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To Create Or Not To Create An SAP XI Adapter

Principle Question: When do I need to develop an SAP XI adapter and not just use an existing one for my SAP XI content?

Throughout the year 2006, the SAP Integration & Certification Center (ICC) engaged with a few Independent Solution Vendors (ISV) who signed up to create an adapter and have it certified for using with SAP’s NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure (XI). During this period, we’d confirmed that, as a matter of fact, most of the available adapters in SAP XI’s Adapter Framework are sufficient to deal with the most common transport objects (e.g. file, HTTP, SOAP, etc.). A list of these adapters can be found at ~ SAP XI Adapters.

This BLOG provides a simple guideline to go through before creating a customized adapter to integrate with SAP XI.

These are some questions you should consider before deciding on such a course:

  • Have I looked at the list of available XI adapters to see if they are a possible solution?

  • Do I have a custom proprietary application or system that needs a customized extractor or adapter which is not available on the current list?

  • Am I in the business of reselling adapters to SAP’s partners?

  • Am I a System Integrator (SI)?

  • Do I have a complex schema which is proprietary?

  • Do I have a proprietary database which I need to make available for accessing via an adapter on SAP XI?

  • Do I have the capacity to build the adapter and support it throughout its lifecycle?

If most of these questions are relevant to you, the question might still come up, “For what type of scenario do I need to develop a customized adapter and for what scenario can I simply provide SAP XI content and use a provided adapter?” Consider the following two scenarios …

Scenario A:

In this first scenario, you simply need to provide SAP XI content which makes use of standard SAP XI adapters. The SAP XI content consists of design objects (e.g. integration scenarios, integration processes, message interfaces, messages, data types, interface and message mappings) imported into the Integration Repository under your own namespace. It enables your external system to make a BAPI call into an SAP system using both the SOAP and RFC adapters.


Since this scenario made use of standard SAP adapters, no customized adapter was necessary.

Scenario B: SAP CIDX Business Package

The second scenario involves providing both a specialized adapter and business content. This scenario is represented by the SAP CIDX Business Package (Chemical Industry Data Exchange).

As background, CIDX is an organization that focuses on developing eBusiness standards, called “Chem eStandards”, for the chemical industry. These standards have become the de facto standards for transacting business electronically in the chemical industry.


This SAP CIDX business package provides the necessary components that enable an SAP application to transact with a business partner using CIDX defined standards.

The CIDX business package includes the following items:

  • CIDX Adapter:
    • RNIF 1.1 Adapter for CIDX
  • Business Content:
    • Business Scenarios
    • Mappings between SAP Solutions and Chem eStandards Messages
    • Message Interfaces
    • Chem eStandards Message Definitions
      • Chem eStandards Version 3.0
      • Future Chem eStandards Version 4.0+

The adapter itself provides the following functionalities:

  • Implements Chem eStandards envelope and security requirements (based on the RNIF 1.1 protocol)
  • Packs and unpacks Chem eStandards v3.0 messages
  • Verifies the structural integrity of message headers
  • Handles message security
  • Manages Chem eStandards message exchanges using Collaboration Partner Agreements
  • Monitors and audits messages
  • Choreographs action and signals between messages

In this context, the adapter enables functionality at a lower message and session level (e.g. processing communication protocols, security, interface semantics, etc). If needed, it could also provide further security handling and logging functions.

Higher level functionality is enabled by the business content part of the package. This includes message definitions, mappings, and business scenarios as mentioned in Scenario A. The content is imported directly into the Integration Repository.

To enable CIDX scenario, you need both adapter and business content. From this example, you can see that if your application implements an industry standard or a unique messaging protocol, you may need to provide a specialized adapter. If low level functionality can be handled by existing adapters, you may just need to provide the business content to map messages or enable a business scenario.

Getting Started:

Here are some helpful links and the available on-line material to begin with:

  • SAP Help Documentation
    SAP’s Help documentation provides a very extensive guide about adapter and module development to assist you in your adapter development ~ Adapter and Module Development.

    or -> Documentation -> SAP NetWeaver -> SAP NetWeaver 2004 -> choose English or German (under SAP NetWeaver 2004 (SPS 19)) -> SAP NetWeaver -> Process Integration -> SAP Exchange Infrastructure -> Runtime -> Connectivity -> Partner Connectivity Kit -> Adapter and Module Development

  • SAP Notes
    There are also SAP Note numbers to inform you about other information, changes, and up to date corrections (e.g. See SAP Note 766332 – contains corrections and amendments made after completion of this Help documentation and see SAP Note 766332 – for the certification tests). Note, no pun intended, only those with SAP software licenses have access to search for such SAP Notes (formerly known as OSS Notes).

  • Sample SDA File
    SAP development has also provided an .sda file as a sample template to use. This is an example that already works and can be enhanced. If your company has their own SAP XI, look for the sample_ra.sda file under the directory .comsapaiiafsampleadapter
    a. Or, click on SDA.

  • Certification Package
    Once you sign up for the adapter certification, you will receive a package which will contain .XSD(s) samples, AF interfaces, development/installation guides, and pointers to other references, etc.

Where to get MORE help:

We encourage everyone to use one of the most resourceful collaboration portals, the SAP Developer Network (SDN), as a place to seek more assistance:

Certification Consideration:

Once you have decided that it makes sense to create an SAP XI Adapter, please consider signing up to have it certified by SAP ICC. The following are the different types of SAP XI related certifications to choose from …

SAP NetWeaver Exchange Infrastructure (XI) certifications options:

  1. SAP – Adapter Framework Certification (NW-XI-AF)
  2. SAP Process Integration – Content Certification (NW-XI-CNT)
  3. NW-XI-CNT-IS (SAP NetWeaver, XI Content based on Industry Standards)

There are two ways to approach certification. Your company should consider whether to first build the SAP XI adapter and then approach the ICC to have it certified; or you can initiate a contract with ICC and have them walk your company through the whole development and certification process. Below is a chart of the pros of both methods:

Develop and contact ICC Contact ICC and develop
If you have past experience with XI adapter development If this is your first time creating an XI adapter
If you want to ensure that your XI adapter meets the required standard for certification
If you need additional integration consulting
If you want to have a dedicated SAP contact to bounce questions off from

Upon successful implementation and certification, your custom SAP XI adapter your company built will be listed on SAP’s Partner Information Center as an optional available adapter to other vendors. However, vendors will need to contact the respective adapter owners for usage. Lastly and most importantly, you will receive the Power By NetWeaver (PBNW) logo; And, you can announce that your custom adapter is SAP certified and can be integrated into any one of SAP’s huge customer base!

This blog can be downloaded as an article on SDN titled, Process Integration (XI) Adapter Creation.

Last update: Fri., Feb. 9, 2007

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