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ABAP Keyword Documentation →  ABAP - Reference →  Processing Internal Data →  Assignments →  Assigning References →  Setting Reference Variables 

REF - Reference Operator

Other versions: 7.31 | 7.40 | 7.54


... REF type( dobj | table_exp ) ... 


1. ... REF type( dobj )

2. ... REF type( table_exp )


A constructor expression with the reference operator REF creates either a data reference variable that points to the argument dobj or controls a table expression table_exp.

Existing data objects and table expressions can be specified as an argument, but no further expressions or function calls.

Alternative 1

... REF type( dobj )


If a data object dobj is specified as an argument, the operator REF functions like the statement GET REFERENCE and creates a data reference variable as a result. This variable points to the specified data object dobj. type determines the static type of the result. The following can be specified for type:

  • The generic data type data.
  • The # character for a data type, determined in accordance with the following hierarchy:
  • If the data type required in an operand position is unique and fully recognized, the operand type is used.
  • If the operand type cannot be derived from the context, the data type of dobj is used.
  • If the data type of dobj cannot be recognized statically, the generic type data is used.

The parentheses must contain precisely one unnamed argument dobj. If offsets/lengths (+off(len)) are specified, the data type dobj here cannot be string or xstring.


  • The conversion operator REF is suitable for avoiding declarations of helper variables only needed, for example, to specify data reference variables as actual parameters.

  • No empty parentheses can be specified after REF.


Fills an internal table with the value operator VALUE, where the component dref is given a value using REF. This is an excerpt from the example for the class CL_ABAP_BROWSER. Other uses can be found in examples of ADBC, where parameter bindings are used.

TYPES pict_line(1022) TYPE x. 

DATA  ext_data TYPE cl_abap_browser=>load_tab. 

ext_data = VALUE #( ( name = 'PICT.GIF' 
                      type = 'image' 
                      dref = REF #( pict ) ) ). 

Alternative 2

... REF type( tab_exp )


If a table expression table_exp is specified as an argument, the operator REF controls the category of its result and enables a default value to be specified for unfound rows, as described in the related section.