SData Enhancements for Sage 300 ERP 2012
I’ve previously blogged on the enhancements for the framework for creating custom SData feeds for applications here and here. In this posting I’m looking at enhancements to our core SData protocol support. We’ve been working hard to add more features and correct some inconsistencies and bugs.
The main purpose of this exercise is to make SData work better for integrators and to make sure the Sage 300 ERP SData feeds work well with other Sage tools like the Sage CRM dashboard and the Sage Argos Mobile Framework.
Generally SData features are mostly of interest to programmers. However some, like this one, enhance existing integrations between different products. Global schema is a mechanism to return all the SData meta-data for a dataset (company) in a single call. In version 6.0A, you could only get the metadata for one SData resource per call. Rather esoteric. But having this enhances our integration to the Sage CRM SData dashboard. Previously when you created an SData widget pointing to an Sage 300 ERP SData feed you needed to specify the $schema for a specific feed, something like:
Now you can give the $schema to the company using an URL like:
Which means you don’t need to know the resource component of the URL. In Sage CRM it looks like this, first you give the URL to the global schema:
Then you get a list of SData resources to pick from in a more human readable form:
Previously you only got the feed you specified. Then you select a feed and hit next to choose the fields you want from that feed.
SData Validation Tool
Sage has written a tool that will validate the correctness of SData feeds. This tool is available here (you need to scroll down to near the bottom of the page). The intent of this tool is for anyone, whether internal or external to Sage to be able to validate any Rest web services for SData compliance against what is described in the spec at the SData Website. This tool was around in the 6.0A days, but it needed work. Back then 6.0A passed the feed validator. With the new tool 6.0A has a lot of problems reported against it. With 2012, quite a bit of work went into making our feed compliant. Which means you can expect them to work as the specification states and integrations with other SData aware products and tools becomes much easier. This tool is continuously being updated and will probably auto-update itself as soon as you install it. Below is a screenshot. Hopefully by release a few of the remaining errors will have been corrected.
As part of our Sage 300 ERP 2012 development we tested Argos on our SData feeds and produced a sample mobile application.
As part of this development we fixed a couple of bugs and made sure our SData support works well with the Argos SDK. I’ll write a future blog posting on more details on the Argos SDK and how to write mobile applications for Sage 300 ERP. However if you are interested in Argos, you can check it out, since the whole project is open source and available on github:
- argos-sdk: https://github.com/sage/argos-sdk
- argos-saleslogix: https://github.com/sagesaleslogix/argos-saleslogix
- argos-sample: https://github.com/sagesaleslogix/argos-sample
We finished implementing e-tags with this version. These allow proper multi-user control when you have multiple sources updating records. Basically when you read a record, it returns an e-tag which has the date and time the record was last modified. When you update the record this e-tag is included with the update message and then the server can see if the record has been modified by someone else since you read it. This detects the multi-user conflict. Sometimes the server will just merge the changes silently and everyone is happy, sometimes the server will need to send back the dreaded “Record has been Modified by Another User” error response.
Using Detail Fields in Select Clauses
In 6.0A, if you read an SData feed with header and detail components (like O/E Orders), then you got back the header fields and links to the details. Even if you specified detail fields in a select clause. This meant if you wanted both the header and detail lines you needed to make two SData calls. Further this was annoying because it meant the format that you get back reading records is different than how you write the records, so you would need to combine the separate results from the header and details back together to do an update or insert. Now if you specify detail fields in the select clause you will get back all specified fields in the XML package, which will likely be a header with multiple details all returned for the same call. This saves an SData call, but further it’s much easier to deal with, since now you have an already correct XML template for manipulating to do future inserts and updates.
Define Your Own Contracts and Have Your Own Classmaps
In version 6.0A, the only contract we supported for SData feeds created by Sage 300 ERP was the accpac contract. Now in the classmap file you can specify the contract your feeds belong to. This has always been in the classmap files, it just didn’t work. This means you can ensure any feeds you define yourself won’t conflict with anyone else’s.
Another problem in 6.0A was that to create your own feeds, you either needed to be an activated SDK application with your own program id, or you needed to edit one of our existing classmap files. This was annoying since your changes could well be wiped out by a product update. Now you can copy your own classmap file into an existing application (like O/E), you just need to name it classmap_yourownname.xml and it will be added to the defined SData feeds.
Further all the feeds that make up the accpac contract were oriented to the Orion UI work. They weren’t necessarily a good fit for people doing general integration work. So we are creating a new contract which will have the main master files and documents in it that is oriented towards integration work and stateless operation.
SData continues to be a foundation technology that we are building on. Quite a lot of work has gone into improving our SData support in Sage 300 ERP for the forthcoming 2012 release. This will allow us to leverage many other technologies like Argos to accelerate development.