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Author's profile photo Jerry Wang

A real case: How to debug standard workflow without using SM50

There are several posts in SCN talking about workflow debugging. Most of them are manually generating an endless loop and then can launch debugger in SM50. However, if you try to debug standard workflow, you are not allowed to manual inject any endless loop in standard code. If the original developer is not so kind to leave any switchable endless loop in standard code, you have to go another way.

In this example a common debugging approach is demonstrated:

Document builder is an application provided by SAP which can allow you to generate output file with format PDF, DOCX and HTML from various input with format DOCX, HTML and TXT. The workflow is also supported. When a document is generated and released, one work flow item will be sent to the respective approver.

However during my testing, I meet with error message “Workflow without approver”, although I have maintained the approver in customizing correctly.

So I guess there must be something wrong during the agent determination of workflow runtime. In order to find the root cause I have to debug it.


the involved workflow is WS40400006.


step1: tcode SMQS to degegister the queue WORKFLOW_LOCAL_001. Never forget to re-register it once you finish debugging.


step2: step breakpoint on workflow framework method CL_SWF_RUN_WIM_EXECUTION_MGR~START_EXECUTIONS, CL_SWF_RUN_WFM~EXECUTE_QUEUES:

then repeat the steps to trigger your workflow.

step3: tcode SWI1. Now you will find one entry for your workflow item. Execute it:


the first breakpoint is triggered:


click F8, then the second breakpoint is triggered:


This method covers the fundamental logic of workflow execution engine. There is a big loop to traverse all steps which are currently executable:


After some debugging finally I found root cause: there is something wrong with my setting regarding organization unit. After fixing that the error message is gone


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      Author's profile photo Jonathan Bourne
      Jonathan Bourne

      Great debugging tip. SAP provide some additional methods for debugging background work items in OSS notes 1731777 and 1782731.



      Author's profile photo Jerry Wang
      Jerry Wang
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Jonathan,

      thank you for your comment. Yes the two notes you mentioned are great. Actually I had already some email-loop with the note author several months ago 🙂

      Best regards,


      Author's profile photo Jonathan Bourne
      Jonathan Bourne

      Looking at your first two debugger screenshots it seems that Checkpoint Groups WF_WORKITEM_EXECUTE and WF_WFM_RUN (txn SAAB) could be used to provide the breakpoints as an alternative to setting them manually.



      Author's profile photo Tejas Joshi
      Tejas Joshi

      Great Tip Thanks for sharing this info.