When designing your flow to encompass business processes with multiple steps, it is helpful to design and create separate paths in your flow to accommodate different business processes and connect them to the larger flow as you go.
This section discusses some use cases for common processing paths that you can incorporate into your flow.
Watch this video to see an example of EDI mapping and integration in Arc. This is part three of a three-part video series that covers each step of an end-to-end B2B integration: managed file transfer (using AS2 as an example), back-end integration, and EDI translation and mapping. Links to the other parts of the series are below.
- Part One: AS2 Setup in Minutes with CData Arc
- Part Two: Back-End Integration in CData Arc—Applications and Databases
Creating a Simple Flow
Application to Application (A2A) flows involve the communication of data between two application data sources for data migration, synchronization, and reporting.
A2A flows are relatively simple to configure. To begin, select the connector for the data source from the listed Connectors in the left panel. If you do not see the data source you are looking for listed in the installed connectors, check the list of available connectors online to see if the data source is available on the Application and Data Connectors web page. This connector serves as the source of data in this flow.
When you drop the connector onto the designer, you are prompted to select a name for the connector. Next, select the XML Map Connector from the list of Connectors on the left, drag it to the flow designer, and name the connector. This connector serves as a document map, mapping the data from the table schema in the source connector to the table schema in the destination connector. Then select the arrow leading from the first connector and drag it to the newly created XML Map connector.
Finally, add the connector that corresponds to the integration data source (Shopify in the example above), name it, and connect the connector to the flow by dragging the arrow from the XML Map connector to the new connector.
From here, you can also configure the connection details of each connector in the flow by clicking each connector to open its Settings tab. CData recommends that you configure the connection details for the source and destination connectors first. When you select the tables that you need, the table schemas are available for selection in the XML Map connector so you can use the connector configuration designer to map the fields from one table to the other table.
Creating an EDI Message Flow
Business to Business (B2B) flows involve the communication of data between two business partners, which is commonly referred to as electronic data interchange (EDI) communications. These flows can be broadly categorized into inbound and outbound message flows. At one endpoint of the flow is a trading partner that typically requires communication over a secure transport protocol, and uses a formal document standard, and on the other endpoint of the flow, integration with the local business logic, either through direct integration with an existing database or ERP system, or as a file in a recognized format for use with an existing back-end solution.
B2B flows are more complex to configure than A2A flows, but they are still relatively simple when broken down into their components. While A2A flows usually consist of three connectors (two data sources and a map between them), B2B message flows commonly consist of four connectors (described in the sections below).
Depending on your requirements, you might not need all of the connectors to create your B2B flow. To omit any of the connectors shown above, simply proceed to the next connector in your flow and connect it as necessary. If you make a mistake, it is simple to add or remove connectors from the flow.
In most cases, you need a Secure Transport connector for communication with your trading partner. Common communication protocols include AS2, SFTP, FTP/S OFTP, and AS4, but some industries might adopt other communication protocols.
If your trading partner exchanges messages in EDI-X12 or EDIFACT format, you need a corresponding connector of that type to perform both translation and validation for that format. X12 and EDIFACT connectors perform translation to XML for document mapping, and they manage document validation and functional acknowledgment generation and tracking (these are known as 997/999 documents in EDI-X12 and CONTRL documents in EDIFACT).
If the document standard used by your trading partner is not supported natively in your backend business logic, you need a Data Mapping connector to convert the document from the format that your partner communicates with into one that can be processed in your backend system. The XML Map Connector is commonly used for XML mapping when integrating to a database or ERP solution. This restructures the XML to correspond to the document schema of the backend data table. You can also use the CSV Map Connector for structured data formats such as position-based flat files, CSV, PSV, and TSV.
Additional Data Mapping connectors include the PDF and Excel connectors, which are used to render data as a PDF or Excel spreadsheet. These are useful for documents which are exchanged less frequently, and that require manual review in a user-friendly format.
Finally, to integrate the data directly into a backend database or ERP system, you need an Integration connector to insert the document into the data source. Arc supports a wide variety of database formats, accounting and ERP solutions, and development continues as new systems gain in popularity.