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Who was Richard Harper?

You will excuse me, but I need to write this. It’s not about ABAP, it’s not about development, it’s not about SAP, but it’s a bit about all this.

If you are here for any of those things listed, just stop reading and go invest your time in another place, this is a mourning entry. Almost.

I joined the SAP world in 2004. Because the course I was taking seemed slow, and because I felt I was not learning anything there, I decided to look for some places to learn by myself. I found two places to do that: something official called SCN and a “small” forum called SAPFans.

Maybe you can remember SCN: was a place full of useless posts and fully populated by “reward points if useful” variants.

I could learn nothing from there, so I tried SAPFans. Just the ABAP subforum.

The idea was simple: read other people’s problems, try to solve them by myself while waiting for the correct answer from a seasoned ABAPer. It worked like a charm, mainly by two reasons:

  • leeching was not tolerated (people showing no effort with their questions were ignored or ashamed, depending on the mood of the first “veteran” to answer the post)
  • the veteran community was amazing

Just to call a few names, any SF around will remember them with ease: ABAP_doctor, Ilya Klimau, m@t, Rosie Brent, Sandi and few others I’m missing here, because I merge their names more from the GD than the ABAP forum. But amongst them, there was Rich. Just Rich.

One day, I received a private from one of the elders after a small “fight” with one of those leechers, and I thought “sh**, I will be expelled because I crossed a line” (although I could not see the line I crossed, as I always tried to keep my manners).

The private was from the omg-this-dude-knows-his-way Rich, asking me to put my eyes on the General Discussion board. But this is another story.

In the GD I met the rest of the crew: snowy, thx4allthefish, Bryson “v” Gamble and some other people I try to keep contact with via social media.

But there I grew closer to Rich, closer enough to deserve some “hot line” with him, been able to know him a bit better. I loved that guy.

Rich, also known as Richard Harper was not just one of the best developers I met, he was the most sharing one. He was happy helping people around, and he compiled his knowledge in one of the most visited places in SF (at least by me): Richard Harper’s Knowledge Corner.

He was kind, humorous, with the right amount of sarcasm and, above all this, in the SAP community, a helping hand.

With the decline of “the other place”, our contact became scarced, just a few mails from time to time. One of my live’s regrets is that I could not join him the time he came to my city (mostly because I was ashamed of my lack of skill in English, and thought the thing will become akward…). I still regret it.

We kept contact via farcebook, where he joined reluctantly after his early retiremene because his fight with the big C. He passed the chemo phase, and I happily saw a picture of him ringing a bell.

With the bl***y pandemic I stopped writing him, and it seems he stopped posting things in farcebook. I had my own load of sh** and I focused on me, with the usual feeling that you always will be able to catch up.

Two days ago I tried to catch up. “long time no see, how are you” and that kind of crap. The answer killed a part of me: “hi, I’m *** a friend of Rich. He passed away on july of the last year”. The big C took him away from us.

 

Rich taught me a lot about ABAP, as he did to a lot of us. He never asked for a reward, nor recognition, you never felt underestimated when he helped you.

 

But something much more important he taught me about developing is that you must share. He did it his whole career:

if you keep your knowledge just for yourself, you are wasting it, and you don’t deserve it.

 

Rest in peace, mate. You will be deeply missed.

19 Comments
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  • Thanks for letting us know,  Vicenç.

    I remember Rich well from sapfans.com and was involved with a project he (IIRC) had kicked off "way back when" to translate SE37 information for function modules.

    • I spent a lot of hours with his self-designed translation way... It sucked the energy from myself for a long time, but althought it never worked, it was worth the effort.

  • hi Vincenç

    I think all of us who frequent this community would acknowledge the huge debt that they owe to the many experts who post blogs and answers here. My bacon has been saved many times and my SAP and ABAP knowledge immeasurably increased.

    I remember SAPFans around 20 years ago and people like 'Snowy'. I seem to remember Sandra Rossi also contributed a lot.

    I didn't know who Richard Harper was, but I do now. I much appreciated your tribute.

    Cheers
    Ged

  • /
    😉
  • Thanks Vicenç. This blog brings me back some very old, but very nice memories. It was a really nice place around 2005. I've learned a lot from there.

    I remember once I've solved a problem, implemented it, it went to production. I was really proud. A couple of month later I've seen a much nicer approach on sapforum. I was no longer that proud 🙂

    Of course, the collection of funny comments in sap standard code was also amazing 🙂

  • Beautiful. Rest in Peace !

    For a beginner like me , this post just give a fresh perspective - not just towards SAP world , but towards the life itself!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Vic, i also knew and met Rich.  A great guy.  He helped me on my ABAP journey back in 2003 as i was trying to learn.  He even connected with me when he turned up on a project i had left a few years earlier and was reviewing my code to say how good it was (i am sure he was being kind).

    A great guy who i am sure is already sadly missed.

    A touching tribute.

    From all of us that knew him.

    /
  • Rest in peace Rich. I was one of those who was lucky enough to meet him in the real world. We never worked a project together, but regularly met up to eat, drink and enjoy each other’s company.

     

    He and his partner Sian are two of the most special people I have ever known. I will miss him greatly.  my abiding memory of him is seeing he had this horrible brown Astra Belmont and looking at him quizzically like, what the hell is this car and him grinning, popping the bonnet and showing me the engine he’d put it, the NoX kit and the supped up breaks!

    He was Tuly Awesome.

    • I always dreamed to meet all the crew at Mornington Crescent, just for the giggles. Ok, and for the beers, if you fancy it (I don't).
      I'm still planning to do that if some day my finances and calendars (and Boris) allow it. Sadly, if I'll do, it will have a sadder sense and feel.

  • I'm late to the party here as I've been MIA the past 6 months myself.

     

    I remember Rich posting in SAP Fans when I was active there.  I wasn't in the ABAP forums much. Only whenever I had a project programmer tell me something couldn't be done and I had to go find someone that could point me in the right direction so I could tell the programmer it could be done.

    I miss the whole crew from SAP Fans.

    Craig

  • Vic, that is sad. Thank you for letting us know. Rich was a really great guy and has contributed so much at sapfans. Plus he was sending so many jokes via email that I could not keep up and archived many without reading - still sitting in my email archive.