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Author's profile photo Helmut Tammen

My personal recap of SAPTECHED 2018 day 1 in Barcelona

After 10 years of abstinence I returned to SAPTECHED this year. I didn’t attend a TechEd for the last 10 years cause I decided that the benefit was not worth the money. So I was very curious if my perception would change.

The Location

Before I write about my impressions regarding the content of this event I first want to write about the location. I’ve been to SAP TechEd Vienna, Berlin and Amsterdam (2x) before. I liked all of the other locations more than Barcelona. I’m talking about the exhibition area, not the city. The location is far too big for this event, the ways are much too long. As far as I remember the other locations were smaller.

The Keynote

One of the highlights of former TechEds was the Keynote (except the one with Leo Apotheker in 2008?). This year I was curious if Björn Goerke would perform as he did the last years. He didn’t but that was not a disappointment.I came here to pick up information about current and upcoming technologies and SAP products.

He started very promising with an introduction into Intelligent Enterprise. This was a talk about Cloud platform, CF, API Hub, FaaS and all those cool things. I thought: yes that’s the way we have to lead our customers (SAP’s and mine) to new technologies, not because new technologies are cool but cause new technologies open up new approaches to business problems.

Then he interviewed this 17 year old girl Alyssa Carson who has taken part in multiple NASA space camps and expressed her desire to take part in a mission to Mars. and I thought again. Yes, tell your customers that we all need a fresh wind with new ideas from young people or people with young and open minds that push SAP technology to new dimensions. He strengthened this perception by encouraging the audience to be always curious.

At the end he mentioned and presented ABAP on Cloud Platform. I knew this would come but nevertheless it was a disappointment for me (imy personal view). ABAP is a language that was created in 197x and is not suited for modern programming paradigms.
SAP Cloud platform would have been a chance to tell all the ABAP geeks: Move to a more modern language with a much broader community and therefore much more innovation.

The Sessions

The first sessions I visited then were not very interesting. This of course is not the fault of SAP. I just chose the wrong sessions out of the huge amount.

In the afternoon I changed my strategy and visited some shorter sessions in the Talk Theaters,, the Roadmap Rooms and I attended a mini CodeJam about Cloud Workflow service.
Especially the roadmap of SAP WebIDE and the one of CoPilot were extremely interesting and produced an optimistic view for the next two days.
I asked for the Typescript support of WebIDE and was told that this will come and the Copilot will change the way we work in the future. Not within the next two years but in the longer future.

After work party

When the official day finished we had a drink at the exhibition area and afterwards we met with a few fellows at a tapas bar. There I got some additional news about the new cloud programming model from Gregor Wolf. This infos convinced me that SAP is definitely not returning to the stone age of IT in spite of pushing ABAP to the cloud (thanks for that).

So I will sleep well after a day full of ups and downs and I’m looking forward to the second SAPTECHED day.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Helmut,

      from your diary i take it that learning ABAP made more sense 20 years ago than it does now, so maybe Python, javascript, or Go?

      ten years gives you a certain perspective, so let's see what tomorrow brings.

      Cheers, greg

      Author's profile photo Ronnie André Bjørvik Sletta
      Ronnie André Bjørvik Sletta

      I think you're spot on in your first two takeaways. The third though, I have to partly disagree. Not that your views are wrong, but more in a broader context. I'm fairly new in the SAP ecosystem, getting to know it as a developer first in 2015. There are a lot of things around ABAP I have questioned since then, but I also acknowledge that ABAP is a core tech of SAP. And while it might be a bit dated, it has also evolved a lot (I've been told).

      Now to Cloudy ABAP. I see this as SAP acknowledging its legacy, and enabling all ABAPers to take part in the transition and journey towards the future. It might not be the best suited language for everything, but we have to take this one step at a time. By getting them on to the cloud platform, and seeing the shaping of the future, they also see the value in continuing their learning journey. That is quite a lot easier, than just cutting them of cold turkey, saying "you either learn a new language, or you're not allowed to play with us".

      Enjoy your stay in Barcelona. I'm quite disappointed that I was unable to attend, and join you guys at the meetup. I try to stay up to date via Twitter, so don't shy away from posting if you come across something interesting. ?


      Author's profile photo Helmut Tammen
      Helmut Tammen
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Ronnie, I understand the perspective of SAP and the reasons why they decided to push ABAP to the cloud but sometimes you have to get rid of old habits.

      When I talk to JAVA colleagues I also criticize the verbose JAVA language. I therefore already in 2010 switched to Groovy with its web framework Grails in some of my projects. Today I would probably use Kotlin or Scala if I need to deploy to a JVM. JAVA is still living but in my opinion it is, as ABAP, not suitable for modern programming paradigms.

      Javascript e.g. has another momentum as ABAP and JAVA. The shift to ES6 which is used by nearly everyone, apart from those who are using UI5, or the super-set Typescript which has become a de-facto standard in new Angular projects demonstrate this. There are thousands of other examples.

      I’ve done ABAP development from 2001 to 2003 and again in the last years to program gateway functionality. So I know what I’m talking about I think. I’ve seen so much ugly, copy-pasted ABAP code that I fear all this code will move to the cloud. There are of course very good ABAP developers in the field but the majority I know approached from the business side and not from the computer science side. Modern programming paradigms need a good understanding of computer science I think.
      For the good ABAP developers it will be no problem to learn a new language or even a second or third new language. Those ABAP developers who are not willing to learn something new should remain in their old systems.

      People now may say: Javascript was developed as browser language and also has several drawbacks. Yes, that’s right and I often struggle with these. But as I said it has a great momentum and if there will be a new language in one or two years that replaces Javascript there will be JS-to-new-language converters within short time, I’m sure.

      Another aspect Emanuele Ricci brought into the discussion is the aquiring of new talents. Those who leave the universities these days learned to use modern programming languages and paradigms. For them it would be a horror to learn ABAP only because their 60-year old boss says “We have to use ABAP in this project cause almost all of the team members use it and SAP said it’s a first class citizen for the cloud now”.

      So I think SAP should have left ABAP outside of the cloud.

      Author's profile photo Michelle Crapo
      Michelle Crapo

      I'm glad you shared your impressions.  I do agree more than one language is a good idea.   Now my big HOWEVER...  ABAP has changed a lot.  I started programming in it around 1998.  Trust me, it looks nothing like it did then.  The new syntax alone is amazing.

      OK - now moving to the cloud.  I don't have a ton to say since I'm using on-premise as of now.  Again, the cloud is about flexibility so why not add ABAP?  It doesn't mean you have to code in it.  If I had a 60 year boss who said that was all I could code in...  Not sure I'd stay there.  I'd have to really like it.

      Lucky for me - my boss supports continual growth.  That doesn't mean a free-for-all when we are talking languages.  We have landed on the 2 or more that we are using...

      Author's profile photo Jeremy Good
      Jeremy Good

      Hi Helmut - thank you for sharing a genuine perspective from the show, and I hope the next two days get even better!

      Author's profile photo Helmut Tammen
      Helmut Tammen
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Jeremy,

      thanks for reading. I'm always a bit critical.  A lot SAP offers is very good but not everything. Offerings are sometimes off the main stream in IT which can be good or bad.

      Have you already read day two impressions?

      Author's profile photo Jeremy Good
      Jeremy Good

      I read it on my iPhone, and noticed a more positive sentiment - heading there now to re-read on larger laptop screen, and comment.