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The title of this post has very little to do with the actual content of my post today, but I thought it helped to set the right tone...

I am pretty new to the world of providing useful answers regarding people's ABAP queries.  I was a mixture of too busy, did not know enough to merit responding with the right level of detail and not particulary confident.  I've been doing this whole ABAP gig for over 10 years now (which I may have mentioned in earlier posts so apologies for the repetition) and I think I am now ready to start responding to questions with useful info.  My motiviation for doing this is not about points, which are just a consequence of responding to content with valuable information. I am actually just taking the opportunity to give back to the next generation of developers and also as a bit of a thank you to all the people that helped me out on SCN over the years.

My goal with this blog is to highlight the fact that I have rarely had to post a question in the forums.  The reason for this, is that the information I needed was nearly always available and not necessarily on SCN.  I'm guessing some people that post to these forums are wondering what I'm talking about, you mean there is life outside of SCN, but suprisingly or not suprisingly the answer is Yes!!!!

Unfortunately looking at some posts in the ABAP subspace, I get the distinct impression that there is not much research going on prior to posting in many cases. The ability to be proactive and find information yourself is one of the best weapons you have in your armoury as a developer. It is also one of the tenets of the SCN rules of engagement. I just ask that you consider expanding it's scope beyond the confines of SCN.  I should probably point out that if you do find something outside, then create a document that makes reference to it in SCN, if it's relevant. Do not just copy it as your own (another of the SCN rules of engagement).

One of the questions I would always ask when conducting an interview is "You have an ABAP development task, but you have no experience in this area of development, which steps would you take to try and work out how to deal with it?". If the first answer was "I'd post on SCN", I'm afraid that was about as far as they would make it.  In our experience we found that the person with the mindset to proactively learn would soon exceed the level of knowledge and technical ability of the unproactive experienced candidate when put in an environment that freely shared knowledge.

Here are a few steps you can and should try when searching for information:

  • Looking up the specific content you are working on the SAP Help website.  You'd be suprise at the level of detail covered on here and with examples. Things on here are so much better than when I first started developing.  You should familiarise yourself with how to find the documentation you need on here for your specific version.
  • Go read a book.  SAP Press produce some great books and there is usually at least one little gem of information that you probably won't find documented elsewhere.  Try and get your boss to get a little library going of decent books if possible.  Essential reading for all ABAP developers should be ABAP Objects: ABAP Programming in SAP NetWeaver - SAP PRESS Bookstore
  • Google It -> This is one of easiest and laziest research tools available, but who cares. Just use it. Sometimes searching in SCN does not always produce the best results, but fortunately you can use google to search SCN. Just add " WhatEverYouAreSearchingFor" to search SCN via google as mentioned by bjorn-henrik.zink
  • Look at the application documentation for your Class, FM, Dictionary Object.  I never used to do this, but most of the core stuff is documented pretty well. I must say to SAP on this one though, that you need to up your documentation game, to cover a greater set of development objects.
  • If you want to learn a new technique, check out the demo content SAP provide in the NW System.  It's a great place to start, when you know nothing.
  • Talk to your peers in the office.  You'd be surprised what people know and you'd be creating a much more engaging community within your own workspace. Consequently if you get asked by one of your peers for advice, make the effort to answer it, if you know.  The worst culture in any office is one where everyone tries to protect what they know.  It leads to not being able to go on holiday and extended hours, which is not good for your health. :sad:   Remember sharing is caring...
  • If you think your problem may be due to a bug in a standard SAP development, then you should consider raising a customer message in the SAP Support Portal. Making sure there is no OSS note that already exists that addresses your problem.
  • And last, but not least, obviously check on SCN.

I'm not saying that you will always find an answer, but you certainly increase your chances and hey ultimately when you run out of options is exactly when you should post your problem on SCN.  You'll soon find that the posts you make are more credible and you will earn the respect of your peers (and maybe even make some friends).  So do yourself and everyone else a favour and change your mindset. You, everybody else on SCN and most importantly I will benefit.. :wink:

If anyone else has got any good tips/techniques on places to look for ABAP related info please drop me a message and I can add it to the list above (and credit you with it of course)...

And finally.  I did search to see if anything like this blog existed and could not find anything. So I would be a bit embarrassed if something like this did already exist.