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A listing of glossary words specific to Idoc processing can help understand how Intermediate Documents work. 


ALE - Application link enabeling, like EDI only a bit smarter: it uses transactional remote function calls to communicate with other SAP systems. The Idoc setup is still fully utilized, but without using files. Key: SAP application to SAP application.
Basic type - A definition of the contents of an Idoc, as delivered by standard SAP, or as created from scratch (new).
Change pointer - Triggering mechanism where changes to master data are logged and Idoc are created from the change pointers at timed intervals - Change pointers
Control record - Idoc header information which can be found in different ways (depending on the status of the IDOC): in the Idoc file as record structure EDI_DC40, in an RFC call in the same record structure, in the SAP database in table EDIDC.
Customer distribution model - The customer distribution model (or CDM) is a mechanism that will automatically determine the receiving partner of an outbound Idoc for a certain message type (if the Idoc is created without receiver). - The customer distribution model
Data record - Idoc data is held on a data record, like Control record: in the Idoc file as record structure EDI_DD40, in an RFC call in the same record structure, in the SAP database in table EDIDD or EDID234?
EDI - Electronic Data Interchange: typically using the Idoc system for both inbound and outbound to and from flat files in a certain directory somewhere. Key: using files that may be sent across networks by e.g. FTP. Used to communicate to non SAP systems (as well as SAP systems)
Extension - A definition of the contents of an Idoc, merged with a Basic type.
Idoc - Intermediate document, a SAP document much like a purchase order or a requisition, only Idoc's are about electronic messages that are send out of the system (outbound) or received into the system (inbound)
Idoc type - The definition of the contents of the Idoc, the Idoc type = Basic IDOC type + Extension, a definition of segments and the relations between segments.
Message type - Field on the Idoc control record which indicates the function of the message, e.g. "create a purchase order" and "change a purchase order" would typically have different message types (even though the rest of the contents of the Idoc could be exactly the same).
RFC - Remote Function Call, call a function on another system (which is not necessarily a SAP system)
Segment - A segment is a record definition used by Idocs, which is also an SAP DDIC structure. Segments can be available for several SAP versions, hence the segment type: it groups several segments from different versions together and lets you choose the "active" one.
Status record - Status information on an Idoc that allready stored in SAP (table EDIDS. This table gets updated with the latest status around. If you would ever consider updating (adding) a status yourself: use SAP's function module IDOC_STATUS_WRITE_TO_DATABASE.
Partner profile - Profile of the partner: a sender or receiver of an Idoc, with it's settings - Partner profiles
Process code - A code to identify which function module or API should be called to process an Idoc (inbound for creating the application data, outbound for gathering the Idoc's contents)
Port - Port to which data can be sent or retrieved, channel for communications, this could for example be a directory (port type File) or transactional RFC (an RFC destination, for ALE).
Qualified segment - A segment where the first field of the segment is used as "Segment qualifier" which identifies the contents type of the other segment fields