dab:Exporter 4.0 - familiar chassis, new engine with certification
The release of dab:Exporter Version 3.0 was more than 5 years ago. The introduction of the package concept with table dependencies within a client-server architecture has proven to be absolutely the right step and provides our customers worldwide with valuable extraction support on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we can't boast such a groundbreaking technological change with our latest release, but the complete modernization of our SAP component was reason enough for us to make a leap to version 4.0.
More modern ABAP code
A big advantage of the last 15 years dab:Exporter was the stability of our RFC module. In all this time we have only made three improvements and made them available to our customers. However, 15 years of stability also means that you are not necessarily state-of-the-art technologically. For this reason, it was time to review our complete ABAP code and replace it with modern code where it made sense. Of course, nothing has changed in the basic way of our extraction algorithm. In terms of performance, however, we were able to get a few percentage points out of it.
Support of additional data types
With the existing RFC module it was not possible for us to extract every data type from SAP. Admittedly, for 99.999% of all analysis requirements, more exotic data types such as SSTRING, LRAW and RAWSTRING are not necessary and will not be in the future, but if you renovate the house, why not add a few little things that nobody really needs, but that don't hurt anyone either. Since these are partly data types with dynamic length, we will have to intervene configuratively to fix and limit the length for the extraction. This will happen in one of the next releases.
Retrieving long texts
We had already built a special solution a long time ago for two of our important customers for retrieving long texts (e.g. for order items or materials). These long texts are not stored in the classic sense in table fields, but are packed - i.e. not easy to read at first glance. In order to make these long texts readable in the future, we have now laid the foundation stone in the RFC module. The implementation in dab:Exporter can be expected in one of the next versions.
Leaner authorization concept
Up to and including version 3, we used an SAP-specific module for reading the table structures - RPY_TABLE_READ. The only disadvantage of this module and its use was that it required the authorization object S_DEVELOP for the call. This was always a discussion point for the necessary SAP authorizations, even if it was only of a reading nature.
With version 4.0 we have now integrated the reading of the table structures and all information necessary for us into our own module.
With the small exception of reading the installation number, we now have a "single point of contact" in the SAP system - namely our delivered module. As a consequence, users of dab:Exporter 4 no longer need S_DEVELOP authorization.
Certification in own namespace and delivery with SAR-Package
Perhaps the best news in itself is not product improvement in the classic sense. After almost 15 years without certification, we managed to be installed in many SAP systems, but it was still time to get certified by SAP itself.
This certification relates to our RFC module, which is the only component we communicate with to request and transfer data. The decision to certify the RFC module and not the complete product was a deliberate one, because our two dab:Exporter derivatives, the ACL SAP Connector and the dab:Agent, are based on one certified component.
Since a certification can only be made for one specific SAP ERP version, we had to go through the process twice and are now certified for SAP ERP 6.08 and S/4 HANA Version 1809.
This certification process also has two nice side effects.
- In the future, we will function in our own namespace at SAP (/DABEXP) and have also adapted the name of the building block in the process and can be found under /DABEXP/RFC_SAPCONNECTOR for new implementations.
- For certification, you must package your components in a package that can be imported into the system. Technical details can be found in our help section, but in the future no developer rights will be necessary for the import, which should speed up the implementation process considerably.
One question that must naturally come up is compatibility. Will you be able to use version 4.0 without having to implement the new module? The answer is yes. The dab:Exporter 4.0 will remain fully downward compatible regarding to the RFC component and therefore you can update to the latest version without hesitation, without necessarily having to work on the SAP system. Of course, the new features and enhancements can only be used if the module is updated to the current version.