SAP Developer and Architect Summit November 21stand 22nd November 2014
Last week I had the pleasure of going to the inaugural “SAP Developer and Architect Conference” which is in essence a boiled down version of TECHED – you have all the same speakers as at the real TECHED in Berlin or Bangalore or Las Vegas (e.g. Thomas Jung) presenting the exact same content and making you do the exact same exercises. All this, at a fraction of the normal TECHED price; here in Australia the SAP developer community thought all our Christmases had come at once.
Graham Robinson challenged me at the conference to write a blog saying all the new things I had learned, and I could hardly refuse him. I did bear in mind the so called “Black and Decker” rules I had to abide by when writing about an SAP conference. These were introduced to make sure such blogs were all about the technical content of the presentations, and not what the blogger had for breakfast for example. The rules are simple, and as follows:-
· Do not mention what you had for breakfast / morning tea / lunch / afternoon tea
· Do not mention what you said to the taxi driver going to/from the conference
· Do not mention or show photographs of any sort of waste disposal device – what is called a “dustbin” in the UK or a “trash can” in the USA
· Do not mention any pop stars you may have met, in particular Stevie Winwood
All those rules seemed easy enough to follow, so I thought I would oblige Graham in his request.
You are probably going to have to lie down before I say that the product HANA was mentioned. Is that a shock? I hope you are OK now. It was fairly strange that the speaker thought the audience would not know the names of SAP tables e.g. BSEG and so tried to keep things agnostic until the last minute. The message however comes through crystal clear – once you understand what HANA is about from a technical point of view you will understand what a sees change is coming. Oracle just does not see this yet, maybe due to confused messages coming out of SAP, once they do they will have to bite back bug time, or face going under r – this is the proverbial “Oracle Killer”.
However I already knew that. What was much more interesting was the philosophy which boiled down to “don’t bother planning any of your IT projects just go ahead and do them, if they work, then pretend you planned it”. Some people call this “agile”. This messages resonates with the Australian market, we are far more concerned with innovating at a very fast pace then making sure it works first.
SAP are clearly doing this themselves, eating their own dog food as it were – the release of SAP GUI 7.40 speaks volumes – no testing, just rush it out and see what happens.
At some conferences you get to see people (like me) standing on stage and spouting nonsense for an hour. You have no idea if they are telling the truth or not. However if they give you a demonstration system and make you do exercises then it is clear what the product is, warts and all. I decided on a 100% exercise based stream. The first day was clearly going to be a HANA day but that is not a Bad Thing as I reckon all SAP customers will be on this eventually, once they recognise the million foot high ten mile wide elephant in the room.
First up, Rich Heilman from SAP talked about how to how to push down your code into the database using SQLScript. The vital point here is as follows – previously SAP recommended using CE FUNCTIONS to wrap your database quires, now they say that CE FUNCTIOBS are rubbish, they are obsolete. Naturally I cannot guarantee they will not become flavour of the month again next yaer, but that is the current state of play.
Whilst the delegates were arriving, we were served “Balut” which is a developed duck embryo boiled alive and eaten in its egg. This dish I s really common in Southeast Asia and often served with beer. The ideal balut is 17 days in the Philippines, but Vietnamese people prefer the 19-21 days old ones. To wash this don we had “airag” which comes from Mongolia. The Mongolian fondness for horses extends past riding and eating them to milking them. The mare’s milk is stored in a cow’s stomach near the entrance of each family’s yurt, or nomadic tent, and left to ferment until it reaches close to 5% alcoholic content, just the thing for breakfast.
Moving onto Stevie Winwood – Stephen Lawrence “Steve” Winwood (born 12 May 1948) is an English musician whose genres include rock, blue-eyed soul, rhythm and blues, blues rock, pop rock, and jazz. A multi-instrumentalist, he can play keyboards, bass guitar, drums, guitar, mandolin, violin, and other strings.
As I may have mentioned the HANA session lasts all dayso we continue – we had some technical drawbacks like the Wi-Fi not working, and the power points not working, but all credit to the organisers they extended access to the development system for a few days after the conference was over.
As I do not work for SAP I can say that in some areas HANA does not yet looks as polished as the mature product will no doubt look like e.g. you have to do a direct database update to authorise your user for debugging. However this is just nit-picking the product is evolving at lightning speed and even after a few minutes you will see the benefits of HANA sticking out like a DB as we say in Australia (stands for “Data Base”).
Everyone was waiting or lunch as they knew it would be “Casu Marzu” (means rotten cheese) a traditional sheep milk cheese from Sardinia, Italy. The cheese makers set the cheese outside and allow cheese flies to lay eggs inside of it. The larvae which hatch from the eggs have the job of breaking down of the cheese’s fats and fermenting it, which kills them. It’s unnecessary to clear those dead larvae (white worms) from the cheese before consuming. The “Casu Marzu” was banned for years and only sold on the black market, but few years ago it was declared a traditional food and now it’s legal to produce and sell them, which is how this delicacy got to our conference. To wash this down we had “snake wine”. This is made in two ways, first by placing a whole venomous snake into grain alcohol for a few months until the ethanol breaks down the poisons, and then by mixing result with the blood and bile of a freshly killed snake with a shot of local brandy at the SAP booth in the exhibition hall.
Moving onto Stevie Winwood – Winwood was a key member of The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and Go. He also had a successful solo career with hits including “Valerie”, “Back in the High Life Again” and two US Billboard Hot 100 number ones; “Higher Love” and “Roll With It”. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Traffic in 2004.
Native HANA Development
In comes Thomas Jung to take us through developing a HANA application from scratch, no SAP system involved. These exercises would build on each other, starting with what I would call DDIC elements then thet ables, then the procedures, then the user interface.
HANA has no user interface, as indeed it should not according to the “separation of concerns” so UI5 was used as the output mechanism.
In Australia we often have Emu Eggs for afternoon tea, but just to be different on the egg front, this time we had “Balut” which is a fairly common and unassuming street food available in both the Philipines and Vietnam. It has earned a widespread reputation as one of the all-time most interesting ethnic delicacies. Most of the eggs with which the western world is familiar with are unfertilized eggs. The “Balut”, though are fertilized duck eggs, incubated or allowed to grow invitro for a certain length of time, usually a few weeks. Peel back the shell and along with a typical soft-boiled eggy interior is also the small inert body of a fetal duck—small bones, feathers, beak and all, some more developed than others. Most accounts suggest the correct way to eat this is slurping it right from the shell with a pinch of salt. There is in addition a right way to enjoy “Balut” which is to wash it down with “Brennevin” a type of schnapps popular throughout the Nordic countries, and in Iceland; this drink is made with fermented potatoes and caraway seeds. It is lethally strong stuff and is often drunk during the Thorrablot (the winter feast), where it is enjoyed with such delights as ram’s testicles and boiled sheep’s head.
After that treat we need a cocktail to calm us down and luckily we have several on offer : There’s Stool Sample: a mixture of cocoa, coffee liqueur, vodka, and cream liqueurs, strawberry syrup and fudge pieces (it’s all about the consistency, apparently); Sanitizer, a palate-cleansing mix of lychee liqueur, cherry brandy, grenadine, vodka and white rum; Urine, made with whiskey, brandy and limoncello, which comes in its own sample tube and Stomach Contents, a tipple, made with vodka and filled with chocolate pieces and Skittles.
Moving onto Stevie Winwood – In 2005 Winwood was honoured as a BMI Icon at the annual BMI London Awards for his “enduring influence on generations of music makers.” In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Winwood #33 in its 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.Winwood has won two Grammy Awards.
First up was D.J.Adams, whom I have the pleasure of drinking with at SAP events in Bonn in Germany and Eindhoven in the Netherlands. It was almost like meeting Stevie Winwood.
Then we had “Dave” from “Dave’s Brewing Tours” to talk about “innovation in beer”. In Australia 97% of the market is sewn up by two brewing companies, and 190 craft brewers compete for the last 3%. I can see the connection to IT – we are seen as a commodity, how can we make ourselves different enough to be seen as making a difference?
Usually the last talk is a bad spot to be in as everyone is waiting for the free beer, and then it suddenly occurred to me that the three Master Brewers that Dave had brought on stage would be giving out free beer all evening to us delegates, which indeed they did.
On the second day we need something to wake up – this is going to be “Ikizukuri” a sashimi made from fishes, octopus, shrimp and lobster. The chef performs the filleting without killing the animals involved and serves them up on a plate with the sliced flesh and still-beating hearts right next to the goldfish bowl in which you put your business card to win an IPAD. To wash this down we have Gilpin Family Whisky which is made from the urine of elderly diabetics. This wonderful concoction is the artistic statement of James Gilpin and unfortunately isn’t sold in stores. Gilpin takes the urine of two diabetic patients daily, extracts the high sugar content, then uses that sugar in the fermentation of whisky production. You might think things could not get better than this, but afterwards we had Snake Bile Wine made from Bile extracted from a live cobra and rice wine. To make this concoction the SAP VP of marketing had to get a live cobra, cut him open, remove his gallbladder and extract the sweet, sweet bile, all live on stage whilst demonstrating SAP Luminara. He then mixed that up with rice wine and handed the result out to anyone who enjoys harnessing the power of cobra bile, which was everybody.
This session was wonderful. This is just what I want from a conference like this, because I am an anal technical person. Gateway is the mechanism for exposing SAP data to UI5 using the Odata protocol.
This session had a clear theme – if the performance of your UI5 application is bad, here are several you can do to help it, and go through these exercises to learn how to do it yourself rather than having it spoon fed to you. This is teaching someone to fish rather than giving them a fish.
I can only presume that in some cases the generated code in transaction SEGW (ABAP Gateway Modeler) is not as good as it could be – this has been the case with any statement which says “you do not have to write a line of code since 1960.
The next gentleman did a live coding example of what UI5 looks like – for all of you ABAP programmers out there scared of horrible things like XML and JavaScipt and HTML I would say “don’t be scared – have a look – it is where near as difficult as you might think”.
Lunch is the high spot of the day, and this fine day we had “bat paste”: this dish is made by the pre-sales team at SAP catching live bats and forcing them into a pot of boiling milk. When you’re done boiling the bats alive you chop them up and mix the pieces in with your chosen variety of herbs and spices. The paste is ten applied to a dish consisting of Ox ***** and “Sannakji” which is a raw Korean dish that consists of live octopuses with sesame and sesame oil. It looks safe but the little tentacles may choke you to death if they get stuck in your throat. This was garnished with Japanese Tuna Eyeballs. To wash this down there were two lovely cocktails – firstly “Baby Mice Wine” made from rice wine and Baby mice. Traditionally a “health tonic” in Chinese and Korean cultures, baby mice are taken shortly after birth, eyes still closed, and dropped alive into a jug of rice wine. The wine is left to ferment for a few months until ready and at serving time, after the wine is imbibed, the embalmed mice are eaten. The second cocktail is the “The Kim Jong Un Nuclear Bomb” which is made from the following ingredients all mashed up in a blender:-
1 Big Mac
1 McDonald’s large fries
1 McDonald’s tangy BBQ sauce
1 McDonald’s milk shake (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla mixed)
1 McDonald’s apple pie
Evolution of ABAP Programming
This was the icing on the cake – I had been aware of the new ABAP features for a while, but all the examples in SAP online help and on the SCN were all boring, using variables called A and B and C. This is very abstract, but SAP customers work in the real world with real variables that refer to actual things in the real world.
Thomas Jung squared this circle by not bothering with the official examples – he had written his own in ABAP and showed them to us live on stage. When someone asked “what if you do XYZ” then Thomas hanged the code there and then and ran the program….
I would advocate Googling the ABA advances in 7.40 – the bogs by Horst Keller are a wonderful start. Once you get our head around what is possible in ABAP 7.40 you will be on your knees asking the manager to upgrade the SAP system.
For afternoon tea the first dish is the traditional Icelandic food “kaestur hakarl” which means “fermented shark”. It’s basically bits of stinking, rotten shark carcass. Hakarl is prepared by gutting and beheading a Greenland shark, burying it in sand for up to 12 weeks, then cutting it into strips and hanging them out to dry for a few months. After eating that, we all felt like some caviar – luckily for us, as normal caviar is not good enough, we turn to the Mexicans who have come up with their own version “Escamoles”. These are the larvae of giant, highly venomous cockroaches. To wash this down we have “Three Lizard Liquor” – a fancy wine predominantly found in Asia which is typically produced by infusing lizards (three to be precise) intorice wine. The traditional eastern medicine theory states that this allows the lizard’s energy to be absorbed by the alcohol and thus transferred to whoever drinks it.
Two more dustbins
That was a wonderful conference, giving you hands on experience of all the new technology.
What more could you ask for?
I will be 100% going to this next year, if you can reach Australia I suggest you do the same.
In the interim I hear there is a new book coming out next April, all about the new features in ABAP. Thomas Jung had written two books about next generation ABAP development, and the were wonderful, but he did not want to write a third, so SAP Press tried to pick the sexiest man in the universe to write a new version, and luckily they caught him between winning the 2013 Mr. Universe contest and running and “Iron Man” marathon in four minutes one second, they managed to beat all his top model girlfriends off him, and he agreed to write a book called “ABAP To The Future”. So that is good news for everybody.