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Reduce unneeded repetition in your ABAP code with inline DATA & FIELD-SYMBOLS declarations.

Dev Tip: Take back program space and reduce unneeded repetition in your ABAP code with inline DATA and FIELD-SYMBOLS declarations.
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Tip of the Week

Take back program space and reduce unneeded repetition in your ABAP code with inline DATA and FIELD-SYMBOLS declarations.

Unless you’re being sent into the past to be eliminated by a younger version of yourself, you probably enjoy loops. They save program space, control flow, and reduce unneeded repetition. But next time you write a LOOP AT statement, consider that with ABAP 7.40 and above you can reduce repetition even further!


Well, OK. Let me temper your expectations. Before you assume that there’s some magic secret MAKE_LOOPS_BETTER = abap_true compiler directive, know that what I’ll show you can reduce code by one line per LOOP. But don’t knock it: that can add up.


Use inline declarations for both DATA and FIELD-SYMBOLS statements whenever possible. Don’t clutter your programs with giant blocks of:

DATA: ls_mara TYPE mara.

*Repeat umpteen times for other DATA needed


FIELD-SYMBOLS: <ls_vbap> TYPE vbap.

*Repeat umpteen times for other FIELD-SYMBOLS needed


*Finally getting to:

LOOP AT it_mara INTO ls_mara.

do_stuff( ls_mara ).




LOOP AT it_vbap ASSIGNING <ls_vbap>.

do_stuff( <ls_vbap> ).



Instead, you can shorthand it like this:

LOOP AT it_mara INTO DATA(ls_mara).

do_stuff( ls_mara ).




do_stuff( ls_vbap ).



It may seem trivial. What took 8 lines of code now takes 6. Big deal, Paul. But consider when 80 lines of code reduced to 60, or 800 reduce to 600. Those giant DATA: …  blocks are now smaller, and you spend less time mentally processing how data is allocated and more time processing how the program flows.


The other bonus: you’re less likely to want to risk the entire space-time continuum just to eliminate your past self for the verbose code.

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Paul Modderman loves creating things and sharing them. He has spoken at SAP TechEd, multiple ASUG regional events, ASUG Fall Focus, Google DevFest MN, Google ISV Days, and several webinars and SAP community gatherings. Paul's writing has been featured in SAP Professional Journal, on the SAPinsider blog, and the popular Mindset blog. He believes clear communication is just as important as code, but also has serious developer chops. His tech career has spanned web applications with technologies like .NET, Java, Python, and React to SAP soutions in ABAP, OData and SAPUI5. His work integrating Google, Fiori, and Android was featured at SAP SAPPHIRE. Paul was principal technical architect on Mindset's certified solutions CloudSimple and Analytics for BW. He's an SAP Developer Hero, honored in 2017. Paul is the author of two books: Mindset Perspectives: SAP Development Tips, Tricks, and Projects, and SAPUI5 and SAP Fiori: The Psychology of UX Design. His passion for innovative application architecture and tech evangelism shines through in everything he does.

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