Rich Internet Application Hacker Night @ SAP TechEd

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008 | Adobe, SAP, Technology, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments

SAP TechEd is only two weeks away and I am proud that Adobe once again is the main sponsor of the RIA Hacker Night this year. Last year Mark Finnern and I were sitting in the courtyard of SAP Labs in Palo Alto and discussed ideas for new TechEd activities Adobe could sponsor. We thought why not rent a hotel suite in Vegas, order some pizza and do some serious hacking. Well it turned out a suite would have been to small and Craig Cmehil took the lead in setting up a great event.

This year Hacker Night will be even bigger and better. So I thought we need T-Shirts and a mascot. Since we did not have budget left for a Designer I was lucky enough to get introduced by Karen to Eric Kneeland who created the graphic for the T-Shirt based on Karen and my ideas in return for a copy of Illustrator. So without further due below is the official RIA Hacker Night 2008 mascot.

RIA Hacker Night Robot

P.S. If you are interested ask me at TechEd about the meaning of the graphic (has to do with Blade Runner)

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SDN Day Amsterdam Highlights Video – Better Late Then Never

Thursday, January 11th, 2007 | SAP, Video | 1 Comment

I know it took quite a while to get this video uploaded (SDN Day in Amsterdam was in October 06), but then again little Max keeps me busy (today he is exactly two months old).
So these are some highlights from the keynote, also make sure you watch the clips from the evening event at then end and more about Craig Cmehil and his MySpace friends :-)

In Search for the Adobe Apollo “Killer App”

Saturday, December 16th, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments

Today Michael Arrington covers Apollo, the Adobe runtime which supports web applications on the desktop, on both TechCrunch and in an interview with Kevin Lynch on TalkCrunch. The coverage spawned a number of reactions on the web and a top position on Techmeme. While Apollo is not released yet the interest is positive and people like Alex Barnett, Ryan Stewart and Amy Bellinger predict that 2007 will be the year of Rich Internet Applications.

While the initial focus of Apollo sample apps is very consumer oriented (e.g. E-Bay client or MP3 Player) I have been contemplating for the last year how Apollo could be used as a Rich Client for Enterprise Applications. I had a number of good discussions with various people from SAP as well as SAP customers. The key capabilities enterprise users are looking for are usability, performance, offline abilities and desktop application integration. I presented my thoughts for the first time in May at the Americas SAP User Group Conference in Orlando.

Back in May the interest was fairly limited but some early adopters realized the potential impact Apollo could have on the way we interact with enterprise applications. Since then the interest has significantly increased, especially since Shai Agassi discussed SAP’s project Muse at SAPPHIRE.
Here are some use cases for Apollo:
– CRM client for Account Managers with offline support
– Client for Employee and Manager Self Services
– Dedicated client for Support Staff and Field Services (see also the recording of the SAP Flex Demo)
– Enterprise Performance Analytics Widgets

I predict that significant adoption of Rich Clients in the enterprise will follow about two years after the adoption for consumer apps. IT departments tend to be conservative and there are still a number of difficult issues to solve, incl. the security of offline content and local system access. Also the synchronization between online and offline usage is a challenging topic and it will be critical to figure out which information is stored for offline usage for a particular user.

Mike Chambers has a link to a 10 minute video interview / discussion with Christian Cantrell of the Apollo team on his Blog.
For ongoing news about RIAs and Adobe Apollo see RIApedia, the new Blog from Mike potter (Developer Relations at Adobe) and check out this cool yourminis app.

Conference Hopping / Amsterdam – Las Vegas

Monday, October 23rd, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments

I am sitting at the San Jose airport and waiting for my flight to Las Vegas. I actually just returned from the European SAP TechEd on Friday. It was a great event and we had a lot of Adobe related activities. I specifically enjoyed the SAP Developers Network day and showcasing Flex to SAP developers. Enrique Duvos, our European Flex evangelist, helped me with the sessions and I learned some more Flex Tips and Tricks. He also gave me a great presentation highlighting 10 reasons why one should use Flex to create Rich Internet Applications. I uploaded it on Slideshare, but the Adobe Myriad Pro Font got butchered in the process.

BTW Slideshare just opened to the public today (it is still in Beta), so try it out!

I also filmed some of the highlights of SDN day and SAP TechEd, but did not have a chance yet to edit and upload the video. The interest in Adobe technology was overwhelming and our booth was busy 8 hours a day. I had a good meeting with Eddy de Clercq. He created SDN World and we discussed how SDN World could be improved with Flex. I am hoping I can find a Flex engineer at MAX who is interested in this little side project. Talking about MAX, the Adobe customer conference… That’s the reason I am traveling again to Vegas (at least third time this year I think). I am very excited since this is my first MAX conference and people told me it is very energetic and lots of hands-on and ad-hoc techie stuff going on. I am particular interested in all session around Apollo (and obviously Flex). Even as an Adobe employee you sometimes learn more at a conference then back in the office. Next week I am having a workshop with SAP Research around Adobe technologies and MAX will be a good opportunity for me to get an overall update on interesting products and projects.

Also I am presenting at MAX. There will be an invitation only session (Wednesday 10:00 – 11:30am) for Adobe partners to learn more about the strategic partnership between Adobe and SAP and why this is relevant to the larger Adobe ecosystem. I am presenting together with Roman Bukary from SAP. If you are at MAX, work for an Adobe partner, but did not get an invitation please let me know and I will get you one.

I am also doing a cool Flex SAP mash-up demo as part of the MAXUP un-conference. Don’t know my time slot yet, but will update you later. It would be great to meet some readers of my Blog in person. Since I am Vegas regular, I know also a lot of good bars and restaurants :-)

Need to get into the plane now…

Update: My 15 minute presentation slot at MAXUP (5th floor of the conference center) is tomorrow (10/24) at 11:30am.

MAXUP Unconference @ Adobe MAX

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology, Web 2.0 | No Comments

I just learned today that there will be a shadow unconference called MAXUP as part of the Adobe MAX developer conference. That’s excellent! I find these events often more useful then the “real” conference program. The SDN Day as part of SAP TechEd was a good example. Even back in the 90’s when the term “unconference” did not exist I really enjoyed technology discussions and working on ad-hoc projects at hacker meetings like the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.

If there are enough people who are interested I could talk about Flex integration with SAP and do some demos. Well, I hope to see you at MAXUP in Las Vegas (or next week at SDN Day and SAP TechEd in Amsterdam).

P.S.: Funny Fact – Adobe MAX will be my last conference for a while since I expect my first baby around mid of November. It is a boy and his name is Max… and no, this has nothing to do with the conference… What do you think? I am not that crazy… Well I am geeky enough however to have reserved his domain and put up a baby blog.

Henning Kagermann: The future of SAP, Enterprise Software and Heavy Metal

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology | 1 Comment

Great interview from Knowledge@Wharton with SAP’s CEO Henning Kagermann. He discusses how web technologies transform enterprise software, the importance of partnerships, including a discussion about the strategic partnership between SAP and Adobe, and his interest in rock music.

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Slideshare Debuts and Gets TechCrunched

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

Congratulations to my friends Rashmi and Jonathan on officially launching SlideShare and being immediately covered by TechCrunch and others. I have been an early Beta user of SlideShare and was especially intrigued by the ease of use of the service. It allows you to upload PowerPoint presentations, tag and share them with other users, either on the SlideShare site or via your own Website or Blog. In true Web 2.0 fashion Jonathan decided to release early (and hopefully often) so the current functionality provides just the basic features, while I bet that we will see many enhancements based on user feedback over the coming months.

I uploaded my slide deck on “Enhancing the Usability of SAP Applications Using a Rich Client” four days ago and it is right now the most popular deck with 120 views… yeah, my 5 minutes of fame have finally arrived :-) And even better now you can view the slides right here as well…

I think an important decision was to use the Amazon S3 service to handle the storage of the actual content. The instant availability of high bandwidth and storage via web services really changes the game for every company in the Web 2.0 field. Remember your typical Web 2.0 announcements which got covered on TechCrunch or Digged? You try to reach the site/content and it is slow or not available at all due to the spike in demand. With services like S3 this is no longer the case and it gives a start-up the same scalability like Amazon.

I have a couple of enhancement ideas for SlideShare as well…
1) Be able to view/browse slideshows on SlideShare without logging in. Only uploading should require a user account (similar to Flickr)
2) Be able to upload slides with audio and/or add audio to slides using SlideShare
3) Handle animations in the Powerpoint slides
4) There are some font issues which you can see on my slides (e.g. 4 and 5)
5) A lot of people commented that slides cannot be set private to specific user groups. I am personally not very interested in that feature since my slides are used for evangelizing technology and I want to reach as many people as possible.

I have also some related ideas which I am refining right now. But thats something I want to first discuss with Jon over a glass of beer.

Keep up the good work!

SAP TechEd Las Vegas Demo Jam Retrospective or the Demo Super GAU

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology | 1 Comment

Now that I am fully recovered from Las Vegas (yes it took two weeks) and already preparing for SAP TechEd in Amsterdam I wanted to capture my memories from the Demo Jam. As you probably know I participated this year in the SAP TechEd Demo Jam showing how to create an Adobe Flex application and connect it to an SAP backend.

My original idea was to present a Rich Internet Application for a customer support scenario which we already developed with our SI partner company Roundarch. It is pretty cool and shows the web service communication between the Flash front-end and the SAP backend as well as real-time data messaging between multiple clients. Great idea, but didn’t fly with the SAP Demo Gods. They wanted to see live development on stage. Great, so here I had two weeks left to develop a new demo which can be delivered in 6 minutes and includes live development against an SAP backend.

Luckily I have great colleagues who helped me out. Juergen Hauser, who is working in the Adobe SAP partnership team in Walldorf showed me how to create and configure Web Services in our test SAP ABAP server (which is located in Ottawa). Then I worked with Flex evangelist James Ward to create a compelling demo which is simple and short enough to be delivered in 6 minutes.

We finalized the whole project on the morning of Demo Jam day. So obviously when I did the dry run that afternoon with Jeff Word, nothing worked. I know I had it all under control, but Jeff was definitly nervous. I spent the rest of the afternoon practicing all steps and rehearsing the demo. Two hours before the start of the Demo Jam I hooked up my laptop on stage did a couple of more trial runs and everything worked… Yeah! Then the official part began and as presenters we were huddled into the VIP area with Shai and he exchanged some war stories about live demos. Next was a photo shoot of everyone and at that point in time I just wanted to get on stage and get it over with. Well unfortunately my demo was the second to last, so I spent time joking around with Ed and Dan who had the demo slot before me. After what seemed to be an eternity finally it was my time to enter the stage (while Ed and Dan showed of their excellent SAPlink demo). A quick check to see if the computer and network are still up and running… OK! Quick check of the application itself… OK and ready to go. So here was my turn in front of about 1000 attendees. After the introduction from Jeff the clock started (did I mention you have only 6 minutes?) I started the SAP GUI and entered the transaction code “WSADMIN” to call up the Web Service Admin UI. Nothing… Really, here I stand and nothing happens, UI does not come up (it worked just a couple of minutes earlier). Well, I thought now you need to improvise, so lets bring up Flex Builder. Just when I started to talk about Flex Builder (and in the back of my brain tried to figure out how I can build this application without access to the SAP Web Service) hell broke loose on my screen, various pop-up boxes informed me that I lost my VPN and network connection. I was paralyzed. That was the worst case scenario the demo super Super-GAU (a German abbreviation for the largest accident which can be assumed).

Jeff recognized my pain and was kind enough to ask the audience to give me a second chance and have the last demo presenter go first. That gave me exactly 6 minutes to fix my problem. I checked the network cable and general settings… Everything seemed fine, except I had no network connection. The SAP IT guy came to help and saved the day. He noticed that I had both wireless as well as the wired internet connection running. Apparently at the minute I started to demo the wireless connection timed-out for a couple of seconds and my computer got so confused that he refused to connect to the internet at all. After I manually turned of the wireless connection, everything worked again and just in time for my second chance. This time the demo went smooth and the audience went wild (especially after showing them the shark ;-). So believe it or not, but in the end I made second place and was classified as the best recovery every at a Demo Jam. Congratulations out to Ed and Dan who won with their excellent SAPlink tool!

For those of you who missed my performance you have three options:

1) Come to SAP TechEd in Amsterdam, where I will compete again

2) View the recording of the whole event on SDN TV

3) View my ScreenCam recording of the demo which includes some more background about the technology being used

Hope to see some of you in Amsterdam!

Interview with Robert Scoble

Friday, September 22nd, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology | 1 Comment

Sorry for my blog posting pause. I am suffering post TechEd Las Vegas Stress Syndrom… which means I had a pretty bad cold.
I just browsed Flickr and found this great picture of me and Robert. Looking forward to see the full video on very soon.
Also stay tuned for a great story about my participation in the demo jam.

SDN Day was Great!

Monday, September 11th, 2006 | Adobe, SAP, Technology | 1 Comment

I just came back to my hotel room in the Venetian after a long day at the SAP Developer Network day. It was great. Mark, Craig and team organized an excellent event with the right mixture of organized sessions and freestyle activities and meetings.
Mark Finnern kicked the event of with references to Burning Man and Foo camp.
Mark Finnern

After that a networking session allowed everyone to meet different members of the SDN community. Juergen, James and I started to get ready for the Flex hands-on workshop. In our two workshops we had about 50 attendees who brought their laptops to install Flex Builder and start developing Rich Internet Applications with Flex.
Here is James Ward demonstrating Flex Builder.
James Ward

The hands-on sessions were very productive and we got a lot of positive feedback on the Flex Proof-of-Concept application which we developed with RoundArch (a Rich Internet Application for customer support linking back to an SAP application).

During the breaks I met Robert Scoble and later he did a brief interview with me talking about all the activities between Adobe and SAP. This should be available soon on the SAP channel of I invited Robert to meet in Palo Alto or San Jose to give him a demo of all the work we have been doing with SAP on improving the user experience. Later in the day Robert also interviewed Shai.
Shai Agassi and Robert Scoble

We had also a lot of interest in the SDN sessions on SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe presented by Juergen Hauser, Les Woolsey, Blair Powell and Mohan Bethur. We are off to a great start and I expect a lot of people in our sessions and our booth during the next days at SAP TechEd.

Finally SDN Day closed with a party at the Hofbrauhaus in Las Vegas. Below is SDNer Harald Reiter and me enjoying a Weissbier. We had a lot of fun on our table and Mark, Craig and Thomas stopped by as well.
Harald Reiter and Matthias Zeller

Its time to sleep and prepare for another big day tommorrow. I will present Interactive Forms with Markus Meisl as well as Apollo and the Adobe Engagement Platform as part of the SAP Client strategy presentation. Finally and most importantly I need to mentally prepare for the Demo Jam tomorrow evening. If your at SAP TechEd please support me with a lot of noise!
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