Difference between EDI, ALE and BAPI

EDI or Electronic data Interchange is a process in which data is transferred between an SAP system and another system. The latter one can be a non-SAP system too.

ALE (Application Link Enable) and BAPI(Business Application Programming Interface) are also another ways of transferring data between systems.

The main difference between EDI and ALE, BAPI is in the transfer of data. For EDI the transfer of data is from IDoc's( Intermediate documents) to a flat file. Where as in ALE and BAPI it is from Memory to memory transfer.

From an MM consultant point of view, when there is a conversion of data say a Purchase Order from your system to a sales order in the later system, then we use Idocs (or EDI). But when we wanted to send a Purchase order which is to be the same in the later system then we use ALE or BAPI.

For EDI/IDocs to be implemeted a subsystem is required to convert the Idocs to a flatfile and vice versa. This is usually maintained by EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) team.

Gentran is a common tool used for EDI mappings.

A Functional Consultant you would be writing the secifications to map the required fields (What fields are required and how they should be mapped and calculations if any) in our system.

A Technical Consultant would write the approriate code to calcuate the logistics and also the required ssettings if any.

An EAI Consultant would map the required fields of SAP.

These are my views, again comment or let me know yuour views so that I can correct them, if any.


  1. What you have mentioned seems OK to me;for communication of SAP WITH NON SAP SYSTEM ;we require EDI through Idoc protocol to process EXCHANGE inbound or outbound in SAP SYSTEM.
    However exchange in two SAP systems will be through ALE and need not have Idoc protocol for exchanges but through direct memory transfer.

    August 8, 2009 1:47 PM

  2. Thank you Dev for your comments. If you could elaborate more on your comment that would be useful to both myself as well as to our webmates

  3. hi,
    i did not get the point that data transfer ale(idoc) and bapi,edi(memory to memory)
    i have read in sdn site that idoc uses ale(transfer b/w sap and sap)
    and edi(transfer b/w sap and non sap)

  4. I don't think the differences mentioned are right

  5. @ddd: Thank you for your comments. Could you please provide more info on this. I get comments that it is not right or its different. If someone could post the difference or more information here, that would be helpful for me to understand as well as informative for other users

  6. I think if you dont know the subject you should not make a posting because it misleads people into thinking you know what you are discussing. IDOC data communication is not simple in either ALE or EDI. EDI involved communication outside SAP involves further complication with various international standard message types which are not necessarily flat files. I cannot provide all the complications of data transposition between systems and message types and functions because this is a large subject. Read a few books is my suggestion or get many years of experience.

  7. I tried to look over every post but i am not clear about interface. Any book or material for reference will great help for me and other poeple like me