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ABAP Geek 9 – ABAP Keyword Documentation for SAP NetWeaver Application Server

ABAP Keyword Documentation – Reinvented on SAP NetWeaver Application Server

Documentation Contents

For SAP NetWeaver Application Server the entire ABAP keyword documentation was rewritten and reorganized from scratch. Besides all necessary corrections, enhancements, and round ups, the syntax diagrams have undergone a major change. By introducing pseudo syntax, complex ABAP statements with a lot of additions and options are stripped down to an basic and understandable format . The following figure shows the example for READ TABLE itab .


You see directly that READ TABLE reads one line from an internal table into a result and that there are three main possibilities how to specify that line. By following the links, you find the exact syntax and descriptions. If you want to see a fully blown textual syntax diagram at once, you simply choose Short Reference in the upper left corner and there you go (furthermore, the well known graphical syntax diagrams are still available).


Again, links lead to detailed descriptions.


There are four different kinds of hyperlinks in the ABAP keyword documentation easily distinguished via different colors:

  • Links to other main documents (blue)
  • Links to the Knowledge Warehouse (red)
  • Links to programs and transactions (green)
  • Links to the ABAP Glossary (grey)

The ABAP Glossary is a new service that explains terms in pop-up windows when and where you need them:


You also find an alphabetical list of glossary entries (and a keyword index, and a subject list …) in the tree structure.


The search capabilities of the ABAP keyword documentation were profoundly redesigned and enhanced for Release 6.40. All ABAP language elements are indexed manually in the documents (shown as “ABAP Index” in the tree structure). The search works on that index as well as on the glossary terms. With release 7.0 (SAP NetWeaver 2004s), a manual subject list was added, that is searched too. When using F1 in the editor, only language elements are searched. When typing a search term, by default language elements, glossary and subject list are searched. The following figure shows the result when you search for “XML” (still German, sorry).


With release 7.0 (SAP NetWeaver 2004s) a fully fledged index based full text search was added (by the way, when you have the index in an internal table, the whole search is nothing more than one simple DELETE itab WHERE NOT text CS pattern statement – ABAP, oh yeah!). You can choose full text search in the ABAP Editor, transaction ABAPHELP, or in the documentation window. You can also switch from index search to full text search in the hitlist and vice versa. After choosing a result from the hitlist, the searched term is highlighted in the text.



If you are not in the lucky position to work with ABAP application server 6.40 or higher, you might purchase the new ABAP Reference in order to have the most recent ABAP documentation in your hands.

For experienced ABAP programmers, who want to look up the syntax of one or the other statement quickly, a handy ABAP Quick Reference is available (will be translated to English soon!).

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  • Hi Horst,

    ABAP Keyword Documentation is getting quite user friendly.
    I checked in WAS 6.40 and for example I liked that for 'READ TABLE itab' in the Syntax section all additional parameters are link to the detailed description.
    It would be great to have this approach for all the other keywords, for example 'CALL TRANSFORMATION '. I mean instead of having the 'Extras:' section, you would have these parameters as links in the 'Syntax' section.

    Do you know if is there any face-lift planned for ABAPDOCU?
    It would be great to have example for all the new ABAP features. I have the impression that in WAS 6.40 it's still the same as it was in WAS 6.10 🙁

    Thanks in advance,

    • Hi Peter,

      unfortunately, it is not so easy to link inside a document. The basis of the documentation is still SAPScript =:-o. Therefore, only the "extras"  are currently transformed to anchor/hyperlink constructs when converting SAPscript to HTML, because they follow a given format (there are no genuine internal links in SAPscript). And I hesitate a bit, to split the documentation of statements, that are not too complicated, into one document for each "extra".

      Of course, it is planned to adjust ABAPDOCU also, to put new things in and to remove the obsolet stuff, but time, time, time ... Even SWAFAP (Students Workig As Fast As Possible) cannot solve everyhting.



        • Hi Peter,

          to come back to your ABAPDOCU question ...

          As of next release (after NetWeaver 2004s) the ABAP example library will be integral part of the ABAP keyword documentation. A new kind of documents will contain executable and up-to-date examples including the descriptions. TA ABAPDOCU will be redirected to ABAPHELP.

          Kind regards


  • Hi Horst!
    I just see the (updated) featured weblog section in the SDN home page and yours, in the presentation, comes up with this title: 'ABAP Geek VIIII (...)'...
    I know that you wrote '9' in your weblog, I also know that as Romanian numerical 9 is equal to 'IX'...maybe is that an ABAPIAN NUMERAL ?
    It's fun!
  • What is the relationship between the ABAP keyword documentation and the SAP Library ?
    Is the keyword documentation also included in the SAP Library ?
    • Hi Christian!

      The ABAP keyword documentation is part of the ABAP Language delivery. It is stored in the system's database and therefore available in all systems (languages depending on translation). It contains the complete ABAP syntax reference plus additional environment information in a structured view. It mainly offers an bottom-up access to information about ABAP (F1).

      The SAP Library documentation about ABAP is an additional documentation to offer a top down access. This documentation is momentarily in the process of reorganization and rewriting. The aim is to minimize all redundancies with the keyword documentation and to affilate the ABAP documentation in the SAP Library to the new developer guides, that are recently written for the SAP NW AS.



  • 1)
    I wonder why opensql throw up this limitation that I can only use only ONE table left
    join table in a sql statement. No sql flavor that I know, restrict this.

    This is not a urgent question and I can easily live with it, the sql statements here are mere
    examples produced by me to sound more understandable, so don’t want to get them fixed.

    SELECT vbpa~vbelnINTO TABLE itabFROM vbap LEFT JOIN vbpaON vbap~vbeln = vbpa~vbeln AND   vbap~posnr = vbpa~posnrleft join vbkd on vbpa~vbeln = vbkd~vbeln    .

    The error compiler put forward is:

    Unable to compare with "VBPA~VBELN". A table can be joined with a maximum of one other table using LEFT OUTER JOIN.

    If I change it to :

    SELECT vbpa~vbelnINTO TABLE itabFROM vbap LEFT JOIN vbpaON vbap~vbeln = vbpa~vbeln AND   vbap~posnr = vbpa~posnrleft join vbkd on vbap~vbeln = vbkd~vbeln    .

    Then it becomes a valid openSQL statement
    Any comment.

    Why can not I use where condition from a column of a table participating as a left join

    DATA: itab TYPE STANDARD TABLE OF vbeln.SELECT vbpa~vbelnINTO TABLE itabFROM vbap LEFT JOIN vbpaON vbap~vbeln = vbpa~vbeln AND   vbap~posnr = vbpa~posnr Where vbpa~parvw = 'WE'.

    The error compiler put forward is:

    No fields from the right-hand table of a LEFT outer Join may appear in the WHERE condition:"vbpa~parvw".

    I understand that the same can be translated into a INNER join sql, but in some cases
    what I need is a left join. In course of discussion we can think of cases where I cant live
    without a left join

    • Hi,

      both restrictions stem from the fact that Open SQL had to support many different database systems with sometimes different behavior.

      Restriction 1 stems from AS400 platform. Restriction 2 stems from the fact that SAPDB, Oracle and Informix didn't support the ON condition when Open SQL introduced joins.

      Those restrictions do not apply any more but Open SQL was not adjusted yet.

      Kind regards


  • Hi,

    I am currently working on an R/3 upgrade project. I am especially interested in obsolete code statements. I have found the sap note 857904 which describes this topic. However for further information it refers to the new sap keyword documentation:

    "An overview of the situations that trigger syntax errors as of Release 7.00 is available in the ABAP keyword documentation (Call from the ABAP Editor or using Transaction ABAPHELP) under ABAP - Release-dependant changes -> Changes as of Release 7.0 -> Syntax Correction."

    So can I get somehow this information (e.g. from sap online help)?

    Thanking you in advance!