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The Boring Enterprise Nerdletter #16: Clean Code, BREAKTHROUGH, ABAP Tools, Games!

Jelena and Paul
Jelena and Paul
Hi there,
We love all kinds of games, as nerds do. 80% of players find that video games stimulate their creativity and over 40% have met a friend in a game online. And some even say that SAP is the best strategy game they ever played.
Weeell, opinions may differ on the “best” part but, as Saul Goodman says, “whatever floats your boat”. So, step away from that IDE and let your flotilla sail! But first, read this Nerdletter, of course.
-Jelena and Paul

Cargo Cult Programming and Other Beasts
Clean Coders Hate What Happens to Your Code When You Use These Enterprise Programming Tricks
Clean Coders Hate What Happens to Your Code When You Use These Enterprise Programming Tricks
YouTube is the place you go for a quick tutorial but 2 hours later find yourself watching the latest K-pop sensation and wondering how you got there. But sometimes, you also stumble upon a video that is just <chef’s kiss>.
This 2017 NDC conference talk “Clean Coders Hate What Happens to Your Code When You Use These Enterprise Programming Tricks” is exactly that. If you have ever worked on any enterprise software, you will laugh, cry, and nod in agreement for the whole hour.
Here are just some highlights for SAP developers.
  • Reusability also creates dependencies: think unreleased function modules and using data types from random unrelated packages.
  • What should be in the comments? Many digital swords have been broken on this battlefield.
  • “All roads lead to Stack Overflow” but “not all roads are well-cleaned”. Yes! SAP Community is great but YMMV on following the advice of random strangers.
  • “Programming by coincidence” and “Programming by superstition”. “No, we always maintain Ship-to at the header level”, sounds familiar? Business users are such liars! And there is the whole set of “ABAP urban legends” that lots of code is based on.
Schedule a meeting with yourself and enjoy this fine presentation. Your programming (or development?) will never be the same. JP
BREAKTHROUGH with IBM for RISE with SAP
Being in The Doors is way cooler than being in a BREAKTHROUGH project. Sorry IBM.
Being in The Doors is way cooler than being in a BREAKTHROUGH project. Sorry IBM.
After taking a look at Accenture’s SOAR and Infosys’ ERPaaS, I’m turning my RISE with SAP eyes to IBM. They’ve got a service offering called BREAKTHROUGH with IBM for RISE with SAP - which to my eyes verges on silly. I can’t help but think of additional clauses, like:
  • BREAKTHROUGH with IBM for RISE with SAP for SENIORS with ARTHRITIS
  • BREAKTHROUGH with IBM for RISE with SAP at NOON on CHRISTMAS
  • TOUCHSTONE PICTURES presents BREAKTHROUGH with IBM for RISE with SAP featuring STEVE MARTIN with JAMES MASON as DRACULA
Anyway. Enough horsing around. 
Funny name stuff aside, I actually found that from the website copy and videos I understood IBM’s offering better than either Accenture or Infosys. It shares the digital transformation-speak, advisory services plugs, and industry-specific templates that the others have. But as a company, IBM can offer an additional piece those other two cannot: its own cloud infrastructure. “BREAKTHROUGH with IBM for RISE with SAP, Premium Supplier Option” makes use of IBM’s Cloud IaaS as the infrastructure layer for all the other pieces. As a one-stop shop, it seems like an attractive option. 
They’ve also given what seems to be quite a bit of thought to the move-to-S/4 process. There are (at least) two styles of upgrade/movement they offer, with “IBM Rapid Move for SAP S/4HANA” seeming to focus on more complex upgrades, and “IBM Accelerated Move” looking like the focus is on simplified, t-shirt sized simpler upgrades. 
I’m intrigued by all this. Not because of curiosity about huge consulting firms’ offerings, but because somewhere down the line, after all the upgrade dust has settled, everyone’s going to have to get back to the business of innovating. Innovation cycle speed after the S/4 migration is done will be the true test of any S/4HANA project. PM
AppGyver: Funny MacGyver Reference
It is psychologically impossible for me not to think of MacGyver with AppGyver
It is psychologically impossible for me not to think of MacGyver with AppGyver
There’s a developer community challenge for SAP AppGyver that just closed its entry period. I used to get fired up to go try out community challenges (even if I didn’t usually take the step of submitting the entry…it’s more like I just wanted to try the thing out) - but these days I guess I’m feeling my age more. I just go look at submissions and cast judgment from afar. 
So here are some interesting submissions I’ve seen!
  • Michelle Crapo is going to put her low-code skepticism to the test. I’m waiting to see what she has to say, since I hear lots of similar sentiment out here in the wild west.
  • Petr Kursin went to a lot of effort to make lots of different features in his app. For a try-it-out contest, I thought it was quite good at showcasing a lot of different features.
  • Kai Niklas contributed a food alert app. Of note here is that he thought about going further into the notifications side of AppGyver’s capabilities, but to his eyes the push notifications feature (which as of now runs through Firebase) didn’t quite fit the spirit (or his skillset) of low-code. 
I’m a huge fanboy of Firebase, by the way. I’m sure SAP has plans to roll the notifications feature together more tightly with BTP’s Mobile Services push, but until that happens Firebase ain’t that bad a place to be. 
I watch AppGyver with curiosity, since the acquisition isn’t even two years old yet and clearly SAP has a lot to do on their AppGyver roadmap. Low-code and no-code seem to have roughly two directions lately: general-purpose platforms that don’t care what your base business systems are, like Appian and Microsoft Power Platform, and platforms that get delivered with specific ERP-sized applications, like AppGyver (or what it will be) and ServiceNow’s App Engine. Low-code and fast app delivery is so clearly part of the future-becoming-now that it’s hard to pull my eyes away from developments in this space. PM
Mermaids and Unicorns, Oh My
"Learn this syntax in less than a day" they said
"Learn this syntax in less than a day" they said
SAP Community Champion and our Nerdcast guest Michael Keller posted a blog with an eclectic collection of ABAP development tools. In addition to the usual suspects like abapGit and ABAPDoc, Michael also mentions Markdown and mermaid. 
Markdown is a markup language that you can use to format text in plain-text editors. For example, in many messenger apps you can surround a word in asterisks and it will show up in bold. (There is a nice basic syntax guide here.)
Mermaid is the tool that uses Markdown language to somehow convert text into various diagrams. Their website cheerfully says that “it is not too tricky and can be learned in a day”. Looking at the examples like in the screenshot above, I’m not so sure. For the time being I’ll stick to my favorite flow diagram creation tool: Microsoft Word.
I do want to advertise a neat tool from my collection: DBDiagram is meant specifically for the entity-relationship diagrams (ERD). It uses a similar principle of converting marked-down (or up?) text into the diagrams. But it feels more intuitive than mermaid to those who know SQL or ABAP. It is always nice to discover new tools though, so no shade thrown on Michael’s post whatsoever. JP
Epicor Epicurious
I don't have anything snarky to say about this logo - it's pretty cool
I don't have anything snarky to say about this logo - it's pretty cool
In the Nerdletter, I don’t always choose to write about stuff I know really well. Sometimes I make my choice for the exact opposite reason: I see something go by that I’ve maybe heard about, but I have no freakin’ idea what it is or what it’s all about. That’s this one. 
I saw a piece by Phil Wainewright on diginomica about Epicor and its journey to offering cloud solutions. I have heard Epicor bandied about in hallways, but I fully admit I never had the slightest idea what they do. BUT! When they start talking about the cloud, and SaaS, and moving away from on-premises…well, then I have a conceptual handle to grab. 
Phil interviewed Epicor president Lisa Pope, and they dove into a couple points I want to highlight and comment on as they resonate with stuff I am better equipped to think about.
  • Regarding the laggard status of manufacturing for the cloud (their Kinetic product now has this and is maturing), Pope says it’s actually been a good thing. A chance to “do this right” and have customers “happy in the cloud”. Normally I’d be skeptical of BS-speak from a sales-y president, but seeing the cloud lag behind what I thought it’d be in other areas (ahem, SAP)…I can almost see the wisdom in watching from behind the curve a bit. Almost.
  • Enterprise moving to the cloud is a thing. There are so many places in wildly different phases of this journey. Pope recognizes this can be a huge opportunity for cloud vendors, because manufacturers are “not all going to the cloud with the vendor they’re with”. I think pretty much every software vendor that has pushed go-to-the-cloud efforts with their customers has seen a bit of attrition at that inflection point. 
I’m a little ashamed that a vendor like Epicor can offer so many things and I was just…completely ignorant of their capabilities. Go look at their industries, platforms, and modules. It’s a pretty comprehensive set of stuff. PM
Game On!
Which video games do you play? Apparently, some companies started asking this question in the job interviews, so you better be ready with an answer that is most likely to land the job of your dreams. Accounting? Can’t go wrong with Monopoly. SAP Success Factors consultant? Human Resource Machine. Security and Compliance? Obviously, Prison Architect.
The developers are expected to like building and puzzle games. Personally, I’ve always been into world domination: Sid Meyers Civilization is my jam from the days when it was just a bunch of pixels. 
I’ve always been surprised why Civilization is not a required game for the managers. You need to balance many needs of your empire and to know when to use diplomacy or force with your digital opponents. And it teaches an important life lesson: happy citizens perform better than unhappy ones. Take it from someone who’s been a subject of many We Love The Queen day celebrations. JP
[Jelena, what is the job of my dreams if Horizon: Forbidden West is top of my list these days? It’s about fighting robot dinosaurs with bows and arrows! Should I start polishing the ol’ resume? PM]
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Jelena and Paul
Jelena and Paul @BoringNerds

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