Call a BAPI/RFC Module with SAP Cloud SDK for Java

What is a BAPI/an RFC Module?#

As per the official SAP documentation, a BAPI (Business Application Programming Interface) is a precisely defined interface providing access to processes and data in business application systems. BAPIs allow external systems to integrate with ABAP systems by reading and writing business data through the BAPI as an interface. By contrast, an RFC module can also be used for such integrations. However, the recommended approach is to leverage BAPIs wherever possible as BAPIs guarantee more stable and intuitive interfaces.

On the technical level, both BAPIs and RFC modules allow for invocation from external systems through the RFC protocol (Remote Function Call). As opposed to HTTP, RFC is a binary protocol highly-optimized for fast data transfer between enterprise systems.

You can find more differences between BAPI and RFC module on the programming model. Here is a brief overview:

  • BAPIs have names that always start with "BAPI". RFC modules have more flexible naming conventions.
  • BAPIs do not throw exceptions, but leverage return tables to transfer messages to the caller.
  • BAPIs do not use changing parameters, while RFC modules may do.

To improve readability, we use the term BAPI in the remainder only but always refer to both BAPIs and RFC modules.

Technical Overview#

SAP offers the SAP Java Connector library, hereafter referred to as JCo in short, that allows native access to BAPIs inside SAP systems. That means, one can also invoke BAPIs without using the SAP Cloud SDK by solely leveraging JCo.

SAP Cloud SDK offers a convenient Java API on top of JCo that integrates with other SDK core concepts, such as the destination retrieval on SCP, as well as a nice way to mapping Java entity classes to BAPI input parameters and result sets.

JCo is not packaged with SAP Cloud SDK

SAP Cloud SDK does not package JCo as library with its dependencies. The SDK assumes that JCo is available on the JVM classpath.

On the SCP Neo landscape, JCo is automatically provided by the infrastructure, on the SCP Cloud Foundry landscape one must use the SAP Java Build Pack during app deployment. There are other edge cases that we'll cover later.

Call a BAPI in a SAP ABAP system#

Generate SDK project

If you're starting from scratch, generate a Tomee project following the steps in the Getting started guide.

Implement an Example BAPI Call#

Example Scenario#

We build an app that we deploy to SCP Cloud Foundry. This app exposes a servlet which invokes a BAPI to retrieve cost center information from e.g. SAP S/4HANA. The servlet has two input parameters which we supply in the query string:

  • destinationName: Defines which SCP destination to use for connecting to SAP S/4HANA.
  • controllingArea: Defines the controlling area for the cost center retrieval.

The app retrieves the SCP destination with SDK core capabilities, creates a BAPI request and issues that to SAP S/4HANA through the SAP Cloud Connector. We use the SAP Cloud Connector in order to access an SAP S/4HANA On-Premise system.

The BAPI result contains cost center information which we print to the servlet response.


Create Cost Center Abstraction#

Firstly, we create an abstraction for the cost center as business entity. Thereby we gain type-safe access to the cost center information.

Create a new class CostCenter and implement it as follows:

public class CostCenter {
String controllingArea;
String id;
String name;
String description;

The annotation @Value is a class-level annotation that comes from Lombok, check outs its documentation when curious.

We annotate every class member with @ElementName declaring the respective ABAP field name. The SDK uses this meta data to map the ABAP field to the Java field. You can look up the ABAP field name in S/4HANA transaction SE37 by opening the BAPI parameter list.

To make that compile, we add Lombok to our application pom as dependency. Open application/pom.xml and add that dependency:


Run mvn clean install to verify that everything goes well.

Implement the Servlet#

Open the HelloWorldSerlvet and delete its current implementation, we'll replace that with the BAPI call in the following.

Firstly, we read out the two mentioned servlet parameters from the query string.

protected void doGet(final HttpServletRequest request, final HttpServletResponse response )
throws IOException
final String destinationName = request.getParameter("destinationName");
final String controllingArea = request.getParameter("controllingArea");

Thereafter we instruct the SAP Cloud SDK to retrieve the SCP destination as per the provided name.

final Destination destination = DestinationAccessor.getDestination(destinationName);

Now follows the actual BAPI invocation.

final BapiRequestResult result = new BapiRequest("BAPI_COSTCENTER_GETLIST1")

We use the BAPI BAPI_COSTCENTER_GETLIST1 to fetch cost center details from SAP S/4HANA. We call it with these parameters:

  • Importing: CONTROLLINGAREA is supplied with the controlling area the servlet received
  • Tables: COSTCENTERLIST provides us a list of cost centers that belong to the controlling area along with some cost center data
  • Tables: RETURN is the BAPI return table which contains the result messages after BAPI processing

Here is how you code that with the SAP Cloud SDK.

.withExporting("CONTROLLINGAREA", "BAPI0012_GEN-CO_AREA", controllingArea)
.withTable("COSTCENTERLIST", "BAPI0012_CCLIST").end()

We call withExporting with the parameter name as first argument. The second argument BAPI0012_GEN-CO_AREA represents the ABAP data type of the BAPI parameter. You can look that up in transaction SE37 under the respective BAPI name. Thirdly, we pass the actual controlling area to the method.

Using withTable allows us accessing the table parameter result after BAPI processing. If we would not call this method, the SDK would not ignore this tables parameter from the BAPI response, even though it contains some data. The second parameter is again the ABAP data type.

The invocation of method withTableAsReturn instructs the SAP Cloud SDK to treat the tables parameter with name BAPIRET2 as BAPI result table. We'll see later how that helps us accessing the BAPI result in Java.

The BAPI invocation gets finished with a call to .execute(destination).

Here is the full method call chain:

final BapiRequestResult result = new BapiRequest("BAPI_COSTCENTER_GETLIST1")
.withExporting("CONTROLLINGAREA", "BAPI0012_GEN-CO_AREA", controllingArea)
.withTable("COSTCENTERLIST", "BAPI0012_CCLIST").end()

We receive an instance of BapiRequestResult. Let's look at how to access the BAPI result in detail.

As mentioned above, we're interested in the cost center list and its content. Therefore, we access the COSTCENTERLIST tables parameter.

final List<CostCenter> costCenterList = result

This helps you automatically retrieve List<CostCenter> and can access the output in a type-safe way. On the return type of result.get("COSTCENTERLIST") you call getAsCollection() to treat this parameter as a collection and then you instruct the SDK to transfer the contained entries into individual CostCenter instances with asList(...).

Further processing depends on the use case. For example, we could simply print the cost centers to the servlet response.

for (final CostCenter costCenter : costCenterList) {

Before deploying the app, let's point out more possibilites to access the BAPI result. The class BapiRequestResult allows you to access the return table as follows:

  • Use getErrorMessages(), getSuccessMessages(), getWarningMessages() and getInformationMessages to access the returned messages.
  • Use hasFailed() to figure out if the BAPI call was in it self working. Note that this is a convenient method for checking if getErrorMessages() is empty. That is, the intepretation whether the BAPI call was successful highly depends on the business context and you could implement your own logic for that purpose.

You might notice that the execute method declares to throw a RequestExecutionException in case of a failure at runtime. That requires encapsulating the BAPI call in a try-catch block.

try {
final BapiRequestResult result = new BapiRequest("BAPI_COSTCENTER_GETLIST1")
.withExporting("CONTROLLINGAREA", "BAPI0012_GEN-CO_AREA", controllingArea)
.withTable("COSTCENTERLIST", "BAPI0012_CCLIST").end()
final List<CostCenter> costCenterList = result
for (final CostCenter costCenter : costCenterList) {
} catch (final RequestExecutionException e) {

Run mvn clean install to verify that your app compiles and to assemble it to a deployable artifact.

Difference for RFC Module#

The presented code works for RFC modules too. The only difference is to use alternative classes:

  • RfmRequest instead of BapiRequest
  • RfmRequestResult instead of BapiRequestResult

Deploy to SAP Cloud Platform - Cloud Foundry#

Invoke cf push from the directory root to deploy the app to your SAP Cloud Foundry space.

Configure SAP Cloud Platform - Cloud Foundry#


Here is what you'll need to make progress throughout the next steps.

  • Node installed on your own machine
  • User in SAP S/4HANA target system
  • SCP Cloud Foundry subaccount with entitlements for XSUAA, destination and connectivity service
  • SAP Cloud Connector connected to the SAP Cloud Foundry subaccount (if SAP S/4HANA is On-Premise)

Official tutorials for setting up these scenarios can be found here.

Setup App Router (optional)#

If tenant-aware access of JCo and its required microservices or Principal Propagation want to be achieved, it is required that the app is invoked with a JWT containing the user context. For that, securing the backend with an app router is required. Follow this tutorial to setup the app router.

Setup Cloud Connector for SAP S/4HANA On-Premise access#

Expose the S/4HANA system in the SAP Cloud Connector as described in the official documentation.

Setup Destination#

Open the SCP cockpit on the subaccount level. Navigate to Connectivity -> Destinations and create a new RFC destination with these properties.

  • Name: BAPI-TEST (you can choose your own name of course)
  • Type: RFC
  • ProxyType: On-Premise
  • User: Enter the SAP S/4HANA user name
  • Password: Enter the SAP S/4HANA password
  • Additional properties:
    • jco.client.ashost: Enter the SAP S/4HANA host name
    • jco.client.client: Enter the SAP S/4HANA client
    • jco.client.sysnr: Enter the SAP S/4HANA instance number

For performance improvements of your app please consider using optional properties additionally such as jco.client.serialization_format (see further in JCo documentation).


This destination setup is exemplary for accessing an On-Premise SAP S/4HANA system directly, if you want to access it e.g. via message server logon or you want to access a cloud system via WebSocketRFC, please adapt the properties as described in the official documentation.

Call the Test App#

Our test app has the two servlet parameters destinationName and controllingArea. Suppose our destination has the name BAPI-TEST and we intend to read cost centers from controlling area 0001, we'd call the test app with the relative path hello?destinationName=BAPI-TEST&controllingArea=0001.

Access the test app through your browser with the address comprising of the full host name plus the relative path. You should see the login prompt of the protected backend. After authentication, the servlet is invoked and you should see the servlet response printing the cost center details.

Boundary Conditions and Edge Cases#

JCo Classes not found at Runtime#

The JCo classes are available on the JVM classpath at runtime. If not, the exception in such cases reads like java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: com/sap/conn/jco/JCoException.

Possible reasons and resolutions:

  • There have been issues with finding JCo classes in a Spring Boot project. In such cases using the "traditional deployment" of Spring solved the problem. Thereby you deploy a war file instead of a jar file and you use Tomcat as the servlet container.
  • On SCP Cloud Foundry, the SAP Java Build Pack brings JCo as a dependency. The problem arises when the build pack is not used. That is, you must declare its usage in your deployment descriptor manifest.yml as such:
- name: testapp
- sap_java_buildpack
USE_JCO: true
  • Furthermore you must specify the environment variable USE_JCO in order to load JCo during app deployment.

Decoration of RFC Destinations#

In the realm of HTTP, destinations allow decoration to add further features to them. For instance, an ErpHttpDestination can decorate an HttpDestination which introduces the enhancement of request headers with S/4HANA-specific destination properties (e.g., sap-client).

final HttpDestination httpDestination = DestinationAccessor.getDestination(destinationName).asHttp();
final DefaultErpHttpDestination erpHttpDestination = httpDestination.decorate(DefaultErpHttpDestination::new);

Simply speaking, for RFC destinations such decorations do not exist.

Local Deployment#

It is possible to execute BAPI calls from a Java app that runs on localhost. That requires a few configuration steps.


Some configuration steps differ depending on which Maven archetype (Spring or TomEE) you use.

Download and Install JCo Library#

  • Download the JCO library from the official product page.
  • Extract the downloaded archive and note the JCo version (e.g., 3.1.2) from the Readme.txt file.
  • Install the JAR file to your local Maven cache by running the following command:

    Before running the command, replace <sapjco-version> with the JCo version you downloaded.

    mvn install:install-file -Dfile=sapjco3.jar -Dversion=<sapjco-version> -Dpackaging=jar
  • Now Maven uses the JCo JAR file when declaring the dependency in your pom file.

Add Dependency to you POM#

  • Add this new dependency to your pom.xml in the application folder:
  • Build the app with mvn clean package.

Replace the placeholder X.Y.Z with the JCo version you downloaded.

Add JCo Library to System Path#

Open the file javadoc/installation.html from the extracted JCo archive and follow the installation instructions. Essentially you have to add the directory where you extracted the JCo archive to one system environment variable. The variable name depends on your operating system.

  • For Windows, add the directory which contains the downloaded JCo archive to the system environment variable PATH.
  • For MacOS, add the directory which contains the downloaded JCo archive to the system environment variable DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH.
If you face an exception like the following ones, then you must configure the classpath to contain the `sapjco3.jar` file to as shown hereafter. - `Could not initialize class` - `java.lang.UnsatisfiedLinkError: no sapjco3 in java.library.path`

To overcome these exceptions, configure the classpath via the TomEE Maven plugin.


Create a Destination File#

  • Create a file <destination-name>.jcoDestination where you replace <destination-name> with the name of the destination.
  • Add the following properties to the file:

Replace every <placeholder> with the respective value.

Point JCo to your Destination File#

JCo considers the system property jco.destinations.dir to look for destination files. The property value must be the directory where the destination file resides.


Note that the system property must point to the directory, not to the Destination file.

You can set the property in your Java code like so:

System.setProperty("jco.destinations.dir", "here-comes-the-directory-with-destination");

Alternatively, you can pass the system property to the JVM via configuration in different ways depending on the chosen archetype.

You can see the system property `jco.destinations.dir` via the Maven plugin configuration as follows:

Launch App on Localhost#

Build your app with mvn clean package and launch it with mvn tomee:run. Then, access the HTTP endpoint exposed by your app.

WebSocket RFC Client Communication#

JCo supports RFC calls from the client-side via web sockets as of version 3.1.2. For this scenario, a certain configuration is required within the SAP ERP system as well as new RFC destination properties must be configured. Download the JCo package from JCo product website and check out the contained release notes for further details.

Last updated on by Emdee89