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Hi all,

My friend Luke has been encouraging me for years (and I’m not using the word figuratively) to post some blogs related to the Nakisa applications. So far, I’ve managed to avoid doing so, but, now that I work with him, there’s really no avoiding it. So, I’m starting with a little one. 🙂

Just a quick warning: I’ve never really blogged, for any purpose. So, it might not always be concise, and there’s almost always going to be a lot of notes and parentheses. (I like going on tangents.) Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy, and take something worthwhile home with you, by the time I’m done.

In this series of posts I’m covering the XML configuration files (AppResources). It’s primarily geared towards consultants who already have a cursory understanding of how the VSN applications work, but I’ll start another series which covers the topic from the ground up (I promise).

Speaking of which, this is actually the bottom-up view of AppResources. So, also look forward to the top-down view of the subject in the near future. Which is actually essential to understand when you want to make manual modifications and customizations to existing configurations.

Without further ado:

A guide to AppResources, the main repository of technical configurations for Visualization Solutions by Nakisa

The contents in this post (and related posts) are specifically focused on the technical XML configurations for VSN (SOVN) OrgChart 3.0 SP3, and are catered to the latest available version at the time of publishing (3.0.3.255). Although, configurations will usually apply to earlier versions as well, and I will do my best to highlight any special *new* configurations which have only become available in the latest release.

Also, most configurations also apply to other applications in the VSN (SOVN and STVN) product suite. So, I’ll try to put a list of products which support the configuration at the bottom of the post. In the case that I don’t cover a very important configuration for a specific application (because it’s not supported by OrgChart), I’ll have to post another blog on the subject.

So, let’s get started!

Part 1. DataConnectionConfiguration (AppResources\dataconnectionconfiguration)

This is the most basic required configuration within AppResources
  • It defines a connection from the VSN application to the data hosting server (SAP backend system, SQL Server, Oracle server, etc.)
Multiple different data connections can be defined for any given configuration within the VSN system (depending on the configuration edition: Live RFC, Live OTFSchema, SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, etc.)
  • In some cases when data is being pulled from multiple different data sources, this could be considered a “hybrid” solution. E.g. both data connections to “Live RFC” and data connections to “SQL Server” are being used.
AppResources Configs referencing this config object: DataElementConfiguration
  • All data elements (AppResources\dataelementconfiguration) require a data connection configuration which points to the system that is hosting the data to be displayed in the user interface (and to be used elsewhere).
Other AppResources Configs which this config must reference: None

Required parameters:

<connectiontype>

    • Multiple different types are available:

SAP

Oracle
SQLServer
DB2
ActiveDirectory
DLL

    • There are others (don’t remember the MaxDB one), but the top 3 above are what you’ll primarily be using

<connectionstring>

    • This text input must comply with formatting based on the connection type being used. E.g.:

SAP: ASHOST=[Server name or IP] SYSNR=[System number] CLIENT=[Client number] USER=[Optional] PASSWD=[Optional]

Oracle: Data Source=[TNS name];User Id=[User for appropriate schema];Password=[User password];

SQLServer: Data source=[Server name/IP];Initial Catalog=[DB instance];user id=[SQL Server auth user];password=[User password]

ActiveDirectory: LDAP://[server],[port],[etc.]
 
(If I got any of the above wrong, or just plain ignored it, I’m sure you can find many examples of properly formulated connection strings for each system on the internet.)

    • For SAP connections, user name and password are optional when the data connection is pointing to the same SAP backend as the user authentication settings. In this scenario, the data connection will use the authenticated user’s credentials to access the data from the backend, thereby fully leveraging the SAP security profiles setup for each user and appropriately restricting access to data that should not be displayed in the VSN interface.

DataConnectionConfiguration.PNG

Nakisa AdminConsole screen(s) which modifies this configuration when you save or publish: Data Center -> Data Connections

Note: currently, in most applications other than OrgChart the Data Center can be found under the Application-wide Settings menu

  • These are the only XML configuration files which are created/modified/deleted when you perform actions in the Data Connections section of Data Center.
  • Also, you can change all pertinent settings for data connections within AdminConsole. So, this whole post is kind of useless since you never really need to manually change the XML, but now you know. (Doesn’t it feel good to know?)

DataConnectionConfiguration AdminConsole.PNG

Another note: You’ll notice that all existing connection strings are encrypted, regardless if your ManagerResources enryptions are on or off (that’s another subject). This is a new, and very beneficial, feature of VSN 3.0 (all support levels). This ensures your system passwords cannot be read by anyone who has access to the application server’s filesystem. So, if you do create a new data connection manually, the next time you load it and save it in AdminConsole the system will encrypt your string for you. (Except in your .delta folder)

DataConnectionConfiguration Encrypted.PNG

Other VSN applications supporting this configuration: All

That’s to say:

  • SOVN
    • OrgChart
    • OrgModeler
    • OrgManager
    • DataQualityConsole
  •   STVN
    • SuccessionPlanning (+ for managers)
    • CareerPlanning
    • TalentFramework
    • TalentDashboard

Pretty much all versions of all applications too. DataConnectionConfiguration, being the most basic of all XML files, hasn’t needed to change in years. At least, I remember it being exactly the same all the way back to version 1.3x when AppResources was stored in one big XML file instead of neatly compartmentalized into different file folders like it is now (but my memory can fail me sometimes 🙂 ).

Summary

Purpose: Connect VSN to the data system
Location: AppResources\dataconnectionconfiguration
Parameters: <connectiontype>, <connectionstring>
Used by: DataElementConfiguration
Uses: None
AdminConsole: Data Center -> Data Connections
Apps: All

Did I miss something? Don’t like the order I put things in? Layout? Let me know.

Cheers,

Matthew

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4 Comments

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  1. Julie Cliche-Dubois

    Hi Matthew,

    It is an excellent first blog post!  Good job for all the details and information provided!

    Since you mentioned older versions, I would like to add that the dataconnection information was kept in the AppResources.xml file itself with a format a bit different than the one for the newer version, in most of the case:

      <dataconnectionconfiguration>

        <connection name=”SAPConnection” webservice=”False”>

          <connectionstring><![CDATA[CLIENT=800 ASHOST=sapservernameSYSNR=0]]></connectionstring>

          <connectiontype>DLL</connectiontype>

        </connection>

      </dataconnectionconfiguration>

    And while talking about connection strings, I would like to add some more information regarding the username and password.  When you specify the username in the connection string, it will always take these credentials when connecting to SAP, no matter the user you are logging to the application with.  It can cause problems if you are using dynamic rooting, per example, or into the CareerPlanning application, as you would always see the same Career Plan, no matter the user you are connecting with.  Please note that if you do not specify the user id and password in the connection string, the Test Connection will fail, however it can prevent you of having headaches caused by weird dynamic rooting behavior, per example 😉

    Julie

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    1. Matthew Partridge Post author

      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for the praise! And the additional info.

      Indeed, the AdminConsole “test connection” button would return a failed test with no credentials in the connection string, but, since I’m primarily focusing on the XML configuration for this series, I’m going to stay away from the eccentricities of AdminConsole for now.

      Regarding the dynamic rooting problem when you supply a user and password for the data connection settings: You should still be able to dynamically root and load a user’s proper area of responsibility and assignments into the user object (Employee Source menu in the Authentication Settings wizard). If the user object is not getting populated properly, try loading your UserPopulationInfo.xml dataelement into the OTFSchema preview tool. Or you can import the dataelement into the “Edit/Create dataelement joining multiple SAP tables” section of AdminConsole>Data Center by adding the following to the extrainfo section of the XML file:

      <item>

                <name><![CDATA[Description]]></name>

                <value><![CDATA[Whatever you want to display in AdminConsole]]></value>

      </item>

      <item>

                <name><![CDATA[WIZARDTYPE]]></name>

                <value><![CDATA[OTFADVANCED]]></value>

      </item>

      Then, load the dataelement in the AdminConsole wizard, go to the preview menu, and ensure that the user data is actually being retrieved.

      Also, depending on your release, there have been some configuration bugs in the past where the ID fields in the OTF function used for Orgunit ID and Position ID were not properly mapped to the ID field names being used in the orgcharts (Organization Structure and Position Hierarchy).

      Thanks and best regards,

      Matthew

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    1. Matthew Partridge Post author

      Hi J.Sakthikumar,

      Thanks for the comment! I know that Part 2 has been a long time coming. I’ve actually had written most of it about 1 month after the first post, but then got distracted from SCN for a long time. I’m trying to be more involved and helpful in this space now, so I will finish part 2 as soon as I can and post it.

      Kind regards

      Matthew

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