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I really love ABAP and the SAP ecosystem. You cannot say that it will be boring some day…

I do not understand the SAP ecosystem at all. Although I am in touch with SAP since R/3 Release 2.1i as a programmer I am always confused by all the “primary tags” that exist. There are so many buzzwords around, all these HANA S/4 HANA CDS-Views HCM HCP SCP SAP Cloud Foundry Leonardo machine learning block chain screen personas IoT Netweaver Gateway oAuth TDD double testdouble unit testing mockups data aging KI ERP CodeJam CodeRetreat design pattern pair programming things.

I do not know what to concentrate on first. What is important for my work? What will be the next relevant technique? I don’t even know how to classify these things. It seems to me that everything the last years has become 100 times more difficult than ever.

I am really scared about all the possibilities there are even if I only concentrate on “programming ABAP”.

I will need three weeks of holidays for reading all the great articles of Paul Hardy and probably three months more for understanding them.

I have nearly no time for starting the free OpenSAP-Course of test driven development. (Paul Hardy wrote a very positive review about it. Reactions on twitter are also quite positive.)

Help! I need somebody! ♪♫

Thinking this way is kind of depressing. You lose in world of extreme complexity once you’re in it. But is there a way out?

I am sure there is! The last weeks I had two experiences which were helpful for me.

1st: Be aware

Even if it’s confusing: Try to figure out what all the topics are that you come in touch with or that you hear from. Just for interest and not for thinking “oh my god there is so much I do not know”. Go to CodeJams, Inside Tracks, MeetUps, regular’s tables and other community events.

That will give you a bit more distance to the topic so you can follow it calmly, because you will realize that some topics, even if everyone is talking about it, are not relevant. At the same time you have learned. Ten minutes talk with the right person will give you great insights to the topic so it’s easier to classify the buzzwords.

2nd: Choose

First point is important for this second step: Keep track on all current topics, keep an eye on what topics you face on your working day – with a little distance.

And then, in the middle of the year, in the beginning or at the end, sit down and chose three things that are really interesting for you. Or chose one topic if it’s something bigger like UI5, S/4 HANA or something like that. From now on concentrate only on these fields.

Variations

I am sure that there are a lot of people who have the same thoughts and react the same. I am also sure that there are many ways of dealing with the more and faster growing complexity in our world. May be some people are cooler beacuse they do not feel the need of knowing everything. I think that’s the way it should be. But it’s not always easy.

There are also people who give a damn on all the new sh*t and do the things they need to do the same ways as they did the past 10 years. I think this is the worst choice. At least it is work for the most of us. This does not only mean that I have to complete my tasks, it also means that I should improve and develop myself.

Be Open Minded

When I started my career I began fixing errors in SAP Script forms. The first thing that I heard from many sides was: “SAP Script – errrrrgh!! I don’t do this!!”. Yes, designing forms is annoying if you have to move objects 1,5 mm to the left and dealing with minor faults in a form, but that is not the point. Most people even refuse to learn SAP Script. But it’s a difference if you don’t do something because you are not willing to and another if you are not able to.

A similar discussion often comes up when it comes to learning object oriented programming. If you are a programmer, you cannot say: “I don’t learn OO – Everything can also be done the classic way and I am happy with this.”

You need to engage in other things that belong to your working area! I am not even talking about the brand new things like WebIDE and eclipse… I am talking about object oriented concepts that turned out to be helpful for so many years now. You can be crucial with some topics, you can follow the changes from a distance, but when something shapes up as useful and common, then you must try to get into it.

Community

My company hosts SAP Community events like CodeJam, ABAP CodeRetreat and SAP Inside Track in Hanover. Together with some great colleagues I organize and attend these events. I hope that this will encourage others to find their way through the SAP jungle. At least it helps me, because I get in touch with a lot of people.

Personal contact is the best way to not get lost.

 

At this point I would like to say thank you to all of my colleagues, community members, mentors, tweeters and people that help others learning things!

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15 Comments

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  1. Andre Schüßler

    Hi Enno,

    i would recommend to read the book “The Passionate Programmer” by Chad Fowler.

    It has much to say on this topic and helped me a lot.

     

    p.s even ABAP is mentioned once in this book 😀

     

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    1. Enno Wulff Post author

      Thanks for the tip, Andre!

      Although I have no problems with passion… 😀

      Current focus is on automated teaching & testing… 😉

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          1. Jelena Perfiljeva

            That’s not teaching, that looks like some kind of automated test-taking or skill assessment tool. I don’t think this would work well for ABAP vs other languages because ABAP development usually involves much more than mere coding. Besides, who is even looking to hire ABAPers these days? 🙂

             

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            1. Enno Wulff Post author

              Why not? This is perfect teaching! Just think of the new ABAP740+ commands…

              OF course it can also be used as assessment tool.

              Yes. ABAP is much more than just the commands. But firstly, isn’t that similar to other programming languages? Second, With mocking (or even wthout) you can also train BAPI usage or other SAP specialities.

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  2. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Great blog, Enno, and these are simple, practical tips. Back in 2015 I wrote sort of a motivational blog that I keep thinking of lately. It was a rather long story but the main message was similar to what you are trying to say.

    It is easy to get overwhelmed and paralyzed when so much is going on. It’s not practical and nearly impossible to learn about everything in the SAP world. The solution in my blog was to “adjust it the way you need it for today”. Some things will just need to go and there is quite a bit of hype, as you’ve correctly noted. Other things you might learn or do more or less. You will not always be successful, it might not be as good or as easy as you thought (don’t get me started on SALV here 🙂 ). But if you just get off the sofa and try something you will be on the right track.

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    1. Enno Wulff Post author

      Thanks for your positive feedback, Jelena!

      what got me startet the blog was, that the most important thing is to focus and to concentrate on one to three topics/ issues. Once you‘ve done that, it‘s easier to let things pass by.

       

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    1. Enno Wulff Post author

      Yes. I know. „I have no time to sharpen my axe. I have to cut down trees!“

      It‘s easier to improve, if you know what. 😀

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  3. Michael Keller

    I agree with you in all points. I talked to a lot of people about “continuous learning” and what is necessary for it. In my opinion there must be a strong change in thinking. Where should one start? A little hint: To solve the riddle just use a mirror … it does not have to be a magic mirror 🙂

    By the way: SAPscript may have been created directly in the programmer hell. No matter, even SAPscript forms have to be maintained or replaced these days. It’s a hard school to work with some aged technologies and to understand the basic idea behind them. Especially if you have seen other approaches. They are then appreciated very much.

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  4. Michelle Crapo

    Where to start? Does anyone really know the answer for sure? You start where your projects take you. And believe me, some of mine have taken me way off course sometimes. Then I try to go back to what I was learning the first time. Oh no! It’s now obsolete.

    My idea is simple. Just never stop learning. What you learn today may not help you until some future date.  But google and bookmarking are my friend.

    The problem is if you don’t learn – well – I just can’t imagine not learning. But if you don’t want to – I’m 100% sure you won’t need to for years to come. But why not start now?

    My joke is if I learn something in a day – I get to stop working.  HA! Not true. In fact I usually find myself learning several things. (Just by reading blogs here)

    Michelle

    PS My advice OOP. Next Eclipse. Of course I’m still working on Eclipse myself. 🙂

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    1. Enno Wulff Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Michelle!

      Of course you learn each { day | week | month } something new and you never know what will be next. But this is not the type of learning I meant. Of course it is important to be open minded to new things and try to use them. But there are a lot of things that you must learn actively and this takes more time and concentration. I often experienced that I found out something interesting and new, googled and tried and then said: “bah. that’s too much and I don’t really understand. I’ll do it later…”.

      So you must decide to learn something specific. But if there are a lot of more topics to learn than instead starting with the first one you will do nothing. Somehow like the starved donkey which couldn’t opt for one of the two hayracks… 🙂

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      1. Michelle Crapo

        Of course I agree.  Ha – My horses would never have that issues – of course they are quite round.

        My head sometimes spins around. I’m used to knowing the functional and technical side. But the technical side has really changed and will keep changing. I’m not to that cross-road yet, where I have to give up my functional side.  (Let’s just say a well meaning consultant suggested that I should. He didn’t think I needed to know both.) So I’ve been a little um – well a little not so nice lately.

        Luckily (for me) – I now work with a small shop.  I will know both. I also know we will limit the different programming languages to just a handful. That will make it easier for all of us to support.

        It is hard to pick what to focus on.  Sigh. But I think it always is. About 10 years ago I was arguing for OOP. 4.7 then. It was at a different company. I was told I could do it, but no one else would. Yes, still learning effective OOP now.  ABAP CDS doesn’t seem too bad. I guess as an ABAP programmer it makes sense to me.  It just seems like I’m trying to learn a lot right now. Eventually it will all level out again.

        Thanks for the reply! That donkey makes me smile.   Much appreciated on a Monday morning.

        Michelle

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