A deep dive into the InfoBurst Connectors

Here is a sneak-peek of the InfoBurst® Dashboard Connectors In-Depth talk  to be presented in the Dashboard Data Management, Dashboard Delivery & HTML5 Apps with InfoBurst talk at the InfoBurst User Conference – IBIS 2013.

Back when we were taking another look at InfoBurst, we also wanted to take another look at how InfoBurst communicated with the then BusinessObjects Xcelsius 4.5.  At that time we used the built in XML connector to bring data from InfoBurst into our users’ dashboards.  This would require users to know the ID numbers of the Xml Data Source (XDS) objects in InfoBurst along with the name of the range that you wanted to pull into your dashboard.  This would cause many “silly” errors of either having the wrong ID number, or a slight misspelling of the range name.

When we started to look a fresh on how to do this, we decided to leverage the new Xcelsius SDK.  This meant that we were able to write our own connectors that will communicate with the InfoBurst Enterprise server and take away the “guess work” of referencing the data caches.  Thus the InfoBurst Connectors were born.  With these connectors we were now able to browse the InfoBurst Enterprise system for the object you want to reference in the connector, which eliminates the need to remember object ID numbers.  Next we also enabled the ability to browse for which “data source” you want to reference in your Cache Connector, and even which query you want to get values from in the Database Connector.

In addition to making it easier to setup the connectors, we’ve also added the ability to migrate a dashboard between say a development and production environment.  We built a component called the InfoBurst Connection Manager.  This will allow users to setup multiple connection profiles, say in our case “Development” and “Production”.  As long as the referenced objects are in the same folder locations in both platforms and have the same queries and data sources, then the dashboard will migrate on over to the new environment.  This means a dashboard can be built and tested in a development environment, and then moved over to the production environment when it’s ready without the need for the dashboard developer to “remap” all of the connectors.

By leveraging the Xcelsius SDK we were able to add new connectors which have gone beyond just data retrieval and writeback.  We’ve created three “utility connectors” which came about by requests directly from our dashboard developers.  First, we created a connector called the CrossTab Builder which will allow users to create a crosstab on the fly from a data table that has been built up in the dashboard.  Second, when users have a crosstab in their dashboard, either from the CrossTab Builder or the built in crosstab options for database queries, XDC data sources, and cache queries, they can use the CrossTab Flip connector which will flip the X and Y axis values.  And finally, we have another connector which will allow users to save excel ranges from their dashboard into different sheets of an excel file for analysis.  I will be going into more detail on these connectors during the talk; after all, this is a sneak peek.

At the end of my talk, I’ll get a chance to show something that I’m personally excited about.  I’ll get to show you some advanced debugging.  Debugging which will help you not only find potential data issues going to and from the InfoBurst server, but also detect potential performance issues with how and when the connectors are being fired.  Also, you can use the same tool to replay requests which can simplify reproducing an issue greatly.  I’d suggest taking a look at the tool first to get yourself familiarized with it.  It’s a web debugging tool that Telerik recently took over from Microsoft called Fiddler2.  I suggest downloading the release build for .NET 2.0 as that is currently the only stable release right now.  Telerik is currently working on a .NET 4.0 version.

That’s it for this sneak peek.  And this is my last one for this conference.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through them, and I hope it gave you a pretty good idea of what to expect during my talks.  And, of course, I hope to see you there at the InfoBurst User Conference.  Being able to see our customers face to face and to talk in real time about their needs and ideas is what makes our conferences great.  And great not only for us, but for our customers as well.  I’m very excited for our first ever InfoBurst User Conference.  This topic here will be discussed, and many more in a very open format.  Check it out on our InfoBurst User Conference webpage.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing you there!

About Chris Martin

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