Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Developer Renaissance

At SAP TechEd in Madrid this year, I had the privilege of interviewing SAP’s Head of Technology & Innovation Platform (TIP) Marketing, Aiaz Kazi, on the SAP TechEd Live TV channel. The interview is available here.

His team has an enormous scope, covering Mobile, In-Memory, On-Demand, HANA and more. While the word “Marketing” might be auto-filtered by a techie’s radar-filter, what became clear very quickly is that this group is totally developer focused. His group is already building a brand-new Developer Center (I wrote about this earlier this week) and is focused on helping the developer help themselves. What’s more, the group is staffed with developers. I’ve not managed to find anyone in TIP yet that doesn’t have a developer background.

DJ Adams interviews Aiaz Kazi at SAP TechEd Live 2011

Hasso is reported to have said “developers are the key to success”, and of course, we all know that Developers Are The New Kingmakers. What becomes clear in this interview, is that there’s a re-focus on the developer in the space that spans the distance between mobile and enterprise. This re-focus is long overdue in our industry, so I applaud SAP for having the courage to lead on this. Yes, SAP will benefit because one of the keys to a successful mobile platform is a host of developers in the non traditional-SAP space. But if the message and focus builds, the developer at large will benefit even more.

Perhaps this is a milestone along the way to the upcoming Developer Renaissance?

The interview is here: http://www.sapvirtualevents.com/teched/sessiondetails.aspx?sId=841

 

HTML5 @ SAP

Over the years SAP has been slowly but surely turning itself inside out towards the wider, open community. Open as in open source, open protocols and open data. One facet of this long-term tanker maneuver was very evident today; I attended session EXP443 “HTML5 @ SAP”. With tens of thousands of developers across the continents, it’s no surprise to find that some group, somewhere in SAP will be working on the same technology as you are, whatever that is.

HTML5 is one of those technologies. While not so much a surprise, what’s more revealing, and encouraging, is that it’s being given decent coverage at SAP TechEd this year. The adoption of HTML5 as the core of a new UI library (originally codenamed “Phoenix”) for app front-ends is something that has a voice here. Look at the TechEd sessions available:

  • CD202 HTML5 for Lightweight SAP Applications
  • MOB264 Building & Customising a Mobile Application Without Writing Code
  • MM220 How to Customise a Mobile Application with HTML5 and Javascript
  • EXP443 HTML5 @ SAP

That’s not to say that this is breaking news – Thomas Jung (an SAP Mentor from SAP Labs) made reference to Phoenix in an interview with Jon Reed a few months ago. Furthermore, in a very useful chat with SAP’s Chris Whealy on Monday after InnoJam, I got to understand more about the philosophy and approach of SAP NetWeaver Gateway’s exposure of data objects and their relationships in a way that would make HATEOAS pay attention. And Chris used an early version of the UI library to present the exposed data. This seems to be a common theme internally in SAP, at least.

So what’s the deal? In EXP443 I learned that the library is built upon jQuery. So SAP are avoiding the NIH syndrome, that’s good. But there were other attendees that were questioning SAP’s decision to build Yet Another Javascript Ui Library. At the very least, the model implementation of the library’s MVC framework gives the wily Javascript hacker a head-start on using and consuming Gateway services. And in my opinion that’s the deal. Yes, we have a very nice UI library (and no, it’s not available until 2Q12, before you ask!) but we also have code that speaks the language of thousands of front-end developers on the one hand, and eases the connection to the proprietary back-end on the other.

SAP’s future lies with developers, and they’re embracing those developers in many different ways (the Technology & Innovation Platform team is one group that is making seriously good moves in this direction — but that’s a story for another time). HTML5 adoption by SAP was most likely part of a scratching of an internal itch, but it implicitly embraces non-SAP developers in potentially far-reaching ways. Great stuff.

SAP Developer Center

At SAP TechEd Madrid 2011 I stopped by booth 104 in the Technology Innovation area of Hall 10 after lunch and chatted to David Brutman, from SAP’s Technology and Innovation Platform Marketing. SAP already have enjoyed tremendous success in terms of takeup and social engagement with their SAP Community Network (which grew from the original SAP Developer Network) but until now, there hasn’t been a consistent place for developers to go and enjoy “Discover, Learn, Build” activities. In other words, while there has been a huge amount of two-way discussion and sharing of ideas amongst the wider developer community, the next step — to be fair, a parallel step — is to offer a resource centre for developers who want to Get On And Do It.

David Brutman - Technology Platforms Developer Programs

Tangible at this year’s TechEd is the explosion of concepts, tools and technologies all fighting for primary position in the finite developer mindspace. HANA, NetWeaver Gateway, SUP, and the rest. And perhaps I’m not a typical developer these days, but I’m looking for guidance: some focused documentation, some tutorials, and perhaps most importantly, a platform to try this stuff out on.

Enter the SAP Developer Center (I’ll keep to the US spelling of this for consistency!) – which is pretty much exactly what I’m looking for. It’s not live yet, but when it is (we’re talking 1Q12), it looks to be a killer resource centre. Right now it’s in beta testing, specifically with HANA. Think code.google.com / developer.google.com with a cloud-based offering of trial instances on demand. A go-to resource centre for building your skills in the new era of SAP’s technology platform.

Sounds good? I think it sounds great! Look out for it appearing as part of the SAP Community Network soon.

Update 06 Feb 2012: See the article “What Would You Like To Develop Today?” in the Jan 2012 edition of SAP Insider for more on The Developer Center.

Movember – please donate!

I’m taking part in Movember, a fun and serious movement where moustaches are grown, ridicule is thrown, and hopefully people become more aware of men’s health in general, and prostate and testicular cancer in particular.

The idea is that you start clean-shaven on 1st Nov, and grown your moustache through the month, raising money along the way. I have a Movember page here:

http://mobro.co/qmacro

Please visit and donate what you can – I’ll be very grateful, thank you!

 

Web Programming with SAP’s ICF: new course dates

I’m pleased to announce that my 2-day Omniversity course Web Programming with SAP’s Internet Communication Framework is coming up again a couple of times in the first half of next year.

SAP’s Internet Communication Framework (ICF) is the platform that underpins the majority of SAP’s offerings in this space, even SAP NetWeaver Gateway. This 2-day course will help you gain a detailed understanding of the framework, harness its power, and unleash your own resource orientated web service masterpieces!

Dates in March and May are available; follow the links to find out more and to book a place:

Sat 03 – Sun 04 March 2012

Wed 09 – Thu 10 May 2012

Alternative Dispatcher Layer

One of the topics covered in Day 2 on this course is the Alternative Dispatcher Layer (ADL), a lightweight alternative approach to building web applications, an approach informed and influenced by other libraries and frameworks such as the Python webapp framework in Google App Engine. Read more about the origins of ADL in this SAP Developer Network post: A new REST handler / dispatcher for the ICF.

If you’re after more background, see this post from earlier this year: Stand Steady on the Shoulders of Giants

Looking forward to seeing you on the course!

Moving on … to Bluefin Solutions

Since moving back to the North West in 2005 I’ve been contracting most of the time at AstraZeneca, in Macclesfield, Alderley Edge and Chorlton. I’ve been involved in a number of great projects, from invoice automation, through HCP honoraria systems, ERP integration (REST-informed, of course) and latterly the first truly global-scale travel & expense system, which we now have running in 70 countries, with over 60,000 users. The integration hubs I’ve built pump tens of thousands of transactions daily through the systems, and hundreds of thousands of master data records without a murmur. I’ve hacked on SAP, Ariba and Infor systems as well as building these custom integration hubs, and I designed and built a credit card feed processing system that’s become almost self-aware.

Life at AstraZeneca has been great; it’s one of the friendliest places to work, the people are great, and the location and facilities are second to none. I also met my wife and theoretical childhood sweetheart Michelle here. It’s not all been a bed of roses of course (nowhere is!) at times the work has been frustrating and increasingly there are too many layers between me and the code surface.

At heart I’m a coder and builder, driven by curiosity and the desire to learn, teach and implement.

So it’s with great excitement that, in January 2012, I’m joining Bluefin Solutions as a permanent member of the team. I’ve known many of the gang at Bluefin for a while, and feel as though I already have a lot in common with them. I’ve spoken at the Northern IT Directors’ Round Table for them, was their first guest blogger, and have bumped into many of them during SAP orientated events from SAP Evenings to SAP TechEds and beyond.

My official title will be “Senior SAP Development Architect” but there’s also an “Evangelist” flavour to my role, which I’ll be embracing and making my own. What attracts me to Bluefin in addition to the quality of their people is their drive, their leadership and their embrace of technology, and with that in mind, I’m really looking forward to helping research, steer and shape innovation in the Enterprise in the near future.

Hooray!