Now that I’m back home from TechEd Berlin 2008 let me try to describe the experience. Berlin itself is summarised very well in the following lines by the German Punk Band Ideal.
“Zweiter Stock, vierter Hinterhof, neben mir wohnt ein Philosoph. Fenster auf, ich hör’ Türkenmelodien, ich fühl’ mich gut, ich steh’ auf Berlin! “
“Second Floor, fourth backyard, next door lives a philosopher. Windows are open, I hear turkish melodies, I feel great, I love Berlin.
In the weeks prior to the event, I found it hard figure out if the additional time spent at SDN Community day would be worthwhile spent. In the end, I decided to go for it and participate – mainly down to many recommendations from other SDNers and people I follow on Twitter. So now that the TechEd lies behind me what’s my verdict? Well, how right were they! Community day for me was a perfect opportunity to meet some of the most talented and knowledgeable SAP developers out there. I wish more developers out there in the trenches of SAP Land could see this – it would certainly blow a lot of those cobwebs away that SAP development can be shrouded in sometimes. Community Day is a meeting point for multipliers and disruptive developers – overused words, I know, but in this case certainly the right description.Whilst TechEd enables you to look beyond your own development landscape, Community Day in addition gives it a completely new dimension. I attended sessions on building RIA’s using WebDynpro ABAP, Flash Islands and Floorplan Manager (SAP’s unfortunately named Web UI configurator) held by Rich Heilman, Thomas Jung and Dan McWeeney. In the evening we had even more chances to chat, network and drink at a bash in the Berlin Radio Tower (Funkturm), an excellent venue for an event such as this – and a great way to end SDN Community Day.
The keynote was disappointing – a speech by a leading SAP software architect (instead of co-CEO Leo Apotheker) might have fitted the bill (and expectations!) better. I was lucky enough to be offered a seat right in front row – I think there were a few gaps that needed to be filled. To my surprise there was no “Ask the Execs” session. We were given no explanation as to why none of the submitted videos were shown. To be honest I wasn’t expecting my video to be shown anyway, as it was fairly critical of TechEd admittance fees.
Given the sheer number of available 2 and 4 hour hands-on sessions, I think only 2 pre-bookable hands-on sessions are not enough. Enabling attendees to book 4 sessions ahead of TechEd might be better. Logistically this would obviously quite a feat for the organisers.
I’ve mentioned this already in a chat I had with Craig Cmehil: I think 4 weeks to make use of your SAP Certification discount is not enough. Why not extend this time span to say 6 months?
RIA Hacker Night
I used RIA Hacker Night to catch up with even more interesting people from SAP Dev Land (and beyond) and as lucky enough to win a Adobe Flex Pro SDK incl book.
Web Dynpro and ABAP
Anyone who still claims after this convention that ABAP is on its way out (SearchSAP, can you hear me?) has to have a serious problem. I attended 2 WDA sessions, one of them an update on the WDA dev stack and the other one about WDA and Enhancement Framework, which opened an entirely new perspective to me, because so far I never thought about changing SAP standard WDA applications (as there aren’t that many!). WDA integration into the Enhancement Framework has been executed well and will on one hand give consultants a lot of flexibility and relieve end-users from painful upgrades on the other.
RIA & RCA
A 1 hour session on RIAs (Rich Internet Apps) and RCAs (Rich Client Apps) and how they fit into SAP’s GUI strategy turned out to be a very valuable one. I’ve heard about Business Client before and it was good to hear a little bit more about it. We were assured that BC will not replace SAP GUI, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this would change over the coming years. It was also interesting to learn a little bit more about RCA and RIA dev apps from Adobe – Flex and Air. During RIA Hacker Night I even managed to win a Adobe Flex Development Pro SDK and a Flex Book ! No more excuses… SOA and
During Community Day I attended Owen Pettiford’s (founding member of BPX network) interesting SOA session. He talked about the framework and approach he uses in his daily work. I like his approach to deal with small “pains” first, keeping it simple and making use of existing, perfect systems by bringing them together with SAP Composition Environment, for example. Inspired by this, I decided to learn more about CE on Community Day. I might be way off here and there is lots more to get into, but especially in the current economic climate CE might play a larger role in the short to mid term.
I attended a 1 hr session on Atlantic’s state of play – a joint development venture between SAP and IBM. A lot of my clients use Lotus Notes and have asked me many times about planed or existing interfaces and integration between these two worlds. The presented product hinges on Notes 8.02 as installed base and enabled SAP workflow integration into a Notes context (not vice versa). The usual holiday or Purchase Order Approval apps were demoed – no surprise there. I have to say though that the 2 presenters from SAP and IBM weren’t exactly “geling” – which may or may not say a lot about the cooperation. I can’t help but thinking that IBM needs this project more than SAP does.
TDMS (Test Data Migration Server)
As I’ve been involved in many data migration projects in the past I decided to learn more about this product (I didn’t even know it existed). TDMS provides a fairly lightweight migration server that lets you specify business objects and Z tables that you want to migrate. Several migration scenarios (timeslice or object related, for example) can also help in keeping your dev and QA enviroments in a healthier data state – always a winner in my book. According to other consultants I spoke to it seems to come with a hefty price tag (depending on your db size), but I’d hazard a guess that you could recoup your investment within 6-12 months. A very interesting session, which was slightly marred by a very arrogant presenter.
- Mac Books, Mac Book Pros, iPhones… Thanks to Boot Camp and Parallels Apple products have certainly hit the SAP community. Three years ago in Vienna I remember being the only one with a Mac at SAP TechEd – someone actually saw me getting out my Powerbook and commented: “At least one person with a REAL computer at this convention !”.
- describing Berlin ICC as a “starship” is well deserved and apt. I still get lost in the vaults of this monster of a building whilst trying to find my way to “Lecture Hall 1″ (or was that Room 5?). I think by the time I got to grips with the corrisors and escalators it’s Thursday evening. No, but seriously, I love the ICC and its “starship” style.
- No sessions whatsoever on BSP, yet further updates on ITS and ITS Mobile
TechEd Berlin ticked almost all the boxes for me. I’ve enjoyed chatting and mixing with other peers, I liked the workshops and most info sessions. The organisation and logistical effort (sessions, food, venue, entertainment) spent on it are amazing. TechEd is not cheap and offerings such as the pre-booking of sessions and certification discount could be improved. If I index TechEd Vienna 2005 with 100%, TechEd Berlin 2008 should receive 200%. It was simply that good.