API SmackDown: Round Two. BAPIs

Can we all just be friends?
Can we all just be friends?

After covering the “EDI vs API” controversy in the last issue, I didn’t expect to write about the APIs so soon. But this SAP Community post asking to “comment your views on using an API over IDOCs or BAPIs” made me think oh boy, here we go again. 

In common parlance, API means a piece of code that does certain thing(s). APIs typically have some input/output parameters but “what happens in API, stays in API”. One could think of an ATM machine as an API: we put our bank card in and get money out. What exactly happens inside the machine, we don’t know or even care.

In SAP, the earliest implementations of APIs were the function modules. And BAPIs (“business API”) are just a special type of function module. Later, global classes came around, then the SOAP / REST APIs. The latter are now commonly referred to as “APIs” and are exposed on SAP API Hub.

Based on the development context, the choice is obvious. If you’re building a web application or an external interface, then use the APIs. If for any reason it’s not feasible, then look for other options, which might include eventually using a BAPI (either via RFC or wrapped in an OData service). But if you are working “within SAP”, then web APIs are not going to be very helpful in ABAP code, wouldn’t they? So there is simply no scenario in which the thought “hmm, should I go with BAPI or API” would be relevant. JP

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