SAP IDoc – the smart format for data exchange via SAP
SAP is a global standard when it comes to managing and displaying electronic business processes. Ideally, data is exchanged with customers, suppliers and business partners via a single system. For this purpose, the central data format SAP IDoc has been established.
It is perfect for exchanging business documents, invoices, packing slips or orders. Thanks to the IDoc format, files can be easily sent back and forth between different SAP systems. But what if the communication partner does not work with an SAP system, but with another ERP software? Basically, the nature of the system does not play a major role. The only important thing is that the software of the other person can process the file format IDoc. Otherwise, a converter must convert to a different format.
In order to simplify communication with the outside world, SAP also provides the MODULE PI or the Business Connector.
What does IDoc mean?
IDoc = Intermediate Document, a container for the exchange of data between S/4, ERP, R/3, R/2 and third-party systems.
Other important terms
- EDI = Electronic Data Intercharge, data exchange by means of electronic transfer methods
- ALE = Application Link Enabling, middleware technology in SAP systems for trouble-free data exchange between SAP and other systems
What does the IDoc interface do?
It enables the exchange and posting of business documents, the unification and simplification of various application systems as well as error handling even before the actual data is sent.
How are EDI and ALE related? The so-called Application Link Enabling (ALE) exchanges data from different systems. An EDI format as a unified exchange language is required. In the electronic world, too, a standardised language is the basic requirement. ALE uses IDocs to communicate data between logical systems. In addition, secure communication channels and an EDI solution are required for recipients and exhibitors.
When is this SAP interface required?
The IDoc interface is required in the following scenarios:
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
- Coupling with any other business application systems (e.B PC applications, external workflow tools) via IDocs
- Enabling the Application Link (ALE)
SAP IDoc Technical Information
SAP IDoc – Structured Data Transfer via XML
What exactly does an IDoc look like? Each IDoc is constructed in the same way. An IDoc interface always creates three different types of structures: the control set, the record, and the status set.
- Control set – The IDoc control set EDI_DC contains important information about the sending and receiving partner. An IDoc starts with a control set of the set type EDI_DC40 ().
- Record – A record contains the content to be transferred. The records display the segments with name, segment number, and short description. For qualified segments, the qualifier is also output. It is the value that determines the meaning of the segment.
- Status set – Status sets log stations that the IDoc has passed through on its way. It is used for monitoring and statistics of communication.
IDocs can be found in two forms, as a fix length format or as an XML-based format. This new XML-based format is mainly used in newer SAP systems. The W3C uses the XML schema to recommend the structure definition of XML documents. A correctly formatted XML document contains attributes, elements, value assignments, and their contents, which consist of either child elements or text and are created in a tree structure.
In addition to the structure, routing and mapping are of central importance:
- Logical Routing – Routing between VXLAN networks, virtual networks, and physical networks via Logical Router Kernel Modules
- Mapping – conversion of messages; Mapping source fields to target fields is called mapping
- IDoc adapter – converts IDoc XML into a native IDoc format and passes it to a recipient system
Base type, extension, and IDoc type
IDoc types can be delivered by SAP in their original form: These are the basic IDoc types. Or it can be a customer extension: A basic type is combined with an extension defined by the customer according to fixed rules.
Unlike customer development (or modifications), the basic type of this extension is upwardly compatible.
Examples of base types are:
|DELFOR02||04.02.2000||Delivery schedule / fine call-up for suppliers|
|ORDERS05||17.02.1999||Purchasing / Sales|
IDoc Versions / Record Types
Current: Release 4.X (= record type 3) since June 1998 with SAP R/3 Enterprise Edition 4.0B
Older versions: 3.0, 3.1, 2.0, 2.1 and R/2 Systems (= record types 2 and 1)
The version of the record type should be selected in such a way that the system involved (EDI subsystem or the SAP system) “understands” it. If you are communicating with a current SAP system, you should choose record type “3”. If an EDI subsystem is used, the same applies.
What are the most important SAP IDoc transactions?
In SAP, you have a large number of transactions available for IDoc processing and development.
SAP IDoc – make a consultation appointment now
Interested in SAP IDoc? Contact us via our contact form and arrange a non-binding consultation now.
With extensive experience from over 300 projects and 15 years in the SAP sector, you are in the best hands with us. On request, we can provide you with a qualified SAP consultant.
In conversation we explain all opportunities and possibilities. We look forward to hearing from you.