Author Archives: Jeff Barlow

Creative Integration

EXTOL Business Integrator is a flexible and powerful tool, similar to a Swiss Army knife, that is always nice to have tucked away in your pocket.  It is designed to be very flexible for your particular needs and for your creativity and innovative thinking. The goal of this blog is to have you think outside of the box and apply EBI to a business problem for which it may not be specifically targeted.  Or, at least open your mind to its features and how to apply them in ways that do not conform to their core functionalities. Continue reading

EXTOL Business Integrator: Dealing with Proprietary Flat File Data (Part 2)

Continuing from my previous blog on dealing with proprietary flat files, EXTOL Business Integrator includes a tool to address another complexity of flat files – repeating blocks of records. EBI’s record fragment, allows you to handle multiple format flat files having record formats repeating in blocks or groups.

To illustrate the issue of repeating blocks of records, consider the following record occurrence where the record names are A, B, and C… Continue reading

EXTOL Business Integrator: Dealing with Proprietary Flat File Data (Part 1)

In my next two blogs, I will be discussing a common challenge facing EXTOL users — the handling of proprietary flat file data received from trading partners. The flat file trend is becoming more popular and, more importantly, being forced on users by their trading partners. We’ve seen a trend where you are either forced to handle the data in the format it is presented or lose the business. Another side of the increase in processing flat file data is to accommodate smaller “Mom & Pop” shops without the means to present the data in a better format.

Let’s explore the different flavors of flat file data. Flat file data can fall into one of two format types: single format or multiple format. Single format files have a common record layout throughout the entire payload data. This means, for example, that every record in the payload has the same exact layout, all of the fields are identified in the same manner in every record and every record of data is treated the same way in the pending data transformation. Multiple format files contain more than a single record layout throughout the payload. This means you will see multiple record layouts needing to be identified and treated as different records in the pending transformation. Continue reading

How hungry is your Integration Monster?

Throughout my time at EXTOL, I’ve been in close contact with the customer base. One topic of conversation that has consistently come to the forefront over the years is understanding exactly how much data your business integration software needs to “consume and digest.” In more cases than you would expect, a semi-understanding or lack of understanding exists in this area.

The true problem here is that if you don’t know how much you need to process and how it needs to be processed, future decisions will be difficult to make. Even if you believe that you understand your data requirements, perhaps a review is still worth your time, as it is much cheaper to pay now than later. Just this year alone, I’ve been involved with about ten customers who decided to review their consumption requirements. The research was positive in 100% of the cases. Even customers who were confident that they really knew their system came away with valuable information.

How do you truly know what your system needs to consume? Continue reading

The Many Uses of SQL Access

Have you ever been working with a data transformation in which you needed access to database tables that are not part of the source or target data of the transformation?  If so, you are not alone, a large portion of the EXTOL customers that I work with have been facing this challenge.

The answer to your problem is EBI’s SQL Access type actions. This functionality allows for the execution of an arbitrary SQL statement over any database accessible via a JDBC driver. Users can now execute any SQL statement that they wish from within EBI rulesets and also have the capability to provide as many input and output parameters as they wish. Performing a lookup over a database table that is outside of the source or target metadata within the ruleset in order to retrieve a value based on selection criteria that comes from the source data of the transformation is no longer a challenge.

Don’t yet see a use for SQL Access actions for your daily operations? Keep reading, because there are a variety of uses that you may not be thinking about. Continue reading