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Clean ABAP

This guide is an adoption of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code for ABAP.

The Cheat Sheet is a print-optimized version.

Content

How to

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

How to Get Started with Clean Code

Clean ABAP > Content > How to > This section

If you are new to Clean Code, you should first read Robert C. Martin's Clean Code. The Clean Code Developer initiative may help you getting started with a didactically smooth stepwise introduction to the topic in general.

We recommend you to start with things that are easily understood and broadly accepted, such as Booleans, Conditions, and Ifs.

You will probably benefit most from the section Methods, especially Do one thing, do it well, do it only and Small, because these tremendously improve the overall structure of your code.

Some topics in here can spark difficult discussions in teams that are experienced in what they do but new to Clean Code; these topics are perfectly "healthy", but people may have problems making themselves comfortable with them in the beginning.

Continue to these more controversial topics later; especially Comments, Names, and Formatting can lead to near-religious disputes and should only be addressed by teams that already saw proof of Clean Code's positive effects.

How to Refactor Legacy Code

Clean ABAP > Content > How to > This section

The topics Booleans, Conditions, Ifs, and Methods are most rewarding if you are working on a legacy project with tons of code that you cannot or do not want to change because they can be applied to new code without conflicts.

The topic Names is very demanding for legacy projects, as it may introduce a breach between old and new code, up to a degree where sections like Avoid encodings, esp. Hungarian notation and prefixes are better ignored.

We observed good results with a four-step plan for refactoring:

  1. Get the team aboard. Communicate and explain the new style, and get everybody on the project team to agree to it. You don't need to commit all guidelines at once, just start with an undisputed small subset and evolve from there.

  2. Follow the boy scout rule to your daily work routine: always leave the code you edit a little cleaner than you found it. Don't obsess with this by sinking hours into "cleaning the campsite", just spend a couple of minutes extra and observe how the improvements accumulate over time.

  3. Build clean islands: from time to time, pick a small object or component and try to make it clean in all aspects. These islands demonstrate the benefit of what you're doing and form solidly tested home bases for further refactoring.

  4. Talk about it. No matter whether you set up old-school Fagan code reviews, hold info sessions, or form discussion boards in your favorite chat tool: you will need to talk about your experiences and learnings, to enable the team to grow a common understanding.

How to Check Automatically

Clean ABAP > Content > How to > This section

There is no comprehensive suite of static code checks that automatically detect the anti-patterns we describe here.

ABAP Test Cockpit, Code Inspector, Extended Check, and Checkman provide some checks that may help you find certain issues.

abapOpenChecks, an Open Source collection of Code Inspector checks, also covers some of the described anti-patterns.

How to Relate to Other Guides

Clean ABAP > Content > How to > This section

Our guide follows the spirit of Clean Code, meaning we adjusted some things to the ABAP programming language e.g. Throw CX_STATIC_CHECK for manageable exceptions.

Some facts are from the ABAP Programming Guidelines, which this guide is mostly compatible to; deviations are indicated and always in the spirit of cleaner code.

This guide also respects the DSAG's Recommendations for ABAP Development, although we are more precise in most details.

How to Disagree

Clean ABAP > Content > How to > This section

We wrote this style guide for readers who are already acquainted with Clean Code or who are right now working on that, with a strong focus on how to apply Clean Code specifically to ABAP.

Please mind that we therefore did not introduce all concepts in the same length and depth as the original book and related resources: these are still worth a read, especially if you disagree with things in here just because we didn't explain them very well. Use the links in the sections to read up on the background of our guidance.

You are free to discuss and disagree with anything we say here. One of the pillars of Clean Code is that the team rules. Just be sure to give things a fair chance before you discard them.

CONTRIBUTING.md suggests ways how you can change this guide or deviate from it in minor details.

Names

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Use descriptive names

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

Use names that convey the content and meaning of things.

CONSTANTS max_wait_time_in_seconds TYPE i ...
DATA customizing_entries TYPE STANDARD TABLE ...
METHODS read_user_preferences ...
CLASS /clean/user_preference_reader ...

Do not focus on the data type or technical encoding. They hardly contribute to understanding the code.

" anti-pattern
CONSTANTS sysubrc_04 TYPE sysubrc ...
DATA iso3166tab TYPE STANDARD TABLE ...
METHODS read_t005 ...
CLASS /dirty/t005_reader ...

Do not attempt to fix bad names by comments.

Read more in Chapter 2: Meaningful Names: Use Intention-Revealing Names of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Prefer solution domain and problem domain terms

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

Search for good names in the solution domain, i.e. computer science terms such as "queue" or "tree", and in the problem domain, i.e. business field terms such as "account" or "ledger".

Layers that are business-like will sound best when named according to the problem domain. This is especially true for components that are designed with Domain-Driven Design, such as APIs and business objects.

Layers that provide mostly technical functionality, such as factory classes and abstract algorithms, will sound best when named according to the solution domain.

In any case, do not attempt to make up your own language. We need to be able to exchange information between developers, product owners, partners and customers, so choose names that all of these can relate to without a customized dictionary.

Read more in Chapter 2: Meaningful Names: Use Solution Domain Names and [...]: Use Problem Domain Names of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Use plural

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

There is a legacy practice at SAP to name tables of things in singular, for example country for a "table of countries". Common tendency in the outside world is to use the plural for lists of things. We therefore recommend to prefer countries instead.

Read more in Chapter 2: Meaningful Names: Use Intention-Revealing Names of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Use pronounceable names

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

We think and talk a lot about objects, so use names that you can pronounce, for example prefer detection_object_types to something cryptic like dobjt.

Read more in Chapter 2: Meaningful Names: Use Pronounceable Names of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code

Avoid abbreviations

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

If you have enough space, write out names in full. Start abbreviating only if you exceed length limitations.

If you do have to abbreviate, start with the unimportant words.

Abbreviating things may appear efficient at first glance, but becomes ambiguous very fast. For example, does the "cust" in cust mean "customizing", "customer", or "custom"? All three are common in SAP applications.

Read more in Chapter 2: Meaningful Names: Make Meaningful Distinctions of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Use same abbreviations everywhere

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

People will search for keywords to find relevant code. Support this by using the same abbreviation for the same thing. For example, always abbreviate "detection object type" to "dobjt" instead of mixing "dot", "dotype", "detobjtype" and so on.

Read more in Chapter 2: Meaningful Names: Use Searchable Names of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Use nouns for classes and verbs for methods

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

Use nouns or noun phrases to name classes, interfaces, and objects:

CLASS /clean/account
CLASS /clean/user_preferences
INTERFACE /clean/customizing_reader

Use verbs or verb phrases to name methods:

METHODS withdraw
METHODS add_message
METHODS read_entries

Starting Boolean methods with verbs like is_ and has_ yields nice reading flow:

IF is_empty( table ).

We recommend naming functions like methods:

FUNCTION /clean/read_alerts

Avoid noise words such as "data", "info", "object"

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

Omit noise words

account  " instead of account_data
alert    " instead of alert_object

or replace them with something specific that really adds value

user_preferences          " instead of user_info
response_time_in_seconds  " instead of response_time_variable

Read more in Chapter 2: Meaningful Names: Make Meaningful Distinctions of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code

Pick one word per concept

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

METHODS read_this.
METHODS read_that.
METHODS read_those.

Choose a term for a concept and stick to it; don't mix in other synonyms. Synonyms will make the reader waste time on finding a difference that's not there.

" anti-pattern
METHODS read_this.
METHODS retrieve_that.
METHODS query_those.

Read more in Chapter 2: Meaningful Names: Pick One Word per Concept of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code

Use pattern names only if you mean them

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

Don't use the names of software design patterns for classes and interfaces unless you really mean them. For example, don't call your class file_factory unless it really implements the factory design pattern. The most common patterns include: singleton, factory, facade, composite, decorator, iterator, observer, and strategy.

Read more in Chapter 2: Meaningful Names: Avoid Disinformation of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code

Avoid encodings, esp. Hungarian notation and prefixes

Clean ABAP > Content > Names > This section

We encourage you to get rid of all encoding prefixes.

METHOD add_two_numbers.
  result = a + b.
ENDMETHOD.

instead of the needlessly longer

METHOD add_two_numbers.
  rv_result = iv_a + iv_b.
ENDMETHOD.

Avoid Encodings describes the reasoning in depth.

Language

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Mind the legacy

Clean ABAP > Content > Language > This section

If you code for older ABAP releases, take the advice in this guide with care: Many recommendations below make use of relatively new syntax and constructs that may not be supported in older ABAP releases. Validate the guidelines you want to follow on the oldest release you must support. Do not simply discard Clean Code as a whole - the vast majority of rules (e.g. naming, commenting) will work in any ABAP version.

Mind the performance

Clean ABAP > Content > Language > This section

If you code high performance components, take the advice in this guide with care: Some aspects of Clean Code may make things slower (more method calls) or consume more memory (more objects). ABAP has some specialties that may intensify this, for example it compares data types when calling a method, such that splitting a single large method into many sub-methods may make the code slower.

However, we strongly recommend to not optimize prematurely, based on obscure fears. The vast majority of rules (e.g. naming, commenting) has no negative impact at all. Try to build things in a clean, object-oriented way. If something is too slow, make a performance measurement. Only then should you take a fact-based decision to discard selected rules.

Some further thoughts, taken in part from Chapter 2 of Martin Fowler's Refactoring:

In a typical application the majority of the runtime is spent in a very small proportion of the code. As little as 10% of the code can account for 90% of the runtime, and especially in ABAP a large proportion of runtime is likely to be database time.

Thus it is not the best use of resources to spend significant effort on trying to make all code super-efficient all the time. We're not suggesting ignoring performance, but rather focus more on clean and well structured code during initial development, and use the profiler to identify critical areas to optimize.

In fact, we would argue that such an approach will have a net positive effect on performance because it is a more targeted optimization effort, and it should be easier to identify performance bottlenecks and easier to refactor and tune well structured code.

Prefer object orientation to procedural programming

Clean ABAP > Content > Language > This section

Object-oriented programs (classes, interfaces) are segmented better and can be refactored and tested more easily than procedural code (functions, programs). Although there are situations where you must provide procedural objects (a function for an RFC, a program for a transaction), these objects should do little more than call a corresponding class that provides the actual feature:

FUNCTION check_business_partner [...].
  DATA(validator) = NEW /clean/biz_partner_validator( ).
  result = validator->validate( business_partners ).
ENDFUNCTION.

Function Groups vs. Classes describes the differences in detail.

Prefer functional to procedural language constructs

Clean ABAP > Content > Language > This section

They are usually shorter and come more natural to modern programmers.

DATA(variable) = 'A'.
" MOVE 'A' TO variable.

DATA(uppercase) = to_upper( lowercase ).
" TRANSLATE lowercase TO UPPER CASE.

index += 1.         " >= NW 7.54
index = index + 1.  " < NW 7.54
" ADD 1 TO index.

DATA(object) = NEW /clean/my_class( ).
" CREATE OBJECT object TYPE /dirty/my_class.

result = VALUE #( FOR row IN input ( row-text ) ).
" LOOP AT input INTO DATA(row).
"  INSERT row-text INTO TABLE result.
" ENDLOOP.

DATA(line) = value_pairs[ name = 'A' ].
" READ TABLE value_pairs INTO DATA(line) WITH KEY name = 'A'.

DATA(exists) = xsdbool( line_exists( value_pairs[ name = 'A' ] ) ).
IF line_exists( value_pairs[ name = 'A' ] ).
" READ TABLE value_pairs TRANSPORTING NO FIELDS WITH KEY name = 'A'.
" DATA(exists) = xsdbool( sy-subrc = 0 ).

Many of the detailed rules below are just specific reiterations of this general advice.

Avoid obsolete language elements

Clean ABAP > Content > Language > This section

When upgrading your ABAP version, make sure to check for obsolete language elements and refrain from using them.

For example, the @-escaped "host" variables in the following statement make a little clearer what's a program variable and what's a column in the database,

SELECT *
  FROM spfli
  WHERE carrid = @carrid AND
        connid = @connid
  INTO TABLE @itab.

as compared to the obsolete unescaped form

SELECT *
  FROM spfli
  WHERE carrid = carrid AND
        connid = connid
  INTO TABLE itab.

Newer alternatives tend to improve readability of the code, and reduce design conflicts with modern programming paradigms, such that switching to them can automatically clean your code.

While continuing to work, obsolete elements may stop benefitting from optimizations in terms of processing speed and memory consumption.

With modern language elements, you can onboard young ABAPers easier, who may no longer be familiar with the outdated constructs because they are no longer taught in SAP's trainings.

The SAP NetWeaver documentation contains a stable section that lists obsolete language elements, for example NW 7.50, NW 7.51, NW 7.52, NW 7.53.

Use design patterns wisely

Clean ABAP > Content > Language > This section

Where they are appropriate and provide noticeable benefit. Don't apply design patterns everywhere just for the sake of it.

Constants

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Use constants instead of magic numbers

Clean ABAP > Content > Constants > This section

IF abap_type = cl_abap_typedescr=>typekind_date.

is clearer than

" anti-pattern
IF abap_type = 'D'.

Read more in Chapter 17: Smells and Heuristics: G25: Replace Magic Numbers with Named Constants of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Prefer enumeration classes to constants interfaces

Clean ABAP > Content > Constants > This section

CLASS /clean/message_severity DEFINITION PUBLIC ABSTRACT FINAL.
  PUBLIC SECTION.
    CONSTANTS:
      warning TYPE symsgty VALUE 'W',
      error   TYPE symsgty VALUE 'E'.
ENDCLASS.

or

CLASS /clean/message_severity DEFINITION PUBLIC CREATE PRIVATE FINAL.
  PUBLIC SECTION.
    CLASS-DATA:
      warning TYPE REF TO /clean/message_severity READ-ONLY,
      error   TYPE REF TO /clean/message_severity READ-ONLY.
  " ...
ENDCLASS.

instead of mixing unrelated things

" anti-pattern
INTERFACE /dirty/common_constants.
  CONSTANTS:
    warning      TYPE symsgty VALUE 'W',
    transitional TYPE i       VALUE 1,
    error        TYPE symsgty VALUE 'E',
    persisted    TYPE i       VALUE 2.
ENDINTERFACE.

Enumerations describes common enumeration patterns and discusses their advantages and disadvantages.

Read more in Chapter 17: Smells and Heuristics: J3: Constants versus Enums of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

If you don't use enumeration classes, group your constants

Clean ABAP > Content > Constants > This section

If you collect constants in a loose way, for example in an interface, group them:

CONSTANTS:
  BEGIN OF message_severity,
    warning TYPE symsgty VALUE 'W',
    error   TYPE symsgty VALUE 'E',
  END OF message_severity,
  BEGIN OF message_lifespan,
    transitional TYPE i VALUE 1,
    persisted    TYPE i VALUE 2,
  END OF message_lifespan.

Makes the relation clearer than:

CONSTANTS:
  warning      TYPE symsgty VALUE 'W',
  transitional TYPE i       VALUE 1,
  error        TYPE symsgty VALUE 'E',
  persisted    TYPE i       VALUE 2,

The group also allows you group-wise access, for example for input validation:

DO number_of_constants TIMES.
  ASSIGN COMPONENT sy-index OF STRUCTURE message_severity TO FIELD-SYMBOL(<constant>).
  IF <constant> = input.
    is_valid = abap_true.
    RETURN.
  ENDIF.
ENDWHILE.

Read more in Chapter 17: Smells and Heuristics: G27: Structure over Convention of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Variables

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Prefer inline to up-front declarations

Clean ABAP > Content > Variables > This section

If you follow these guidelines, your methods will become so short (3-5 statements) that declaring variables inline at first occurrence will look more natural

METHOD do_something.
  DATA(name) = 'something'.
  DATA(reader) = /clean/reader=>get_instance_for( name ).
  result = reader->read_it( ).
ENDMETHOD.

than declaring variables with a separate DATA section at the beginning of the method

" anti-pattern
METHOD do_something.
  DATA:
    name   TYPE seoclsname,
    reader TYPE REF TO /dirty/reader.
  name = 'something'.
  reader = /dirty/reader=>get_instance_for( name ).
  result = reader->read_it( ).
ENDMETHOD.

Read more in Chapter 5: Formatting: Vertical Distance: Variable Declarations of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Don't declare inline in optional branches

Clean ABAP > Content > Variables > This section

" anti-pattern
IF has_entries = abap_true.
  DATA(value) = 1.
ELSE.
  value = 2.
ENDIF.

This works fine because ABAP handles inline declarations as if they were at the beginning of the method. However, it is extremely confusing for readers, especially if the method is longer and you don't spot the declaration right away. In this case, break with inlining and put the declaration up-front:

DATA value TYPE i.
IF has_entries = abap_true.
  value = 1.
ELSE.
  value = 2.
ENDIF.

Read more in Chapter 5: Formatting: Vertical Distance: Variable Declarations of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Do not chain up-front declarations

Clean ABAP > Content > Variables > This section

DATA name TYPE seoclsname
DATA reader TYPE REF TO /dirty/reader.

Chaining suggests the defined variables are related on a logical level. To consistently use it, you would have to ensure that all chained variables belong together, and introduce additional chain groups to add variables. While this is possible, it is usually not worth the effort.

Chaining also needlessly complicates reformatting and refactoring because each line looks different and changing them requires meddling with colons, dots, and commas, that are not worth the effort.

" anti-pattern
DATA:
  name   TYPE seoclsname,
  reader TYPE REF TO /dirty/reader.

Also refer to Don't align type clauses

Prefer REF TO to FIELD-SYMBOL

Clean ABAP > Content > Variables > This section

LOOP AT components REFERENCE INTO DATA(component).

instead of the equivalent

" anti-pattern
LOOP AT components ASSIGNING FIELD-SYMBOL(<component>).

except where you need field symbols

ASSIGN generic->* TO FIELD-SYMBOL(<generic>).
ASSIGN COMPONENT name OF STRUCTURE structure TO FIELD-SYMBOL(<component>).
ASSIGN (class_name)=>(static_member) TO FIELD-SYMBOL(<member>).

Code reviews demonstrate that people tend to choose between the two arbitrarily, "just because", "because we are always LOOPing that way", or "for no special reason". Arbitrary choices make the reader waste time on the pointless question why one is used over the other and thus should be replaced with well-founded, precise decisions. Our recommendation is based on this reasoning:

  • Field symbols can do some things that references cannot, such as dynamically accessing the components of a structure. Likewise, references can do things that field symbols can't, such as constructing a dynamically typed data structure. In summary, settling for one alone is not possible.

  • In object-oriented ABAP, references are all over the place and cannot be avoided, as any object is a REF TO <class-name>. In contrast, field symbols are only strictly required in few, special cases concerned with dynamic typing. References thus form a natural preference in any object-oriented program.

  • Field symbols are shorter than references, but the resulting memory saving is so tiny that it can be safely neglected. Similarly, speed is not an issue. As a consequence, there is no performance-related reason to prefer one to the other.

Read more in the article Accessing Data Objects Dynamically in the ABAP Programming Guidelines.

Tables

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Use the right table type

Clean ABAP > Content > Tables > This section

  • You typically use HASHED tables for large tables that are filled in a single step, never modified, and read often by their key. Their inherent memory and processing overhead makes hash tables only valuable for large amounts of data and lots of read accesses. Each change to the table's content requires expensive recalculation of the hash, so don't use this for tables that are modified too often.

  • You typically use SORTED tables for large tables that need to be sorted at all times, that are filled bit by bit or need to be modified, and read often by one or more full or partial keys or processed in a certain order. Adding, changing, or removing content requires finding the right insertion spot, but doesn't require adjusting the rest of the table's index. Sorted tables demonstrate their value only for large numbers of read accesses.

  • Use STANDARD tables for small tables, where indexing produces more overhead than benefit, and "arrays", where you either don't care at all for the order of the rows, or you want to process them in exactly the order they were appended.

These are only rough guidelines. Find more details in the article Selection of Table Category in the ABAP Language Help.

Avoid DEFAULT KEY

Clean ABAP > Content > Tables > This section

" anti-pattern
DATA itab TYPE STANDARD TABLE OF row_type WITH DEFAULT KEY.

Default keys are often only added to get the newer functional statements working. The keys themselves in fact are usually superfluous and waste resources for nothing. They can even lead to obscure mistakes because they ignore numeric data types.

Either specify the key components explicitly

DATA itab2 TYPE STANDARD TABLE OF row_type WITH NON-UNIQUE KEY comp1 comp2.

or resort to EMPTY KEY if you don't need a key at all.

DATA itab1 TYPE STANDARD TABLE OF row_type WITH EMPTY KEY.

Following Horst Keller's blog on Internal Tables with Empty Key

Prefer INSERT INTO TABLE to APPEND TO

Clean ABAP > Content > Tables > This section

INSERT VALUE #( ... ) INTO TABLE itab.

INSERT INTO TABLE works with all table and key types, thus making it easier for you to refactor the table's type and key definitions if your performance requirements change.

Use APPEND TO only if you use a STANDARD table in an array-like fashion, if you want to stress that the added entry shall be the last row.

Prefer LINE_EXISTS to READ TABLE or LOOP AT

Clean ABAP > Content > Tables > This section

IF line_exists( my_table[ key = 'A' ] ).

expresses the intent clearer and shorter than

" anti-pattern
READ TABLE my_table TRANSPORTING NO FIELDS WITH KEY key = 'A'.
IF sy-subrc = 0.

or even

" anti-pattern
LOOP AT my_table REFERENCE INTO DATA(line) WHERE key = 'A'.
  line_exists = abap_true.
  EXIT.
ENDLOOP.

Prefer READ TABLE to LOOP AT

Clean ABAP > Content > Tables > This section

READ TABLE my_table REFERENCE INTO DATA(line) WITH KEY key = 'A'.

expresses the intent clearer and shorter than

" anti-pattern
LOOP AT my_table REFERENCE INTO DATA(line) WHERE key = 'A'.
  EXIT.
ENDLOOP.

or even

" anti-pattern
LOOP AT my_table REFERENCE INTO DATA(line).
  IF line->key = 'A'.
    EXIT.
  ENDIF.
ENDLOOP.

Prefer LOOP AT WHERE to nested IF

Clean ABAP > Content > Tables > This section

LOOP AT my_table REFERENCE INTO DATA(line) WHERE key = 'A'.

expresses the intent clearer and shorter than

LOOP AT my_table REFERENCE INTO DATA(line).
  IF line->key = 'A'.
    EXIT.
  ENDIF.
ENDLOOP.

Avoid unnecessary table reads

Clean ABAP > Content > Tables > This section

In case you expect a row to be there, read once and react to the exception,

TRY.
    DATA(row) = my_table[ key = input ].
  CATCH cx_sy_itab_line_not_found.
    RAISE EXCEPTION NEW /clean/my_data_not_found( ).
ENDTRY.

instead of littering and slowing down the main control flow with a double read

" anti-pattern
IF NOT line_exists( my_table[ key = input ] ).
  RAISE EXCEPTION NEW /clean/my_data_not_found( ).
ENDTRY.
DATA(row) = my_table[ key = input ].

Besides being a performance improvement, this is a special variant of the more general Focus on the happy path or error handling, but not both.

Strings

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Use ` to define literals

Clean ABAP > Content > Strings > This section

CONSTANTS some_constant TYPE string VALUE `ABC`.
DATA(some_string) = `ABC`.  " --> TYPE string

Refrain from using ', as it adds a superfluous type conversion and confuses the reader whether he's dealing with a CHAR or STRING:

" anti-pattern
DATA some_string TYPE string.
some_string = 'ABC'.

| is generally okay, but cannot be used for CONSTANTS and adds needless overhead when specifying a fixed value:

" anti-pattern
DATA(some_string) = |ABC|.

Use | to assemble text

Clean ABAP > Content > Strings > This section

DATA(message) = |Received HTTP code { status_code } with message { text }|.

String templates highlight better what's literal and what's variable, especially if you embed multiple variables in a text.

" anti-pattern
DATA(message) = `Received an unexpected HTTP ` && status_code && ` with message ` && text.

Booleans

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Use Booleans wisely

Clean ABAP > Content > Booleans > This section

We often encounter cases where Booleans seem to be a natural choice

" anti-pattern
is_archived = abap_true.

until a change of viewpoint suggests we should have chosen an enumeration

archiving_status = /clean/archivation_status=>archiving_in_process.

Generally, Booleans are a bad choice to distinguish types of things because you will nearly always encounter cases that are not exclusively one or the other

assert_true( xsdbool( document->is_archived( ) = abap_true AND
                      document->is_partially_archived( ) = abap_true ) ).

Split method instead of Boolean input parameter moreover explains why you should always challenge Boolean parameters.

Read more in 1

Use ABAP_BOOL for Booleans

Clean ABAP > Content > Booleans > This section

DATA has_entries TYPE abap_bool.

Don't use the generic type char1. Although it is technically compatible it obscures the fact that we're dealing with a Boolean variable.

Also avoid other Boolean types as they often have strange side effects, for example boolean supports a third value "undefined" that results in subtle programming errors.

In some cases you may need a data dictionary element, for example for DynPro fields. abap_bool cannot be used here because it is defined in the type pool abap, not in the data dictionary. In this case, resort to boole_d or xfeld. Create your own data element if you need a custom description.

ABAP may be the one single programming language that does not come with a universal Boolean data type. However, having one is imperative. This recommendation is based on the ABAP Programming Guidelines.

Use ABAP_TRUE and ABAP_FALSE for comparisons

Clean ABAP > Content > Booleans > This section

has_entries = abap_true.
IF has_entries = abap_false.

Don't use the character equivalents 'X' and ' ' or space; they make it hard to see that this is a Boolean expression:

" anti-pattern
has_entries = 'X'.
IF has_entries = space.

Avoid comparisons with INITIAL - it forces readers to recollect that abap_bool's default is abap_false:

" anti-pattern
IF has_entries IS NOT INITIAL.

ABAP may be the one single programming language that does not come with built-in "constants" for true and false. However, having them is imperative. This recommendation is based on the ABAP Programming Guidelines.

Use XSDBOOL to set Boolean variables

Clean ABAP > Content > Booleans > This section

DATA(has_entries) = xsdbool( line IS NOT INITIAL ).

The equivalent IF-THEN-ELSE is much longer for nothing:

" anti-pattern
IF line IS INITIAL.
  has_entries = abap_false.
ELSE.
  has_entries = abap_true.
ENDIF.

xsdbool is the best method for our purpose, as it directly produces a char1, which fits our boolean type abap_bool best. The equivalent functions boolc and boolx produce different types and add an unnecessary implicit type conversion.

We agree that the name xsdbool is unlucky and misleading; after all, we're not at all interested in the "XML Schema Definition" parts that the "xsd" prefix suggests.

A possible alternative to xsdbool is the COND ternary form. Its syntax is intuitive, but a little longer because it needlessly repeats the THEN abap_true segment, and requires knowledge of the implicit default value abap_false - which is why we suggest it only as secondary solution.

DATA(has_entries) = COND abap_bool( WHEN line IS NOT INITIAL THEN abap_true ).

Conditions

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Try to make conditions positive

Clean ABAP > Content > Conditions > This section

IF has_entries = abap_true.

For comparison, see how hard to understand the same statement gets by reversing it:

" anti-pattern
IF has_no_entries = abap_false.

The "try" in the section title means you shouldn't force this up to the point where you end up with something like empty IF branches:

" anti-pattern
IF has_entries = abap_true.
ELSE.
  " only do something in the ELSE block, IF remains empty
ENDIF.

Read more in Chapter 17: Smells and Heuristics: G29: Avoid Negative Conditionals of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Consider decomposing complex conditions

Clean ABAP > Content > Conditions > This section

Conditions can become easier when decomposing them into the elementary parts that make them up:

DATA(example_provided) = xsdbool( example_a IS NOT INITIAL OR
                                  example_b IS NOT INITIAL ).

DATA(one_example_fits) = xsdbool( applies( example_a ) = abap_true OR
                                  applies( example_b ) = abap_true OR
                                  fits( example_b ) = abap_true ).

IF example_provided = abap_true AND
   one_example_fits = abap_true.

instead of leaving everything in-place:

" anti-pattern
IF ( example_a IS NOT INITIAL OR
     example_b IS NOT INITIAL ) AND
   ( applies( example_a ) = abap_true OR
     applies( example_b ) = abap_true OR
     fits( example_b ) = abap_true ).

Use the ABAP Development Tools quick fixes to quickly extract conditions and create variables as shown above.

Consider extracting complex conditions

Clean ABAP > Content > Conditions > This section

It's nearly always a good idea to extract complex conditions to methods of their own:

IF is_provided( example ).

METHOD is_provided.
  DATA(is_filled) = xsdbool( example IS NOT INITIAL ).
  DATA(is_working) = xsdbool( applies( example ) = abap_true OR
                              fits( example ) = abap_true ).
  result = xsdbool( is_filled = abap_true AND
                    is_working = abap_true ).
ENDMETHOD.

Ifs

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

No empty IF branches

Clean ABAP > Content > Ifs > This section

IF has_entries = abap_false.
  " do some magic
ENDIF.

is shorter and clearer than

" anti-pattern
IF has_entries = abap_true.
ELSE.
  " do some magic
ENDIF.

Prefer CASE to ELSE IF for multiple alternative conditions

Clean ABAP > Content > Ifs > This section

CASE type.
  WHEN type-some_type.
    " ...
  WHEN type-some_other_type.
    " ...
  WHEN OTHERS.
    RAISE EXCEPTION NEW /clean/unknown_type_failure( ).
ENDCASE.

CASE makes it easy to see a set of alternatives that exclude each other. It can be faster than a series of IFs because it can translate to a different microprocessor command instead of a series of subsequently evaluated conditions. You can introduce new cases quickly, without having to repeat the discerning variable over and over again. The statement even prevents some errors that can occur when accidentally nesting the IF-ELSEIFs.

" anti-pattern
IF type = type-some_type.
  " ...
ELSEIF type = type-some_other_type.
  " ...
ELSE.
  RAISE EXCEPTION NEW /dirty/unknown_type_failure( ).
ENDIF.

Keep the nesting depth low

Clean ABAP > Content > Ifs > This section

" ani-pattern
IF <this>.
  IF <that>.
  ENDIF.
ELSE.
  IF <other>.
  ELSE.
    IF <something>.
    ENDIF.
  ENDIF.
ENDIF.

Nested IFs get hard to understand very quickly and require an exponential number of test cases for complete coverage.

Decision trees can usually be taken apart by forming sub-methods and introducing boolean helper variables.

Other cases can be simplified by merging IFs, such as

IF <this> AND <that>.

instead of the needlessly nested

" anti-pattern
IF <this>.
  IF <that>.

Regular expressions

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Prefer simpler methods to regular expressions

Clean ABAP > Content > Regular expressions > This section

IF input IS NOT INITIAL.
" IF matches( val = input  regex = '.+' ).

WHILE contains( val = input  sub = 'abc' ).
" WHILE contains( val = input  regex = 'abc' ).

Regular expressions become hard to understand very quickly. Simple cases are usually easier without them.

Regular expressions also usually consume more memory and processing time because they need to be parsed into an expression tree and compiled at runtime into an executable matcher. Simple solutions may do with a straight-forward loop and a temporary variable.

Prefer basis checks to regular expressions

Clean ABAP > Content > Regular expressions > This section

CALL FUNCTION 'SEO_CLIF_CHECK_NAME'
  EXPORTING
    cls_name = class_name
  EXCEPTIONS
    ...

instead of reinventing things

" anti-pattern
DATA(is_valid) = matches( val     = class_name
                          pattern = '[A-Z][A-Z0-9_]{0,29}' ).

There seems to be a natural tendency to turn blind to the Don't-Repeat-Yourself (DRY) principle when there are regular expressions around, compare section Chapter 17: Smells and Heuristics: General: G5: Duplication in Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Consider assembling complex regular expressions

Clean ABAP > Content > Regular expressions > This section

CONSTANTS class_name TYPE string VALUE `CL\_.*`.
CONSTANTS interface_name TYPE string VALUE `IF\_.*`.
DATA(object_name) = |{ class_name }\|{ interface_name }|.

Some complex regular expressions become easier when you demonstrate to the reader how they are built up from more elementary pieces.

Classes

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Classes: Object orientation

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > This section

Prefer objects to static classes

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Classes: Object orientation > This section

Static classes give up all advantages gained by object orientation in the first place. They especially make it nearly impossible to replace productive dependencies with test doubles in unit tests.

If you think about whether to make a class or method static, the answer will nearly always be: no.

One accepted exception to this rule are plain type utils classes. Their methods make it easier to interact with certain ABAP types. They are not only completely stateless, but so basic that they look like ABAP statements or built-in functions. The discriminating factor is that their consumers tie them into their code so tightly that they actually don't want to mock them in unit tests.

CLASS /clean/string_utils DEFINITION [...].
  CLASS-METHODS trim
   IMPORTING
     string        TYPE string
   RETURNING
     VALUE(result) TYPE string.
ENDCLASS.

METHOD retrieve.
  DATA(trimmed_name) = /clean/string_utils=>trim( name ).
  result = read( trimmed_name ).
ENDMETHOD.

Prefer composition to inheritance

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Classes: Object orientation > This section

Avoid building hierarchies of classes with inheritance. Instead, favor composition.

Clean inheritance is hard to design because you need to respect rules like the Liskov substitution principle. It is also hard to understand because people need to realize and digest the guiding principles behind the hierarchy. Inheritance reduces reuse because methods tend to be made available only to sub-classes. It also complicates refactoring because moving or changing members tend to require changes to the whole hierarchy tree.

Composition means that you design small, independent objects, each of which serves one specific purpose. These objects can be recombined into more complex objects by simple delegation and facade patterns. Composition may produce more classes, but has otherwise no further disadvantages.

Don't let this rule discourage you from using inheritance in the right places. There are good applications for inheritance, for example the Composite design pattern. Just ask yourself critically whether inheritance in your case will really provide more benefits than disadvantages. If in doubt, composition generally is the safer choice.

Don't mix stateful and stateless in the same class

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Classes: Object orientation

Don't mix the stateless and the stateful programming paradigms in the same class.

In stateless programming, methods get input and produce output, without any side effects, resulting in methods that produce the same result no matter when and in what order they are called.

CLASS /clean/xml_converter DEFINITION PUBLIC FINAL CREATE PUBLIC.
  PUBLIC SECTION.
    METHODS convert
      IMPORTING
        file_content  TYPE xstring
      RETURNING
        VALUE(result) TYPE /clean/some_inbound_message.
ENDCLASS.

CLASS /clean/xml_converter IMPLEMENTATION.
  METHOD convert.
    cl_proxy_xml_transform=>xml_xstring_to_abap(
      EXPORTING
        xml       = file_content
        ext_xml   = abap_true
        svar_name = 'ROOT_NODE'
      IMPORTING
        abap_data = result ).
   ENDMETHOD.
ENDCLASS.

In stateful programming, we manipulate the internal state of objects through their methods, meaning it is full of side effects.

CLASS /clean/log DEFINITION PUBLIC CREATE PUBLIC.
  PUBLIC SECTION.
    METHODS add_message IMPORTING message TYPE /clean/message.
  PRIVATE SECTION.
    DATA messages TYPE /clean/message_table.
ENDCLASS.

CLASS /clean/log IMPLEMENTATION.
  METHOD add_message.
    INSERT message INTO TABLE messages.
  ENDMETHOD.
ENDCLASS.

Both paradigms are okay and have their applications. However, mixing them in the same object produces code that is hard to understand and sure to fail with obscure carry-over errors and synchronicity problems. Don't do that.

Scope

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > This section

Global by default, local only in exceptional cases

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Scope > This section

Work with global classes as default (meaning the ones that are visible in the dictionary).

Use local classes only in exceptional cases, for example for very specific data structures or to facilitate writing unit tests.

Local classes hinder reuse because they cannot be used elsewhere. Although they are easy to extract, people will usually fail to even find them.

A clear indication that a local class should be made global is if you have the urge to write tests for it. A local class is a natural private cogwheel in its greater global class that you will usually not test. The need for tests indicates that the class is independent from its surrounding and so complex that it should become an object of its own.

FINAL if not designed for inheritance

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Scope > This section

Make classes that are not explicitly designed for inheritance FINAL.

When designing class cooperation, your first choice should be composition, not inheritance. Enabling inheritance is not something that should be done lightly, as it requires you to think about things like PROTECTED vs. PRIVATE and the Liskov substitution principle, and freezes a lot of design internals. If you didn't consider these things in your class design, you should thus prevent accidental inheritance by making your class FINAL.

There are some good applications for inheritance, of course, for example the design pattern composite. Business Add-Ins can also become more useful by allowing sub-classes, enabling the customer to reuse most of the original code. However, note that all of these cases have inheritance built in by design from the start.

Unclean classes that don't implement interfaces should be left non-FINAL to allow consumers mocking them in their unit tests.

Members PRIVATE by default, PROTECTED only if needed

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Scope > This section

Make attributes, methods, and other class members PRIVATE by default.

Make them only PROTECTED if you want to enable sub-classes that override them.

Internals of classes should be made available to others only on a need-to-know basis. This includes not only outside callers but also sub-classes. Making information over-available can cause subtle errors by unexpected redefinitions and hinder refactoring because outsiders freeze members in place that should still be liquid.

Consider using immutable instead of getter

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Scope > This section

An immutable is an object that never changes after its construction. For this kind of object consider using public read-only attributes instead of getter methods.

CLASS /clean/some_data_container DEFINITION.
  PUBLIC SECTION.
    METHODS constructor
      IMPORTING
        a TYPE i
        b TYPE c
        c TYPE d.
    DATA a TYPE i READ-ONLY.
    DATA b TYPE c READ-ONLY.
    DATA c TYPE d READ-ONLY.
ENDCLASS.

instead of

CLASS /dirty/some_data_container DEFINITION.
  PUBLIC SECTION.
    METHODS get_a ...
    METHODS get_b ...
    METHODS get_c ...
  PRIVATE SECTION.
    DATA a TYPE i.
    DATA b TYPE c.
    DATA c TYPE d.
ENDCLASS.

Caution: For objects which do have changing values, do not use public read-only attributes. Otherwise this attributes always have to be kept up to date, regardless if their value is needed by any other code or not.

Use READ-ONLY sparingly

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Scope > This section

Many modern programming languages, especially Java, recommend making class members read-only wherever appropriate to prevent accidental side effects.

While ABAP does offer the READ-ONLY addition for data declarations, we recommend to use it sparingly.

First, the addition is only available in the PUBLIC SECTION, reducing its applicability drastically. You can neither add it to protected or private members nor to local variables in a method.

Second, the addition works subtly different from what people might expect from other programming languages: READ-ONLY data can still be modified freely from any method within the class itself, its friends, and its sub-classes. This contradicts the more widespread write-once-modify-never behavior found in other languages. The difference may lead to bad surprises.

To avoid misunderstandings: Protecting variables against accidental modification is a good practice. We would recommend applying it to ABAP as well if there was an appropriate statement.

Constructors

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > This section

Prefer NEW to CREATE OBJECT

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Constructors > This section

DATA object TYPE REF TO /clean/some_number_range.
object = NEW #( '/CLEAN/CXTGEN' )
...
DATA(object) = NEW /clean/some_number_range( '/CLEAN/CXTGEN' ).
...
DATA(object) = CAST /clean/number_range( NEW /clean/some_number_range( '/CLEAN/CXTGEN' ) ).

instead of the needlessly longer

" anti-pattern
DATA object TYPE REF TO /dirty/some_number_range.
CREATE OBJECT object
  EXPORTING
    number_range = '/DIRTY/CXTGEN'.

except where you need dynamic types, of course

CREATE OBJECT number_range TYPE (dynamic_type)
  EXPORTING
    number_range = '/CLEAN/CXTGEN'.

If your global class is CREATE PRIVATE, leave the CONSTRUCTOR public

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Constructors > This section

CLASS /clean/some_api DEFINITION PUBLIC FINAL CREATE PRIVATE.
  PUBLIC SECTION.
    METHODS constructor.

We agree that this contradicts itself. However, according to the article Instance Constructor of the ABAP Help, specifying the CONSTRUCTOR in the PUBLIC SECTION is required to guarantee correct compilation and syntax validation.

This applies only to global classes. In local classes, make the constructor private, as it should be.

Prefer multiple static factory methods to optional parameters

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Constructors > This section

CLASS-METHODS describe_by_data IMPORTING data TYPE any [...]
CLASS-METHODS describe_by_name IMPORTING name TYPE any [...]
CLASS-METHODS describe_by_object_ref IMPORTING object_ref TYPE REF TO object [...]
CLASS-METHODS describe_by_data_ref IMPORTING data_ref TYPE REF TO data [...]

Don't try to "remedy" ABAP's missing support for overloading by adding optional parameters.

" anti-pattern
METHODS constructor
  IMPORTING
    data       TYPE any OPTIONAL
    name       TYPE any OPTIONAL
    object_ref TYPE REF TO object OPTIONAL
    data_ref   TYPE REF TO data OPTIONAL
  [...]

The general guideline Split methods instead of adding OPTIONAL parameters explains the reasoning behind this.

Consider resolving complex constructions to a multi-step construction with the Builder design pattern.

Use descriptive names for multiple constructor methods

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Constructors > This section

CLASS-METHODS describe_by_data IMPORTING p_data TYPE any [...]
CLASS-METHODS describe_by_name IMPORTING p_name TYPE any [...]
CLASS-METHODS describe_by_object_ref IMPORTING p_object_ref TYPE REF TO object [...]
CLASS-METHODS describe_by_data_ref IMPORTING p_data_ref TYPE REF TO data [...]

instead of something meaningless like

" anti-pattern
CLASS-METHODS create_1 IMPORTING p_data TYPE any [...]
CLASS-METHODS create_2 IMPORTING p_name TYPE any [...]
CLASS-METHODS create_3 IMPORTING p_object_ref TYPE REF TO object [...]
CLASS-METHODS create_4 IMPORTING p_data_ref TYPE REF TO data [...]

Good words to start constructors are new_, create_, and construct_. People intuitively connect them to the construction of objects. They also add up nicely to verb phrases like new_from_template, create_as_copy, or create_by_name.

Make singletons only where multiple instances don't make sense

Clean ABAP > Content > Classes > Constructors > This section

METHOD new.
  IF singleton IS NOT BOUND.
    singleton = NEW /clean/my_class( ).
  ENDIF.
  result = singleton.
ENDMETHOD.

Apply the singleton pattern where your object-oriented design says that having a second instance of something doesn't make sense. Use it to ensure that every consumer is working with the same thing in the same state and with the same data.

Do not use the singleton pattern out of habit or because some performance rule tells you so. It is the most overused and wrongly applied pattern and produces unexpected cross-effects and needlessly complicates testing. If there are no design-driven reasons for a unitary object, leave that decision to the consumer - he can still reach the same by means outside the constructor, for example with a factory.

Methods

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

These rules apply to methods in classes and function modules.

Calls

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > This section

Prefer functional to procedural calls

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Calls > This section

modify->update( node           = /clean/my_bo_c=>node-item
                key            = item->key
                data           = item
                changed_fields = changed_fields ).

instead of the needlessly longer

" anti-pattern
CALL METHOD modify->update
  EXPORTING
    node           = /dirty/my_bo_c=>node-item
    key            = item->key
    data           = item
    changed_fields = changed_fields.

If dynamic typing forbids functional calls, resort to the procedural style

CALL METHOD modify->(method_name)
  EXPORTING
    node           = /clean/my_bo_c=>node-item
    key            = item->key
    data           = item
    changed_fields = changed_fields.

Many of the detailed rules below are just more specific variations of this advice.

Omit RECEIVING

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Calls > This section

DATA(sum) = aggregate_values( values ).

instead of the needlessly longer

" anti-pattern
aggregate_values(
  EXPORTING
    values = values
  RECEIVING
    result = DATA(sum) ).

Omit the optional keyword EXPORTING

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Calls > This section

modify->update( node           = /clean/my_bo_c=>node-item
                key            = item->key
                data           = item
                changed_fields = changed_fields ).

instead of the needlessly longer

" anti-pattern
modify->update(
  EXPORTING
    node           = /dirty/my_bo_c=>node-item
    key            = item->key
    data           = item
    changed_fields = changed_fields ).

Omit the parameter name in single parameter calls

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Calls > This section

DATA(unique_list) = remove_duplicates( list ).

instead of the needlessly longer

" anti-pattern
DATA(unique_list) = remove_duplicates( list = list ).

There are cases, however, where the method name alone is not clear enough and repeating the parameter name may further understandability:

car->drive( speed = 50 ).
update( asynchronous = abap_true ).

Omit the self-reference me when calling an instance method

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Calls > This section

Since the self-reference me-> is implicitly set by the system, omit it when calling an instance method

DATA(sum) = aggregate_values( values ).

instead of the needlessly longer

" anti-pattern
DATA(sum) = me->aggregate_values( values ).

Methods: Object orientation

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > This section

Prefer instance to static methods

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Methods: Object orientation > This section

Methods should be instance members by default. Instance methods better reflect the "object-hood" of the class. They can be mocked easier in unit tests.

METHODS publish.

Methods should be static only in exceptional cases, such as static constructor methods.

CLASS-METHODS create_instance
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result) TYPE REF TO /clean/blog_post.

Public instance methods should be part of an interface

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Methods: Object orientation > This section

Public instance methods should always be part of an interface. This decouples dependencies and simplifies mocking them in unit tests.

METHOD /clean/blog_post~publish.

In clean object orientation, having a method public without an interface does not make much sense - with few exceptions such as enumeration classes which will never have an alternative implementation and will never be mocked in test cases.

Parameter Number

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > This section

Aim for few IMPORTING parameters, at best less than three

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Number > This section

FUNCTION seo_class_copy
  IMPORTING
    clskey      TYPE seoclskey
    new_clskey  TYPE seoclskey
    config      TYPE class_copy_config
  EXPORTING
    ...

would be much clearer than

" anti-pattern
FUNCTION seo_class_copy
  IMPORTING
    clskey                 TYPE seoclskey
    new_clskey             TYPE seoclskey
    access_permission      TYPE seox_boolean DEFAULT seox_true
    VALUE(save)            TYPE seox_boolean DEFAULT seox_true
    VALUE(suppress_corr)   TYPE seox_boolean DEFAULT seox_false
    VALUE(suppress_dialog) TYPE seox_boolean DEFAULT seox_false
    VALUE(authority_check) TYPE seox_boolean DEFAULT seox_true
    lifecycle_manager      TYPE REF TO if_adt_lifecycle_manager OPTIONAL
    lock_handle            TYPE REF TO if_adt_lock_handle OPTIONAL
    VALUE(suppress_commit) TYPE seox_boolean DEFAULT seox_false
  EXPORTING
    ...

Too many input parameters let the complexity of a method explode because it needs to handle an exponential number of combinations. Many parameters are an indicator that the method may do more than one thing.

You can reduce the number of parameters by combining them into meaningful sets with structures and objects.

Split methods instead of adding OPTIONAL parameters

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Number > This section

METHODS do_one_thing IMPORTING what_i_need TYPE string.
METHODS do_another_thing IMPORTING something_else TYPE i.

instead of trying to compensate ABAP's missing support for overloading by adding optional parameters

" anti-pattern
METHODS do_one_or_the_other
  IMPORTING
    what_i_need    TYPE string OPTIONAL
    something_else TYPE i OPTIONAL.

Optional parameters confuse callers: Which ones are really required? Which combinations are valid? Which ones exclude each other?

Multiple methods avoid this confusion by giving clear guidance which parameter combinations are valid and expected.

Use PREFERRED PARAMETER sparingly

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Number > This section

The addition PREFERRED PARAMETER makes it hard to see which parameter is actually supplied, making it harder to understand the code. Minimizing the number of parameters, especially optional ones, automatically reduces the need for PREFERRED PARAMETER.

RETURN, EXPORT, or CHANGE exactly one parameter

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Number > This section

A good method does one thing, and that should be reflected by the method also returning exactly one thing. If the output parameters of your method do not form a logical entity, your method does more than one thing and you should split it.

There are cases where the output is a logical entity that consists of multiple things. These are easiest represented by returning a structure or object:

TYPES:
  BEGIN OF check_result,
    result      TYPE result_type,
    failed_keys TYPE /bobf/t_frw_key,
    messages    TYPE /bobf/t_frw_message,
  END OF check_result.

METHODS check_business_partners
  IMPORTING
    business_partners TYPE business_partners
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result)     TYPE check_result.

instead of

" anti-pattern
METHODS check_business_partners
  IMPORTING
    business_partners TYPE business_partners
  EXPORTING
    result            TYPE result_type
    failed_keys       TYPE /bobf/t_frw_key
    messages          TYPE /bobf/t_frw_message.

Especially in comparison to multiple EXPORTING parameters, this allows people to use the functional call style, spares you having to think about IS SUPPLIED and saves people from accidentally forgetting to retrieve a vital ERROR_OCCURRED information.

Instead of multiple optional output parameters, consider splitting the method according to meaningful call patterns:

TYPES:
  BEGIN OF check_result,
    result      TYPE result_type,
    failed_keys TYPE /bobf/t_frw_key,
    messages    TYPE /bobf/t_frw_message,
  END OF check_result.

METHODS check
  IMPORTING
    business_partners TYPE business_partners
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result)     TYPE result_type.

METHODS check_and_report
  IMPORTING
    business_partners TYPE business_partners
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result)     TYPE check_result.

Parameter Types

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > This section

Prefer RETURNING to EXPORTING

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Types > This section

METHODS square
  IMPORTING
    number        TYPE i
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result) TYPE i.

DATA(result) = square( 42 ).

Instead of the needlessly longer

" anti-pattern
METHODS square
  IMPORTING
    number TYPE i
  EXPORTING
    result TYPE i.

square(
  EXPORTING
    number = 42
  IMPORTING
    result = DATA(result) ).

RETURNING not only makes the call shorter, it also allows method chaining and prevents same-input-and-output errors.

RETURNING large tables is usually okay

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Types > This section

Although the ABAP language documentation and performance guides say otherwise, we rarely encounter cases where handing over a large or deeply-nested table in a VALUE parameter really causes performance problems. We therefore recommend to generally use

METHODS get_large_table
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result) TYPE /clean/some_table_type.

METHOD get_large_table.
  result = me->large_table.
ENDMETHOD.

DATA(my_table) = get_large_table( ).

Only if there is actual proof (= a bad performance measurement) for your individual case should you resort to the more cumbersome procedural style

" anti-pattern
METHODS get_large_table
  EXPORTING
    result TYPE /dirty/some_table_type.

METHOD get_large_table.
  result = me->large_table.
ENDMETHOD.

get_large_table( IMPORTING result = DATA(my_table) ).

This section contradicts the ABAP Programming Guidelines and Code Inspector checks, both of whom suggest that large tables should be EXPORTED by reference to avoid performance deficits. We consistently failed to reproduce any performance and memory deficits and received notice about kernel optimization that generally improves RETURNING performance.

Use either RETURNING or EXPORTING or CHANGING, but not a combination

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Types > This section

METHODS copy_class
  IMPORTING
    old_name      TYPE seoclsname
    new name      TYPE secolsname
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result) TYPE copy_result
  RAISING
    /clean/class_copy_failure.

instead of confusing mixtures like

" anti-pattern
METHODS copy_class
  ...
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result)      TYPE vseoclass
  EXPORTING
    error_occurred     TYPE abap_bool
  CHANGING
    correction_request TYPE trkorr
    package            TYPE devclass.

Different sorts of output parameters is an indicator that the method does more than one thing. It confuses the reader and makes calling the method needlessly complicated.

An acceptable exception to this rule may be builders that consume their input while building their output:

METHODS build_tree
  CHANGING
    tokens        TYPE tokens
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result) TYPE REF TO tree.

However, even those can be made clearer by objectifying the input:

METHODS build_tree
  IMPORTING
    tokens        TYPE REF TO token_stack
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result) TYPE REF TO tree.

Use CHANGING sparingly, where suited

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Types > This section

CHANGING should be reserved for cases where an existing local variable that is already filled is updated in only some places:

METHODS update_references
  IMPORTING
    new_reference TYPE /bobf/conf_key
  CHANGING
    bo_nodes      TYPE root_nodes.

METHOD update_references.
  LOOP AT bo_nodes REFERENCE INTO DATA(bo_node).
    bo_node->reference = new_reference.
  ENDLOOP.
ENDMETHOD.

Do not force your callers to introduce unnecessary local variables only to supply your CHANGING parameter. Do not use CHANGING parameters to initially fill a previously empty variable.

Split method instead of Boolean input parameter

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Types > This section

Boolean input parameters are often an indicator that a method does two things instead of one.

" anti-pattern
METHODS update
  IMPORTING
    do_save TYPE abap_bool.

Also, method calls with a single - and thus unnamed - Boolean parameter tend to obscure the parameter's meaning.

" anti-pattern
update( abap_true ).  " what does 'true' mean? synchronous? simulate? commit?

Splitting the method may simplify the methods' code and describe the different intentions better

update_without_saving( ).
update_and_save( ).

Common perception suggests that setters for Boolean variables are okay:

METHODS set_is_deleted
  IMPORTING
    new_value TYPE abap_bool.

Read more in 1 2 3

Parameter Names

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > This section

Consider calling the RETURNING parameter RESULT

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Names > This section

Good method names are usually so good that the RETURNING parameter does not need a name of its own. The name would do little more than parrot the method name or repeat something obvious.

Repeating a member name can even produce conflicts that need to be resolved by adding a superfluous me->.

" anti-pattern
METHODS get_name
  RETURNING
    VALUE(name) TYPE string.
    
METHOD get_name.
  name = me->name.
ENDMETHOD.

In these cases, simply call the parameter RESULT, or something like RV_RESULT if you prefer Hungarian notation.

Name the RETURNING parameter if it is not obvious what it stands for, for example in methods that return me for method chaining, or in methods that create something but don't return the created entity but only its key or so.

Parameter Initialization

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > This section

Clear or overwrite EXPORTING reference parameters

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Initialization > This section

Reference parameters refer to existing memory areas that may be filled beforehand. Clear or overwrite them to provide reliable data:

METHODS square
  EXPORTING
    result TYPE i.

" clear
METHOD square.
  CLEAR result.
  " ...
ENDMETHOD.

" overwrite
METHOD square.
  result = cl_abap_math=>square( 2 ).
ENDMETHOD.

Code inspector and Checkman point out EXPORTING variables that are never written. Use these static checks to avoid this otherwise rather obscure error source.

Take care if input and output could be the same

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Initialization > This section

Generally, it is a good idea to clear the parameter as a first thing in the method after type and data declarations. This makes the statement easy to spot and avoids that the still-contained value is accidentally used by later statements.

However, some parameter configurations could use the same variable as input and output. In this case, an early CLEAR would delete the input value before it can be used, producing wrong results.

" anti-pattern
DATA value TYPE i.

square_dirty(
  EXPORTING
    number = value
  IMPORTING
    result = value ).

METHOD square_dirty.
  CLEAR result.
  result = number * number.
ENDMETHOD.

Consider redesigning such methods by replacing EXPORTING with RETURNING. Also consider overwriting the EXPORTING parameter in a single result calculation statement. If neither fits, resort to a late CLEAR.

Don't clear VALUE parameters

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Parameter Initialization > This section

Parameters that work by VALUE are handed over as new, separate memory areas that are empty by definition. Don't clear them again:

METHODS square
  EXPORTING
    VALUE(result) TYPE i.

METHOD square.
  " no need to CLEAR result
ENDMETHOD.

RETURNING parameters are always VALUE parameters, so you never have to clear them:

METHODS square
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result) TYPE i.

METHOD square.
  " no need to CLEAR result
ENDMETHOD.

Method Body

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > This section

Do one thing, do it well, do it only

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Method Body > This section

A method should do one thing, and only one thing. It should do it in the best way possible.

A method likely does one thing if

Focus on the happy path or error handling, but not both

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Method Body > This section

As a specialization of the rule Do one thing, do it well, do it only, a method should either follow the happy-path it's built for, or the error-handling-detour in case it can't, but probably not both.

" anti-pattern
METHOD append_xs.
  IF input > 0.
    DATA(remainder) = input.
    WHILE remainder > 0.
      result = result && `X`.
      remainder = remainder - 1.
    ENDWHILE.
  ELSEIF input = 0.
    RAISE EXCEPTION /dirty/sorry_cant_do( ).
  ELSE.
    RAISE EXCEPTION cx_sy_illegal_argument( ).
  ENDIF.
ENDMETHOD.

Can be decomposed into

METHOD append_xs.
  validate( input ).
  DATA(remainder) = input.
  WHILE remainder > 0.
    result = result && `X`.
    remainder = remainder - 1.
  ENDWHILE.
ENDMETHOD.

METHOD validate.
  IF input = 0.
    RAISE EXCEPTION /dirty/sorry_cant_do( ).
  ELSEIF input < 0.
    RAISE EXCEPTION cx_sy_illegal_argument( ).
  ENDIF.
ENDMETHOD.

or, to stress the validation part

METHOD append_xs.
  IF input > 0.
    result = append_xs_without_check( input ).
  ELSEIF input = 0.
    RAISE EXCEPTION /dirty/sorry_cant_do( ).
  ELSE.
    RAISE EXCEPTION cx_sy_illegal_argument( ).
  ENDIF.
ENDMETHOD.

METHOD append_xs_without_check.
  DATA(remainder) = input.
  WHILE remainder > 0.
    result = result && `X`.
    remainder = remainder - 1.
  ENDWHILE.
ENDMETHOD.

Descend one level of abstraction

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Method Body > This section

Statements in a method should be one level of abstraction below the method itself. Correspondingly, they should all be on the same level of abstraction.

METHOD create_and_publish.
  post = create_post( user_input ).
  post->publish( ).
ENDMETHOD.

instead of confusing mixtures of low level (trim, to_upper, ...) and high level (publish, ...) concepts like

" anti-pattern
METHOD create_and_publish.
  post = NEW blog_post( ).
  DATA(user_name) = trim( to_upper( sy-uname ) ).
  post->set_author( user_name ).
  post->publish( ).
ENDMETHOD.

A reliable way to find out what the right level of abstraction is is this: Let the method's author explain what the method does in few, short words, without looking at the code. The bullets (s)he numbers are the sub-methods the method should call or the statements it should execute.

Keep methods small

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Method Body > This section

Methods should be very small, optimally around 3 to 5 statements.

METHOD read_and_parse_version_filters.
  DATA(active_model_version) = read_random_version_under( model_guid ).
  DATA(filter_json) = read_model_version_filters( active_model_version-guid ).
  result = parse_model_version_filters( filter_json ).
ENDMETHOD.

The following DATA declaration alone is sufficient to see that the surrounding method does way more than one thing:

" anti-pattern
DATA:
  class           TYPE vseoclass,
  attributes      TYPE seoo_attributes_r,
  methods         TYPE seoo_methods_r,
  events          TYPE seoo_events_r,
  types           TYPE seoo_types_r,
  aliases         TYPE seoo_aliases_r,
  implementings   TYPE seor_implementings_r,
  inheritance     TYPE vseoextend,
  friendships     TYPE seof_friendships_r,
  typepusages     TYPE seot_typepusages_r,
  clsdeferrds     TYPE seot_clsdeferrds_r,
  intdeferrds     TYPE seot_intdeferrds_r,
  attribute       TYPE vseoattrib,
  method          TYPE vseomethod,
  event           TYPE vseoevent,
  type            TYPE vseotype,
  alias           TYPE seoaliases,
  implementing    TYPE vseoimplem,
  friendship      TYPE seofriends,
  typepusage      TYPE vseotypep,
  clsdeferrd      TYPE vseocdefer,
  intdeferrd      TYPE vseoidefer,
  new_clskey_save TYPE seoclskey.

Of course there are occasions where it does not make sense to reduce a larger method further. This is perfectly okay as long as the method remains focused on one thing:

METHOD decide_what_to_do.
  CASE temperature.
    WHEN burning.
      result = air_conditioning.
    WHEN hot.
      result = ice_cream.
    WHEN moderate.
      result = chill.
    WHEN cold.
      result = skiing.
    WHEN freezing.
      result = hot_cocoa.
  ENDCASE.
ENDMETHOD.

However, it still makes sense to validate whether the verbose code hides a more suitable pattern:

METHOD decide_what_to_do.
  result = VALUE #( spare_time_activities[ temperature = temperature ] OPTIONAL ).
ENDMETHOD.

Cutting methods very small can have bad impact on performance because it increases the number of method calls. The section Mind the performance gives guidance on how to balance Clean Code and performance.

Control flow

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > This section

Fail fast

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Control flow > This section

Validate and fail as early as possible:

METHOD do_something.
  IF input IS INITIAL.
    RAISE EXCEPTION cx_sy_illegal_argument( ).
  ENDIF.
  DATA(massive_object) = build_expensive_object_from( input ).
  result = massive_object->do_some_fancy_calculation( ).
ENDMETHOD.

Later validations are harder to spot and understand and may have already wasted resources to get there.

" anti-pattern
METHOD do_something.
  DATA(massive_object) = build_expensive_object_from( input ).
  IF massive_object IS NOT BOUND. " happens if input is initial
    RAISE EXCEPTION cx_sy_illegal_argument( ).
  ENDIF.
  result = massive_object->do_some_fancy_calculation( ).
ENDMETHOD.

CHECK vs. RETURN

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Control flow > This section

There is no consensus on whether you should use CHECK or RETURN to exit a method if the input doesn't meet expectations.

While CHECK definitely provides the shorter syntax

METHOD read_customizing.
  CHECK keys IS NOT INITIAL.
  " do whatever needs doing
ENDMETHOD.

the statement's name is so obscure that people will probably understand the long form better:

METHOD read_customizing.
  IF keys IS INITIAL.
    RETURN.
  ENDIF.
  " do whatever needs doing
ENDMETHOD:

You can also avoid the question completely by reversing the validation and adopting Dijkstra's single-exit pattern for structured programming

METHOD read_customizing.
  IF keys IS NOT INITIAL.
    " do whatever needs doing
  ENDIF.
ENDMETHOD:

In any case, consider whether returning nothing is really the appropriate behavior. Methods should provide a meaningful result, meaning either a filled return parameter, or an exception. Returning nothing is in many cases similar to returning null, which should be avoided.

The section Exiting Procedures in the ABAP Programming Guidelines recommends using CHECK in this instance. Community discussion suggests that the statement is so unclear that many people will not understand the program's behavior.

Avoid CHECK in other positions

Clean ABAP > Content > Methods > Control flow > This section

Do not use CHECK outside of the initialization section of a method. The statement behaves differently in different positions and may lead to unclear, unexpected effects.

For example, CHECK in a LOOP ends the current iteration and proceeds with the next one; people might accidentally expect it to end the method or exit the loop.

Based on the section Exiting Procedures in the ABAP Programming Guidelines. Note that this contradicts the keyword reference for CHECK in loops.

Error Handling

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Return Codes

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > This section

Prefer exceptions to return codes

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Return Codes > This section

METHOD try_this_and_that.
  RAISE EXCEPTION NEW cx_failed( ).
ENDMETHOD.

instead of

" anti-pattern
METHOD try_this_and_that.
  error_occurred = abap_true.
ENDMETHOD.

Exceptions have multiple advantages over return codes:

  • Exceptions keep your method signatures clean: you can return the result of the method as a RETURNING parameter and still throw exceptions alongside. Return codes pollute your signatures with additional parameters for error handling.

  • The caller doesn't have to react to them immediately. He can simply write down the happy path of his code. The exception-handling CATCH can be at the very end of his method, or completely outside.

  • Exceptions can provide details on the error in their attributes and through methods. Return codes require you to devise a different solution on your own, such as also returning a log.

  • The environment reminds the caller with syntax errors to handle exceptions. Return codes can be accidentally ignored without anybody noticing.

Don't let failures slip through

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Return Codes > This section

If you do have to use return codes, for example because you call Functions and older code not under your control, make sure you don't let failures slip through.

DATA:
  current_date TYPE string,
  response     TYPE bapiret2.

CALL FUNCTION 'BAPI_GET_CURRENT_DATE'
  IMPORTING
    current_date = current_date
  CHANGING
    response     = response.

IF response-type = 'E'.
  RAISE EXCEPTION NEW /clean/some_error( );
ENDIF.

Exceptions

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > This section

Exceptions are for errors, not for regular cases

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Exceptions > This section

" anti-pattern
METHODS entry_exists_in_db
  IMPORTING
    key TYPE char10
  RAISING
    cx_not_found_exception.

If something is a regular, valid case, it should be handled with regular result parameters.

METHODS entry_exists_in_db
  IMPORTING
    key           TYPE char10
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result) TYPE abap_bool.

Exceptions should be reserved for cases that you don't expect and that reflect error situations.

METHODS assert_user_input_is_valid
  IMPORTING
    user_input TYPE string
  RAISING
    cx_bad_user_input.

Misusing exceptions misguides the reader into thinking something went wrong, when really everything is just fine. Exceptions are also much slower than regular code because they need to be constructed and often gather lots of context information.

Use class-based exceptions

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Exceptions > This section

TRY.
    get_component_types( ).
  CATCH cx_has_deep_components_error.
ENDTRY.

The outdated non-class-based exceptions have the same features as return codes and shouldn't be used anymore.

" anti-pattern
get_component_types(
  EXCEPTIONS
    has_deep_components = 1
    OTHERS              = 2 ).

Throwing

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > This section

Use own super classes

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Throwing > This section

CLASS cx_fra_static_check DEFINITION ABSTRACT INHERITING FROM cx_static_check.
CLASS cx_fra_no_check DEFINITION ABSTRACT INHERITING FROM cx_no_check.

Consider creating abstract super classes for each exception type for your application, instead of sub-classing the foundation classes directly. Allows you to CATCH all your exceptions. Enables you to add common functionality to all exceptions, such as special text handling. ABSTRACT prevents people from accidentally using these non-descriptive errors directly.

Throw one type of exception

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Throwing > This section

METHODS generate
  RAISING
    cx_generation_error.

In the vast majority of cases, throwing multiple types of exceptions has no use. The caller usually is neither interested nor able to distinguish the error situations. He will therefore typically handle them all in the same way - and if this is the case, why distinguish them in the first place?

" anti-pattern
METHODS generate
  RAISING
    cx_abap_generation
    cx_hdbr_access_error
    cx_model_read_error.

A better solution to recognize different error situations is using one exception type but adding sub-classes that allow - but don't require - reacting to individual error situations, as described in Use sub-classes to enable callers to distinguish error situations.

Use sub-classes to enable callers to distinguish error situations

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Throwing > This section

CLASS cx_bad_generation_variable DEFINITION INHERITING FROM cx_generation_error.
CLASS cx_bad_code_composer_template DEFINITION INHERITING FROM cx_generation_error.

TRY.
    generator->generate( ).
  CATCH cx_bad_generation_variable.
    log_failure( ).
  CATCH cx_bad_code_composer_template INTO DATA(bad_template_exception).
    show_error_to_user( bad_template_exception ).
  CATCH cx_generation_error INTO DATA(other_exception).
    RAISE EXCEPTION NEW cx_application_error( previous =  other_exception ).
ENDTRY.

If there are many different error situations, use error codes instead:

CLASS cx_generation_error DEFINITION ...
  PUBLIC SECTION.
    TYPES error_code_type TYPE i.
    CONSTANTS:
      BEGIN OF error_code_enum,
        bad_generation_variable    TYPE error_code_type VALUE 1,
        bad_code_composer_template TYPE error_code_type VALUE 2,
        ...
      END OF error_code_enum.
    DATA error_code TYPE error_code_type.

TRY.
    generator->generate( ).
  CATCH cx_generation_error INTO DATA(exception).
    CASE exception->error_code.
      WHEN cx_generation_error=>error_code_enum-bad_generation_variable.
      WHEN cx_generation_error=>error_code_enum-bad_code_composer_variable.
      ...
    ENDCASE.
ENDTRY.

Throw CX_STATIC_CHECK for manageable exceptions

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Throwing > This section

If an exception can be expected to occur and be reasonably handled by the receiver, throw a checked exception inheriting from CX_STATIC_CHECK: failing user input validation, missing resource for which there are fallbacks, etc.

CLASS cx_file_not_found DEFINITION INHERITING FROM cx_static_check.

METHODS read_file
  IMPORTING
    file_name_enterd_by_user TYPE string
  RAISING
    cx_file_not_found.

This exception type must be given in method signatures and must be caught or forwarded to avoid syntax errors. It is therefore plain to see for the consumer and ensures that (s)he won't be surprised by an unexpected exception and will take care of reacting to the error situation.

This is in sync with the ABAP Programming Guidelines but contradicts Robert C. Martin's Clean Code, which recommends to prefer unchecked exceptions; Exceptions explains why.

Throw CX_NO_CHECK for usually unrecoverable situations

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Throwing > This section

If an exception is so severe that the receiver is unlikely to recover from it, use CX_NO_CHECK: failure to read a must-have resource, failure to resolve the requested dependency, etc.

CLASS cx_out_of_memory DEFINITION INHERITING FROM cx_no_check.

METHODS create_guid
  RETURNING
    VALUE(result) TYPE /bobf/conf_key.

CX_NO_CHECK cannot be declared in method signatures, such that its occurrence will come as a bad surprise to the consumer. In the case of unrecoverable situations, this is okay because the consumer will not be able to do anything useful about it anyway.

However, there may be cases where the consumer actually wants to recognize and react to this kind of failure. For example, a dependency manager could throw a CX_NO_CHECK if it's unable to provide an implementation for a requested interface because regular application code will not be able to continue. However, there may be a test report that tries to instantiate all kinds of things just to see if it's working, and that will report failure simply as a red entry in a list - this service should be able to catch and ignore the exception instead of being forced to dump.

Consider CX_DYNAMIC_CHECK for avoidable exceptions

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Throwing > This section

Use cases for CX_DYNAMIC_CHECK are rare, and in general we recommend to resort to the other exception types. However, you may want to consider this kind of exception as a replacement for CX_STATIC_CHECK if the caller has full, conscious control over whether an exception can occur.

DATA value TYPE decfloat.
value = '7.13'.
cl_abap_math=>get_db_length_decs(
  EXPORTING
    in     = value
  IMPORTING
    length = DATA(length) ).

For example, consider the method get_db_length_decs of class cl_abap_math, that tells you the number of digits and decimal places of a decimal floating point number. This method raises the dynamic exception cx_parameter_invalid_type if the input parameter does not reflect a decimal floating point number. Usually, this method will be called for a fully and statically typed variable, such that the developer knows whether that exception can ever occur or not. In this case, the dynamic exception would enable the caller to omit the unnecessary CATCH clause.

Dump for totally unrecoverable situations

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Throwing > This section

If a situation is so severe that you are totally sure the receiver is unlikely to recover from it, or that clearly indicates a programming error, dump instead of throwing an exception: failure to acquire memory, failed index reads on a table that must be filled, etc.

RAISE SHORTDUMP TYPE cx_sy_create_object_error.  " >= NW 7.53
MESSAGE x666(general).                           " < NW 7.53

This behavior will prevent any kind of consumer from doing anything useful afterwards. Use this only if you are sure about that.

Prefer RAISE EXCEPTION NEW to RAISE EXCEPTION TYPE

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Throwing > This section

RAISE EXCEPTION NEW cx_generation_error( previous = exception ).

in general is shorter than the needlessly longer

RAISE EXCEPTION TYPE cx_generation_error
  EXPORTING
    previous = exception.

However, if you make massive use of the addition MESSAGE, you may want to stick with the TYPE variant:

RAISE EXCEPTION TYPE cx_generation_error
  EXPORTING
    previous = exception
  MESSAGE e136(messages).

Catching

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > This section

Wrap foreign exceptions instead of letting them invade your code

Clean ABAP > Content > Error Handling > Catching > This section

METHODS generate RAISING cx_generation_failure.

METHOD generate.
  TRY.
      generator->generate( ).
    CATCH cx_amdp_generation_failure INTO DATA(exception).
      RAISE EXCEPTION NEW cx_generation_failure( previous = exception ).
  ENDTRY.
ENDMETHOD.

The Law of Demeter recommends de-coupling things. Forwarding exceptions from other components violates this principle. Make yourself independent from the foreign code by catching those exceptions and wrapping them in an exception type of your own.

" anti-pattern
METHODS generate RAISING cx_sy_gateway_failure.

METHOD generate.
  generator->generate( ).
ENDMETHOD.

Comments

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Express yourself in code, not in comments

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

METHOD correct_day_to_last_in_month.
  WHILE is_invalid( date ).
    reduce_day_by_one( CHANGING date = date ).
  ENDWHILE.
ENDMETHOD.

METHOD is_invalid.
  DATA zero_if_invalid TYPE i.
  zero_if_invalid = date.
  result = xsdbool( zero_if_invalid = 0 ).
ENDMETHOD.

METHOD reduce_day_by_one.
  date+6(2) = date+6(2) - 1.
ENDMETHOD.

instead of

" anti-pattern
" correct e.g. 29.02. in non-leap years as well as result of a date calculation would be
" something like e.g. the 31.06. that example has to be corrected to 30.06.
METHOD fix_day_overflow.
  DO 3 TIMES.
    " 31 - 28 = 3 => this correction is required not more than 3 times
    lv_dummy = cv_date.
    " lv_dummy is 0 if the date value is a not existing date - ABAP specific implementation
    IF ( lv_dummy EQ 0 ).
      cv_date+6(2) = cv_date+6(2) - 1. " subtract 1 day from the given date
    ELSE.
      " date exists => no correction required
      EXIT.
    ENDIF.
  ENDDO.
ENDMETHOD.

Clean Code does not forbid you to comment your code - it encourages you to exploit better means, and resort to comments only if that fails.

This example has been challenged from a performance point of view, claiming that cutting the methods so small worsens performance too much. Sample measurements show that the refactored code is 2.13 times slower than the original dirty variant. The clean variant takes 9.6 microseconds to fix the input 31-02-2018, the dirty variant only 4.5 microseconds. This may be a problem when the method is run very often in a high-performance application; for regular user input validation, it should be acceptable. Resort to the section Mind the performance to deal with Clean Code and performance issues.

Comments are no excuse for bad names

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

DATA(input_has_entries) = has_entries( input ).

Improve your names instead of explaining what they really mean or why you chose bad ones.

" anti-pattern
" checks whether the table input contains entries
DATA(result) = check_table( input ).

Use methods instead of comments to segment your code

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

DATA(statement) = build_statement( ).
DATA(data) = execute_statement( statement ).

This not only makes the intent, structure, and dependencies of the code much clearer, it also avoids carry-over errors when temporary variables aren't properly cleared between the sections.

" anti-pattern
" -----------------
" Build statement
" -----------------
DATA statement TYPE string.
statement = |SELECT * FROM d_document_roots|.

" -----------------
" Execute statement
" -----------------
DATA(result_set) = adbc->execute_sql_query( statement ).
result_set->next_package( IMPORTING data = data ).

Write comments to explain the why, not the what

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

" can't fail, existence of >= 1 row asserted above
DATA(first_line) = table[ 1 ].

Nobody needs repeating the code in natural language

" anti-pattern
" select alert root from database by key
SELECT * FROM d_alert_root WHERE key = key.

Design goes into the design documents, not the code

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

" anti-pattern
" This class serves a double purpose. First, it does one thing. Then, it does another thing.
" It does so by executing a lot of code that is distributed over the local helper classes.
" To understand what's going on, let us at first ponder the nature of the universe as such.
" Have a look at this and that to get the details.

Nobody reads that - seriously. If people need to read a textbook to be able to use your code, this may be an indicator that your code has severe design issues that you should solve otherwise. Some code does need some explanation beyond a single line of comment; consider linking the design document in these cases.

Comment with ", not with *

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

Quote comments indent along with the statements they comment

METHOD do_it.
  IF input IS NOT INITIAL.
    " delegate pattern
    output = calculate_result( input ).
  ENDIF.
ENDMETHOD.

Asterisked comments tend to indent to weird places

" anti-pattern
METHOD do_it.
  IF input IS NOT INITIAL.
* delegate pattern
    output = calculate_result( input ).
  ENDIF.
ENDMETHOD.

Put comments before the statement they relate to

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

" delegate pattern
output = calculate_result( input ).

Clearer than

" anti-pattern
output = calculate_result( input ).
" delegate pattern

And less invasive than

output = calculate_result( input ).  " delegate pattern

Delete code instead of commenting it

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

" anti-pattern
* output = calculate_result( input ).

When you find something like this, delete it. The code is obviously not needed because your application works and all tests are green. Deleted code can be reproduced from the version history later on. If you need to preserve a piece of code permanently, copy it to a file or a $TMP or HOME object.

Use FIXME, TODO, and XXX and add your ID

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

METHOD do_something.
  " XXX FH delete this method - it does nothing
ENDMETHOD.
  • FIXME points to errors that are too small or too much in-the-making for internal incidents.
  • TODOs are places where you want to complete something in the near(!) future.
  • XXX marks code that works but could be better.

When you enter such a comment, add your nick, initials, or user to enable your co-developers to contact you and ask questions if the comment is unclear.

Don't add method signature and end-of comments

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

Method signature comments don't help anybody.

" anti-pattern
* <SIGNATURE>---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
* | Static Public Method CALIBRATION_KPIS=>CALCULATE_KPI
* +-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
* | [--->] STRATEGY_ID                 TYPE        STRATEGY_ID
* | [--->] THRESHOLD                   TYPE        STRATEGY_THRESHOLD
* | [--->] DETECTION_OBJECT_SCORE      TYPE        T_HIT_RESULT
* | [<---] KPI                         TYPE        T_SIMULATED_KPI
* +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------</SIGNATURE>

Decades ago, when you couldn't see the method signature when inspecting its code, or working with printouts that had dozens of pages, these comments may have made sense. But all modern ABAP IDEs (SE24, SE80, ADT) show the method signature easily such that these comments have become nothing but noise.

In the form-based editor of SE24/SE80, press button Signature. In the ABAP Development Tools, mark the method name and press F2 or add the view ABAP Element Info to your perspective.

Similarly, end-of comments are superfluous. These comments may have been helpful decades ago, when programs and functions and the nested IFs inside were hundreds of lines of code long. But our modern coding style produces methods short enough to readily see what opening statement an ENDIF or ENDMETHOD belongs to:

" anti-pattern
METHOD get_kpi_calc.
  IF has_entries = abap_false.
    result = 42.
  ENDIF.  " IF has_entries = abap_false
ENDMETHOD.   " get_kpi_calc

Don't duplicate message texts as comments

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

" anti-pattern
" alert category not filled
MESSAGE e003 INTO dummy.

Messages change independently from your code, and nobody will remember adjusting the comment, such that it will outdate and even become misleading quickly and without anybody noticing.

The modern IDEs give you easy ways to see the text behind a message, for example in the ABAP Development Tools, mark the message ID and press Shift+F2.

If you want it more explicit, consider extracting the message to a method of its own.

METHOD create_alert_not_found_message.
  MESSAGE e003 INTO dummy.
ENDMETHOD.

ABAP Doc only for public APIs

Clean ABAP > Content > Comments > This section

Write ABAP Doc to document public APIs, meaning APIs that are intended for developers in other teams or applications. Don't write ABAP Doc for internal stuff.

ABAP Doc suffers from the same weaknesses as all comments, that is, it outdates quickly and then becomes misleading. As a consequence, you should employ it only where it makes sense, not enforce writing ABAP Doc for each and everything.

Read more in Chapter 4: Good Comments: Javadocs in Public APIs and Chapter 4: Bad Comments: Javadocs in Nonpublic Code of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Formatting

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

The suggestions below are optimized for reading, not for writing. As ABAP's Pretty Printer doesn't cover them, some of them produce additional manual work to reformat statements when name lengths etc. change; if you want to avoid this, consider dropping rules like Align assignments to the same object, but not to different ones.

Be consistent

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Format all code of a project in the same way. Let all team members use the same formatting style.

If you edit foreign code, adhere to that project's formatting style instead of insisting on your personal style.

If you change your formatting rules over time, use refactoring best practices to update your code over time.

Optimize for reading, not for writing

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

Developers spend most time reading code. Actually writing code takes up a way smaller portion of the day.

As a consequence, you should optimize your code formatting for reading, not for writing.

For example, you should prefer

DATA:
  a TYPE b,
  c TYPE d,
  e TYPE f.

to hacks such as

" anti-pattern
DATA:
  a TYPE b
  ,c TYPE d
  ,e TYPE f.

Use the Pretty Printer before activating

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

Apply the pretty printer - Shift+F1 in SE80, SE24, and ADT - before activating an object.

If you modify a larger unformatted legacy code base, you may want to apply the Pretty Printer only to selected lines to avoid huge change lists and transport dependencies. Consider pretty-printing the complete development object in a separate Transport Request or Note.

Read more in Chapter 5: Formatting: Team Rules of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Use your Pretty Printer team settings

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

Always use your team settings. Specify them under Menu > Utilities > Settings ... > ABAP Editor > Pretty Printer.

Set Indent and Convert Uppercase/Lowercase > Uppercase Keyword as agreed in your team.

Upper vs. Lower Case explains why we do not give clear guidance for the type case of keywords.

Read more in Chapter 5: Formatting: Team Rules of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

No more than one statement per line

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

DATA do_this TYPE i.
do_this = input + 3.

Even if some occurrences may trick you into the misconception that this was readable:

" anti-pattern
DATA do_this TYPE i. do_this = input + 3.

Stick to a reasonable line length

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

Adhere to a maximum line length of 120 characters.

The human eye reads text more comfortably if the lines are not too wide - ask a UI designer or eye movement researcher of your choice. You will also appreciate the narrower code when debugging or comparing two sources next to each other.

The 80 or even 72 characters limit originating in the old terminal devices is a little too restrictive. While 100 characters are often recommended and a viable choice, 120 characters seem to work a little better for ABAP, maybe because of the general verbosity of the language.

As a reminder you can configure in ADT the print margin to 120 characters, which then is visualized in the code view as a vertical line. Configure it under Menu > Window > Preferences > General > Editors > Text Editors.

Condense your code

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

DATA(result) = calculate( items ).

instead of adding unneeded blanks

" anti-pattern
DATA(result)        =      calculate(    items =   items )   .

Add a single blank line to separate things, but not more

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

DATA(result) = do_something( ).

DATA(else) = calculate_this( result ).

to highlight that the two statements do different things. But there is no reason for

" anti-pattern
DATA(result) = do_something( ).



DATA(else) = calculate_this( result ).

The urge to add separating blank lines may be an indicator that your method doesn't do one thing.

Don't obsess with separating blank lines

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

METHOD do_something.
  do_this( ).
  then_that( ).
ENDMETHOD.

No reason for the bad habit to tear your code apart with blank lines

" anti-pattern
METHOD do_something.

  do_this( ).

  then_that( ).

ENDMETHOD.

Blank lines actually only make sense if you have statements that span multiple lines

METHOD do_something.

  do_this( ).

  then_that(
    EXPORTING
      variable = 'A'
    IMPORTING
      result   = result ).

ENDMETHOD.

Align assignments to the same object, but not to different ones

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

To highlight that these things somehow belong together

structure-type = 'A'.
structure-id   = '4711'.

or even better

structure = VALUE #( type = 'A'
                     id   = '4711' ).

But leave things ragged that have nothing to do with each other:

customizing_reader = fra_cust_obj_model_reader=>s_get_instance( ).
hdb_access = fra_hdbr_access=>s_get_instance( ).

Read more in Chapter 5: Formatting: Horizontal Alignment of Robert C. Martin's Clean Code.

Close brackets at line end

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

modify->update( node           = if_fra_alert_c=>node-item
                key            = item->key
                data           = item
                changed_fields = changed_fields ).

instead of the needlessly longer

" anti-pattern
modify->update( node           = if_fra_alert_c=>node-item
                key            = item->key
                data           = item
                changed_fields = changed_fields
).

Keep single parameter calls on one line

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

DATA(unique_list) = remove_duplicates( list ).
remove_duplicates( CHANGING list = list ).

instead of the needlessly longer

" anti-pattern
DATA(unique_list) = remove_duplicates(
                           list ).
DATA(unique_list) = remove_duplicates(
                         CHANGING
                           list = list ).

Keep parameters behind the call

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

DATA(sum) = add_two_numbers( value_1 = 5
                             value_2 = 6 ).

When this makes the lines very long, you can break the parameters into the next line:

DATA(sum) = add_two_numbers(
                   value_1 = round_up( input DIV 7 ) * 42 + round_down( 19 * step_size )
                   value_2 = VALUE #( ( `Calculation failed with a very weird result` ) ) ).

If you break, indent parameters under the call

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

DATA(sum) = add_two_numbers(
                   value_1 = 5
                   value_2 = 6 ).

Aligning the parameters elsewhere makes it hard to spot what they belong to:

" anti-pattern
DATA(sum) = add_two_numbers(
    value_1 = 5
    value_2 = 6 ).

This is on the other side the best pattern if you want to avoid the formatting to be broken by a name length change.

Line-break multiple parameters

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

DATA(sum) = add_two_numbers( value_1 = 5
                             value_2 = 6 ).

Yes, this wastes space. However, otherwise, it's hard to spot where one parameter ends and the next starts:

" anti-pattern
DATA(sum) = add_two_numbers( value_1 = 5 value_2 = 6 ).

Align parameters

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

modify->update( node           = if_fra_alert_c=>node-item
                key            = item->key
                data           = item
                changed_fields = changed_fields ).

Ragged margins make it hard to see where the parameter ends and its value begins:

" anti-pattern
modify->update( node = if_fra_alert_c=>node-item
                key = item->key
                data = item
                changed_fields = changed_fields ).

This is on the other side the best pattern if you want to avoid the formatting to be broken by a name length change.

Break the call to a new line if the line gets too long

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

DATA(some_super_long_param_name) =
  if_some_annoying_interface~add_two_numbers_in_a_long_name(
      value_1 = 5
      value_2 = 6 ).

Indent and snap to tab

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

Indent parameter keywords by 2 spaces and parameters by 4 spaces:

DATA(sum) = add_two_numbers(
              EXPORTING
                value_1 = 5
                value_2 = 6
              CHANGING
                errors  = errors ).

If you have no keywords, indent the parameters by 4 spaces.

DATA(sum) = add_two_numbers(
                value_1 = 5
                value_2 = 6 ).

Use the Tab key to indent. It's okay if this adds one more space than needed. (This happens if the DATA(sum) = part at the left has an uneven number of characters.)

Indent in-line declarations like method calls

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

Indent in-line declarations with VALUE or NEW as if they were method calls:

DATA(result) = merge_structures( a = VALUE #( field_1 = 'X'
                                              field_2 = 'A' )
                                 b = NEW /clean/structure_type( field_3 = 'C'
                                                                field_4 = 'D' ) ).

Don't align type clauses

Clean ABAP > Content > Formatting > This section

DATA name TYPE seoclsname.
DATA reader TYPE REF TO /clean/reader.

A variable and its type belong together and should therefore be visually grouped in close proximity. Aligning the TYPE clauses draws attention away from that and suggests that the variables form one vertical group, and their types another one. Alignment also produces needless editing overhead, requiring you to adjust all indentations when the length of the longest variable name changes.

" anti-pattern
DATA name   TYPE seoclsname.
DATA reader TYPE REF TO /clean/reader.

Testing

Clean ABAP > Content > This section

Principles

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > This section

Write testable code

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Principles > This section

Write all code in a way that allows you to test it in an automatic fashion.

If this requires refactoring your code, do it. Do that first, before you start adding other features.

If you add to legacy code that is too badly structured to be tested, refactor it at least to the extent that you can test your additions.

Enable others to mock you

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Principles > This section

If you write code to be consumed by others, enable them to write unit tests for their own code, for example by adding interfaces in all outward-facing places, providing helpful test doubles that facilitate integration tests, or applying dependency inversion to enable them to substitute the productive configuration with a test config.

Readability rules

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Principles > This section

Make your test code even more readable than your productive code. You can tackle bad productive code with good tests, but if you don't even get the tests, you're lost.

Keep your test code so simple and stupid that you will still understand it in a year from now.

Stick to standards and patterns, to enable your co-workers to quickly get into the code.

Don't make copies or write test reports

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Principles > This section

Don't start working on a backlog item by making a $TMP copy of a development object and playing around with it. Others won't notice these objects and therefore won't know the status of your work. You will probably waste a lot of time by making the working copy in the first place. You will also forget to delete the copy afterwards, spamming your system and dependencies. (Don't believe this? Go to your development system and check your $TMP right now.)

Also, don't start by writing a test report that calls something in a specific way, and repeat that to verify that things are still working when you're working on it. This is poor man's testing: repeating a test report by hand and verifying by eye whether everything is still fine. Take the next step and automate this report in a unit test, with an automatic assertion that tells you whether the code is still okay. First, you will spare yourself the effort of having to write the unit tests afterwards. Second, you will save a lot of time for the manual repetitions, plus avoid getting bored and tired over it.

Test publics, not private internals

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Principles > This section

Public parts of classes, especially the interfaces they implement, are rather stable and unlikely to change. Let your unit tests validate only the publics to make them robust and minimize the effort you have to spend when you refactor the class. Protected and private internals, in contrast, may change very quickly through refactoring, such that each refactoring would needlessly break your tests.

An urgent need to test private or protected methods may be an early warning sign for several kinds of design flaws. Ask yourself:

  • Did you accidentally bury a concept in your class that wants to come out into its own class, with its own dedicated suite of tests?

  • Did you forget to separate the domain logic from the glue code? For example, implementing the domain logic directly in the class that is plugged into BOPF as an action, determination, or validation, or that was generated by SAP Gateway as a *_DPC_EXT data provider, may not the best idea.

  • Are your interfaces too complicated and request too much data that is irrelevant or that cannot be mocked easily?

Don't obsess about coverage

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Principles > This section

Code coverage is there to help you find code you forgot to test, not to meet some random KPI:

Don't make up tests without or with dummy asserts just to reach the coverage. Better leave things untested to make transparent that you cannot safely refactor them. You can have < 100% coverage and still have perfect tests. There are cases - such as IFs in the constructor to insert test doubles - that may make it unpractical to reach 100%. Good tests tend to cover the same statement multiple times, for different branches and conditions. They will in fact have imaginary > 100% coverage.

Test Classes

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > This section

Call local test classes by their purpose

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Classes > This section

CLASS ltc_unit_tests DEFINITION FOR TESTING ... .
CLASS ltc_integration_tests DEFINITION FOR TESTING ... .
CLASS ltc_unit_tests_with_mocks DEFINITION FOR TESTING ... .

Good names reveal the level of the tests and what's common to their setup.

" anti-patterns
CLASS ltc_fra_online_detection_api DEFINITION FOR TESTING ... . " We know that's the class under test - why repeat it?
CLASS ltc_test DEFINITION FOR TESTING ....                      " Of course it's a test, what else should it be?

Put tests in local classes

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Classes > This section

Put unit tests into the local test include of the class under test. This ensures that people find these tests when refactoring the class and allows them to run all associated tests with a single key press, as described in How to execute test classes.

Put component/integration/system tests, that do not directly relate to a single class under test, into the local test include of a separate global class. Mark this global "container" class as FOR TESTING and ABSTRACT to avoid that it is accidentally delivered or referenced in production code. Putting tests into other classes has the danger that people overlook them and forget to run them when refactoring the involved classes, such that this choice is only second-best.

How to execute test classes

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Classes > This section

In the ABAP Development Tools, press Ctrl+Shift+F10 to run all tests in a class. Press Ctrl+Shift+F11 to include coverage measurements. Press Ctrl+Shift+F12 to also run tests in other classes that are maintained as test relations.

On macOS, use Cmd instead of Ctrl.

Code Under Test

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > This section

Name the code under test meaningfully, or default to CUT

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Code Under Test > This section

Give the variable that represents the code under test a meaningful name:

DATA blog_post TYPE REF TO ...

Don't just repeat the class name with all its non-valuable namespaces and prefixes:

" anti-pattern
DATA clean_fra_blog_post TYPE REF TO ...

If you have different test setups, it can be helpful to describe the object's varying state:

DATA empty_blog_post TYPE REF TO ...
DATA simple_blog_post TYPE REF TO ...
DATA very_long_blog_post TYPE REF TO ...

If you have problems finding a meaningful name, resort to cut as a default. The abbreviation stands for "code under test".

DATA cut TYPE REF TO ...

Especially in unclean and confusing tests, calling the variable cut can temporarily help the reader see what's actually tested. However, tidying up the tests is the actual way to go for the long run.

Test interfaces, not classes

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Code Under Test > This section

A practical consequence of the Test publics, not private internals, type your code under test with an interface

DATA code_under_test TYPE REF TO some_interface.

rather than a class

" anti-pattern
DATA code_under_test TYPE REF TO some_class.

Extract the call to the code under test to its own method

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Code Under Test > This section

If the method to be tested requires a lot of parameters or prepared data, it can help to extract the call to it to a helper method of its own that defaults the uninteresting parameters:

METHODS map_xml_to_itab
  IMPORTING
    xml_string TYPE string
    config     TYPE /clean/xml2itab_config DEFAULT default_config
    format     TYPE /clean/xml2itab_format DEFAULT default_format.

METHOD map_xml_to_itab.
  result = cut->map_xml_to_itab( xml_string = xml_string
                                 config     = config
                                 format     = format ).
ENDMETHOD.

DATA(itab) = map_xml_to_itab( '<xml></xml>' ).

Calling the original method directly can swamp your test with a lot of meaningless details:

" anti-pattern
DATA(itab) = cut->map_xml_to_itab( xml_string = '<xml></xml>'
                                   config     = VALUE #( 'some meaningless stuff' )
                                   format     = VALUE #( 'more meaningless stuff' ) ).

Injection

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > This section

Use dependency inversion to inject test doubles

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

Dependency inversion means that you hand over all dependencies to the constructor:

METHODS constructor
  IMPORTING
    customizing_reader TYPE REF TO if_fra_cust_obj_model_reader.

METHOD constructor.
  me->customizing_reader = customizing_reader.
ENDMETHOD.

Don't use setter injection. It enables using the productive code in ways that are not intended:

" anti-pattern
METHODS set_customizing_reader
  IMPORTING
    customizing_reader TYPE REF TO if_fra_cust_obj_model_reader.

METHOD do_something.
  object->set_customizing_reader( a ).
  object->set_customizing_reader( b ). " would you expect that somebody does this?
ENDMETHOD.

Don't use FRIENDS injection. It will initialize productive dependencies before they are replaced, with probably unexpected consequences. It will break as soon as you rename the internals. It also circumvents initializations in the constructor.

" anti-pattern
METHOD setup.
  cut = NEW fra_my_class( ). " <- builds a productive customizing_reader first - what will it break with that?
  cut->customizing_reader ?= cl_abap_testdouble=>create( 'if_fra_cust_obj_model_reader' ).
ENDMETHOD.

METHOD constructor.
  customizing_reader = fra_cust_obj_model_reader=>s_get_instance( ).
  customizing_reader->fill_buffer( ). " <- won't be called on your test double, so no chance to test this
ENDMETHOD.

Use CL_ABAP_TESTDOUBLE

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

DATA(customizing_reader) = CAST /clean/customizing_reader( cl_abap_testdouble=>create( '/clean/default_custom_reader' ) ).
cl_abap_testdouble=>configure_call( customizing_reader)->returning( sub_claim_customizing ).
customizing_reader->read( 'SOME_ID' ).

Shorter and easier to understand than custom test doubles:

" anti-pattern
CLASS /dirty/default_custom_reader DEFINITION FOR TESTING CREATE PUBLIC.
  PUBLIC SECTION.
    INTERFACES /dirty/customizing_reader.
    DATA customizing TYPE /dirty/customizing_table.
ENDCLASS.

CLASS /dirty/default_custom_reader IMPLEMENTATION.
  METHOD /dirty/customizing_reader~read.
    result = customizing.
  ENDMETHOD.
ENDCLASS.

METHOD test_something.
  DATA(customizing_reader) = NEW /dirty/customizing_reader( ).
  customizing_reader->customizing = sub_claim_customizing.
ENDMETHOD.

Exploit the test tools

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

In general, a clean programming style will let you do much of the work with standard ABAP unit tests and test doubles. However, there are tools that will allow you to tackle trickier cases in elegant ways:

  • Use the CL_OSQL_REPLACE service to test complex OpenSQL statements by redirecting them to a test data bin that can be filled with test data without interfering with the rest of the system.

  • Use the CDS test framework to test your CDS views.

Use test seams as temporary workaround

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

If all other techniques fail, or when in dangerous shallow waters of legacy code, refrain to test seams to make things testable.

Although they look comfortable at first sight, test seams are invasive and tend to get entangled in private dependencies, such that they are hard to keep alive and stable in the long run.

We therefore recommend to refrain to test seams only as a temporary workaround to allow you refactoring the code into a more testable form.

Use LOCAL FRIENDS to access the dependency-inverting constructor

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

CLASS /clean/unit_tests DEFINITION.
  PRIVATE SECTION.
    DATA cut TYPE REF TO /clean/interface_under_test.
    METHODS setup.
ENDCLASS.

CLASS /clean/class_under_test DEFINITION LOCAL FRIENDS unit_tests.

CLASS unit_tests IMPLEMENTATION.
  METHOD setup.
    DATA(mock) = cl_abap_testdouble=>create( '/clean/some_mock' ).
    " /clean/class_under_test is CREATE PRIVATE
     " so this only works because of the LOCAL FRIENDS
    cut = NEW /clean/class_under_test( mock ).
  ENDMETHOD.
ENDCLASS.

Don't misuse LOCAL FRIENDS to invade the tested code

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

Unit tests that access private and protected members to insert mock data are fragile: they break when the internal structure of the tested code changes.

" anti-pattern
CLASS /dirty/class_under_test DEFINITION LOCAL FRIENDS unit_tests.
CLASS unit_tests IMPLEMENTATION.
  METHOD returns_right_result.
    cut->some_private_member = 'AUNIT_DUMMY'.
  ENDMETHOD.
ENDCLASS.

Don't change the productive code to make the code testable

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

" anti-pattern
IF me->in_test_mode = abap_true.

Don't sub-class to mock methods

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

Don't sub-class and overwrite methods to mock them in your unit tests. Although this works, it is fragile because the tests break easily when refactoring the code. It also enables real consumers to inherit your class, which may hit you unprepared when not explicitly designing for it.

" anti-pattern
CLASS unit_tests DEFINITION INHERITING FROM /dirty/real_class FOR TESTING [...].
  PROTECTED SECTION.
    METHODS needs_to_be_mocked REDEFINITION.

To get legacy code under test, resort to test seams instead. They are just as fragile but still the cleaner way because they at least don't change the class's productive behavior, as would happen when enabling inheritance by removing a previous FINAL flag or by changing method scope from PRIVATE to PROTECTED.

When writing new code, take this testability issue into account directly when designing the class, and find a different, better way. Common best practices include resorting to other test tools and extracting the problem method to a separate class with its own interface.

A more specific variant of Don't change the productive code to make the code testable.

Don't mock stuff that's not needed

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

cut = NEW /clean/class_under_test( db_reader = db_reader
                                   config    = VALUE #( )
                                   writer    = VALUE #( ) ).

Define your givens as precisely as possible: don't set data that your test doesn't need, and don't mock objects that are never called. These things distract the reader from what's really going on.

" anti-pattern
cut = NEW /dirty/class_under_test( db_reader = db_reader
                                   config    = config
                                   writer    = writer ).

There are also cases where it's not necessary to mock something at all - this is usually the case with data structures and data containers. For example, your unit tests may well work with the productive version of a transient_log because it only stores data without any side effects.

Don't build test frameworks

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Injection > This section

Unit tests should be data-in-data-out, with all test data being defined on the fly as needed.

cl_abap_testdouble=>configure_call( test_double )->returning( data ).

Don't start building frameworks that distinguish "test case IDs" to decide what data to provide. The resulting code will be so long and tangled that you won't be able to keep these tests alive in the long term.

" anti-pattern

test_double->set_test_case( 1 ).

CASE me->test_case.
  WHEN 1.
  WHEN 2.
ENDCASE.

Test Methods

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > This section

Test method names: reflect what's given and expected

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Methods > This section

Good names reflect the given and then of the test:

METHOD reads_existing_entry.
METHOD throws_on_invalid_key.
METHOD detects_invalid_input.

Bad names reflect the when, repeat meaningless facts, or are cryptic:

" anti-patterns

" What's expected, success or failure?
METHOD get_conversion_exits.

" It's a test method, what else should it do but "test"?
METHOD test_loop.

" So it's parameterized, but what is its aim?
METHOD parameterized_test.

" What's "_wo_w" supposed to mean and will you still remember that in a year from now?
METHOD get_attributes_wo_w.

As ABAP allows only 30 characters in method names, it's fair to add an explanatory comment if the name is too short to convey enough meaning. ABAP Doc or the first line in the test method may be an appropriate choice for the comment.

Having lots of test methods whose names are too long may be an indicator that you should split your single test class into several ones and express the differences in the givens in the class's names.

Use given-when-then

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Methods > This section

Organize your test code along the given-when-then paradigm: First, initialize stuff in a given section ("given"), second call the actual tested thing ("when"), third validate the outcome ("then").

If the given or then sections get so long that you cannot visually separate the three sections anymore, extract sub-methods. Blank lines or comments as separators may look good at first glance but don't really reduce the visual clutter. Still they are helpful for the reader and the novice test writer to separate the sections.

"When" is exactly one call

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Methods > This section

Make sure that the "when" section of your test method contains exactly one call to the class under test:

METHOD rejects_invalid_input.
  " when
  DATA(is_valid) = cut->is_valid_input( 'SOME_RANDOM_ENTRY' ).
  " then
  cl_abap_unit_assert=>assert_true( is_valid ).
ENDMETHOD.

Calling multiple things indicates that the method has no clear focus and tests too much. This makes it harder to find the cause when the test fails: was it the first, second, or third call that caused the failure? It also confuses the reader because he is not sure what the exact feature under test is.

Don't add a TEARDOWN unless you really need it

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Methods > This section

teardown methods are usually only needed to clear up database entries or other external resources in integration tests.

Resetting members of the test class, esp. cut and the used test doubles, is superfluous; they are overwritten by the setup method before the next test method is started.

Test Data

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > This section

Make it easy to spot meaning

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Data > This section

In unit tests, you want to be able to quickly tell which data and doubles are important, and which ones are only there to keep the code from crashing. Support this by giving things that have no meaning obvious names and values, for example:

DATA(alert_id) = '42'.                             " well-known meaningless numbers
DATA(detection_object_type) = '?=/"&'.             " 'keyboard accidents'
CONSTANTS some_random_number TYPE i VALUE 782346.  " revealing variable names

Don't trick people into believing something connects to real objects or real customizing if it doesn't:

" anti-pattern
DATA(alert_id) = '00000001223678871'.        " this alert really exists
DATA(detection_object_type) = 'FRA_SCLAIM'.  " this detection object type, too
CONSTANTS memory_limit TYPE i VALUE 4096.    " this number looks carefully chosen

Make it easy to spot differences

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Data > This section

exp_parameter_in = VALUE #( ( parameter_name = '45678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789END1' )
                            ( parameter_name = '45678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789END2' ) ).

Don't force readers to compare long meaningless strings to spot tiny differences.

Use constants to describe purpose and importance of test data

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Test Data > This section

CONSTANTS some_nonsense_key TYPE char8 VALUE 'ABCDEFGH'.

METHOD throws_on_invalid_entry.
  TRY.
      " when
      cut->read_entry( some_nonsense_key ).
      cl_abap_unit_assert=>fail( ).
    CATCH /clean/customizing_reader_error.
      " then
  ENDTRY.
ENDMETHOD.

Assertions

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > This section

Few, focused assertions

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Assertions > This section

Assert only exactly what the test method is about, and this with a small number of assertions.

METHOD rejects_invalid_input.
  " when
  DATA(is_valid) = cut->is_valid_input( 'SOME_RANDOM_ENTRY' ).
  " then
  cl_abap_unit_assert=>assert_true( is_valid ).
ENDMETHOD.

Asserting too much is an indicator that the method has no clear focus. This couples productive and test code in too many places: changing a feature will require rewriting a large number of tests although they are not really involved with the changed feature. It also confuses the reader with a large variety of assertions, obscuring the one important, distinguishing assertion among them.

" anti-pattern
METHOD rejects_invalid_input.
  " when
  DATA(is_valid) = cut->is_valid_input( 'SOME_RANDOM_ENTRY' ).
  " then
  cl_abap_unit_assert=>assert_true( is_valid ).
  cl_abap_unit_assert=>assert_not_initial( log->get_messages( ) ).
  cl_abap_unit_assert=>assert_equals( act = sy-langu
                                      exp = 'E' ).
ENDMETHOD.

Use the right assert type

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Assertions > This section

cl_abap_unit_assert=>assert_equals( act = table
                                    exp = test_data ).

Asserts often do more than meets the eye, for example assert_equals includes type matching and providing precise descriptions if values differ. Using the wrong, too-common asserts will force you into the debugger immediately instead of allowing you to see what is wrong right from the error message.

" anti-pattern
cl_abap_unit_assert=>assert_true( xsdbool( act = exp ) ).

Assert content, not quantity

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Assertions > This section

assert_contains_exactly( actual   = table
                         expected = VALUE string_table( ( `ABC` ) ( `DEF` ) ( `GHI` ) ) ).

Don't write magic-number-quantity assertions if you can express the actual content you expect. Numbers may vary although the expectations are still met. In reverse, the numbers may match although the content is something completely unexpected.

" anti-pattern
assert_equals( act = lines( log_messages )
               exp = 3 ).

Assert quality, not content

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Assertions > This section

If you are interested in a meta quality of the result, but not in the actual content itself, express that with a suitable assert:

assert_all_lines_shorter_than( actual_lines        = table
                               expected_max_length = 80 ).

Asserting the precise content obscures what you actually want to test. It is also fragile because refactoring may produce a different but perfectly acceptable result although it breaks all your too-precise unit tests.

" anti-pattern
assert_equals( act = table
               exp = VALUE string_table( ( `ABC` ) ( `DEF` ) ( `GHI` ) ) ).

Use FAIL to check for expected exceptions

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Assertions > This section

METHOD throws_on_empty_input.
  TRY.
      " when
      cut->do_something( '' ).
      cl_abap_unit_assert=>fail( ).
    CATCH /clean/some_exception.
      " then
  ENDTRY.
ENDMETHOD.

Forward unexpected exceptions instead of catching and failing

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Assertions > This section

METHODS reads_entry FOR TESTING RAISING /clean/some_exception.

METHOD reads_entry.
  "when
  DATA(entry) = cut->read_something( ).
  "then
  cl_abap_unit_assert=>assert_not_initial( entry ).
ENDMETHOD.

Your test code remains focused on the happy path and is therefore much easier to read and understand, as compared to:

" anti-pattern
METHOD reads_entry.
  TRY.
      DATA(entry) = cut->read_something( ).
    CATCH /clean/some_exception INTO DATA(unexpected_exception).
      cl_abap_unit_assert=>fail( unexpected_exception->get_text( ) ).
  ENDTRY.
  cl_abap_unit_assert=>assert_not_initial( entry ).
ENDMETHOD.

Write custom asserts to shorten code and avoid duplication

Clean ABAP > Content > Testing > Assertions > This section

METHODS assert_contains
  IMPORTING
    actual_entries TYPE STANDARD TABLE OF entries_tab
    expected_key   TYPE key_structure.
     
METHOD assert_contains.
  TRY.
      actual_entries[ key = expected_key ].
    CATCH cx_sy_itab_line_not_found.
      cl_abap_unit_assert=>fail( |Couldn't find the key { expected_key }| ).
  ENDTRY.
ENDMETHOD.

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