A Table Driven Approach For Parsing and Processing SAP Intermediate Documents
Original Publication Date: 2002-Jan-13
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Disclosed is a software package that facilitates the integration of an interactive front-end system with an SAP-based back-end system. SAP Interactive Documents (IDOCs) are a convenient way for a front-end system to communicate with an SAP-based back-end system. However, they are not always a good basis for implementing an interactive front-end, because like predefined reports, they tend to lack the flexibility required by data requests of typical interactive applications. This invention solves the problem by implementing a two-way bridge between IDOCs and a front-end relational database. The relational database thus provides the front-end system with a more convenient data interface. The bridge uses a table-driven approach that makes it flexible enough to handle numerous IDOC message types and relational database structures. The bridge consists of four main elements: IDOC Parser, IDOC Generator, IDOC Metadata, and Business Object Wrappers. These are most easily understood in terms of the flow of data from the SAP back-end system to the interactive front-end system and vice-versa. When an IDOC is received from the SAP back-end system, the IDOC Parser extracts the individual data elements from the IDOC and passes these elements to the Business Object Wrappers. It does this using the same algorithm, regardless of the type of IDOC being parsed. The specifics of locating the data elements, as well as the mapping of those elements to interfaces within the Business Object Wrappers, are indicated by the IDOC Metadata. The Business Object Wrappers handle the specifics of writing the data to the front-end relational database. When the interactive front-end system needs to send information to the back-end system, it uses the Business Object Wrappers to obtain a specific business object from the relational database. It then passes the object to the IDOC Generator, which uses the Business Object Wrappers to obtain any related business objects that might be needed and to extract the necessary data elements. The IDOC Generator then creates an IDOC and writes the data elements to it. Like the IDOC Parser, the IDOC Generator uses a generalized algorithm. The IDOC Metadata indicates the required arrangement of the data elements within the IDOC as well as the set of Business Object Wrapper interfaces that must be used in obtaining those elements.