeability and overall strategy. The speakers Michael Falk and Johannes Wasserfall tackled the questions perfectly well and gave a lot of business examples. Nothing more to say about that except: top-notch.

One funny remark, though: There had to be this one unavoidable question: “Can I run FPM for ABAP on mobile devices?” –> “Theoretically it’s going to render in some way, but you don’t want to do it”. 😉 ..

UXP202 – SAP Portal Portfolio – Overview and Outlook (Lecture)

The session was held in a quite small room which was hardest to find of all rooms that day at around 6.30pm in the evening when they were giving away free beer 😥 , so not many people attended. I didn’t know Yariv Zur before attending this session (shame on me) which was exceptionally informative especially in terms of “Oh shi-, oh shi-, what do I do with my portal now that everything’s going HANA?”, “What solutions can I use where?” and “Why/When do I use what and what are the consequences?”. That put aside, you gotta love Yariv’s style which made the whole session very entertaining and casual-seeming 🙂

So, if you were theoretically interested in this session but decided to choose the free beer instead, I hope it tasted like shame and regret!

Aftermath

When I got home (I live in Berlin) I looked over my Agenda for Wednesday once again and then completely changed my plans for the forenoon because I realized the sessions I had initially chosen were mostly light-weight versions of the ones I already attended on Tuesday. It’s a good thing I heeded the advice for first-attenders to have a “plan B” and a “plan C” 😉

Wednesday

The forenoon mostly consisted of floating around visiting exhibitors as well as Q&A and Networking Sessions partially where I couldn’t even remotely relate to the topic which, though, made it all the more interesting. I think it’s always fun to find out about stuff that you didn’t even know existed.

SEC262 – Secure ABAP Development – One Bug is Enough to Put Your Application at Risk

I must confess I expected a lot more of this 4 hour session. Don’t get me wrong, I learned something new and it was interesting, but the content would have easily fit inside 2 hours of time and it could have been more in-depth. With 4 hours it felt really “stretched”, oh well. On a more positive side, though, my seatmates were really cool people whom I could talk to and rant about technical stuff I’m currently involved in. After 2 hours I decided to sneak out and visit a BoF-Session.

BoF17945 – I’m a grey haired ABAP’er, how can I stay relevant?

The intension behind visiting this session originally was to learn about adaption processes (related to change management) how people would adapt new techniques and technologies that are made available and that you are confronted with inevitably. For example, there are still a lot of ABAP developers who neither use nor understand ABAP OO. So, I kind of thought “This might be interesting although it doesn’t concern me because my hair colour doesn’t match 🙂 “. Fortunately I was 100 precent wrong. Tom Van Doorslaer turned this into the question whether ABAP developers would be obsolete once everything is going HANA and Fiori (and suddenly it did concern me). Turns out I’m still needed (Hooray!) even if everything is instantly macigally adopted to Fiori, because everything comes down to OData Services which come down to regular ABAP Classes plus if you have experience in WDA FPM, that isn’t entirely for naught either since there are certain similarities in the architecture of SAPUI5 and WDA FPM so that smoothens the learning process for SAPUI5 (though, of course you would still have to learn the underlying techniques, i.e. Java Script, JQuery, CSS3, HTML5, etc.).

Thursday

UXP261 -Simplify Your Development with Web Dynpro ABAP and Floorplan Manager

I attended this session because I wanted to have a better in-depth understanding of the FPM, more precisely concerning manipulation possibilities of standard applications. To my dismay, my expectations were off and the sessions purely concentrated on the new development tools (ATC) and on the FPM integration with entities for business logic (for example BOPF). Fortunately Christian Guenther showed me around in some of the BOPF transactions so it became clearer to me how things actually work and that in the end, it all comes down to abap classes again. It was surprisingly interesting how the FPM framework is being developed and how things have evolved. I have been involved with WDA for about five years now and looking at the new design approach it seems to be getting more and more abstract and complex, though, there also seems to be a cleaner separation of… how do I put this… “Layers that do something”, i.e.:

back then:  Freestyle UI / Assistance Classes / Plugs for Navigation

afterwards: FPMs for Navigation / Freestyle UI / Assistance Classes

afterwards: FPMs / Generic WDA (GUIBB) / Feeder Classes

now: FPMs / Generic WDA (GUIBB) / Feeder Classes / Object Models ( for example BOPF )

Apparently it proves to be tidier when you build something from scratch. However, in my opinion, if you want to manipulate and scale standard applications in their business functionality then it’s getting pretty messy and complex; this was way easier to manage in Freestyle UI. Anyway…

You young folks these days and your Floorplans and your BOPF and your HANA and your Sony Playstations and your hopscotch and…

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UXP841 – Road Map Q&A: SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe

It was about two years ago when we were actually forced to start using IFbA within our FI-TV project (the only alternative was ABAP List, i.e. making fools of ourselves). About a year later my colleagues who develop and manipulate those IFbAs were biting their keyboards because there was a rumor spreading that IFbA was going to be a “temporary solution” and going to be replaced by FPM Forms. Saved by the bell. Peter Barker cleared this one up: IFbA is and will be the major Form solution (there has been an attempt to develop HTML based Forms but that somehow died due to a lack of interest on customer side). On a negative side, it has been stated that SAPscript and Smartforms support will end in 2020; we’ll see how that turns out. My colleagues started banging their heads on their desks when I told them, but I guess that’s still better than keyboard-biting.

Peter stated that the roadmap and the development strategy is strongly influenced by customer input, so we’ll most probably provide some input especially on enhancement possibilities for data retrieval in IFbA which is several times harder/more nerve-wrecking than in Smartforms.

Anyway, bottom line: The time / money we invested in IFbA was not in vain = all is good (for now).

CJ606 – My First OData Service Using SAP Gateway Technology

When I showed up ten minutes before the begin of the session there already was a long queue, so unfortunately I didn’t get a seat for hands-on OData magic etc. Nevertheless there was still enough space to just stand in between and listen to the speaker. Bottom line it all came down to two basic pieces of information that I needed: The basis for OData development are ABAP classes and enhancements can be done via redefinition within extension classes (doesn’t look/sound too complicated).

EXP18392 – Practical Recommendations for Developing Attractive, Responsive Apps with UI5

This BoF Session which wasn’t even on the Agenda was hosted by Tamas Szirtes speaking about life experiences from SAPUI5. I’m glad I was there by coincidence. The most critical emphasis: Every problem can be solved with a spinning wheel 😉 …  

BoF17954 – Moderating to Ensure Quality Content

At first we were four people including Moshe Naveh, lateron the group grew to eight or something. Kind of a pity that only so few people still had the energy on Thursday evening to participate, but it was still fun and very productive. We were debating on SCN in general, what is good what is bad etc.

Networking

The first person I bumped into after the Keysnotes was Steve Rumsby, it was just a short hello and bye because I had to sprint to make it to my hands-on session. A bit later that day I bumped into Steve again wearing a red hat (guess who of the exhibitors gave them away 😛 ) and we had a short chat. After that it got kind of scary and each second time I turned around there was Steve again 😯 (the conference wasn’t that spacious afterall). I don’t know if you know the game Slenderman, but…erm… yeah. On Thursday I had the chance to chat a little bit longer with Steve and he gave me some very powerful insights into SAP Screen Personas. Much obliged, Steve!

I’m very happy I was able to meet Tobias Trapp whose books concerning XML Data Exchange with ABAP saved my a** when I started breaking stuff in our SAP system back in 2010. Tobias was floating around several sessions concerning UI technologies which I also attended so there was a bit of time for chatting.

I don’t remember when I found Moshe Naveh around the SAP Community “Space” (where they forgot to build the Clubhouse 😡 ); it was either Tuesday or Wednesday. I got my shirt but didn’t put on the ears 😛

It was at the end of the conference during Moshe’s BoF-Session and afterwards when I met Florian Henninger, Marilyn Pratt, Andreas Profitlich and more awesome people whose names I fail to remember. Andreas then had to answer to Marilyn for being late over a year with his BiF-Blog; tsk tsk!

So this was it. Planning ahead and keeping alternatives in reserve was key so things did not end up in utter chaos. Again, I’m glad I attended and hope I will get another chance in the future! 🙂

Cheers, Lukas

P.S. Last but not least @ Stephen Johannes: The delivery has safely reached me… Marilyn most probably already sent you a picture, but just to be sure:

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17 Comments

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  1. Steve Rumsby

    I was stalking you… 😉

    It is surprising, isn’t it, how such a large event, with so many people spread over so many different halls, can seem so small! You weren’t the only person I kept on bumping into. And it wasn’t on purpose, honest. Hmmm, maybe people were stalking me…?

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed the event, and it was nice to see the real face behind the lego man 🙂 . The trick to coming again next year is to be really, really enthusiastic about it now before the buzz wears off, and get your boss to agree to it when he can see from your mood how great an event it was. And then remind him periodically, just so he doesn’t forget!

    Hope to see you again next year…

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  2. Moshe Naveh

    Hi Lukas!!

    It was great meeting you in person and I really appreciated the conversations we had and the feedback you provided. People like you is what’s our community is all about.

    Moshe

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    1. Lukas Weigelt Post author

      Thanks a lot to the two of you! 🙂

      P.S. The publish button needs to be at a position with horrible usability, so you only manage to click it if you search for it thoroughly. >_<

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  3. Florian Henninger

    Hi Lukas,

    cool summary. I’m not finished with mine yet (cause of the workload 😥 ) but I also agree with your statement to DEV262.

    Teched&&D-Code was really fun and I’m looking forward to also bump into you next year.

    ~Florian

    PS: There might be a lot of work to do before sending Sapscript and Smartforms to hell… 😉

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  4. Yariv Zur

    HI Lukas,

    thank you you for the kind words… Hope you came out of the session with good insights on where SAP’s portal is going, even tough everything now is HANA HANA….

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    1. Lukas Weigelt Post author

      @ Florian, yeah I think so too concerning Smartforms (not so sure about SapScript though, but you’re the expert at this topic 😉 ).

      @ Yariv, I definitely did! After the session I didn’t even know what to ask, because you already cleared up everything ^^

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  5. Tom Van Doorslaer

    Great write-up Lukas, and thanks so much for the mention

    I’m glad my message gave you ease of conscious.

    You can find the slides for both of my sessions here:

    BOF: Bof – grey haired abap

    EXP: Ux strategy in SAP – Leverage your current investments

    On the topic of IFbA:

    In HR forms and processes, they made an attempt of doing it with FPM forms but:

    – no offline with FPM

    – they did such a messy job that it died a quick and silent death

    I still have nightmares about that…

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    1. Lukas Weigelt Post author

      @ Matt: Aye, our developers were secretly hoping IFbA would be gone sooner or later as well and Smartforms would reign the Printing/Output world again

      @ Tom: Much obliged and thanks for the slides! Concerning FPM Forms, I guess quick and silent is better than with thunderous applause :-/

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    1. Lukas Weigelt Post author

      Hehe, well, Ian would most certainly make a terrific meme. Same goes for the flying screaming monkeys, though Stephen would have to approve; he is their master after all.

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