Create a "Plug-and-Play" Standardized Data Change Detector

  • by Jim McCallum, Senior Consultant – SAP
  • August 15, 2004
The structure/data comparison process (also referred to as change validation or difference checking) is often an important requirement for many HR interfaces and audit reports. These reports are usually required to check current and previous data values to help minimize the amount of data being manipulated, transferred, or exported. This in turn reduces overall interface complexity and troubleshooting should errors be identified during the interface process. The code that is created in this article can be used in any SAP module, not just HR. Because this is a technical “behind-the-scenes” functionality, end users are sometimes not even aware that it is being executed to obtain the expected results or information that they desire.
Key Concept

ABAP Objects are SAP’s answer to the IT industry’s trend toward object-oriented (OO) programming. ABAP Objects provide flexibility and reusability to ABAP programming.

Field symbols allow programmers to dynamically access data objects within ABAP programs. Unlike named variables or fields in a program, field symbols can point to any data area defined by the program’s DATA statements. You can think of them as a variable field name that can be assigned to any data object already existing in a program.

Dynamic subroutines are ABAP modules generated dynamically during the runtime of your program. They allow you to code and generate ABAP programs customized to specific situations that can only be determined during the runtime of a host program. Dynamic subroutines allow programmers to give a reusable host program the ability to react to new situations and eliminate the need for new program development.

All SAP HR teams have at one time or another faced the requirement for specialized interfaces for third-party benefit providers or payroll outsource companies. These interfaces often involve sending data values only from the employee records that have changed since the last interface period to minimize the volume of data being manipulated and exported. These interfaces require data record formats that are usually unique to a specific third party and used by no other system or business partner.

Given the singular quality of these interfaces, HR functional process designers typically request the development of a new and different custom ABAP interface program specifically for each situation. It’s usually left up to the ABAP developer to figure out how to determine which values on the third-party data records have changed. This task amounts to comparing a previous version of a record to a current version of a record to determine which fields have been altered.

Jim McCallum

Jim McCallum is a senior technical consultant with SAP America who has specialized in HR ABAP since 1995. He has given many technical presentations on HR ABAP, ABAP Controls, and ABAP Objects on the local and national levels, including the HR 2004 and HR 2005 conferences.

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