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ajt (2546)

ajt
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http://www.iredale.net/

UK based. Perl, XML/HTTP, SAP, Debian hacker.

  • CPAN: ATRICKETT [cpan.org]
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Journal of ajt (2546)

Monday April 02, 2007
03:12 PM

SAP is Boring

[ #32884 ]

According to SAP CEO Henning Kagermann: "SAP is boring" and people will only work on it if paid, therefore he does not foresee an open source alternative entering the market. SAP go on and on about the superior quality of their code and it's enterprise price tag all the time.

If you had to work with it day in and day out, you realise it's a dog's breakfast. It's a nasty mess of poorly structured and badly designed ABAP (COBOL+SQL). Your variables are global and there is little or no concept of modern code design, it really is like something the dog bought up.

Today I spent most of the day digging trying to figure out how to get a standard stock quantity and value for a past month end, because the "standard" report gets it wrong and the info-set it uses to source the data is rubbish...

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  • Well, I haven't worked with SAP, but I worked with Opera [pegasus.co.uk] and OneWorld [oracle.com] and MAS 200 [sagemas.com], and they are all boring as hell. They also all suck. I think they're right: there isn't going to be a free alternative any time soon, because so much of what it does is horribly boring tedium. I can't imagine any really good programmers wanting to work on this kind of software, no matter how much they're offered.
    --
    rjbs
    • SAP per se is very boring. It has two saving graces:

      • It is the reason I draw a salary.
      • Debugging and coding, even in ABAP (COBOL) is still interesting, even if it's slower and less interesting that working in a computer language that I'm older than.
      --
      -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
  • It is frightening to think that a significant proportion of the world's large corporations and government entities are running their operations using SAP's product. I had the misfortune to participate in a SAP implementation at a $700 million manufacturing company a few years ago. One of the more banal stupidities of SAP was that all of the shortcut acronyms were based on German-language phrases; great if you are German but hard to remember otherwise. Another outrage was related to a training class that
    • SAP is a dog's breakfast...

      You're right, all the tables, column headings and transaction codes are based on abbreviated German and make no sense if you don't speak German. Internally the code is antiquated, poorly documented and when it is commented it's in non-basic German - Google turns it into gibberish in English.

      The training courses are VERY expensive, with poorly written course notes and I experienced lots of technical difficulties when I was at their UK headquarters. On balance I'd have to say th

      --
      -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
    • One of the more banal stupidities of SAP was that all of the shortcut acronyms were based on German-language phrases; great if you are German but hard to remember otherwise.

      Welcome to the rest of the world.

      Sorry, but I can’t feel much sympathy for you there. :-)

      I have no trouble making sense of the predominantly-English world of programming, but living in Germany, I see plenty of people struggle with it in exactly the way you describe. The only difference is that language-wise, the tables are

      • I know it's unfair to expect everyone else to code in one's own language. However given the cost of the product the fact that much of the core technical documentation isn't available in the customers languages is a bit much.

        Even if you exclude the language issues, SAP is very poorly written and a lot of the customer extended code is even worse. SAP themselves don't even encourage good coding practices, it's very much an attitude of cut'n'paste is best - thinking is not required...

        --
        -- "It's not magic, it's work..."
        • However given the cost of the product the fact that much of the core technical documentation isn’t available in the customers languages is a bit much.

          Oh yeah, no argument at all about the docs.

          • As a counterexample, my understanding is that Novell in its heyday put a lot of emphasis on something they referred to as "localization", which I believe meant adapting the software and documentation to the language of their target markets. The idea being that they were likely to sell more product if language/cultural issues were minimized. Of course, we all know that Novell put together great products but couldn't market them literally to save their company.

            SAP of course does its selling to C-level exe

            • Having a good product is a sure fire way to go bust...

              Look at Microsoft: mediocre products, grossly overpriced and huge profits. Admittedly they have often been given their monopoly by the incompetence of their competitors and/or their own dirty tricks, but you do get the feeling that the crap will inherit the profits...

              --
              -- "It's not magic, it's work..."