You may have heard about ANST already: it is a tool released by SAP a few months ago to help us find OSS notes. Indeed, when you face a bug in the software, instead of trying to find the exact keywords needed to spot the corresponding note on SAP service marketplace, you can now start transaction code ANST_SEARCH_TOOL and reproduce the error… the program will do the job for you and find the exact note you need!

How can it be?

Basically ANST will record ALL the pieces of code (methods, classes, programs, function modules, etc.) that are executed while reproducing the error. Once done, the system will simply search for all OSS notes that are fixing something in the corresponding lines of code, and which are not already implemented in your system. You can find more information here:

http://service.sap.com/~sapidb/011000358700000533232013E/index.htm

A new application that makes it easier to find SAP Correction Notes

Automated Note Search & Customer Code Detection II (release 2.0)

I’m writing this blog post because I’ve been using this tool quite extensively for a while (our system is SAP CRM702 SP7) and I must say that I’m pretty impressed. It’s just great. I mean it: it’s GREAT!

Major advantages compared to “manual searching”:

  1. You don’t have to bother trying to find the right keywords to search for notes (which used to take me a lot of time as I often ended up debugging the system to find the name of the faulty piece of coding).
  2. You don’t have to run through myriads of OSS notes that cannot be implemented in your system in the end. Most of the notes displayed by ANST are filtered against the support package of your system, so it is most likely that they can be implemented. Awesome.
  3. You’re one click away from a list of your custom code (BADI, User exists, Enhancements, etc.) involved during the recorded process (which could explain the system behavior as well :). So you don’t even have to use the layer debugging functionality to see where your own code is being used!
  4. Even customizing tables are listed… Hats off.
  5. And it is FREE! How cool is that?!

Drawbacks:

  1. The tool will search in the correction instructions of the notes… hence no correction instructions means no note found. In other words if only manual steps are required to fix something, you’ll still have to search for the note or KBA yourself on SAP service market place. But that’s no big deal: maybe someday we’ll be able to filter out OSS notes with correction instructions on SAP portal, to avoid any overlap between automated and manual search.
  2. The major drawback according to me is definitely that the tool is delivered with very recent support stack levels only… which make it available for very few customers. So do not hesitate to add a comment at the end of this blog post if (like me) you would like it to be downported: maybe we can make a difference if enough people show their interest ? (mimic the “vote” mechanism on SAP Idea Place).

As a conclusion I must say that I’m spending approx. half of my time fixing bugs in SAP software during project implementations. So when such a fantastic tool — that I believe will be useful for 100% people implementing SAP solutions — is released, I’d like to shout a big: THANK YOU for saving me so much time! And when on top of that it is released for free, it would be my pleasure to pay a beer in Paris (France) to anybody that worked hard to make this happen (like you mister Carlos Escribano)!

Now let’s take a look at a real life example, and see how we can solve a bug in SAP CRM WebUI within a few clicks.

Enjoy!

PS: sorry for the very low sound… I’ll try to fix my mic next time!

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55 Comments

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  1. Kiran Kumar Valluru

    Hi Nick,

    Yes. This is really a nice Tool. The way it integrates in Dump Analysis( ST22 ) is good. When we get a short dump, in ST22 we can click on SAP Correction Notes button which automatically search and give the relevant Notes.

    Please provide the link to vote for this in Idea Place. The link mentioned in the blog directs to Idea Place home!

    Cheers,

    Kiran

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    1. Nicolas Busson Post author

      Hi Kiran,

      Indeed I saw this button too, but was unsure whether it was part of ANST or not, because I never had a chance to make it display any oss note so far. I’ll give it another try next time.

      Also, I didn’t create any idea on SAP Idea Place so far (I’m note sure idea session “SAP note management” is indeed dedicated to oss notes — and there is absolutely no explanation what this session is meant for). So I removed the link.

      Hopefully people can just add “+1” as a comment to this blog post 🙂

      Cheers!

      Nick.

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      1. ludovic wattiez

        Hello Nicolas,

        Totally agree with you so you got my +1 🙂

        This tool seems so powerfull !

        Such a shame for not being able to use it !! Need to be downported !

        Best Regards,

        LW

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      2. Nitin Patil

        Hello Kristen,   We are using this tool in our organization and it is really very helpful. But, I have a question, why it don’t search implicit enhancement implementation during replicating the scenario ?   Or let us know, if there is any workaround for this, since there are many implicit enhancements implemented in our project. Thanks in Advance !! Cheers !! Regards, Nitin Patil Regards, Nitin Patil.

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        1. Carlos Martinez Escribano

          Hi Nitin,

          The reason for not including implicit enhancements was that firstly ANST based customer code detection on standard program SNIF. Then customer code detection would be refined to extend the scope more and more: e.g. notes

          2057389 ANST – Customer Code search for Enhancement Spots, 1984440 ANST: Some Customer repaired objects not found and 1944826 ANST: Client-specific user exits not detected.

          One difficulty to detect implicit enhancements was that they are not detected in an ABAP trace trace. However, they can be detected by adding some logic (performance will worsen of course… but nothing serious I hope).

          I created the following small test program:

          report  zxy.

          data: source_tab type sedi_source, l_status,initialize_edit_control, source_name type trdir-name. 

          parameters: source(40).

          data abap_editor type ref to cl_wb_pgeditor.

          create object abap_editor exporting p_is_in_adjustment_mode = ‘ ‘.

          source_name = source.

          call method abap_editor->read_source   

          exporting      source_name             = source_name     

          status                  = l_status     

          initialize_edit_control = initialize_edit_control    

          with_conversion         = ‘X’    

          with_enhancements       = ‘X’   

          importing      source_tab              = source_tab   

          exceptions     

          not_found               = 1     

          cancelled               = 2     

          read_protected          = 3. 

          break-point.

          If you run the program for an enhanced object, at the break point you will see that table source_tab contains the whole ABAP code, including the enhancements. Later on, the table source_tab can be scanned searching for enhcancements and ANST would show it on the results list.

          So, please create an incident with prioriy “low” in component BC-UPG-NA asking SAP to extend customer code detection to this kind of enhancements.

          Thanks a lot,

          Carlos.

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    2. Jimson Michael

      Hi Nicolas,

      I have tried it recently and its simply superb……Thanks for the info….

      Also i have checked the st22 notes icon, i am not able to see that….Can you please give more info on that…

      Thanks & Regards

      JIm

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      1. Carlos Martinez Escribano

        Hi Jim,

        Thank you for your feedback.

        Regarding the note search functionality from ST22, it’s available as of SAP Netweaver 702 under the following specifications:

        From the details saved in the system about the ABAP runtime error that
        has occurred, you can start a search in transaction ST22 (ABAP dump
        analysis) for those SAP correction notes that could contribute to
        eliminating the cause of the termination.

        In the short dump display of the ABAP runtime error, the system displays
        a pushbutton “SAP Correction Notes” (SHIFT + F1). The pushbutton is
        displayed in the following situations:

        •     The runtime error belongs to the category ABAP programming error or screen programming error.
        •     The short dump is checked in transaction ST22 (no note search is provided in the direct short dump display after the program termination).

        If you choose the button, the search is executed. The system displays a
        list of notes that were found in a new window in the foreground. By
        clicking an individual note, you navigate to the SAP Support Portal and
        open the note in a new Web browser window.

        Using a very selective search with the following search terms:

        •        Application component
        •        Name of ABAP runtime error
        •        Exception (if occurred)
        •        Program name and include (or Web Dynpro component, BSP
                    application)

        and by restricting to the suitable Support Packages of the system, the search result returns fairly precise results, that is, very few suitable notes.  These notes are classified (if possible) according to implementation status.

        The system searches only for correction notes. The number of returned notes is restricted to a maximum of 10.

        Regards,

        Carlos.

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  2. Lloyd Goveia

    Hi Nick,

    Thank you for sharing this with the community. I love this tool. It has already helped me help my customers address multiply issues.

    I would strongly recommend all my customers to take a look. I even made it part of my CSS signature with the following:

    “DID YOU KNOW? We now have a new Enhanced Note Search Tool, directly

    available in your system! With this tool, solutions will be immediately

    found. See SAP KBA: 1818192 Automated Note Search Tool.”

    A special thanks to Carlos, Ivan and Antonio for pioneering this …

    Cheers,

    Lloyd

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    1. Nicolas Busson Post author

      Hi Lloyd,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Also I would be interested to know how many of your customers have an SP level that is high enough to have this tool up and running? because even here in my company we just implemented a brand new CRM702 system a couple of months ago, with the latest Best Practices package, and in the installation guide they recommend to install SP03, when ANST is available as of SP05 only if I remember well. Then I had to argue with our basis guy to have our system upgraded to the right SP level…

      So if we want this tool to be widely used, we definitely need it to be delivered via an oss note.

      🙂

      Kind regards,

      Nicolas.

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      1. Lloyd Goveia

        Dear Nick,

        I totally agree with you. If there is a need for this to be available via a SAP note, then I am sure the team will certainly strive for this.  For now, the biggest task is to evangelize as many customers as possible. Once they know the tool exist and demand increases, the rest will soon follow.

        Best regards,

        Lloyd

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        1. Nicolas Busson Post author

          IMHO this tool is even more useful to SAP than customers:

          1) If you can find the note you need more quickly, you create less customer messages

          2) If you see hundreds of notes when reproducing a bug because your system is very old, you’ll be more likely to think about updating it

          3) If you don’t use the tool although it is available in your system, I guess SAP support could now use a fail-soft SLA.

          Etc.

          So all I’m saying is that I’m not sure so many customers will desperately ask to have this tool implemented in their system (they usually don’t want to know that there can be so many bugs in the software that some “programmatic” help is welcome to find the right patch). But SAP should be interested to get less customer messages created when it can be avoided.

          😉

          Cheers,

          Nick.

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          1. Carlos Martinez Escribano

            Hi Nick and all,

            Implementing ANST via SAP Note would involve huge manual work as lots of the objects are not supported by the note assistant.

            As an exception to the rule, for the beta version we delivered ANST in a transport request but for quality reasons (Risk of inconsistencies, overwritting objects, missing dependencies…) this is not regarded as compliant with SAP policy. The ANST objects could be included in a separated transport request but we would run all that risks I mentioned before. ANST was created in a context (SP level) that might be missing in the customer system.

            I’m really sorry for this!. I’d be also interested that as much customers as possible could already run ANST in their systems.

            Thank you for your understanding,

            Carlos.

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            1. Nicolas Busson Post author

              Hey Carlos,

              Thanks a lot for chiming in!

              Your explanation is very clear, and underlines another well known problem within SAP: it seems that more objects are supported by SAPlink (a community project) than the note assistant itself. So maybe that’s your next challenge: extend the note assistant to overcome this issue 😉

              Anyway, thanks again for the great job!

              Nick.

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              1. Carlos Martinez Escribano

                Hi Nick,

                I had not heard before about SAPLink but it seems powerful.Thank you for sharing!.

                Our software logistics development team is working in a more powerful Note Assistant that will include workbench objects like domains etc… in the correction instructions. I guess initially the SAP_BASIS notes will be outside of the scope but it’s a good improvement anyway.

                As to the possibility of delivering ANST standalone in an official SAP Note, unfortunately it can’t be done with the standard tools we have now. Of course a customer or partner could include the ANST* objects in a transport request from a system that already has ANST implement it and share it.

                Thank you again and have a nice weekend!, 🙂

                Carlos.

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  3. PATRICIA SANCHEZ

    Great tool !

    Congratulations,Carlos.  I´m sure this tool will provide a huge advantage facing usual issues .

    It´s usual to “park” these kind of daily problems to be reported to SAP  in our  “pending
    to do” local file

    …This great idea   will bring us the solution in a quick and
    effective way. So…definitely great !! 

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    1. Nicolas Busson Post author

      Hi Carlos,

      You might want to double check the above link because it seems that it points to SAP Jam… So I need to copy / paste it to open the corresponding video on youtube.

      Cheers,

      Nick.

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      1. Carlos Martinez Escribano

        Hi Nick,

        Sorry, I just copy&pasted the short youtube link in my comment and it was somehow converted to a sap jam link. I have created the link again by using the appropriate icon above (the one with the clip).

        Now it seems its working.

        Thank you for noticing!,

        Carlos.

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      1. Carlos Martinez Escribano

        Dear Mudasir,

        Unfortunately TA SNOTE does not yet have the capablility of delivering a complex application as ANST. That’s why we recommend the installation of the relevant Support Package as a way to get the tool.

        Regards,

        Carlos.

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  4. Manoj Kumar

    Hello All,

    Thank you Nicolas for writing such a wonderful blog. Really worth reading!!! Always good to hear good things for which one is working for. All credits goes to Carlos and his team for this tool and making it very easy to solve issues faster.

    I am now part of the ANST & SNOTE development team. I would keep contributing to this space as well. Nice way to take direct feedback.

    Let’ make it even more stronger, better and robust together.

    Cheers,

    Manoj

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    1. Nicolas Busson Post author

      Hi Manoj,

      Do you have any information about ANST being shut down again? I know this happened a few months ago because this tool was being too popular… but then transcation ANST was on the whitelist again… Since this morning: I got a call from a customer saying that it doesn’t work anymore. I tested it on my own system and obviously it doesn’t work either. So have you decided to shut down this service completly in the end?

      Best regards,

      Nicolas Busson.

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        1. Nicolas Busson Post author

          Hello Carlos!

          Nice to talk to you gain. Well… in our system we can still search and download OSS notes via transaction code SNOTE. It simply doesn’t work via tcode ANST. That’s why I thought maybe this service was being shut down again. And for your information: I opened an oss message some time ago to ask SAP to change this erroneous message “The RFC connection was improperly configured” that is thrown when ANST doesn’t work (because this message is obviously VERY misleading). Here is the answer that I got at the time:

          << We have changed the exception handling at SAP side. Error message: “Search service temporary not available” will not be thrown at all. This problem will not occur. >>

          So I closed my customer incident, but now I realize that maybe I should have insisted a little more… because I wasted a lot of time again trying to figure out what went wrong on our system!

          🙂

          Cheers,

          Nick.

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            1. Nicolas Busson Post author

              Great!

              Indeed now it’s working again. Thanks for the piece of information. I just find it too bad that this service seems to be very “fragile”… hope it can soon be ported on HANA DB 😉

              Cheers,

              Nick.

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          1. Manoj Kumar

            Hi Nick,

            Yes, I remember as I only processed the message. Now I have to go back and check with the colleagues about the message again. Thank you.

            Cheers,

            Manoj

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  5. Joachim Rees

    Hey Nicolas,

    nice blog, thanks for sharing!

    And quite interesting that you wrote that in 2013 already – I have the Impression that even now in 2016 ANST_SEARCH_TOOL is not yet that widely known/used.


    I’ve mentioned your blog in SAP ONE Support Launchpad – Whishlist part 2 -> notes search app / ANST_SEARCH_TOOL in regards to notes searching in the SAP ONE Support Launchpad – maybe the change to the Launchpad will also give ANST_SERACH_TOOL another push!?

    best

    Joachim

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