SAP Inside Track 2016 in Manchester

With TechEd Las Vegas 2016 kick-off imminent, SAP conference season is in full swing, I guess. TechEds are great events, but for those looking for something smaller, personal and off-the-cuff, I can highly recommend the Inside Tracks. After last year’s successful event in Sheffield, this year’s follow-up “unconference” is held at Manchester’s MadLab on Sep 15 – 16.

More details can be found here. Hopefully see you there.

Come and see me at SAP Insider Events in 2015


I was recently invited to speak at two of SAP Insider’s conferences entitled “Modern Skills For ABAP Developers”, a great opportunity to talk about two topics close to my heart: SAP Enhancements and Quality Assurance in SAP Implementation Projects. I will also join other experts for an exciting Rapid-Fire-Question-and-Answer panel. Here are some of the topics covered during this 3 day event (click here for full agenda):

SAP ABAP experts will provide key lessons to:

Keep your ABAP skills up-to-date, ensuring that you remain valuable to your employer and relevant in the job market

Reduce code complexity and streamline the development process with little-known features of SAP NetWeaver® AS and Object-Oriented ABAP

Get up-to-speed on ABAP for SAP HANA®, which is different than traditional ABAP

Evaluate the various tools for web-enabling your system, like Web Dynpro ABAP and SAPUI5

Better communicate with business users

Compare the latest project methodologies, their value, and their tradeoffs, and select which is best suited to your organization

Increase your SAP ABAP IQ with field-tested techniques your company can implement right away upon your return to the office


This is a great, relevant and wide range of interesting topics, which should give attendants an update on the latest tools, techniques and provide real-world experiences. Make sure you mark the dates for Las Vegas (17.-19.11.2015) and Amsterdam (7.-9.12.2015) in your calendar. It would be great to meet you there!

2015 Trends for ABAPers – a brief overview

It has become a common theme during and after every TechEd && d-code conference series to take a look at developer skillset requirements. Ultimately, it always begs the same questions: “where do we stand with ABAP?” or “what are new trends that ABAP developers should take into account?“. Or can ABAPers actually afford to do nothing and rest on their laurels?

Me during an Expert Networking Session at TechEd

Me during an Expert Networking Session about Freelancing at TechEd 2014, Las Vegas

Below is a run down of options (including the option to “do nothing”) and trends for ABAPers. I’ve included a short POV (Point Of View) paragraph to give you my impression on relevance.

After a surge in early 2000s (WDJ, CE), We now appear to be witnessing a renaissance of Java at SAP. But of course it’s never been gone completely. However Java has been rebooted by HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), one of the main platform topics this year. As far as Business Suite applications are concerned, some will be rewritten as new cloud applications for HCP and in a hybrid environment; others might interface via OData/Gateway. Custom apps and innovations will be an interesting prospect of this increasingly important platform.

my POV: If your company or business decides to innovate its own cloud-based applications on HCP then Java should be something for you to pay attention to – if not done so already. Read on if your company is more likely to focus on Fiori, UI5 and Gateway in the medium term.

JavaScript, UI5
Since the announcement of UI5 3 years ago, JavaScript has been the new kid on the coding block and is enjoying good uptake in the SAP developer community – TechEd 2014 has shown the evidence. The recent addition of OpenUI5 extended the use case to open-source, community-based extensions of UI5 libraries. In both scenarios, Gateway and Odata are providing the supported link to the backend system.

my POV: Most SAP customers are now looking at better User Experience (UX) and implementation of products such as Personas or UI5, which are now included in licence costs and can be downloaded by customers for free. Therefore, ABAPers are well advised to look into JavaScript, jQuery (UI5 is based on it) and Gateway in order to stay current and deliver the better UX using Fiori-like UI5 apps. Because of the more imminent customer focus on this topic, I see this area as the option with the biggest “skills bang for buck” for developers. Change management and lifecycling using Git might challenge Abapers initially, but is likely to become 2nd nature fast.

Hana XS
Launched 2 years ago as part of HANA SP5, XS (Extended Application Services), it includes a full AS, web server and application services in a single place.
Even die-hard abapers rejoice once they discover the opportunities of XS. If you already know OData and JavaScript – or are thinking of getting into it – it’s a great opportunity.

my POV: If your company or business is considering application development for non-cloud, in-memory then this should be something for developers to focus on. If you know you’re way around JavaScript and Gateway/OData Services already, even better. If there is no uptake in your company for HANA XS, then this option still represents a great addition to the UI5 option described above, as it taps into a very similar skillset.

Do nothing
This is the least favourable option. Here, ABAPers just keep on doing what they’re doing, maybe keeping up-to-date with latest ABAP AS features at a minimum. Bluntly, it means you are not moving on or aiming to stay current.

my POV: Despite the doom and gloom, I’d wager very much that “there will always be a backend”, meaning that, despite all new these new layers and platforms I’ve described above, the need for an optimised and up-to-date ABAP backend will remain. As a result, this will leave ABAPers with plenty of work for the next years, maybe decades. At the same time, cost pressures and increased levels of commoditisation in the ABAP area will mean that a smaller number of developers might be required. In a nutshell, you will be very much competing on price and location.

TechEd Keynotes – they’ve grown up!

Bjoern Goerke on stage during the TechEd keynote

Bjoern Goerke on stage during the TechEd keynote

Having attended both opening presentations of SAP TechEd && dcode 2014 in La Vegas, it is safe to say that SAP keynotes have grown up. By providing a more engaging style of delivery, Steve Lucas and Bjoern Goerke have managed to capture the audience’s imagination. This is a change that was long overdue. While Lucas’ style was more off-the-cuff, it was Goerke who offered the necessary “Ueberbau”, the almost academic foundation which is an important aspect and will go down well with long-time SAP customers.

The Monday night opening was also a big advert for SAP’s product and community advocates, SAP Mentors. Altogether 4 of the group’s existing and alumni members came onstage to showcase solutions. This in itself is a case in point that Mentors are more than an illustrious group of experts who provide a sounding board for the german software business, they’re agents of innovation.

Bjoern Goerke’s demo on Tuesday morning, driven by an as-always bubbly and entertaining Ian Kimball, was another highlight and example for the change of keynote delivery style we’re witnessing. In a suit/geek style, the duo built a mobile application in 3 simple steps. An exec building an app on stage surely has to be a first within the Enterprise software arena.

All-in-all, this change in delivery style is promising and provides a hopeful lookout. For me at least.


Disclosure: as a member of the Mentor program, my conference attendance ticket is paid for by SAP.

If you spot me at SAP TechEd Las Vegas…

SAP CTO Vishal Sikka meeting Mentors at Tech Madrid 2011 (photo M. Gillet)

… please come and say Hello. I might be deep in conversation, thoughts (making sense of it all) or have my nose in a Latte. In any case, please feel free to interrupt for a chat. You’ll usually recognize me by my SAP Mentor shirt with the “@Pixelbase” Twitter handle and the number “70” on the back.

If you don’t want to talk to me then you can still go and discuss all things SAP with any of the other mentors. Believe me, these guys and gals feel as passionate about SAP as you and we are always interested in your views.

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Technology Forum, UK, Day 1 – a summary

At a time when lots of my Mentor colleagues are at SAP’s internal DKOM events, I had the opportunity to attend SAP’s semi-public UK Technology Forum in St Albans on March 21st and spent day 1 there, mainly focussing on information around User Interfaces and Netweaver Gateway. As a regular TechEd visitor, events such as this are not providing you with a raft of new items around SAP products, but instead give you with a gut feel for the local customer and developer community.

I have yet to see this evening’s Demo Jam, but so far it’s been a worthwhile trip, which is mainly down to networking and chats I had. Here are my key points:

User Interface and User Experience: demos and presentations were around HTML5 – either driven by Sybase Unwired Platform or developed straight using HTML5 and CSS3. For example, Keytree demoed an interesting live retail app for iPad that uses HTML5, hooked up to a SAP retail backend via homebuilt RESTful services. CompriseIT demoed a new SAP tool to generate native iOS consumption UIs for Netweaver Gateway services.

UI5: It didn’t come as a surprise to me, but there were no specific news on SAP’s new UI framework UI5 (which is jQuery based). However, according to the SAP partners I spoke to it is something everyone is looking into now. Keytree mentioned they are using Sencha libraries (a Javascript framework) on top to add touch interface capabilities to UI5 (which currently only is for desktop). Personally, I am excited about UI5 and expect further developments on tooling and framework from SAP later this year.

Gateway: I liked that most presentations clarified that not just SUP can be used for consumption, which was in contrast to information available during TechEd 2011 in Madrid, where participants often thought SUP is the only way to consume Gateway. I attended two interesting sessions by SAP labs’ very own Yaad Oren, including a Kinect-enabled Gateway solution and a Siri-based prototype called SiPi (using Open Ears). In the latter, a video showed a SAP CRM lead being created using iPhone voice recognition and later an image was added to the CRM business partner by searching the person on Facebook, based on facial details. This is a very likely future use-case, yet it still makes me slightly shudder! (Disclaimer: the app is only a prototype!). As far as a wider developer engagement for Gateway is concerned, it seems that a reliance on the SAP partnering framework is the chosen path for now. Whether this will hamper the “billion users” ambitions SAP has remains to be seen.