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Personal Insights

Do you have the time to learn XYZ?

It’s Monday morning, I’ve just indulged in some tea.   So I am awake – sort of – and I have this question for all of you.  Do you have the time to learn?

I just finished reading about the ABAP Chicken and the ABAP Frog.  Both are very interesting characters.  I also have a blog I’ve been working on for a while now.  It is about the time it takes to begin learning something new – and how to learn it.  I’ll get it done, it’s just a matter of time.  For an early hint take a look at Open Online courses by SAP.

I have been following a great coffee corner chat about unit tests.  I am also one of those people who have limited time and a lot of things to learn quickly.

After reading both the chat and the blog,  I figured I’d start with a “Michelle’s guide on what to learn”.  That’s this blog.

Big breath – deep breath:

I am a person who will and does train on both company time and my own time.  I have taken a week off of work to get to listen in to as many SAP Teched sessions as possible while they were going on.  I say / type that out loud, because I – like lots of you – get defensive.  I feel like I have to justify myself.  Should I?  No, I really shouldn’t need to do that.  Just making sure people know that I do things outside of work as well as inside it – time permitting.  And don’t feel like you have to even do one minute of training outside work time.  There is such a thing as families, hobbies, just enjoying a good movie..  Or anything else.

There are a LOT of things to learn very quickly.  I am from a small shop. It doesn’t really matter if it’s large or small.  That’s just to let you know I wear many hats.   Sometimes I wear ones with large holes in them, where knowledge is missing and has to be learned.

So here is my advice

Take a deep breath and decide what to focus on, and go forward from there.

But how to decide?????   Shouldn’t you know everything?  Not really no.  Very few people can learn everything or almost everything.  And trust me, they like you and I are still learning.  Why?  Change is constant.   Learn something new and their will be 10 other things to still learn.

So how did I decide what I should focus on:

I began with Unit Tests.  I started in open sap, and continued by buying a book or several.   I even used unit tests in a couple of programs. Then I got busy, very busy.   Since unit test were new to me, I didn’t see a big return.  Hint – if you are new at something it will take a while before you see a benefit.  When I started with objects, I announced to my co-workers it was stupid and took more processing time.  Then I started really working at it, and began to get the benefit from it.   I still laugh when I think about telling my team mates it wasn’t worth learning.

So back to unit tests, I simply didn’t have the time to develop them while trying to stay floating in my raft.  Yes the waves were pretty darn high with a lot to learn.  Of course, that meant I wasn’t seeing a benefit.  Please take a look at the Coffee Corner discussion.  There were some great insights as to why we should learn unit tests.  And a great tip from Matthew Billingham.

List of my learning:

Unit tests were put on hold for me.   So here is my HANA list.  Your list will probably be different:

  1.  LTMC/LTMOM for our conversion.
  2. CDS views
  3. AMDP
  4. PDF development using fragments
  5. BRF+
  6. Flexible workflows
  7. Fiori development – first with Fiori elements
  8. Fiori Development – UI5
  9. Unit tests – fell to the bottom of the list

NOTE: This was over the last couple of years.   Most of it was learned as I needed it.  And guess what?  I’m still learning each and every thing on my list with the exception of LTMC/LTMOM as they were for our data conversions.  Any Fiori development was just interesting to me.  So I did just a few programs.  UI5 – I’m a beginning learner.   OK, I consider myself as a beginning learner on each and every one of the things on my list.

In the middle of that I brushed up on javascript, HTML, and CSS.

Whew!  I’ve had a busy time of it.   Of course, still developing and gathering requirements.  Creating technical specs and functional specs.  And well…  You get the picture.  Real work never ends while we are learning things.

And another hint if you read a different blog of mine – you might see that order different.   Plans change.  They have to.

So how did I get my list on where/when to learn something.  This is where it is up to you as a developer to work on what’s important to YOUR job, your future job, or your own development.

How to determine your list:

  1.  Make a plan, be ready to change that plan, and above all don’t listen to anyone else.  Talk to your boss about carving out some time to learn.
  2. Sometimes it’s possible to just remember about a blog you’ve seen or technology you’ve learn.  Then you can propose it for your next project and learn while you go.   Make sure those timelines are a bit longer.
  3. If you can pick between 2 projects, and one of them will use a skill you have yet to learn; push yourself and choose the one with a new skill.
  4. You have projects that need a certain skill.  Yes, learn quick.
  5. Something interests you.  If you don’t want to learn it, you won’t.
  6. Some free time.  Take some time and plot out what you want to learn.  Then as you have some extra time, learn it.  But make sure it is something you can use too.  Or maybe not.  Eventually you will probably use it.  When that happens, you will have a basic understanding.

So my advice about learning

  • Just learn and grow every day.  It may not even be learning technical or for your job.
  • Pick the technologies you need to do your job effectively.  I would expect your list to be different than mine.
  • Worried because your system is still on the “older” technologies.  No worries, you can have a test system if you want.  Or focus on the technologies you do use.  You are not behind if you are staying up to date on your own work.
  • Don’t look at what others are doing and find yourself lacking.   Well… Michelle learned XYZ.  I have to do that.  No you don’t.  In fact I’d be surprised if your list is the same as mine.  Sometimes learning one skill for awhile is better.  You could learn it with a larger depth than I did.  FYI – if I had to use LTMC/LTMOM, I’d have to brush up on that skill.   It’s lost in my brain somewhere.

Last and more important:

Give yourself permission to just enjoy coding using the dreaded “older” technologies.  You have to give yourself a break or well…. You are probably going to go insane.   OK – I’m a little insane myself.   But I am a developer.

PS – I think not having enough time is not just an excuse.  It is a viable barrier to using something you’ve learned.  Or even learning something.  I believe it is a bit of both.

What do you think?  What is your personal list?  Yes, we probably won’t follow it, but it’s always nice to know what other people are thinking about.

8 Comments
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  • I was that person saying there was no time, until... last april we suddenly had a whole lot of time on our hands. Before then, I was curious to expand my knowledge of UI5 so first a basic course in Javascript, then all the tutorials I could find, mostly on the OpenUI5 site... and a few bugreports along the way 🙂

    From that I branched into OOP ABAP... the best time to learn it was more than 10 years ago, the second best time is right this minute! And then came the unit testing tutorials and... ohhh, look at that, shiny! <3

    Ok, I'm rambling, let's get back on track: yes, initially learning is hard, you spend lots of time and barely make progress, be that German or ABAP. After a while, you'll be surprised how quickly you can build on those foundations.

    While comparing yourself to other people might be kind of pointless, it does have its positive sides: you find role-models and get even more ideas of new things to learn 🙂

     

    • Very true.  I hadn't thought about adding goals based on some of the people you admire.

      Congratulations!!!  Time to learn is very rare.  And yes, anytime to learn ABAP Objects is a great time.

      Thank you for sharing your experience

  • There are a number of frustrating things about trying to learn new stuff in the world of SAP.

    Firstly, you can't tell what you'll be working on next, so there's that nagging doubt while you're reading a book a doing a course that says "You're wasting your time!"  I've never been able to retain information for long if I don't use it, so having a recruiter say "I see you did a course in X back in 2015" can be quite embarrassing.

    Secondly, even if you pick a dead cert of a topic that's used everywhere (e.g. I did an SAP taught course on ALE/IDoc back in 1998), it can happen that you never end up using it, or at least not until the knowledge of that course's content has completely disappeared from your brain.  The first time I encountered an IDoc after 1998 was in 2019.  You can imagine how that went!

    Thirdly, you can put a lot of effort into learning something new, only for SAP to quietly sweep it under the carpet after a couple of months.  SAP Web Client, anyone?  How about a spot of that useful sounding, acronym-within-an-acronym that is Web Dynpro FBI?

    All of this is to say that I learn new stuff either because I'm thrown in at the deep end, being sold as an expert on something I've never heard of, or just because I think it sounds cool.  I like the idea of Steampunk as a way preventing ABAPers from becoming redundant for a few more years so I'm enjoying reading all the RAP stuff and playing with the Trial system, but who knows if it will ever take off?  Your list is very impressive, Michelle.  That sounds like months of hard work to me.

    UI5, however, will forever remain beyond my grasp.  That may make me a dinosaur, but.... type those variables, people! 😉

    Andrew

     

    • That list is a do or die list / for the most part.   I'm still learning so much.   Yes, that list was over 2 years long to accomplish. (I should have said that)   And still I find I've lost some of it.  Also I'm not done with the list yet....  I need to get more depth in what I do know.

      Yes, I learned some of that as well.   My boss said "NO WEBDYNPRO".  At the time I switched to this job.  "No personas" came quickly after.   So you don't see personas on my list.   I knew Webdynpro once upon a time...  A long...  Long time ago.

      Dinosaur - no you are not.   You have learned to swim.   A dinosaur would not learn anything new.  UI5  - for me - is more like classic dynpro programming.  It gives me more control the the fiori elements did.   And that is the only  reason I'm bothering.  Did that sound bad?  Sometimes it all feels a bit overwhelming.   Then I sing that "Ant / rubber tree plant" song.

       

       

  • Thanks for the shout out. *blush*.

    I generally study what I need in order to do my job, but I also take time to learn new stuff - when I can. I'm developing nowadays mostly on a 7.31 system - a little on 7.50. I've not learned CDS but it's on my "to do" list - as of now I've no need for it.

    I learned smartforms and Adobe forms using the articles in the SAP Professional Journal (anyone remember that?) when I was asked to create some, and no one else in the company had experience. I did do the SAPScript course at SAP, but I've only used it a few times. There's not really many useful SAP courses around that I've not done in the past 20+ years... Of course a few Teched courses have been useful.

    I've got a few other projects that might or might not get done - e.g. getting phone access to our issue management system.

    I'm still plugging away at an Eclipse ADT plugin. I got the course from vogella.com for that (paid for by my employer). I learned Java years ago, so I'm was well set up for that. Mind you, some of the Java has got better as a result of reading the Clean Code for ABAP book! I read some of it in work time, and some while on holiday - it's interesting!

     

     

    • Well deserved "shout out".   That comment motivated me to try unit tests in between projects when I finish under deadline.   (Sometimes that happens.)

      Hey - it's now on my list.