Tip: Direct Access to Search-helps

No matter how long you work with SAP, sometimes you learn something new that's been in the software for ages.  A few days ago I was working with a client who himself is a very experienced SAP practitioner.  We were discussing how a transaction that takes a list of material codes could be enhanced so that the user had the choice to use EAN barcode numbers instead.  It was just a throwaway line "Well you could always just use the =N. prefix" and then quickly demonstrated it.  Despite the years of experience, this syntax to gain direct access to the search-help was completely new to him.  It was one of those moments of pain when you realise how often something so simple could have been so useful.

So I thought it was worth sharing for anyone else who'd not come across this feature that I believe was inherited from R/2.

Material Search-Help

Let's take the example of a material.  In the material field, instead of clicking the search button or pressing F4, use the following:

  • =N.999999999{Enter}


  • "=" tells SAP that we want to use a search-help,
  • "N" tells it which search-help to use (more of this in a bit),
  • "." is the delimiter, and
  • "999999999" is what we want to search for, in this case the EAN

On pressing enter the entry is replaced with the material number directly.

Since most barcode scanners can be programmed to add prefixes and suffixes, it's easy to set them up to use this syntax to enter scanned EANs where otherwise SAP would expect a material code - without resorting to development and keeping within SAP standard.

Knowing the Codes (Material & Vendor)

In this example we used "N" to tell SAP to use the EAN search-help.  The slide below gives a list of codes that can be used for material.

And this slide gives you the codes for Vendor searches.

Although I've highlighted material and vendor, this syntax can be used for many search-helps.  Exploration of the data dictionary will help you find the codes - perhaps that should be a topic of a future blog?

Let me know if you find this useful, or come up with any creative uses.

Author: Richard Taylor
Richard is a Director of PASàPAS UK and has been helping customers get the most from SAP software since 1995. Having implemented one of the first SAP Retail systems he has extensive experience in SAP Retail and the retail business as well as logistics and supply chain in general.