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SAP ABAP/4 Performance Tuning

Table Of Contents

1) Incorporate CHECK statements for table fields into the WHERE clause of the SELECT statement
2) Check whether the runtime matches the amount of data to be retrieved from the database.
3) Avoid the usage of the nested select construct - Use views or the 4.x join construct instead.
4) Check whether your program uses the appropriate indexes using SQL Trace (ST05) - Explain SQL.
5) All programs run fine on small systems like DE2, so include performance tests on the QA systems.
6) Pay attention with clustered and pooled tables. These often cause unexpected performance issues.
7) Only SELECT the columns really needed instead of transferring all columns with SELECT *
8) Make sure the users will use the program properly by including the available selection options.
9) Only use an ORDER BY in your SELECT if the order matches the index, which should be used.
10) Avoid reading the same data rows over and over again from the database - read data once in itab.
11) Avoid complex tests in the WHERE clause of SELECTs as these can confuse the db optimizer.
12) Use aggregate functions for calculations/summations in the SELECT (whenever possible).
13) Use SELECT SINGLE instead of SELECT-ENDSELECT whenever possible.
14) Check whether you are using the right tables to retrieve the information needed by your program.
15) If the performance problem does not seem to be db-related, use one of the other Workbench Tools.

1) Incorporate CHECK statements for table fields into the WHERE clause of the SELECT statement.

The database can then use an index (if possible) and network load is considerably less.

There are cases in which such changes resulted in programs running 5 times faster.

select * from table.

check field1 = ‘001’.

endselect.

should become

select * from table where field1 = ‘001’.

endselect.

2) Check whether the runtime matches the amount of data to be retrieved from the database.

When running performance tests for a program in one of the QA environments, check whether the runtime reflects the amount of data which is needed from the database.

A runtime of one hour is acceptable when all accounting data is requested for a whole fiscal year for one of our bigger company codes. However, if the runtime is one hour when you expect that only a limited amount of data must be read, than there is something wrong with the way the program accesses the database tables (e.g. wrong database index is being used, not enough GOOD tests are available for the key fields of the index).

Suppose the Informix SELECT generated by a program is the following (this Informix SELECT is for example executed when a user runs the transaction FB03 with a reference document number (XBLNR column in BKPF table) without filling in a company code test.

select * from bkpf where mandt="008" and bstat=" " and xblnr = “415000106410"

BKPF contains only one index in which column XBLNR is included, so you want and expect the Informix optimizer to use that index. BKPF is a big table; NOT using that BKPF index would be terrible for performance.

index .bkpf______1 on bkpf (mandt,bukrs,bstat,xblnr)

However, due to the absence of a test on company code, Informix does not choose this index, but another one which does not even include XBLNR, causing this transaction to run for hours.

If the user had specified a company code test, the transaction completes within a few seconds.

Case 1 : Output from “Explain SQL” when user only specifies an XBLNR test :

select * from bkpf where mandt="008" and bstat=" " and xblnr = "0000415000106410"

Estimated Cost: 8051245 Estimated # of Rows Returned: 2

1) bkpf: INDEX PATH

Filters: (bstat = ' ' AND xblnr = '0000415000106410' )

(1) Index Keys: mandt bukrs cpudt bstat

Lower Index Filter: mandt = '008'

As you can see, the estimated cost is very high (8,051,245) and the index choosen is not the one we expected. The only test Informix uses is the test on client (mandt), so we will read

ALL accounting document headers (BKPF rows) for ALL companies for ALL fiscal years.

With the sizes of finance tables in our QA and PR1 environments, this is really a disaster.

Case 2 : Output from “Explain SQL” when user specifies an XBLNR and BUKRS test :

select * from bkpf

where mandt="008" and bukrs="4150" and bstat=" " and xblnr = "0000415000106410"

Estimated Cost: 5 Estimated # of Rows Returned: 1

1) bkpf: INDEX PATH

(1) Index Keys: mandt bukrs bstat xblnr

Lower Index Filter: (mandt = '008' AND (bukrs = '4150' AND

(bstat = ' ' AND xblnr = '0000415000106410' ) ) )

As you can see, the estimated cost is now only 5 and the proper index is used. All the tests

which are specified in the WHERE-clause can be used for fast access to the data rows. As

daid before, the runtime is here only a few seconds, while the previous case runs for hours !

3) Avoid the usage of the nested select construct - Use views or the 4.x join construct instead.

Each SELECT statement involves a considerable amount of overhead (on db and network).

Using the traditional nested select construct generates a lot of SELECT statements, especially if the inner select statements are often executed, causing bad performance.

By defining views which combine (join) the different involved tables, the program only executes one select statement (against the view) reducing the db and network overhead.

In 4.x, SAP introduced the join construct into their ABAP/4 Open SQL, so you do not need to define views anymore to avoid the traditional terrible nested loop construct.

When using views or the join construct, the db can also better optimize the disk accesses.

select v~vbeln v~auart v~bname v~kunnr

p~posnr p~matnr p~kwmeng p~meins e~etenr

into table itab

from vbak as v inner join vbap as p on v~vbeln = p~vbeln

inner join vbep as e on p ~vbeln = e~vbeln and p~posnr = e~posnr

where v~vbeln between '0000000000' and '0000001000'.

In the above example, an inner join is done between three tables (vbak, vbap, vbep).

This method is really much faster than having three separate SELECT statements.

(The complete source of program ZZSTU06E can be found on the DE2 system.)

IMPORTANT REMARK :

SAP did not only introduce the INNER JOIN into their ABAP/4 Open SQL in SAP 4.x, but also the following very useful ANSI-SQL constructs : the OUTER JOIN, SUBQUERIES and the GROUP BY - HAVING clause.

The difference between an INNER JOIN and an OUTER JOIN is the following. If a query on an INNER JOIN of VBAK (outer table) and VBAP (inner table) finds a record in VBAK but no matching records in VBAP, then no data is retrieved from the database because the inner table is empty. If you still want to keep VBAK rows for which there are no matching VBAP rows, you need to use the OUTER JOIN construct available in ABAP/4 Open SQL in 4.x..

While the ABAP/4 Open SQL was only covering a small part of the ANSI-SQL standard in previous SAP releases, it is now covering most of the ANSI-SQL standard (at last).

Please try to understand and use these techniques, as they make programs more efficient !

If you are not familiar with SQL yet, borrow or buy a good book on SQL and study it.

4) Check whether your program uses the appropriate indexes using SQL Trace (ST05) - Explain SQL.

Learn how to use the SQL Trace tool (SAP Extended Help : BC ABAP Workbench Tools).

Learn how to use the “Explain SQL” function of SQL Trace and understand its output.

Appendix 1 is a copy of the topic called “Example Explanation of an Informix Statement” from the SAP Extended Help : BC ABAP Workbench Tools.

It is CRUCIAL that programs use the proper index and use as much as possible of that index.

You can only verify this by using the SQL Trace “EXPLAIN SQL” function for statements.

Appendix 2 shows a number of select statements against the central FINANCE table BKPF.

Query 1 is phrased in three different ways, each time returning the same results, but the runtime varies depending on the way the SQL is presented to Informix.

The runtime differences are small on DE2, but on QA2 the first version completes in 2 minutes, while the other two version require 18 minutes (9 times longer !).

Query 2 is phrased in two different ways, each time returning the same results. The runtime differences are again small on DE2 (1.5 seconds versus 9 seconds). When running the same selects on QA2, the first version completes in 4 seconds while the second version of the SELECT takes more than 19 minutes (~ 300 times slower !).

The “Estimated Cost” line indicates how expensive the SQL statement is for Informix.

It is just a number, but the higher that number, the longer the query probably will take.

Costs above 100,000 can be considered high (especially if # of rows returned should be low).

If a select is repeatedly executed (e.g. within a nested loop), the cost should be below 100.

Keep in mind that the estimated costs are different for different SAP systems (DE2 vs QA1).

The two thresholds mentioned here are thresholds for our bigger systems (QA# and PR1).

The “Estimated Cost” thresholds for DE2 are even much lower as there is less data on DE2.

The “Index Keys” line in the “Explain SQL” output shows the fields of the index being used.

The “Lower Index Filter” in the output shows how much is used for positioning within index.

It’s important that a lot of tests are included there (and not in the “Filters” line of the output).

Appendix 3 shows the output from an SQL Trace on an execution of program ZZGXRC11.

It also contains an explanation of the different types of database operations.

Appendix 4 shows another example of an SQL statement with its “Explain SQL” output.

Because the user forgot to fill in the year and two other FI-GLX fields for which there is only one valid value, the runtime was several hours on PR1. If the user had filled in these fields, the runtime would have been less than 5 minutes on PR1.

Keep in mind that developpers can guide the user in the proper direction by using the options DEFAULT and OBLIGATORY on the PARAMETER statement and by using the options DEFAULT, OBLIGATORY, NO-EXTENSION and NO INTERVALS on the SELECT-OPTIONS statements. The SAP environment should be considered as an OLTP environment and not as some kind of data warehousing environment in which the user can ask whatever they want. The developper should really ask whether it should be allowed to run the programs without test on the most important fields such as company code, ledger, plant, fiscal year, etc. Quite often, if the user does not fill in a good test on these fields, the performance is really terrible.

You can run program ZZBCR006 to find technical information about a table which must be accessed in your program. The output shows the number of rows and the size of the table.

It also shows in a single screen all indexes on the given table. Keep in mind that ZZBCR006 shows the output for the currently used SAP system, so you need to run it on QA# or PR1, if you want to know more about the technical details of the table on our bigger SAP systems.

5) All programs run fine on small systems like DE2, so include performance tests on the QA systems.

  • As the amount of data is very small in the DE2 db, most programs run very fast on DE2 !
  • So you really need to check the performance on our QA systems which are copies of PR1 !
  • Compare the amount of data you expect to be needed by the program run with the runtime.
  • If the runtime is not reflecting the amount of data needed by the run, check with SQL Trace.
  • In most cases, unexpected high runtimes are caused by too much data being read from the db.
  • It is for example possible that data is read for multiple plants and periods, although the user only asked for data for a single plant-period combination, because the wrong index is used.

6) Pay attention with clustered and pooled tables. These often cause unexpected performance issues.

Some of the SAP tables are not transparant, but pooled or clustered. Be aware of this !

There are a lot of limitations on how such tables can be accessed. You can not include such tables in database views and join constructs. The FI-GL table BSEG, which is one of our biggest PR1 tables, is an example of a clustered table. At the database-level, there is no table called BSEG, but instead RFBLG is being used for the BSEG data. Most of the fields known in BSEG are not known in the database table RFBLG, but are compressed in a VARDATA field of RFBLG. So tests in the WHERE clause of SELECTs agains BSEG are not used by the database (e.g. lifnr = vendor account number, hkont = G/L account, kostl = cost center).

As a consequence, these tests are done after the facts similar to using the CHECK statement, and as already said in tip 1, CHECK statements are worse than tests in the WHERE-clause.

7) Only SELECT the columns really needed instead of transferring all columns with SELECT *.

All fields are transferred over the network with SELECT * although maybe a few are needed. You can reduce this network overhead by explicitly naming the columns really needed.

8) Make sure the users will use the program properly by including the available selection options.

Developpers can guide the user in the proper direction by using the options DEFAULT and OBLIGATORY on PARAMETER statements and the options DEFAULT, OBLIGATORY,

NO-EXTENSION and NO INTERVALS on the SELECT-OPTIONS statements.

The SAP environment should be considered as an OLTP environment and not as some kind of data warehousing environment in which the user can ask whatever they want to.

The developper should really ask whether it should be allowed to run the programs without tests on the most important fields such as company code, ledger, plant, fiscal year, etc.

If the user does not fill in a good test on these fields, the performance could be terrible !

9) Only use an ORDER BY in your SELECT if the order matches the index which should be used.

If the order you need is different from the order of the fields in the best index, do not use ORDER BY in the SELECT but read the data rows into an internal table and sort the itab.

If the best index contains the fields in the same order as the one you want for the output, then you can use the ORDER BY in the SELECT statement (and avoid sorting an itab).

10) Avoid reading the same data rows over and over again from the database - read data once in itab.

In some cases, the same SELECT is run repeatedly, each time reading and returning the same data rows, especially when using the nested loop construct. Avoid this by reading the data once into an internal table at the beginning and working with this itab afterwards.

It is much faster to read from an internal table (possibly using binary search) each time which is in memory, than to run a SELECT against the database over and over again.

11) Avoid complex tests in the WHERE clause of SELECTs as these can confuse the db optimizer.

It is a fact that complex WHERE-clauses often confuse the optimizers of relational DBMS.

This is true for all RDBMS, so also for the one we are using for our SAP systems (Informix).

Some of the things which should be avoided in the WHERE clause of SELECTs are :

- OR-constructs : Never include OR-tests (for important fields) in your SELECTs !

Example of SELECT for which an alternative solution must be found :

select * from bsik

where xblnr in xblnr

and budat in date

and ( lifnr between 'PD0000' and 'PD9999' OR

lifnr between 'PR0000' and 'PR9999' ).

Use the “IN-construct” instead of the “OR-construct”, whenever possible !

select * from zzrefa1

where ( rldnr = “C1” or rldnr = “S1” ) and

bukrs = “4150” and ryear = “1999” and poper = “003”

should become

select * from zzrefa1

where rldnr in ( “C1” , “S1” ) and

bukrs = “4150” and ryear = “1999” and poper = “003”

IMPORTANT REMARK RELATED TO THE “OR-CONSTRUCT” :

Keep in mind that “OR-tests” can also be generated when the users fill in complex combinations (e.g. multiple range-tests for a given field).

You can avoid that users use difficult combinations by using the options of the SELECT-OPTIONS statement which were mentioned earlier (cfr. tip 8).

- NOT-conditions in a SELECT statement can not be processed via an index.

- Do NOT use the “>= AND <= construct”, but use BETWEEN construct instead.

The results will of course be identical, performance will however be improved !

select * from tab where field >= “val1” and field <= “val2”

should become

select * from tab where field between “val1” and “val2”

12) Use aggregate functions for calculations/summations in the SELECT (whenever possible).

If you want to find the minimum/maimum/average value or sum of a db column or want to find the number of rows (COUNT aggregate function), use a SELECT list with aggregate functions instead of computing the aggregates yourself. When you do the calculations in your program, you need to read all data rows from the db into the program (over the network), causing a considerable load on the network.

You can of course combine these aggregate functions with the GROUP BY clause to find the minimum/maximum/average/sum/rowcount, grouped by one or more table columns.

The following SELECT will list the number of accounting document headers (rows in BKPF) with document type “EM” for FY1999, for each of the company codes,

select mandt, bukrs, count(*) from bkpf

where blart = “EM” and gjahr = “1999”

group by mandt, bukrs

In SAP 4.x, it is even possible to use the functions combined with GROUP BY - HAVING.

The following SELECT is similar to previous one, but only the companies fore which there are more than 10000 accounting documents of type “EM” for FY1999 will be listed, again reducing the network load and also avoiding additional coding in the ABAP/4 program.

select mandt, bukrs, count(*) from bkpf

where blart = “EM” and gjahr = “1999”

group by mandt, bukrs having count(*) > 10000

13) Use SELECT SINGLE instead of SELECT-ENDSELECT whenever possible.

If you are interested in exactly one row of the db table or view, use the SELECT SINGLE statement instead of the SELECT-ENDSELECT-loop, as SELECT SINGLE requires one communication with the database system whereas SELECT-ENDSELECT needs two.

14) Check whether you are using the right tables to retrieve the information needed by your program.

It is often difficult to find the proper tables as SAP R/3 has over 10,000 tables and views.

In some cases, using different tables might give you the same information in less time.

In other cases, performance improvements are obtained by involving another database table (going straight from A to B might be slower, than going from A to C and then from C to B).

In FI-GL, the secondary index tables BSIS, BSAS, BSIK, BSAK, BSID and BSAD often are a better starting point to retrieve accounting document information than using the traditional method (directly going from BKPF (accounting document header table) to the BSEG table).

For example, FI-GL programs which are normally run for a specific vendor account number better start accessing BSAK and BSIK first, before accessing BKPF and BSEG, instead of starting with the BKPF table. As the BKPF table does not contain vendor account number information a lot of accounting documents are read which are not needed as they do not match the vendor account specified by the user, in case BKPF is used as starting point.

In case BSAK and BSIK are used, only the accounting documents matching the specified vendor account number will be read, reducing the runtime from several hours to minutes.

15) If the performance problem does not seem to be db-related, use one of the other Workbench Tools.

The SQL Trace tool (ST05 transaction) is the perfect utility for detecting and solving performance issues which are caused by inefficient database accesses. If however, the db accesses do not seem to cause the performance problem, use another tool such as the ABAP Debugger, the Runtime Analyzer (SE30), the Enqueue Trace and the RFC Trace. The RFC

Trace and Enqueue Trace are new in SAP 4.x. They can be started using transaction ST05.


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