We often come across the terminology ALE, EDI & IDOC in various project. This tutorial will cover some of the basic concepts of Electronic Data Interchange(EDI), Application Link Enabling(ALE) & intermediate documents (IDOC). Today, ALE, EDI IDocs are used in most SAP applications to transfer messages (information) from the SAP system to other systems and vice versa.ALE, EDI, and IDocs are crucial for connecting systems, streamlining processes, and ensuring efficient data exchange within the SAP ecosystem, ensuring successful implementations and seamless business operations.

What is ALE?

ALE stands for Application Link Enabling and is a technology for remote connections that enables business processes to be decentralized by linking decentralized systems.

It is fairly simple to synchronize several SAP structures using ALE so that they contain the same data objects at any time. Master data (customers, suppliers, GL accounts, cost centers, …) or transaction data (FI documents, purchase orders, etc.) may be these objects. ALE supports mass data transfers between systems and selective data transfers of objects modified after the last transfer to allow synchronization.

What is EDI

EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange is defined as the exchange, by electronic means, of structured data according to agreed message standards between computer systems. Structured data is similar to a plain and straightforward way of displaying a document’s data material, be it an invoice, purchase order, or any other form of document

The electronic computer-to-computer exchange of business records that can be processed by computers in a standard format. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is about doing business and making transactions electronically with your trading partners. EDI includes most items that are usually done using paper-based correspondence, such as placing orders and carrying out financial transactions with suppliers.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a standardized format that allows one company to send information electronically rather than on paper to another company for the electronic exchange of business information. Trading partners are called business organizations that perform business electronically.

The basic EDI principle is to convert data from one format to another. There are many standards that are used, with ANSI X12 (American Standard) and EDIFACT being the most commonly used (European Standard). Most conversion work is done with EDI software. Packages can be used to convert a flat-file format to a regular EDI file that deletes all blank spaces and uses standard codes and qualifiers to separate field values.

The method by which the computer system ensures the correct interpretation of the information is specified Since R/3 Release 2.2x, SAP has provided support for EDI and continues to develop its solution, realising the importance of EDI as a key business enabler early on.

The Electronic Data Interchange component in SAP consists of an Intermediate Document (IDoc).We can use the interface for the below-described way

What is EDI Standards

EDI is an electronic business document exchange between business partners’ computer systems using a common format over a communication network. For electronic data interchange, Two commonly used standards are ANSI ASC X12 and EDIFACT for transmitting information electronically. ANSI ASC X12 is a committee consisting of members of major organizations, government agencies and EDI software companies that determine EDI knowledge-sharing requirements and guidelines.

UN/EDIFACT stands for the United Nations EDI for Government, Commerce and Transport and was developed in 1985 using ANSI X12 and UNTDI as basic standards (United Nations Exchange Data Interchange).

ANSI X12 identifies business papers as transactions and each transaction is defined by a three-digit number, e.g. 880-Purchase Order, 885-Purchase Order Recognition.

How does it work?

The method is straightforward and simple, seen from a high-level perspective: a sender system selects the data that needs to be transmitted, packs it in a standard format and sends it to one or more receiving systems. It unpacks the standard format and records the data when a receiving device gets the data.

In reality, in this process, 3 layers are involved:

  • An application layer that selects and records R/3 data.
  • A distribution layer that filters and transforms information.
  • A communication layer that ensures the actual communication in a standard format of records generated.

Thanks to a so-called distribution model that determines the transmission rules (who sends what to who?), the senders and receivers are decided. All the systems involved (either as the sender or receiver) must be familiar with the concept of the distribution model and must therefore exist on all those systems.


Data Sending:

  • The computer system functions as a repository for data.
  • EDI collects knowledge from current programmes for computers.
  • Transmits paperless, computer-readable telephone-line papers.

Data Receiving:

  • It is directly fed into a computer system.
  • Processed and interfaced with internal software automatically.
  • Time Processing
  • Achieved in minutes.
  • No re-keying whatsoever.
  • No shuffling of documents.
  • No attendant charges for preparation and distribution of manual papers.

What is IDOC in SAP?

IDocs stands for intermediate Documents. An IDoc is essentially a data container used to share data between any two processes that can comprehend the data’s syntax and semantics.

In most SAP applications, IDocs are usually used to transfer message information from the SAP system to other systems and vice versa. While there is a lot of documentation available on IDocs, because of their technical nature, it is difficult for a practical consultant to understand such documents. Although the IDoc principles are not supposed to be completely understood by a practical consultant, an attempt has been made to collect the minimum required knowledge that one needs to be aware of in order to deal with project/support issues on IDocs..

IDoc is a SAP entity that brings, in the form of an electronic message, business transaction data from one device to another. IDoc is an acronym for Document Intermediate. An IDoc is intended to transfer SAP data or information to other systems and vice versa. The transition from SAP to a non-SAP system takes place through subsystems of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), while ALE is used for the transfer between two SAP systems.

In the SAP system or in the EDI subsystem, IDoc can be activated. This depends on the way IDoc is sent and is thus referred to as Inbound IDoc and Outbound IDoc. IDoc is triggered in SAP in the event of outbound flow via document message control, which is then sFor inbound flow, EDI converts partner data and IDoc is created in SAP. After the IDoc has been successfully Posted , the Application Document is posted/ created to SAP.

What are the advantages of EDI

  • Reduced data entry errors during manual processing
  • Reduced cycle processing time, distribution in real-time,
  • Availability of electronic format data
  • Lowered Paperwork
  • Reduced costs
  • Inventory reduction and better preparation
  • Standard means of communication
  • Better Method for Company
  • Competitive gain

What is IDOC type in SAP?

There are two type of Idocs type in SAP

What is Outbound IDOC in SAP

Outbound Idoc Messages- Sending messages such as an order confirmation through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to the third-party system. Outbound Messages used for sending EDI messages. In the outbound processing, document data is written to IDocs and sent to the receiving system.The following outbound EDI messages are available in Sales and Distribution:

  • Sending Quotation information
  • Sending Order Confirmation
  • Order Changes request
  • Delivery Creation
  • Shipping Notifications processing
  • Sending Invoice information to the third party, etc .

What is inbound IDOC in SAP?

Inbound IDOC messages –Inbound IDOC messages are used to receive such as a sales order request through EDI from the third-party companies. In inbound Idoc processing, IDocs are transferred to the IDoc interface and stored in the SAP System. Data from the document is produced in a second phase. In Sales and Distribution, the following inbound EDI message types are available:

  • Receive inquiries for customer
  • Receive sales orders Request
  • Receive Sales Order change request
  • Receive forecast delivery schedules
  • Received credit memos
  • Receive delivery creation notifications from from external agent suppliers,etc
IDOC process flow

What is the IDOC status in SAP?

There are many status lists for Idocs, Outbound IDOC status starting with 01 to 42 status. Below the list of all Outbound status codes.

IDoc statusDirectionProcessing levelDescription
01OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc generated
02OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error passing data to port
03OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Data passed to port OK
04OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemError within control information of EDI subsystem
05OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemError During Translation
06OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemTranslation OK
07OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemError during syntax check
08OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemSyntax check OK
09OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemError during interchange handling
10OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemInterchange handling OK
11OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemError during dispatch
12OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemDispatch OK
13OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemRetransmission OK
14OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemInterchange Acknowledgement positive
15OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemInterchange Acknowledgement negative
16OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemFunctional Acknowledgement positive
17OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemFunctional Acknowledgement negative
18OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Triggering EDI subsystem OK
19OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Data transfer for test OK
20OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error triggering EDI subsystem
21OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error passing data for test
22OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemDispatch OK, acknowledgement still due
23OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemError during retransmission
24OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemControl information of EDI subsystem OK
25OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Processing despite syntax error (outbound)
26OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error during syntax check of IDoc (outbound)
27OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error in dispatch level (ALE service)
28OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc sent to ALE distribution unit retroactively
29OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error in ALE service
30OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc ready for dispatch (ALE service)
31OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error – no further processing
32OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc was edited
33OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Original of an IDoc which was edited
34OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error in control record of IDoc
35OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc reloaded from archive
36OutboundExternal system/EDI subsystemElectronic signature not performed (timeout)
37OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc added incorrectly
38OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc archived
39OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc is in the target system (ALE service)
40OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Application document not created in target system
41OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Application document created in target system
42OutboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc was created by test transaction
Outbound IDOC Status

Similarly, inbound IDOC status starting with 50 to 75 status.Below list of all inbound status codes.

IDoc statusDirectionProcessing levelDescription
50InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc added
51InboundSAP applicationApplication document not posted
52InboundSAP applicationApplication document not fully posted
53InboundSAP applicationApplication document posted
54InboundSAP applicationError during formal application check
55InboundSAP applicationFormal application check OK
56InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc with errors added
57InboundSAP applicationTest IDoc: Error during application check
58InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc copy from R/2 connection
59InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Not used
60InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error during syntax check of IDoc (inbound)
61InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Processing despite syntax error (inbound)
62InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc passed to application
63InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error passing IDoc to application
64InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc ready to be transferred to application
65InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error in ALE service
66InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc is waiting for predecessor IDoc (serialization)
67InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Not used
68InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Error – no further processing
69InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc was edited
70InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Original of an IDoc which was edited
71InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc reloaded from archive
72InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)Not used, only R/2
73InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc archived
74InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc was created by test transaction
75InboundIDoc Interface (SAP)IDoc is in inbound queue
Inbound IDOC Status

How are IDOC triggered in SAP?

IDOC can be triggered using a functional module or using the program. If it is a typical Outbound IDOC, the FM IDOC OUTPUT ORDERS is likely to produce it.

There could be a custom program that could use the FM MASTER IDOC DISTRIBUTE to produce the standard as well as custom outbound IDOC. If you place a breakpoint on the FM and attempt to generate the IDOC, you will be able to trace the program using the call stack.

What is the SAP IDOC interface?

Standard SAP interfaces provide options for connecting external systems to SAP which we call as a interface.SAP interfaces allow data exchange with the SAP system for any other applications and other solutions.

How do I process an IDOC in SAP?

Generally, there is various IDOCS processing program available in the standard SAP. Which schedule as background jobs as per processing status and timing defined by the administrator. We can process docs manually if required using transaction code BD87

How do I find the IDOCtype Documentation?

We can get SAP IDOC documentation using transaction code WE60, For instance, for the invoice, we want to know Information such as compulsory and optional segments, the minimum and maximum number of segments, etc.

IDOC Documentation

Hope this article helps you to understand EDI, ALE & IDOC basic concepts.We will cover IDOC configuration in the upcoming post..Here are a couple of other articles that you check

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