Working with Information SAP BASIS

User work on the SAP systems normally involves entering data into the system or displaying information from it. To perform those functions, users select options from menus, enter data in the input fields, send jobs to the printer, and interact with the system through dialog boxes. A field is a single unit of information, such as a zip code or a last name. Fields have a field name (a description) and field data (actual data).

The example of some fields in a SAP window, where User is the field name and SMITH is the actual data.

Example of field description and field data

Example of field description and field data

There are two field types in the SAP GUI windows: display fields and input fields. Display fields are fields that show information to the users. Input fields are fields where users can enter data. Fields have different lengths limiting the amount of allowed characters. In the SAP windows, the field length is determined by the length shown on the screen, or by the length of the database field. When entering data, users have two common methods available in standard windows applications that require entering information: overwrite (replace) and insert. The default in SAP is set to replace. The status bar shows the mode (OVR or INS) in which a user is working. To switch methods, just press INS on the keyboard. It works like a toggle.

To enter data in a field, just position the cursor and type it in. When finished and the field is full, the cursor moves to the next field automatically when autoTAB is enabled. Otherwise, just press TAB or click on the next field.

Possible Entries for an Input Field

The SAP system provides several types of facilities for helping users fill the data in fields. Input fields sometimes show a possible entries arrow, where the system can display a list of possible entries. Users select the entry, and the system transfers them automatically to the field. Another method of finding entries is with search helps (in older releases they were known as matchcodes). As their names state, these are methods for helping users find possible entries using different search criteria, that is, using other related fields. Fields with possible entries (Industry Sector and Material Type) and with a search help (Material).

Example of possible entries and search help

Example of possible entries and search help

To display a list of values, position the cursor on the field, click on the possible entries arrow, or press F4. If the field is associated with a search help, a dialog box for selecting the search criteria will appear where you can restrict the values of the search or modifying the maximum number of hits.

Restricting Search Values dialog box

Restricting Search Values dialog box

To select an entry, double-click on it, or click once and press ENTER. Value is transferred to the field. To change the data in an input field, normally just type over it. If the field is for display only, no change is possible, unless you have a button that can switch between display and change modes. Display-only fields have the same color background as the screen's background. When working in the SAP system, some input fields are required. If a particular screen contains a required field, you must enter data into it in order to proceed to the next screen in the task or transaction.

Sometimes users find screens without required fields. In such cases, users can proceed without entering any data. However, in some situations, if data are entered in nonrequired fields, users might have to deal with any required fields associated with them. Trying to proceed to the next screen when a required field has not been filled out triggers an error message in the status bar, and the cursor is automatically positioned in the required field. Often you can get help on values to enter in input fields that do not have an associated search help but do have a possible entries list sign.

This last option is common when the search does not have to mix different views or tables but only has to use the main table associated with a field. To display a list of entries for a field, just position the cursor on the field. If it has possible entries, the sign button appears to the right. Clicking on it displays the possible values. If the sign does not show, then the field does not have possible entries. To select one of the values shown in the list and transfer it to the field, double-click on the desired value. If the number of entries is very long, it can be limited by using wildcards in the field before clicking on the possible entries arrow. For example, entering ma* will only display values starting with ma.

SAP provides functions to ease the input of repetitive data, for example, when filling out invoices, material master records, orders, or even when creating users with similar data. Those facilities can be used with the Set Data and the Hold Data functions. For example, suppose you want to create users with the same role or profile. You can enter the data once and hold them, using these data for the creation of the rest of the users. The system can transfer automatically the held data to the corresponding input fields. These functions are located under the System | User Profile menu. These functions are not available in all the screens. The system will display a message in the status bar when this occurs. With the Hold Data function, users can change the data after data are transferred to the input fields. With Set Data, changes are not possible. This means that Hold Data is good for occasions when there are small differences in the fields. Set Data has the advantage that the cursor skips over input fields with held data, so you don't have to move among fields.

Data are held on a screen until a user decides to delete the held data or when the user logs off from the SAP system. To hold the data on the screen, you first enter the data to be held in the input fields. Then, select System | User Profile from the menu bar. If you want to hold the data with the ability to change the data, choose Hold Data. If you want to hold the data without changing the data and to skip the fields with held data, select Set Data. If Hold Data and Set Data are not available, a message is displayed in the status bar. To delete the data held on a screen, go to the screen containing the held data to be deleted and choose System | User Profile | Delete Data from the menu bar.

User parameters are other facilities that the R/3 system offers for fast data input. User parameters are associated with certain common fields of the system, but not all. For example, common input fields in many SAP business applications are Company Code, Plant, Purchasing Group, and so forth. When you define a user parameter for a field, every time and in every screen that the same field appears, it will have the default value specified.
In order to define these parameters, you have to know the technical details of the fields you want to set. To get the parameter name (PID), press F1 for the field for which you want to set the value. This function displays a help screen for the field that includes the Technical Info button in a dialog box.

Clicking this button, you get the Technical Information screen for this field: table name, field name, and so on. Figure shows an example of this screen. On the field data section, you can see the Parameter ID field. In the example, this parameter is MAT, which corresponds to material. If you always work with the same material, you can enter this parameter in your defaults. To do so, select System | User Profile | Own Data from the main menu. On this screen, click on the Parameters tabstrip, and enter the parameter ID code and the default value. Upon pressing ENTER, the system will automatically display the definition for the parameter. Here, users can enter as many parameters IDs as they like.

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