Equipment Address Management
The purpose of this little series of blog posts is to provide an orientation to working with equipment addresses in customer developed programs. Starting with an overview of how equipment addresses are modelled, the blog post will lead on to hints for reading, maintaining and creating address information for equipment from customer developed ABAP programs.
The anticipated structure of the series is as follows:
- This blog post – Introduction and Background material
- Equipment Addresses – a closer look at individual and referenced addresses
- Reading Equipment Addresses
- Maintaining Equipment Addresses
Let’s get started.
What is an address?
At first glance, an address appears to be quite straightforward – but a moment’s reflection reveals that address conventions around the world vary widely between countries and regions. Not only in formatting, but also in the type of information required to make the address “complete”.
The details of an organisation or company’s address varies from those required for an individual private person. And, of course, the address of a person at a company might be more complex again, being a mixture of the company address with some additional personal details – like the building and office they work in. Addresses are not as simple as they appear.
Business Address Services
ABAP systems contain a central service called Business Address Services to support the complexity of managing addresses.
The intent of the ABAP Business Address Services is to provide application developers with a set of services to manage addresses and their assignment to people and business objects in a consistent manner.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the development team responsible for equipment decided (wisely!) to use the Business Address Services rather than attempt to design and implement their own solution for addresses. Consequently, to understand how to work with equipment addresses, it is important to have at least a moderate understanding of how addresses are handled by Business Address Services.
The address entity
In Business Address Services, an address is an object with a large number of attributes, identified by a unique 10-digit address number, which may or may not be assigned to one or more business objects or to individual people.
Business Address Services supports different address types, including addresses for individual people and people in organisations. In this context however, we only need to focus on the so-called Normal Address – Address Type 1 – which can be assigned to application objects or can be used stand-alone.
Addresses can be maintained using Business Address Services both with or without dialog. Most commonly, equipment address details are maintained over screens in the equipment change transactions. The screens used are those provided by the Business Address Services.
End result? An address created and managed by Business Address Services is associated with the equipment.
Who is using the address?
An approach to associating an address with a business object might be for the Business Address service to keep track of those business objects that use a particular address. Indeed, the Business Address Services maintains a cross reference of the addresses used by business objects. This model allows an address to be used by many (different) business objects concurrently. If the address is changed, the change is effective for all business objects using the address.
This sharing of address occurs by default when an equipment is installed into a functional location. The equipment references the address of the functional location – until such time as a more specific address is maintained for the equipment. One address used by the equipment and the functional location.
Another approach for associating an address with a business object might be for the business object to keep track of the reference to the address. Indeed, this approach is also used for equipment addresses – the reference to the address is also stored in equipment’s location and accounting segment ILOA. This allows the equipment to quickly access the reference to the address without having to ask Business Address Services for the address reference.
Since both approaches are used, changes to the equipment address assignment over Business Address Services necessitates an update to the address reference in the equipment and accounting segment ILOA. And the other way around – a change to the address reference in the equipment and accounting segment ILOA necessitates a change to the associations in Business Address Services.
From this first blog post, you should now know that the address in equipment is an address provided by Business Address Services. The management of the address usage is jointly shared between Business Address Services and the equipment application.
Given the usage of Business Address Services, it follows that Business Address Services provide means to read and maintain the addresses, including the address of an equipment. However given the shared responsibility between Address Services and the equipment application, things are not as straight forward as one might hope.
For some readers, this first blog post may have contained new insights – for others, merely a consolidation of what was already known. For all however, a necessary foundation for what comes next in the series.
In the next blog post, we will look more closely at what happening to the address within the equipment application context – considering such issues as referencing, inheritance and individual addresses.