Feature alert January 2017

Olga Annenko feature-alert, know-how 0 Comments

New Integration Flow Designer

Last time I wrote that we were working on a huge update of how elastic.io looks and feels. I even used the words “big changes to the elastic.io interface”. And it’s happened.

This month’s feature alert is exclusively about only one new feature, but oh boy, what a feature that is. Without further ado, please welcome:

New Integration Flow Designer (beta)

Let me tell you a little story

You know this, we know this too – the old integration flow designer is fine but it wouldn’t knock your socks off. It was developed together with the first iteration of the platform, and at that time it perfectly served its purpose.

But over time, a lot of things changed. We changed our focus, we released an industry-first microservices-based integration platform, the integration trends have changed greatly too. Now, integration tools are used not only by hard-core developers, but also by common business users, who know little to nothing about coding.

Of course, the term “citizen integrator” was used two or three years ago too, but the phenomenon behind this term wasn’t quite there yet. Now it is there, it is real, and it’s becoming only more widespread. Which means, integration tools interfaces must eventually get more business user-friendly, more simple, requiring less or no coding.

Another reason why our old integration flow designer became more of a headache than anything else was that we didn’t have so many cool features back at the time when it was developed. There was, for example, no step-by-step, no request-reply.

Now there are many new features, but the designer didn’t evolve with them organically, it just stayed the same. And the result was similar to tuning and patching up an old racing car – it will look OK and it will run good, but it will never stand up against a brand new one that has just rolled off the production line.

And so we decided that it was high time to do a major upgrade of the integration flow designer.

A picture is worth a thousand words

I can write how the new integration flow designer differs from the old one in terms of possibilities. But it is absolutely impossible to describe the difference in looks, because it would be like comparing a dog to a jello – you simply can’t do this. So, hopefully, some pictures will speak for themselves.

Here’s how you can choose to work with the new integration flow designer in the first place:

Integration Flow Designer

 

This is how you would start a new integration flow with the new designer:

 

This is how you would configure the trigger component:

 

…and this is how you would add an action component:

But enough of the visual stimuli for now, let’s now have a quick overview of how the new integration flow designer is more advanced in terms of functionality and future capabilities.

Integration Flow Designer: Old vs. New

1 One first big distinction from the old integration flow designer is that there is no more Mapping component between other components. The mapping in itself is still there, but now it is inbuilt with each component and is an integral part of the component configuration. Which definitely makes mapping less confusing and more straight-forward.

2 Metadata is shown in a more organized way compared to the previous interface. All metadata used to be listed simply in one go, sometime resulting in an awfully long column. Now the metadata is sorted into drop-down lists, plus if there is nested metadata, like e.g. “street name”, “house number”, “ZIP code” and “town” all making up the “home address”, then such data will be shown exactly as nested:

3 It is practically impossible to do something not right when configuring an integration flow in the new designer. While in the old designer, you added steps and configured them afterwards, in the new one you are required to configure each step completely, otherwise you won’t be able to proceed.

These are just a few most noticeable differentiation factors between the two integration flow designers.

There are many more, smaller ones, such as a search bar when you select triggers and actions, the possibility to delete a step right in the middle of an integration flow, or short descriptions for each component.

The only two things that are not yet available in the new integration flow designer at this very moment are the Step-by-Step Execution feature and versioning, but we are currently working on them. This means that these two features will be there at the time of the release of the new designer out of beta in March.

The status of the step-by-step feature will be also changed from “optional” to “required”, to make sure that the component is 100% functional and that you configured it 100% correctly. Which kind of makes the name “step-by-step” redundant, I guess:-) We’ll probably have to rename it to the “test step”…

Building the designer with the next major upgrade in mind

What might be even more interesting for you as a developer or integrator is that the new integration flow designer was developed with the next major new feature in mind, and that is forking. Yes, that’s right; in quite near future, in addition to the linear integration flows, we will also have forked integration flows with or without filters.

What to expect in the coming weeks

We are planning to release the new integration flow designer out of beta in March 2017. Would be great, though, if you could just play around the new integration flow designer, give us your feedback, test it as much as you can (that is provided you already have an account on elastic.io. Or you can always sign up for one;-) )

In addition to that, we are going to work on two more cool features that we for now internally call “pass-through” and “sailer hooks”. In a multi-step integration flow, the “pass-through” feature will allow integrators to map data between non-adjacent steps. As for the “sailor hooks” feature, you can see it as flow life-cycle events for components. More on both when they are out;-)

Stay tuned for more info!

In the meantime, why don’t you check out the new Integration Flow Designer yourself


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About the Author

Olga Annenko

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Olga Annenko is a tech enthusiast and marketing professional. She loves to write about data and application integration, API economy, cloud technology, and how all that can be combined to drive companies' digital transformation.


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