SAP IDoc – the smart format for data exchange via SAP

SAP is a global standard when it comes to managing and presenting 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 exchanged between different SAP systems without any problems. But what if the communication partner is not working 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.

Important terms

  • EDI = Electronic Data Intercharge, data exchange by means of electronic transfer methods
  • IDoc = Intermediate Document, a container for the exchange of data between S/4, ERP, R/3, R/2 and third-party systems.
  • 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 far 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 standardized language is the basic prerequisite for communication. ALE uses IDocs to communicate data between logical systems. In addition, secure communication channels as well as an EDI solution for receivers and exhibitors arerequired.

SAP IDoc Technical Information

SAP IDoc – Structured Data Transfer via XML

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 EDI_DC IDoc control set contains important information about sending and receiving partners. An IDoc starts with a control set of the set type EDI_DC40 ().
  • Record – The record contains the content to transfer. 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. The new, XML-based format is mainly used on 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 through logical router kernel modules
  • Mapping – Conversion of messages. Mapping is the mapping of source fields to target fields.
  • IDoc Adapter – Converts IDoc XML to a native IDoc format and passes it to a recipient system

What are the most important SAP IDoc transactions?

In SAP, numerous transactions are available for IDoc processing and development.

SAP IDoc Transactions

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