Do cloud APIs keep you awake at night? Why don’t you try this remedy in 2018: SAP S/4HANA Cloud APIs with business context.
If you are one of the lucky fellows in charge of implementing a cloud ERP, some of the thoughts that keep you awake at night probably revolve around APIs. You might worry where to find that ERP’s APIs, if the ones you can find are the right ones, and how to assess what they do and how to use them. You may wonder how to tell apart APIs for use in your own new apps you’ll be creating on top of the ERP functionality, and which ones to use to integrate with existing apps in business to business, or B2B, scenarios.
In 2018, as you evaluate SAP S/4HANA Cloud, you may find a remedy against those sleepless nights. SAP has systematically organized and categorized integration for SAP S/4HANA Cloud (S4HC), and provided for business context for her APIs, and vice versa, lists APIs applicable to a given S4HC business process.
You’ll find ready-made scenarios for integration among SAP applications where you’ find all other business scope of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, on the SAP Best Practice Explorer at https://rapid.sap.com/bp/#/BP_CLD_ENTPR. Under Solution Scope > Scope Item Groups select “SAP S/4HANA Cloud Integration”, and then pick the best practices for the SAP sister application or third party app scenario you are looking to integrate with.
Direct link to this 1711 process diagram: https://support.sap.com/content/dam/SAAP/Sol_Pack/Library/ProcessDiagrams/J82_S4CLD1711_Process_Overview_EN_XX.htm
Business context of SAP S/4HANA Cloud APIs
For other business scope of SAP S/4HANA Cloud that is not integrated by default, you may still want to find out how to access respective master or transactional data, or how to create, update or delete them in a compliant way. There are two ways to approach these questions, one you’d apply when you have identified your business processes based on scope items, the other when you have a good grasp which business object you need to interface with. For the former, you’d use the SAP Best Practice Explorer again, for the latter you’d enter via SAP API Business Hub. Let me show you how:
Business processes and pertinent APIs
You have identified the scope items and business processes you are looking to interface with.
In the SAP Best Practice Explorer (BPX) at https://rapid.sap.com/bp/#/BP_CLD_ENTPR select tab Accelerators and make sure you are logged in with your User ID. Then look for General Documents and the list of APIs. Download that spreadsheet and open it with a spreadsheet app. Read instruction of the ReadMe tab. On tab “Scope Items and APIs”, select the scope items. The columns to the right show you respective APIs and operations available to read, create, change or delete business objects or documents in SAP S/4HANA Cloud pertinent to the scope item. Column C shows the technical name of the API method, column G shows the description of the API method(s) in more or less plain English. In column I you find the communication scenario you will have to use in your communication arrangement. In column L you would find the URL of the API (method) on the SAP API Business Hub as a hyperlink. How to use communication scenarios in communication arrangements is described in blog How to use communication management in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, https://blogs.sap.com/2017/11/09/setting-up-communication-management-in-sap-s4hana-cloud/ and in each integration scope item.
API types and their use cases
In the table, in columns D and E, you will find different types of APIs, as HTTP OData or SOAP, or ALE IDOC, or RFC Synchronous RFC, that is remote function calls. HTTP OData or SOAP are modern, extensible web services. OData APIs you would typically use for synchronous reading of one or more business objects, or creating, changing or deletion of a particular business object. You would use OData APIs when you create your own SAP Fiori user experience, e.g. with the SAP Web IDE. For exchanging sets of business documents as you would do with other applications, like EDI and business to business communication (B2B), SOAP APIs are usually the right choice. You would also use specific SOAP APIs to push out business documents upon create or change in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, e.g. when you electronically send a new purchase order out to a supplier.
ALE IDOC and remote function calls are older technologies which are typically restricted for use with on premise SAP S/4HANA or SAP on premise legacy applications in very specific use cases, e.g. in many 2 Tier scenarios, or for data replication during migration to SAP S/4HANA Cloud. You will find more details on the restrictions and specific use cases linked on tab ReadMe, above.
Searching for APIs by business object
If you have a good grasp which SAP S/4HANA Cloud business object you would like to interface with, you can use the spreadsheet as well. Make sure you have not set any filters. Use text search function Ctrl+F and search for that business object. You may sometimes find multiple hits for one business object. You can narrow down the hits when you assess the fit of the scope item in columns A and B for your intended business process.
Or you start your search on the SAP API Business Hub at https://api.sap.com/shell/discover/contentpackage/SAPS4HANACloud > Artifacts and use the artifacts filter or Ctrl+F to enter the business object description. Here, on the individual API’s Overview tab, under Details you’d find a link to the respective business context via the listed Scope Items.
You can find out more about the use of each API with operations and data structure via their documentation hyperlinked under Business Documentation > Endpoint. If you then feel ready to test the API check out the respective documents and links on tab “Documents”. Read operations you can test with the API Hub’s integrated sandbox. Or, if you have full administrator access to an SAP S/4HANA Cloud system, you can configure your own Communication Arrangement (see above) and test all operations with your own data.
If this has not yet put you at ease nor to sleep check out our central SAP S/4HANA Cloud integration checklist blog with embedded videos at https://blogs.sap.com/2017/06/09/sap-s4hana-cloud-integration-checklist/ 😉
[Moon picture by Getty Images]