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SAP language conversion help


ABAP conversion

Direct text conversion *
...1 Text element conversion *
...2 Language conversion of Messages *
...3 Language conversion of screen attributes *
...4 Language conversion of Z Table texts *
...5 Language conversion of Help/Documentation *
Program modification *
...1 Removal/changing of Hard coded values *
...2 Re-alignment of reports *
Table contents update *
Creation of new external documents (Jetform, Intermec) *

Conclusion *


ABAP conversion

Please note that this document is written with the assumption that the SAP system along with a number of bespoke ABAP's have been developed and implemented in the UK. The requirement is for the system along with many of the bespoke developments to be deployed in Germany.

The conversion of existing ABAP programs to be German compatible could involve a number of different translations/modifications, which fall into the following categories:


Direct text conversion

Most of the areas for concern fall into this category and involve the creation of German text strings that would directly replace the English versions. Although this sounds straightforward there are a number of issues, which need to be considered such as who will perform the actual translation and how.

With regards to how the translation will be performed there is a translation transaction (SE63) that allows you to input a SAP object (program/ table etc.) and create new texts in any language. I am not sure how involved the extension team would be in this process other than to identify which SAP objects (programs, tables) for a particular extension need converting via SE63. The actual conversion would need to be performed by someone who is able to speak both English and German.

There are a number of SAP objects, which will be affected by direct translation, all of which will be translated in a similar way via transaction SE63:


  1. Text element conversion
    Text elements are simply elements of text referenced within the program. Most programs will contain these and will need to be converted into German. There are a number of issues with text conversion, one of which would be that direct translation does not always produce the correct outcome (i.e. a direct translation of 'GR' would probably not represent Goods receipt in German). Also there is the issue of who would be responsible for performing the translations. Due to the issue raised above regarding direct translation, it is felt that an understanding of the extension would be needed, as well as being able to speak both English and German. (See 1.2.2. Re-creation of reports)
  2. Most extensions required would be effected by this change.


  3. Language conversion of Messages
    Much the same as for text elements but with fewer extensions being affected and would not have adverse effect on the report output (1.2.2)

  5. Language conversion of screen attributes
    Created SAP screens will also need to be modified for the German implementation. Attributes such as title, screen fields, button text, menu bar text will need converting to German.
  6. This would happen in much the same way as text-elements and would be a straightforward language conversion, Requiring the assistance of someone who speaks both English and German.


  7. Language conversion of Z Table texts
    Any tables created could possibly need some degree of conversion, in that the short text and field labels associated with the data element will need to be in the appropriate language. If a Z table field is based on a SAP standard data element then the conversion will have already been done. The appropriate language will be displayed automatically based on the log on language. On the other hand if a new data element was required then the conversion of its texts and field labels will need to be done manually.

  9. Language conversion of Help/Documentation
    Most SAP objects created will have some documentation associated with then which could also needs converting. Although this could help understanding of the object or provide additional information for the user it is only for documentation purposes and will not effect the execution of the program.


Program modification

Program modifications will involve an alteration to the source code, which covers modifications such as:


  1. Removal/changing of Hard coded values
    Many ABAP programs have been written in such a way that values have had to be hard coded into the program code. This will cause problems when implementing in Germany, as the hard coded values may not be relevant to the German system (e.g. Plant 1202)

  3. Re-alignment of reports
    When a report is created within the ABAP and displayed for the user it sometimes relies on the fact that text strings/elements are of a certain length. If after the text element conversion process (See 1.1.1. text element conversion) these texts are no longer the same length it could possibly cause the report to be out of line. In this situation the code would have to be changed slightly to reformat the report. I therefore feel that in-order to reduce the amount of effort needed converted text element lengths should remain unchanged as much as possible.


Table contents update

Instead of having hard coded values a number of extensions reference data that is stored on a Z table (Look-up table). If this data consists of English text or data not appropriate to the German system, it would need to be translated accordingly. This modification would involve implementing an additional field on the table to identify the language of the text followed by an ABAP code change to retrieve text in the correct language.


Creation of new external documents (Jetform, Intermec)

Many extensions produce documents that are created using application software other than SAP (i.e. Jetform). If many extensions use Jetform design documents, these would have to be converted into German. With Jetform a large percentage of the document text is implemented as part of the Jetform design. Therefor in-order for these extensions to be used on a German system an identical German version of the Jetform would need to be created.

There are two possibilities of complexity for this conversion process, with the simplest requiring the creation of the new German document and a simple check in the ABAP code to decide which language to print in. This scenario would rely on being able to fit German text into the existing document format/layout.

On the other hand if the German text requires increased space or requires a modified layout then the ABAP print program and SAPScript could also need modifying.



In conclusion a number of conversion issues have been identified, many of which are related to the translation of English text strings into German. This translation would need to be carried out by someone who can speak both English and German using transaction SE63. This displays the current texts and allows the creation of corresponding texts in any language. An example development process is shown below in Table 1. The ABAP developer would review the extension and identify any objects that require text conversion. These objects would then be passed to a translator who would use SE63 to translate all the related texts from English to German while the ABAP developer performs other required conversions such as hard coded values, Jetform creation etc. Testing could then be performed and any alterations carried out.



(Speaks both English and German)

ABAP Programmer



Review extension



Identify Objects associated with extension (programs, messages etc)


Use of SE63 to convert text strings from English to German

Modify program to implement other conversions such as hard coded values, Jetform creation.


Test Program - check report looks OK and texts are in correct place. I.e. compare with English version.

Test program modifications



Test Program modifications along with German text translations.



Report re-alignment if required




Table 1: Table describing role of people involved in conversion process.

Other recommendations have also been identified to help reduce the amount of effort required for the conversion process. These include ensuring the corresponding German texts are not longer than the English versions. This would reduce the risk of having to re-align reports, as the new texts would simple replace the UK versions without the need for additional space (See 1.2.2 Re-alignment of reports).

Although text translation will effect most, if not all required extensions I feel that other conversion issues such as removal of hard coded values, table updates could provide the biggest problems. They are also more individual to a particular extension making it difficult to provide a general description of how to tackle them and what will be involved.

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