Monday, February 7, 2011

Using ABAP Classes in Workflow

1. ABAP Classes and Business Workflow:

We can use ABAP classes in the definition and runtime components of SAP WebFlow Engine in the same way as object types defined in the Business object Repository (BOR).

Before proceeding further we need to know where to create and maintain ABAP Classes and ABAP Interfaces.

2. What is Class Builder and its purpose?

The Class Builder allows us to create and maintain global ABAP classes and interfaces. Both of these object types, like global data types, are defined in the ABAP Repository, thus composing a central class library. Together, they form a central class library and are visible throughout the system. We can display existing classes and interfaces in the class library using the Class Browser.

We can define local classes as well as global classes. They are defined locally in programs, function groups or as auxiliary classes of global classes of the class pools. Local classes are only visible within the defining module.

ABAP classes are processed using the Class Builder.

3. How to reach Class Builder?

To reach the initial screen of the Class Builder, choose Development à Class Builder from the initial screen of the ABAP Workbench or enter transaction code SE24.

4. How does it integrate?

The Class Builder allows us to create Web development objects within the ABAP Workbench. We can use the Class Browser to display and maintain existing global object types from the class library.

The diagram below illustrates the architecture of the Class Builder and the relationships between its components (including the Class Browser)

This graphic is explained in the accompanying text

From here, we can either display the contents of the class library or edit a class using the Class Editor. Once we have defined an object type, we can implement its methods. From the initial screen or the Class Editor, we can also access the Class Builder’s test environment. We can define the object types immediately after implementing the method in the ABAP Editor. It is also possible to access the test environment from the initial screen or Class Editor.

5. How to use the Class Builder?

Use the Class Builder to:

  • Display an overview (in the Class Browser) of global object types and their relationships.

  • Maintain existing global classes or interfaces.

  • Create new global classes and interfaces.

  • Implement inheritance between global classes.

  • Create compound interfaces.

  • Create and specify the attributes, methods, and events of global classes and interfaces.

  • Define internal types in classes.

  • Implement methods.

  • Redefine methods.

  • Maintain local auxiliary classes.

  • Test classes or interfaces in a simulated runtime environment.

6. What are the constraints?

We cannot define object types on the basis of graphical object modeling.

7. Note before creating global classes and interfaces:

Global classes and interfaces that we create in the Class Builder are stored in the class library and administered by the R/3 Repository: they therefore have the same namespace as all other Repository objects. It is therefore necessary to have naming conventions for object types and their components and to use them uniformly within program development.

8. Naming Conventions in ABAP Objects:

The following naming convention has been conceived for use within the SAP namespace. If we do not observe the naming conventions for object types (classes and interfaces), conflicts will occur when the system creates persistent classes, since it will be unable to generate the necessary co-classes.

9. Conventions for Object Types:

Class in the class library


Interfaces in the class library


Local classes in programs


Local interfaces in programs


10. Conventions for Components:

Method name


Local type definitions within a class


Data definitions (variables)

Data definitions (constants)


11. Local Conventions within Methods:

For parameters:

IMPORTING parameters


EXPORTING parameters


CHANGING parameters




12. Using ABAP Classes in Workflow:

Within the SAP WebFlow Engine we can use ABAP classes that support the IF_WORKFLOWIF_WORKFLOW interface are recognized as workflow-enabled in the Class Builder. interface. Classes that have implemented the

13. How to create ABAP Classes that support IF_WORKFLOW interface?

  • Go to transaction SE24 and create a customized class.

  • Next the pop up appears where we need to mention the detail as follows:

  • Save it and the class is created.
  • Now the class is to implement IF_WORKFLOW interface. For this go to the tab and declare the IF_WORKFLOW as the interface there and press Enter; two sub-interfaces appear: BI_OBJECT and BI_PERSISTENT. Save the Class.

  • The ZCL_TEST class now contains the existing methods of IF_WORKFLOW interface.

14. Lights on Key Attributes and Attributes:

The key attributes are used to define the object key. There can also be other defined attributes other than key attributes. The SAP WebFlow Engine can access all public attributes of a class.

Key Attributes:

In the Class Builder there is an additional column Key Attributes on the tab page as shown below:

We need to check this box when we are defining any attribute as the Key Attribute.

All key fields must be character-type fields (elementary types: CHAR, NUMC) and have a defined length. The maximum length allowed for all key fields is 32 characters. The length of the key field for the persistent display is 32 characters.

In the case of persistent ABAP objects we can use the GUID, which is generated automatically by the object manager when an instance is created.


In addition to all the other data types that the Class Builder supports, we can also define attributes with reference to an object from the Business Object Repository (BOR). To do this, we have to use the structure SWOTOBJID as the data type. The BOR object is determined using the corresponding value.

To assign a BOR object instance to an attribute we need to use the corresponding BOR macros. Normally, this is implemented within the CONSTRUCTOR of a class.

To use the BOR macros in a class, two INCLUDES must be included.

Ø Include ……………contains the local types

Ø Include ……………contains the BOR macros

An example to show how to define Attributes and Key Attributes:

15. Why IF_WORKFLOW Interface?

The IF_WORKFLOW interface is necessary when using an ABAP class within the SAP WebFlow Engine. The interface contains methods that allow the object to be used within the SAP WebFlow Engine.

The SAP WebFlow Engine handles all objects generically. Objects have to be saved in the event of a context change. Therefore, it is necessary to convert object references in such a way that they can be saved persistently. Conversely, we have to be able to generate the corresponding instance of an ABAP class from the persistently saved key.

There are also a number of SAP WebFlow Engine components, for example, the Workflow Log that can display objects. In this case the object has to provide corresponding functions.

The IF_WORKFLOW interface puts a logical parenthesis round the BI_PERSISTENT (instance management) and BI_OBJECT (object behavior) interfaces. The IF_WORKFLOW interface contains the following methods:







A class that implements the IF_WORKFLOW interface can be used in any workflow. The class is automatically released for use in workflows when the interface is implemented. Therefore, we can only make compatible changes to a class after implementation (we cannot delete attributes, change types or delete methods). There is no where-used list to show which workflows the class is used in.

Internal classes of an application should not implement the IF_WORKFLOW interface, since this could mean that each method of the class is used in the workflow. Therefore, we should encapsulate the workflow functions in another class that calls the selected methods of the internal class.

Each method of the IF_WORKFLOW Interface as mentioned earlier has its distinct functionality, which is discussed below.


If we want to convert a persistent saved display of an object into an instance of the corresponding ABAP class, SAP Webflow Engine calls the BI_PERSISTENT~FIND_BY_LPOR method.


The method parameter LPOR is the persistent object reference and is of SIBFLPOR structure type. A reference of BI_PERSISTENT type is returned.

The following table shows the components of the SIBFLPOR structure:




Describes the object type ( CL for ABAP classes)


ABAP class name


Object key. The key is limited to 32 characters.

We can implement this method in several ways. In the case of persistent classes we can create the ABAP object instance using the generated classes. In the case of individual persistence management we have to implement the individual actions (such as creating an instance, performing an existence check, entering public attributes, and so on) manually within the class.

Instance management takes place automatically in the case of persistent classes. In the case of individual persistence management we also have to carry out instance management by class. The SAP WebFlow Engine does not provide any instance management. We must therefore implement our own instance management in the case of individual persistence management.

The FIND_BY_LPOR method should always return the same instance if the following problems are to be avoided:

  • Inconsistency in the data display

  • Instance data being overwritten by another instance

  • Locking conflicts

There is an implementation example in the CL_SWF_FORMABSENC demo class.


The BI_PERSISTENT~LPOR method is the counterpart to the BI_PERSISTENT~FIND_BY_LPOR method. It provides the persistent display for an existing instance of an ABAP object.


The method returns the persistent display of an object reference as a SIBFLPOR type structure as described earlier.

There is a close relationship between the BI_PERSISTENT~FIND_BY_LPOR method and the BI_PERSISTENT~LPOR method. If we call the BI_PERSISTENT~FIND_BY_LPOR method first and then the BI_PERSISTENT~LPOR method, the BI_PERSISTENT~LPOR method must return the same value as was previously used to call the BI_PERSISTENT~FIND_BY_LPOR method.

There are also several ways of implementing this method in this case. There is an implementation example in the CL_SWF_FORMABSENC demo class.


SAP WebFlow Engine calls the BI_PERSISTENT~REFRESH method when the system has to ensure that all values of an object are valid or that they agree exactly with the persistent display of the object.


The method implementation depends on the internal organization of the class. We can check the object instance data in the database, if necessary.

If we do not need the method in our class, then we need only to carry out a “dummy” implementation (without further coding) to avoid program errors when the system calls the method.

There is an implementation example in the CL_SWF_FORMABSENC demo class.


The BI_OBJECT~DEFAULT_ATTRIBUTE_VALUE method returns the display name of the object.


We can display references to process objects or process step objects at different positions within the SAP WebFlow Engine (for example, in Business Workplace and in Workflow Log). The object key is normally displayed here. If, for example, we want to display a descriptive text instead, the BI_OBJECT~DEFAULT_ATTRIBUTE_VALUE method has to return the corresponding value.

If the method does not contain implementation or does not return a value, the object key is displayed.

If we do not need the method in our class, then we need only to carry out a “dummy” implementation (without further coding) to avoid program errors when the system calls the method.

There is an implementation example in the CL_SWF_FORMABSENC demo class.


The BI_OBJECT~EXECUTE_DEFAULT_METHOD method is the standard method for the object. This method is executed when, for example, we call the object in Business Workplace.


We can display process objects or process step objects at different positions within the SAP WebFlow Engine (for example, in Business Workplace and in Workflow Log). The SAP WebFlow Engine calls the BI_OBJECT~EXECUTE_DEFAULT_METHOD method.

If we do not need the method in our class, then we need only to carry out a “dummy” implementation (without further coding) to avoid program errors when the system calls the method.

There is an implementation example in the CL_SWF_FORMABSENC demo class.


The system indicates that the reference to the instance is no longer needed by using the BI_OBJECT~RELEASE method. This means we can delete the reference from instance management. Once the last reference has been deleted from instance management, the GARBAGE COLLECTOR can release the corresponding memory area.


If we do not need the method in our class, then we need only to carry out a “dummy” implementation (without further coding) to avoid program errors when the system calls the method.

There is an implementation example in the CL_SWF_FORMABSENC demo class.

22. How to use ABAP Classes in Process Steps of Business Workflow?

In process steps we can use methods and attributes of ABAP classes in the same way as methods and attributes of Business Object Repository (BOR) objects. We can call these methods in the process context.


While using the ABAP Classes in the Process Steps the methods may contain dialogs, they can be synchronous or asynchronous; they may appear in the workflow log, and so on.

In general, we can use any method that is implemented as a public method. The method can be implemented in the class itself, in one of the super classes of the class, or by way of an interface.

The maximum permitted length for methods that are implemented by way of an interface, for example IF_WORKFLOW~FIND_BY_LPOR, is 30 characters. If the method name is too long, we can choose a shorter name for the method by defining an alias. If the method is implemented in the class or in a super class, the name of the method cannot be longer than 30 characters, so this limitation does not apply.


We can assign values from the workflow container to the method parameters. Conversely, export parameters can be entered as workflow container values. The following overview shows how the individual types can be used as parameters:

Ø Simple types (string, integer, and so on)

Ø Data Dictionary types (structures, tables, complex types)

Ø References to objects from the Business Object Repository

Ø References to ABAP classes (supporting the IF_WORKFLOW interface)

We can transfer method parameters that represent a persistent object (IF_WORKFLOW or BOR Object) in the following ways:

v ABAP classes (with IF_WORKFLOW interface)


Object is transferred using the persistent display


Object is transferred as object reference

v BOR objects


Object is transferred using the persistent display


Object is transferred using the persistent display; this display is only valid for BOR objects


Object is transferred as object reference


The SAP WebFlow Engine can deal with exceptions that are triggered by the methods. It differentiates between application exceptions and temporary exceptions. The two exception categories are differentiated by the exception in the class hierarchy or by naming conventions. In the case of a temporary exception, the SAP WebFlow Engine attempts to execute the method again. In the case of a permanent error the status for the workflow is set to error.

Class-Based Exceptions:

To create a temporary exception, we can use, for example, the CX_BO_TEMPORARY class or a corresponding subclass. It can be helpful to trigger an exception for dialog methods when the user cancels the dialog. Here, for example, we could trigger the CX_BO_ACTION_CANCELEDCX_BO_TEMPORARY class). exception (subclass of the

Exceptions Not Based on Class:
We can also trigger exceptions not based on class. The SAP WebFlow Engine can differentiate between the two exception categories (temporary and permanent) by the name. If the exception begins with TMP or TEMP, it is a temporary exception; otherwise it is a permanent exception.

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