D Goes Business

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A long-time contributor to the D community, Kai Nacke is the author of ‘D Web Development‘ and the maintainer of LDC, the LLVM D Compiler. Be sure to catch Kai at DConf 2018 in Munich, May 2 – 5, where he’ll be speaking about “D for the Blockchain“.

Many companies run their business processes on an SAP system. Often other applications need to access the SAP system because they provide data or request some calculation. There are many ways to achieve this… Let’s use D for it!


The SDK and the D binding

As an SAP customer you can download the SAP NetWeaver Remote Function Call SDK. You can call RFC-enabled functions in the SAP system from a native application. Conversely, it is possible from an ABAP program to call a function in a native program. The API documentation for the library is available as a separate download. I recommend downloading it together with the library.

The C/C++ interface is well structured but can be very tedious to use. That’s why I not only created a D binding for the library but also used some D magic to make the developer’s life much easier. I introduced the following additions:

  • Most functions have a parameter of type RFC_ERROR_INFO. As the name implies, this is only needed in case of an error. For each of these functions a new function is generated without the RFC_ERROR_INFO parameter and the return type RFC_RC changed to void. Instead, a SAPException is thrown in case of error.
  • Functions named RfcGet*Count now return a size_t value instead of using an out parameter. This is possible because of the above step which changed the return type to void.
  • Functions named Rfc*ByIndex use a size_t parameter for the index, thus better integrating with D.
  • Functions which have a pointer and length value now accept a D array instead.
  • Use of pointers to zero-terminated UTF–16 strings is replaced with wstring type parameters.

Using the library is easy, just add

dependency "sapnwrfc-d"

to your dub.sdl file. One caveat: the libraries provided by the SAP package must be installed in such a way that the linker can find them. On Windows, you can add the path to the lib folder of the SDK to the LIB and PATH environment variables.

An example application

Let’s create an application calling a remote-enabled function on the SAP system. I use the DATE_COMPUTE_DAY function because it is simple but still has import and export parameters. This function takes a date (a string of format “YYYYMMDD”) and returns the weekday as a number (1 = Monday, 2 = Tuesday and so on).

The application needs two parameters: the system identifier of the SAP system and the date. The system identifier denotes the destination for the RFC call. The parameters for the connection must be in the sapnwrfc.ini file, which must be located in the same folder as the application executable. An invocation of the application using the SAP system X01 looks like this:

D:\OpenSource\sapnwrfc-example>sapnwrfc-example.exe X01 20180316
Date 20180316 is day 5

First, create the application with DUB:

D:\OpenSource>dub init sapnwrfc-example
Package recipe format (sdl/json) [json]: sdl
Name [sapnwrfc-example]:
Description [A minimal D application.]: An example rfc application
Author name [Kai]: Kai Nacke
License [proprietary]:
Copyright string [Copyright © 2018, Kai Nacke]:
Add dependency (leave empty to skip) []: sapnwrfc-d
Added dependency sapnwrfc-d ~>0.0.5
Add dependency (leave empty to skip) []:
Successfully created an empty project in 'D:\OpenSource\sapnwrfc-example'.
Package successfully created in sapnwrfc-example


Let’s edit the application in source\app.d. Since this is only an example application, I’ve put all the code into the main() function. In order to use the library you simply import the sapnwrfc module. Most functions can throw a SAPException, so you want to wrap them in a try block.

import std.stdio;
import sapnwrfc;

int main(string[] args)
        // Put your code here
    catch (SAPException e)
        writefln("Error occured %d %s", e.code, e.codeAsString);
        writefln("'%s'", e.message);
        return 100;
    return 0;

The library uses only UTF–16. Like the C/C++ version, the alias cU() can be used to create a zero-terminated UTF–16 string from a D string. I convert the command line parameters first:

    auto dest = cU(args[1]);
    auto date = cU(args[2]);

Now initialize the library. Most important, this function loads the sapnwrfc.ini file and initializes the environment. If this call is missing then it is implicitly done inside the library. Nevertheless, I recommend calling the function. It is possible that I will add more functionality to this function.


The next step is to open a connection to the SAP system. Since the connection parameters are in the sapnwrf.ini file, it is only necessary to provide the destination. In your own application you do not need to use the sapnwrf.ini file. You can provide all parameters in the RFC_CONNECTION_PARAMETER[] array which is passed to the RfcOpenConnection() function.

    RFC_CONNECTION_PARAMETER[1] conParams = [ { "DEST"w.ptr, dest } ];
    auto connection = RfcOpenConnection(conParams);
    scope(exit) RfcCloseConnection(connection);

Please note the D features used here. A string literal is always zero-terminated, therefore there is no need to use cU() on the "DEST"w literal. With the scope guard, I make sure that the connection is closed at the end of the block.

Before you can make an RFC call, you have to retrieve the function meta data (function description) and create the function from it.

    auto desc = RfcGetFunctionDesc(connection, "DATE_COMPUTE_DAY"w);
    auto func = RfcCreateFunction(desc);
    scope(exit) RfcDestroyFunction(func);

The RfcGetFunctionDesc() calls the SAP system to look up the meta data. The result is cached to avoid a network round trip each time you invoke this function. The implication is that the remote user needs the right to perform the look up. If this step fails with a security-related error, you should talk to your SAP administrator and review the rights of the remote user.

The DATE_COMPUTE_DAY function has one import parameter, DATE. To pass a parameter you call one of the RfcSetXXX() or RfcSetXXXByIndex() functions. The difference is that the first variant uses the parameter name (here: "DATE") or the index of the parameter in the signature (here: 1). I often use the named parameter because the resulting code is much more readable. The date data type expects an 8 character UTF–16 array.

    RfcSetDate(func, "DATE", date[0..8]);

Now the function can be called:

    RfcInvoke(connection, func);

The computed weekday is returned in the export parameter DAY. There is a set of RfcGetXXX() and RfcGetXXXByIndex() functions to retrieve the value.

    wchar[1] day;
    RfcGetChars(func, "DAY", day);

Let’s print the result:

    writefln("Date %s is weekday %s", date[0..8], day);

Congratulations! You’ve finished your first RFC call.

Build the application with dub build. Before you can run the application you still need to create the sapnwrfc.ini file. This looks like:


The SDK contains a commented sapnwrfc.ini file in the demo folder. If you are on Windows and your system still uses SAP GUI with the (deprecated) saplogon.ini file, then you can use the createini example application from my bindings library to convert the saplogon.ini file into the sapnwrfc.ini file.


Calling an RFC function of an SAP system with D is very easy. D features like support for UTF–16 strings, scope guards, and exceptions make the source quite readable. The presented example application is part of the D bindings library and can be downloaded from GitHub at https://github.com/redstar/sapnwrfc-d.

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