If you’re new to ASUG or less familiar with the wider SAP community, I know what you might be asking: “What’s a CodeJam?”

Never fear: I can explain. Among the most widely celebrated learning events available to the SAP developer community, SAP CodeJams give developers the opportunity to try out SAP technologies, platforms, and tools in hands-on settings through simple, end-to-end scenarios.

At the recent ASUG Pittsburgh Chapter meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, I had the pleasure of participating in my first hands-on CodeJam session: the SAP Introduction to the Core Principles of UI5 CodeJam, aimed at developers at all stages of their careers and led by Michelle Moudy, Developer Advocate, SAP Developer and Community Relations at SAP.

Prior to the meeting, attendees were provided with a list of pre-requisites, the completion of which was intended to set them up for success during the CodeJam. Still, despite going through these pre-requisites. I arrived in Pittsburgh uncertain what to expect. Luckily, Michelle was more than happy to provide us with a brief overview.

Throughout the learning and networking session, I joined Chapter meeting attendees in learning the core principles of UI5, an enterprise-ready web development framework used to build apps that follow the Fiori design guidelines. Step by step, I learned how to build a front-end web application using UI5: specifically, a bookshop app where users can browse and order books, within the bookshop backend application built with the Node.js flavor of the SAP Cloud Application Programming Model (CAP).

As a hands-on learner myself, I was thrilled to have instruction from Michelle but also excited to explore all this new coding world had to offer. Full disclosure: I had no prior experience with this type of coding. But, let me tell you, I was blown away by what I learned.

We started off with Chapter 1.01, “Scaffolding the App.” To be honest, looking at the code for the first time was a bit overwhelming to this novice developer. But once we all got started, Michelle went around to each participant to make sure all of us were on the right track. She helped me navigate through the exercises and determine how to use each tool within the platform properly. After getting through the first couple steps, my primary site was created. 

In step two, we created a file and added code to it, which allowed us to see our first message on our web-app bookstore. Step three was where things started picking up in complexity, and where we started to see the first model of our bookshop app. Once I reached the end of all these steps, my code failed to function as intended, but Michelle quickly helped me troubleshoot where I went wrong. 

I was able to set up my website, but no books were appearing in the bookshop, and it felt empty. As Marcus Cicero was once credited with declaring, “A room without books is like a body without a soul,” so Michelle coached me through this roadblock as well and pointed out the problem: I seemed to enjoy creating multiple additional web-app folders that were not necessary.

I think one of the best things about going through the CodeJam process was being able to test and view the bookshop app as I went along. After resolving my coding issues, I could finally see the books in the shop. Emily Brontë, here I come!

The next step: adding book descriptions to the site, also known as “Creating and Extending the First Controller.” Configuring the FlexBox, which aligns the content in the store, and determining where the proper code was supposed to be entered was a challenging experience. Ultimately, it was worth the reward of seeing the book descriptions pop up on my app!

But what’s a store without an option to order? That was our next step, and this one I found to be slightly easier than the rest. After ensuring my future customers would be able to buy all the latest New York Times bestsellers from my one-stop shop, one of the last steps I took was creating a search box.

Even though the CodeJam was a challenge for me as a first-time developer, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Overall, the experience was invaluable, and it was particularly eye-opening to see things from a developer’s point of view. I had no previous coding experience, but I had a lot of fun learning how to build my own app.

If you are interested in participating in one of these opportunities, I have good news. CodeJam sessions are planned for the ASUG Colorado Chapter meeting, ASUG Tennessee Chapter meeting, or ASUG Developer Tools Day, and ASUG will continue to explore opportunities to bring similar CodeJam sessions to a Chapter meeting or conference near you.

Gwendolyn Glasner is Manager of Chapter Services at ASUG.

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