Beginner’s Guide to ALE
and IDocs – a step-by-step
This article will help you understand the basics of ALE and IDocs via a simple do-it-yourself example. We will create a custom IDoc in one SAP system and then post some business data through it to another SAP system. Business data will be picked up from custom data dictionary tables.
ALE –A pplic a tion Link Enabling is a mechanism by which SAPsystem s
communicate with each other and with non-SAP EDI subsystems. Thus it helps
integration of distributed systems. It supports fail-safe delivery which implies that
sender system does not have to worry about message not reaching the source due to
unavoidable situations. ALE can be used for migration and maintenance of master
data as well as for exchanging transactional data.
The messages that are exchanged are in the form of IDocs or Intermediate
Documents. IDocs act like a container or envelope for the application data. An
IDOC is created as a result of execution of an Outbound ALE. In an Inbound ALE
an IDOC serves as an input to create application document. In the SAP system
IDocs are stored in the database tables. They can be used for SAP to SAP and SAP
to non-SAP process communication as long as the participating processes can
understand the syntax and semantics of the data. Complete documentation on
IDOC is obtained by using transaction WE60.
Every IDoc has exactly one control record along with a number of data records and
status records. Control record has the details of sender/receiver and other control
information. Data records contain the actual business data to be exchanged while
the status records are attached to IDoc throughout the process as the IDoc moves
from one step to other.
Data from custom tables (created in customer namespace) is to be formatted into an
IDoc and sent from one SAP R/3 system to another using ALE service. We need to
have two instances of SAP R/3 systems or we can simulate this on two clients of the
same SAP R/3 system.
Thus we have defined the IDoc structure which will hold the data to be transferred.
In the next part of the article we will understand the outbound settings, i.e. the
settings to be done in the source system.
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