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The Boring Enterprise Nerdletter - Issue #2 - November 24, 2021

Jelena and Paul
Jelena and Paul
Hey there!
This week is the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. On this day, it is customary to gather with family and friends and contemplate what you are thankful for. While not everyone will be gathering with their extended families, we can all be thankful for technology that brings us together.
While technology and the Internet can surface humanity’s worst qualities, it is easy to forget how awesome it can be. As people who remember the world before the Internet, we are continuously amazed by the opportunities to see and talk to people on the other continents in real time. By the incredible volume of knowledge available at the click of a button. By all the beautiful creativity and art that inspires us daily.  
This Thanksgiving, let’s reflect on how far we have come, how many opportunities were created that couldn’t exist before, and how technology makes us… more human. 
-Jelena and Paul

SAP Nostradamus Says...
SAP TechEd in 2021: Executive Keynote
SAP TechEd in 2021: Executive Keynote
SAP executive keynotes must be the modern-day equivalent of Nostradamus’s writing: people pore over them, trying to find sacred meaning, whether it exists or not. What does the future bring, according to the latest SAP TechEd announcements?
Free tier of SAP BTP is obviously a good thing, but it took SAP more than a year to bring it around. This would’ve been huge news at TechEd 2020 (when SAP merely announced they were “working on it”) but by 2021, I feel the excitement have worn off. Hopefully, SAP’s reaction to the developer and community voices will be more agile in future.
Next announcement, “new and improved" SAP Learning website was an easy win for SAP because literally anything would be an improvement compared to leviathan-esque SAP Learning Hub monstrosity. But again, SAP seems to focus more on the platform than on the content. Unless you are pursuing certification or want to learn about specific aspects of SAP BTP, there just isn’t much content to speak of. SAP developers looking to upskill would be better off going directly to SAP Developer Center, openSAP or SAP Community websites.
Embedded Steampunk left some conference attendees wondering what it actually was. (Is it a bird? Is it a plane?) Initially I pooh-poohed it as “just another thing for Cloud, so who cares” but after reading this excellent blog, I understand there is more to it. The idea of using Embedded Steampunk on premise is quite intriguing and might as well be the magic sauce that helps to bridge the on-premise and Cloud ABAP gap. I’m sure you’ll be reading more about this in the upcoming Nerdletter issues. JP
SAP AppGyver for ABAPGyvers?
SAP’s recent acquisition AppGyver also made an appearance in the TechEd keynote and was wrapped into their buzzword-bingo-worthy “no-code / low-code” messaging. SAP positions AppGyver as part of SAP BTP and as a solution for “citizen developers” (which is one of the stupidest buzzwords ever created). After spending less than an hour with AppGyver, I believe this positioning is a mistake. 
AppGyver is basically a platform that lets you generate a nice front-end for a variety of data sources. It has a friendly drag-and-drop interface supported by solid learning content. One of the main adopters of this platform might as well be the experienced ABAPers who can easily create a data service but are not necessarily interested in digging into UI development. It can also be an excellent prototyping tool even for experienced front-end developers, to spin off a quick demo.
And the best thing, it’s free and the account does not require a credit card or even email confirmation. SAP BTP or SAP account is also not required to use it. But I’m sure SAP will step in and eventually ruin the fun for everyone. In the meantime, go and check it out! JP
You Can't Shake Ol' Bill
One hand on keyboard, one hand on notepad. This person may not need low-code tools.
One hand on keyboard, one hand on notepad. This person may not need low-code tools.
It’s going to be hard not to talk about no-code/low-code these days. We saw it this past week (as Jelena mentions above) at SAP TechEd 2021 with AppGyver’s general availability announced. Microsoft Ignite dropped tons of interesting news on Power Platform the week before. Developers can’t take a restroom break without tripping over a low-code tool. 
ServiceNow is also in this game. (SAP fans will know ServiceNow as the destination of recently-departed SAP CEO Bill McDermott.) Derek du Preez at diginomica applied some “but what would you say low-code does here?” questions to Josh Kahn, SVP of Creator Workflow Products at ServiceNow. Here are my highlights of Derek and Josh’s conversation:
  • COVID-19 has been a driver of the need for fast change in the enterprise.
  • Developers: there ain’t enough of them. Kahn interestingly says “low code tools give, if they’re done in the right way, an on-ramp to new developers”. 
  • Need for governance is paramount. This concept pops up everywhere I’ve talked about low-code. 
Derek drops his take at the end of the piece, and you should really go read it. I’ll add this: I don’t see the latest low/no-code tools eliminating the need for the hardcore pro-code developers. They live in the space where things are always changing, and finding ways to adapt new tools to existing processes is where they thrive. Developers should always consider the rate of change of the tech landscape. There’s no evidence that it’s slowing down. PM
The AI Winter Is Coming
Enterprise AI enabler took a $100 million round of funding to continue its growth. The H2O AI Hybrid Cloud offers a kind of soup-to-nuts experience of AI in the enterprise, all the way from automated solutions in the data science and discovery phases to an app store experience for finished solutions. 
This investment, and many others like it, shows that the AI/ML Gartner hype cycle has passed through the Trough of Disillusionment stage and we’re planted firmly in the Slope of Enlightenment. It’s real, you can actually do things with it, and everyone’s come around to that fact. “AI already has helped us to improve our customer experience, however, we know there is untapped potential to do more,” said Matt Comyn, CEO of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, in the TechCrunch piece. 
And put in context of talk of another AI winter, I think if you’re in pro-artificial general intelligence camp, this is the next best thing to actually having an AGI emerge. This technology is making more sense to more industries, and that surely means continued investment and research. If you’re in the anti-AGI camp, you can breathe easily a bit longer - the stuff we’re seeing now is simultaneously amazing and nowhere close. PM
ABAP Is My Copilot
This picture fits the "co-pilot" theme, but also is what SAP GUI looks like the first time you open it.
This picture fits the "co-pilot" theme, but also is what SAP GUI looks like the first time you open it.
Marcello Urbani wrote up a nice blog post about trying out GitHub Copilot with ABAP. (Note: this is not the same as SAP “CoPilot” digital assistant bot.) Copilot is trained on public GitHub source code repositories, and allows developers using Visual Studio Code to “prompt” an AI bot with code snippets and suggestions, and receive back code that (often but not always) meets the described needs. (I went bonkers for this very thing in a recent podcast, unconnected to ABAP. I hope this is not too shameless of a plug.) 
Marcello is spot on in noting that ABAP performance with this tool isn’t as good as the very popular languages like JavaScript or Python. He identifies the cause: ABAP has FAR fewer open source projects that Copilot can train on. Still, he gets it to produce a few useful globs of code, and notes that he finds it useful.
This is a clarion call for two things. First, ABAP developers need to redouble their efforts to produce high-quality, publicly available code. This isn’t just for training data for Copilot - ABAP needs open source to thrive in 21st century software development. Second, SAP should continue its investment in developer engagement. The developer advocacy team at SAP has made incredible strides in the last couple of years. SAP should invest more, if ABAP really isn’t dead. PM
UI Development With a-Luigi
Micro Frontends with Luigi – UI Development at Scale November
Micro Frontends with Luigi – UI Development at Scale November
SAP Devtoberfest ended with the week dedicated to front-end development. None of the UI week’s sessions featured SAP Fiori, so does it mean it’s dead? Au contraire mon frère. SAP Fiori is very much alive but it’s also not the only alternative to SAP GUI anymore. These days, SAP customers are aware of other front-end development options and want to use them when Fiori’s reasonable but rather Procrustean bed does not quite fit.
Following its latest “sell the platform, not the content” strategy, SAP came up with Project Luigi: the open-source micro frontend framework. (Fiori, Leonardo, Luigi… What is up with the Italian theme at SAP?) Micro frontend fits perfectly with the microservice architecture as a backend and follows the same principles of modularity and scalability. And more open-source projects from SAP? Yes, please!
The Devtoberfest session had the answers to both “what” and “why” of the micro frontend plus a good summary of Luigi offerings. For those interested in more technical deep-dive, a series of tutorials is available. JP
Lois Paula Stratmann
My grandmother passed away last week. I wouldn’t normally mention private family news in this space, except Grandma also played a role in my professional development.
From the acknowledgements of my book Practical Data Science with SAP
From the acknowledgements of my book Practical Data Science with SAP
Grandma instilled the values of reading and writing in our family. She was the first person to show me how to use a computer. She wrote family and community history collections. She played piano, and quilted, and taught school, and made pies for county fairs, and read stories to children, and visited folks in the hospital, and gave of herself right to the end.
I spoke about Grandma with a friend who hails from India, who then shared about her own beloved grandfather. Both influenced public works projects, and fostered the arts. I found it a fitting tribute: a woman who worked hard for a community in Iowa joins in spirit with a man who worked for his own community halfway around the world.
Jelena and I have a lot of plans for Boring Enterprise Nerds. Two of the most powerful tools we need to do what we envision are what Grandma showed me her whole life: sharing freely and giving to your community.
Thank you, Grandma. I’ll never forget you. PM
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Jelena and Paul
Jelena and Paul @BoringNerds

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-Jelena and Paul

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