In this article I will  try to clarify the terms ALE-EDI-IDOC used in SAP perspective for  better understanding to the new user. 

I will also give some details of idocs used in SAP Decentralized warehouse solution.

What is ALE / EDI/IDOC etc… 

As a SAP WM consultant you will come across the need to deal with these technical terms like EDI,IDOCs,ALE etc.Mostly this will be in the logistics execution part i.e SAP SD related.

Also if you are dealing with a decentralised warehouse , you will more often then not spend time dealing with idocs .

Let us understand the concept of these terms.

EDI :Electronic Data Interchange 

In SAP ,it is used for exchanging business data between different organizations/companies. You use EDI if you want to exchange business application documents with an (external) partner system (for example, a customer or vendor). 

ALE : Appliation Link Enabling

You distribute data using ALE if you want to communicate from one system to one or more other internal systems i.e within same organisation or business.This means ALE enables the integration of business processes across several SAP or non-SAP systems for the client.

For both these forms of communication, you require the IDoc Interface.


IDoc, short for Intermediate Document, is an SAP document format for business transaction data transfers.The IDoc interface exchanges business data with an external system.It consists of the definition of a data structure, along with processing logic for this data structure.This data structure is the IDoc

IDoc consists of a Control data record, Data record and Status record.Let us see these elements in brief.

Control Record

The control record of an idoc contains data identifying the sender, the receiver, and the data structure. You can access the information by clicking on the field when displaying an idoc. The most important information in this screen is the sender and receiving partners. This information is sometimes required when updating the idoc status manually or retrieving overviews from the SAP database 

Data Record

Dat record contains segment names in its control part (i.e. Field names) and actual application data.This data can be modified in transaction WE02 and the IDoc reprocessed in TCode BD87.

Status Record

 Status record contains IDoc ID and status information.

Partner Profiles

You specify the partners with which electronic data interchange should take place in the partner profile. You define the characteristics for the data exchange at the partner and logical message levels.A partner profile will always be maintained for the party you exchange data with.

Message Types

Message Type identifies inbound and outbound documents.Ex: Message Type ORDERS identifies Purchase Orders for outbound and Sales Orders for inbound processing.

 Message Types are assigned to Partner Profiles. Message Type can be assigned to many IDoc types.


BD87: Re-processing Inbound IDoc’s.
BD88: Re-processing Outbound IDoc’s.
SM58: RFC-layer, If not authorized you can use SE16 table ARFCSSTATE.
WE02: Idoc list detailed selection possible.
WE20: Partner profiles 

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