With mySAP.com, SAP encourages B2B and Collaborative Business (c-Business)
Scenarios, which use the Internet to integrate business processes between
different application systems. Along with the classic SAP components,
SAP now also offers a multitude of mySAP.com application components. This
means, of course, that there are now several thousand interfaces for the
various application systems or components. As you move to XML-based messaging
and other Web-enabled applications, each of these interfaces - no matter
what the application system or components - will need to conform to common
Web standards such as XML.
With this in mind, SAP has developed the SAP
Interface Repository (SAP IFR), an XML-based resource that is part of
the SAP Internet-Business Framework. SAP customers can access the IFR
directly at http://ifr.sap.com.
All mySAP.com application developers are using the SAP IFR as a central
location to publish standard SAP business interfaces worldwide. The SAP
IFR provides a predefined infrastructure for converting these standard
SAP business interfaces into a suitable XML format that can then be used
by Collaborative Business Scenarios. The SAP IFR is structured to provide
you with simpler access to these Web-compatible, standard SAP interfaces
using Web browser technology.
Business and Technical Benefits of the SAP Interface
The Interface Repository contains more than 2,000 proven mySAP.com interfaces.
Each interface is displayed in a consistent way, regardless of its interface
implementation (RFC, IDoc, or BAPI). The IFR publishes the business interfaces
as XML schemas in a uniform format that conforms to W3C standards. These
XML templates and schemas can be used in the transport and processing
of XML documents. Figure 1 provides an example of an XML schema
for accessing status information from a customer sales order from SAP
Logistics (SAP LO), Release 4.6C.
||XML Schema from the IFR: Status of a Customer Sales
In addition to displaying the XML schemas and
templates, the IFR:
- Allows you to download the XML schemas of the interfaces for operational
use: one schema for inbound parameters (call) and another schema for
outbound parameters (response). You can download a particular XML interface
schema and generate program stubs, if your specific development environment
supports this. n Provides documentation for each interface.
- Provides URLs to reference each interface description (see Figure
1). These URLs, for example, are used by SAP c-Business Scenario documents
to link directly to the necessary interface.
- Enhances ALE for processing incoming and outgoing messages in XML
format using the SAP Business Connector.
The aim of the IFR is twofold: on the business
level, to integrate common, available SAP business functions with the
Web, and, on the technical level, to smooth integration using established
The next sections provide details on what the
IFR contains and how it works with other elements of the Internet-Business
Framework to use accurate, working, standardized interfaces for collaborative
Sources and Contents of the IFR
In the SAP Interface Repository, all released and standardized external
interfaces are included as XML schemas and XML templates for all mySAP.com
application components. These SAP components are available from Release
3.1i onward as well as for industry-specific and New Dimension application
components (see Figure 2).
||Interface Description for Display Sales Order and Information
The interfaces are extracted from different
source systems and repositories. They are stored in the SAP IFR and are
listed by component assignment and release (see Figure 3). In this
way, the SAP IFR provides an overview of all versions of the interface.
||Interface in the IFR Organized by Component and Release
The interfaces that the IFR presents are BAPIs,
IDocs, and selected RFCs (remote function calls). This means that all
the standard interfaces officially supported by SAP can be organized in
one general repository.
||Business Objects for the Sales Area of SAP LO
Most of the content in the Interface Repository
originates from the Business Object Repository. There are approximately
2,000 BAPIs in the IFR, all structured according to Business Objects,
as shown in Figure 4, and organized according to mySAP.com application
components. The remaining content is made up of approximately 250 IDocs
and a similar number of RFCs. The RFCs are, for the most part, the ones
used in certified scenarios.
How XML Interfaces Fit into Collaborative Business
The IFR offers access to all relevant interface information via Web browser
technology. In SAP c-Business Scenarios, the XML messaging allows your
SAP system to communicate with other systems, including non-SAP systems.
Figure 5 shows how the Interface Repository fits into a system
architecture that will handle these exchanges. The SAP Interface Repository
is just one element of this architecture, which includes:
- Your SAP system
- SAP Business Connector
- Your business partner's SAP or non-SAP system
The individual interface descriptions in the
IFR can be accessed by stable, canonically built URLs. This means you
can download XML schemas and documentation using these URLs, or you can
use the URL to refer from the scenario documentation to the documentation
of the relevant interface. Once you have downloaded the XML template,
you can use it to build the message that will be sent to the SAP Business
||A System Architecture for SAP c-Business Scenarios
SAP Business Connector
Any XML message that corresponds to stored XML schemas and XML templates
in the SAP IFR is operational, and can be used with the help of the SAP
Business Connector (SAP BC), a program available free of charge for SAP
customers.¹ These XML messages can be sent directly to the SAP BC,
which translates the XML request into the relevant SAP internal call.
In the same way, the SAP BC converts documents sent from the SAP system
back into XML format.
The ALE programming model, already widely used for distributed applications,
is enhanced by XML- based incoming and outgoing processing (see Figure
5). Together with the SAP Business Connector, the ALE services facilitate
XML messaging with safe and convenient processing of incoming and outgoing
messages. With IFR and SAP PC, all previous ALE services will still be
available, including distribution of Business Objects via the ALE distribution
model, receiver determination, error handling with connected SAP Business
Workflow, and monitoring.
More Information for Customers and Partners
General information and services regarding the SAP Interface Repository
can be found by visiting the public IFR Web site at
Along with these new developments for customers,
the partner certification program for interfaces has also been enhanced.
The majority of existing certifiable integration scenarios can now also
be certified for connection using Web technologies such as XML, HTTP,
and HTTPS. For more information on partner certification for interfaces,
contact SAP by e-mail at email@example.com.
|¹ The SAP BC supports
R/3 Release 3.1G and onward. An SAP BC
update that supports all interface definitions
in the IFR is available as of June 2000.
To download the Business Connector, visit
the Service Marketplace at http://service.sap.com/connectors.
Anton Deimel is the Development
Manager for the Internet Business Framework.
He joined SAP in 1993 as an HR developer.
Since 1996, he has been responsible for
areas including the BAPI concept and cross-application