Tag Archives: data

What’s the Big Deal with Spreadsheets? Part 2

In my last blog entry here, I started a discussion of the technical challenges of using Spreadsheets as electronic business documents.  I want to continue that discussion, but instead of focusing on how data is located predictably in the spreadsheet, I want to talk about separating the formatting from the business data.

As you might imagine, consuming Spreadsheets and producing them presents two different sets of challenges.  When consuming them, the problem of locating the data in the spreadsheet predictably is the most significant challenge, next to data content concerns.  The formatting (fonts, colors, shading, graphics, etc.) generally does not matter when consuming the Spreadsheets, whereas when producing them, it can matter almost as much as the data content. Continue reading

What’s the Big Deal with Spreadsheets?

Spreadsheets are a little bit like hammers: you can use them for almost anything.  And, they’re a relatively simple mechanism so what could be hard about them…right? Humans seem to have a propensity to find new ways of complicating technology, and I think most of you have probably guessed that that applies to spreadsheets, too.  I don’t expect that will ever change.

Spreadsheets are a natural choice for people who don’t want (or don’t have the time) to invest in more formalized options like EDI or XML.  They’ve gotten a bad rap, perhaps because they’re arguably less sophisticated than the alternatives, but also because of the complication of dealing with them in an automated fashion.

Before we decided to add support for spreadsheets to our integration platform, we were asked by several prospects and even given some examples of what they needed to handle.  These cases were, of course, quite varied and we thought about it for a while, wondering if we could come up with something that would be useful. Continue reading

Smart Mapping: Matching and Rule Generation

Ok, so you recently read a few posts about automated mapping, specifically Smart Mapping and you’re thinking to yourself, “Awesome!  I love it when computers do useful things for me and make my life easier… But what does Smart Mapping actually do?”  Well, the simple answer to that question is it does two things, matching and rule generation.  Now you’re thinking “Oh, right….  Well, what does THAT mean?”  Fear not, I will explain.

But before I do, it is important to understand that Smart Mapping is initiated from and runs in the EBI Ruleset Editor.  Those of you who are familiar with the EBI Ruleset Editor already know what rules are and their role in mapping.  Those of you who are not familiar with the EBI concept of rules and the Ruleset Editor may want to refer to Greg Inns’s scintillating blog “It’s all about the Model”.  In it, you’ll find explanations of what rules are and how EBI uses them to get data from source to target. Continue reading

Rulesets: Much More Than Data Movers

As data exchange grows at an explosive rate, moving data between formats and systems occurs in many ways.  Common data transformations involve data format conversions between EDI, XML, flat files, databases and more recently spreadsheets.  In an application-to-application (A2A) environment, data typically is converted between interface files and back-end databases such as ERP systems.  In the EXTOL Business Integrator, we call the objects that facilitate these movements Rulesets. Continue reading

EDI or XML: Which Do You Choose?

Many considerations must be assessed when deciding on a standard format for exchanging information electronically with trading partners.  Two of the more widely used document standards are Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Extensible Markup Language (XML).  Of course, when doing business with buyers and larger partners it is generally necessary to comply with the requirements of those trading partners.  However, it is good practice, and demonstrates good business sense, to be proactive and develop an in-house (internal) data specification (and format) that will provide an option for smaller partners to comply with.

Questions must be answered before best decisions can be made for your needs.  Continue reading