Objects are instances of classes. Each
object has a unique identity and its own attributes. All transient objects
reside in the context of an internal session (memory area of an ABAP
program). Persistent objects in the database are not yet available. A class
can have any number of objects (instances).
To access an object from an ABAP
program, you use only object references. Object references are pointers to
objects. In ABAP, they are always contained in object reference
Object Reference Variables
There are only two types of variable that can contain
references in ABAP: object reference variables and data reference variables
for Data Reference. Object reference variables contain references to
objects. An object reference variable is either initial or contains a
reference to an existing object. The identity of an object depends on its
object reference. A reference variable that points to an object knows the
identity of that object. The instance-dependent components of an object can
only be addressed using reference variables that point to the object.
Users cannot access the identity of the object
directly. Reference variables are based on reference semantics. When
reference semantics is used and a reference variable is assigned to another
one, then it is only the address of the object � the object reference �
which is passed and not the attributes of the object. Object attributes can
themselves also be reference variables.
Like all variables, you initialize object reference
variables using the CLEAR
statement. The initial value of a reference variable is a reference that
does not point to an object.
Data Types for References
ABAP contains a predefined data type
for references, comparable to the data types for structures or internal
tables. The full data type is not defined until the declaration in the ABAP
program. The data type of an object reference variable determines how the
program handles its value (that is, the object reference). There are two
general types of object reference: class references and interface references
You define class references using the
� TYPE REF TO class
addition in the TYPES
or DATAstatement, where
class refers to a class. A
reference variable with the type class reference is called a class reference
variable, or class reference for short.
A class reference cref
allows a user to create an instance (object) of the corresponding class.
the user can access all visible components compof the object which are also
contained in the class class.
Now that you defined a class reference variable crefwith reference to a class
class, you can now create an
instance (object) of the class.
CREATE OBJECT cref [TYPE
This statement creates an instance of the class class, and the reference variable
crefcontains a reference to
the object. You do not need the TYPE class
addition in this case. This addition is only important in the following two
situations: 1. if you use inheritence and want to create an instance of a
class class with a class
reference variable cref
which does not have the type of the class
class, or 2. if you use interface and want to create an
instance of a class classwith
an interface reference variable iref.
After TYPE you can specify
the class dynamically as the contents of a field using the standard
Addressing the Components of Objects
Programs can only access the instance components of an
object using references in object reference variables. This is done using
the object component selector -> (ref
is a reference variable):
access an attribute attr:
� To call
a method meth:
CALL METHOD ref->meth
You can access static components using the class name
or the class component selector => as well
as the reference variable. It is also possible to address the static
components of a class before an object has been created.
�To access a static attribute
�To call a static method meth:
CALL METHOD class=>meth
Note that the properties of instance attributes behave
like static components. It is therefore possible to refer in a LIKE addition
to the visible attributes of a class � through the class component selector
or through reference variables, without prior creation of an object.
Each class implicitly contains the reference variable
me. In objects, the
reference variable mealways
contains a reference to the respective object itself and is therefore also
referred to as the self-reference.Within a class, you can use the self-reference me to access the individual class
�To access an attribute attr
of your class: me->attr
�To call a method meth
of your class: CALL METHOD me->meth
When you work with attributes of your own class in
methods, you do not need to specify a reference variable. The self-reference
me is implicitly set by the
system. Self-references allow an object to give other objects a reference to
it. You can also access attributes in methods from within an object even if
they are obscured by local attributes of the method.
Creating More Than One Instance of a Class
In a program, you can create any number of objects from
the same class. The objects are fully independent of each other. Each one
has its own identity within the program and its own attributes. Each CREATE OBJECT statement generates a
new object, whose identity is defined by its unique object reference.
Assigning Object References
You can assign references to different reference
variables using the MOVE
statement. In this way, you can make the references in several object
reference variables point to the same object. When you assign a reference to
a different reference variable, their types must be either compatible or
When you use the MOVE
statement or the assignment operator (=) to assign reference variables, the
system must be able to recognize in the syntax check whether an assignment
is possible. The same applies when you pass object reference variables to
procedures as parameters. If you write the statement
cref1 = cref2
the two class references cref1 and cref2 must have the same type, that
is, they must either refer to the same class, or the class of cref1 must be a superclass of the
class of cref2. In
particular, cref1 can be the
predefined empty class OBJECT.
The class OBJECT is the
superclass of all classes in ABAP Objects and does not have any components.
It has the same function for reference variables as the data type ANY has for normal variables.
Reference variables with the type OBJECT
can function as containers for passing references. However, you cannot use
them to address objects.
In addition, the following relations with interface
reference variable can be checked statically.
Both interface references must refer to
the same interface, or the interface of iref2 must
be nested, containing the interface of iref1 as a
The class of the class reference cref1 or one of its superclasses
must implement the interface of the interface reference iref1. The interface can be
implemented either directly or by using a nested interface containing the
interface of iref1 as a
In this case, the class of cref1 must be the class OBJECT, that is, the reference
variable cref1 must have the
type REF TO OBJECT.
Whenever a static
type check is not possible or when the type checks are to be performed at
program runtime, you must use the statement
MOVE � ?TO �
or the casting operator (?=).
The casting assignment replaces the assignment operator (=).
In the MOVE� ? TO statement, or when you use the
casting assignment, there is no static type check. Instead, the system
checks at runtime whether the object reference in the source variable points
to an object to which the object reference in the target variable can also
point. If the assignment is possible, the system makes it, otherwise, the
catchable runtime error MOVE_CAST_ERROR occurs.
Syntax rules force you to
use casting whenever a static type check is not possible, for example:
Here, an interface reference is assigned to a class
reference. For the casting to be successful, the object to which irefrpoints must be an object of the
same class as the class of the class variable cref1 or one of its subclasses..
An object exists for as long as it is being used in the
program. An object is in use by a program for as long as at least one
reference points to it, or at least one method of the object is registered
as an event handler.
As soon as there are no more references
to an object, and so long as none of its methods are registered as event
handlers, it is deleted by the automatic memory management (garbage
collection). The ID of the object then becomes free, and can be used by a