My first encounters with SAP was about 10 years ago. It was R/2. It was ugly. But it worked.
Since then I have seen a lot in the SAP world and invested a huge amount of time into undestanding the system, watching some developments and also contributing to a few corrections.
But I recently realized that I made a big mistake...
If you are familiar with the forums and / or have comparable project experiences (with consultants, end users, support folks...) then I hope you can relate to this... otherwise, I am the only normal person at SDN and will eat my hat :-)
I developed an interest in ABAP as a hobby many years ago and tried to teach myself the "trade". This complemented security (which is my focus area) quite well and I understand many of the nitty-gritty's of the security aspects of ABAP. I also did some experimental stuff with the dirty tricks.
But what about all the rest? What is "the rest" which I don't know? Like sustainability of the code? What about people who would need to support my work after I have moved on (touch wood ;-). I had hardly thought at all about performance, until I started having to moderate abuse reports from the ABAP Performance forum.
So I did myself a favour and invested in contacting SAP's Education department and enrolled for courses in ABAP Development. I had never done that before.
Well... well.. well...had I only done that 10 years ago...!
Not only did I learn the fundamentals of Web Dynpro ABAP and ABAP OO to win a bit of a "bigger picture", but I would have been much faster and knowledgable about other fundamentals which I had to put together by time consuming trial and error.
Patricularly the important stuff which is still applicable today left an impression on me, and learning about why certain changes and developments of ABAP happened, and not just taking it for granted that they did and that's how it works. Looking back on the past 10 years... if I had known then what I know now, then I would now know a lot more.
Particularly of interest was that I now have a better understanding of the developers I work with - those who have done proper training and do keep their skills up-to-date; and those who don't.
It is sporting and fun to teach yourself the hard way, but if you can take my word for it => invest in some training in the important fundamentals of your SAP areas of interest, then you will have much more fun in the forums asking & answering interesting questions, than repeating "soapy consultant" interview questions.
For really cutting-edge stuff... I can also recommend attending the Community Day sessions at the annual SAP TechEds. If I had done the trainings before the TechEd 2008, then I am sure I would also have benefited from it more than what I did anyway.
For example terminal debugging of application layers is much cooler and interesting than ALV or finding the last day of a month... ;-)
Please join me in doing yourself and your systems a favour, by recognizing the importance of being trained.