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Different Data Sources, lots of ways to “talk” to them – how can we make our life easier?

Basic building blocks of a Portal Application is the iView (whether it is simple iView, or a WebDynpro Application). Content developer usually create pieces of information, from different data sources ( SAP R/3, SAP BW, SAP CRM backbends), and combined them in page, workset and then roles. No new thing here.

But if you come to fetch information from many data source in your organization, and some organizations have also different data bases, Legacy applications and (god forbid) non- SAP systems – Siebel, PeopleSoft and so on, the problem is more complex

On such case, it is make the development of iViews much difficult – each iView is a whole world – you need to learn the backend/DB APIs, how to connect to it, how to fetch meta data and how to run query to fetch data.

So here comes to the picture the EP JCA Connector Framework – the idea: let’s define common interface which is exposed in the portal platform. This layer can be used by any content developer (in order to write iViews) or by generic tools (iView Wizards, Visual Composer) and Services (such as Unification).

We used a standard Connector Framework, J2EE standard called JCA, and enhanced it with additional interfaces that server our purposes. This provides several advantages:

  1. We can easily reuses other Connectors, by inherit from them, and extend them to support our APIs
  2. We can work with non- SAP 3 rd party who write JCA Adapters (and there lots of them) to make them write such connectors for the benefit of all.
  3. We can expose to the world set of interfaces, to all data sources, to be able to create content on each of them easily.

What are the interfaces we added to the standard JCA (or in other words – what type of information the EP Connector Framework provides)?
We divided it into 5 groups of interfaces:

1. Capabilities Manifest – The connector declares what functionality it supports, whether he knows to handled function execution, only or also to run queries (and of which types)

2. Connection – Dealing with all the connection issues. Actually, it is inheritance of the JCA connection interfaces, based on “ConnectionSpec” (connection properties)

3. Metadata Retrieval – deals with exposing meta data from the data source:

a. Expose predefined functions (their parameters, etc.)

b. Expose an application object model (the hierarchy of business object group, business objects, their attributes and relations) – for example DQE

4. Data access and method execution – deals with accessing data:

a. Execution of enterprise application’s functions

b. “Pass-Through” queries

c. Execution of a parsed query object

5. Native API access – For reusing existing code

Out of the box, the NetWeaver Portal Platform provides 3 Connectors that implement to the above interfaces:

  1. JDBC Connector – for accessing any type of data base to provide the above functionality.
    This connector code is also might be used as a code sample, for developing additional connectors.
  2. SAP R/3 Connector – for accessing R/3 data source and run BAPIs and queries on top of R/3 BOR.
  3. SAP BW Connector – for accessing BW data source to run function modules and queries on top of Information Objects.

We plan to enhance the offering of our connectors to both additional SAP Connectors and non- SAP connectors to provide set of connectors to access different data sources with language – the EP Connector Framework language.

If you want to have more details on the EP Connector Framework, I encourage you to confront the Developer Guide in order to learn about the framework, and also check two important documents on how to use the ‘out of the box’ connectors: Using SAP Connector and Using JDBC Connector

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