Data Exchange via IDoc with ALE or EDI
IDoc or Intermediate Document is a standard SAP document exchange format. IDocs allow different application systems to be linked via a message-based interface. The IDoc interface consists of the definition of a data structure (where the data structure is the IDoc) and a processing logic for this data structure. There are three main aims behind the use of IDocs:
- The structured exchange of business documents so that they can be processed automatically.
- The various degrees of structural complexity as displayed by different application systems can be reduced to a structure which is as simple as possible.
Example: The structure of an SAP application document and the structure of the corresponding EDI message under the UN/EDIFACT standard.
- IDocs allow for extensive exception handling before the data is posted to the application.
The following techniques use the IDoc interface to exchange business data between different systems:
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) was the first form of data transfer to use IDocs. In EDI application scenarios, the processes, by definition, involve two partners: The sender and the recipient of an EDI message. EDI is a bilateral, document-oriented form of data transfer.
- Application Link Enabling (ALE) enables integration of business processes that are developed across
several SAP systems or non-SAP systems. Thus, ALE is oriented to connect different applications on different systems. System-wide ALE message flows are modeled in a so called 'distribution model'.
A typical scenario is the system data administration, where material master records have to be distributed from one central to several satellite systems. Nowadays, pure EDI scenarios are more and more executed on the basis of ALE technology, only that the system connection is 'just' bilateral.
You find detailed information on ALE under the following links:
IDoc Interface (ALE/EDI) (Online Help; SMP login necessary!)
This link leads you to the online help for IDoc/ALE/EDI.
Configuring Ports (Online Help; SMP login necessary!)
Before data exchange with external systems can take place, the corresponding ports must be configured. You find information on the different ports (file interface, tRFC, XML etc), when following this link to the online help.
Sample IDocs for Port Type XML (zip archive 571 KB)
This archive contains a short summary (ReadMe.htm) of the XML interface and example scenarios. Links out of the summary point to IDoc type definitions as well as to example scenario data. The "classic" IDoc interface is compared with the XML/IDoc interface on the same business documents and data. Extract all files into a folder on your PC disk and start with the ReadMe.htm file. If you prefer reading German, choose LiesMich.htm for the same information.
IDoc and International Standards (PDF 35KB)
This list contains overviews of EANCOM/EDIFACT/ODETTE/VDA standards and their corresponding IDoc counterparts.
Distribution of Master Data Objects
You find information on master data IDocs that are included in the SAP system by going to transaction WE60 in the SAP system. Enter the IDoc name in the field Basic Type (for example DEMAS06 to see how an IDoc for a debitor looks like) and press the Enter button.
Delta 4.6C in the IDoc Interface (PDF 85 KB)
This document shows the changes to the IDoc for SAP Basis Release 4.6C in comparison to Release 4.6B.
Frequently Asked Questions
This link leads you to the most important questions and answers concerning ALE.
SAP provides a certification program that enables third-party vendors to integrate their software with SAP solutions. To support integration and to ensure quality and customer satisfaction, SAP offers an interface certification program administered through the Integration & Certification Center (ICC). In the EDI/ALE area, there are two certifiable interfaces available:
With CA-EDI, SAP provides an open, common interface to EDI subsystems. The following data can be transferred using the EDI interface:
- Outbound IDocs: IDocs are transferred from the SAP system to the EDI subsystem.
- Inbound IDocs: IDocs are transferred from the EDI subsystem to the SAP system.
- Status report: The EDI subsystem sends a status report to the SAP system on the progress of the processing of the outbound IDoc.
The ALE concept involves using external converters to connect non-SAP systems to an SAP system. External converters are generic format conversion programs. The following converter functions are covered by SAP CA-ALE certification:
- The transfer of IDoc formats straight into their own repository so that these data descriptions can be used as source or target structures when assigning data fields.
- Adoption and conversion of IDocs from SAP systems via the ALE interface - an RFC that can be called up using a normal transaction.
- Conversion of any data format into IDoc structures and import into an SAP system via RFC in the ALE interface.