SmartConnect is a very sophisticated tool for integrations. With its high level of versatility, it does a great job of automating your integration needs. It is definitely one of my tools of choice!
Data can be read from Dynamics GP, Dynamics CRM, OLEDB or ODBC, text files, Excel, XML and more.
You can even use multiple data sources and then join the results from the multiple data source. This makes utilizing data sources from separate databases or even joining a database data source with a text file data source possible!
You can also set a network folder as a data source. The files in the folder can be Excel, text, XML, or XmlQuery. As long as the files match a designated template (or schema for a text file), SmartConnect will be able to process all the files contained in the folder. You can designate folders to use for files that were either successful or failures and append the date/time to the moved files to be able to easily track when they were processed.
Destinations for the data retrieved from the data source can be text or Excel files, Dynamics GP, SQL table or stored procedure, XML, or a web service.
When integrating to Dynamics GP, a great feature is the ability to test the source data by setting the destination to Dynamics GP File. This creates an XML file that will allow you to view exactly how the data would be integrated and into which fields. See below for an example of this extremely useful feature!
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″ ?>
<ConnectionString>data source=MyDataSource;initial catalog=Test01;integrated security=SSPI;persist security info=False;packet size=4096;Connect Timeout=10</ConnectionString>
Customization capabilities are the key to SmartConnect’s versatility!
Additional columns can be used to transform, manipulate or look up data.
Custom script can also be used for complex or out-of-the-box transformations.
As is true for most integration tools, eConnect is the underlying basis used to create transactions in Dynamics GP. Unfortunately, eConnect does not have a module for everything. For instance, there is no module to apply payments to AP invoices and this was a requirement for one of our clients. Fortunately, SmartConnect can use customized scripting and, taking advantage of this feature, I was able to create the script necessary to apply the AP payments.
Another option when eConnect does not support a required function or module of Dynamics GP is Node Builder, a separate SmartConnect utility. Node Builder can be installed and used to create custom nodes and lets complex daa validating nodes to be written. These nodes sit right inside eConnect. Similarly to Extender allowing custom screens to be added to Dynamics GP, Node Builder allows the creation of custom eConnect nodes!
Node Maintenance can be used to customize the various existing SmartConnect nodes. As an example, some clients’ source files for payable entries only have entries for the purchase distribution and no listing for the pay distribution since they always use one account number for the pay distribution. With Node Maintenance, the existing distribution node can be copied to create a distribution node to just handle the pay distribution with a hard-coded account number.
Tasks can be created to run pre and post map processing as well as to run after a document processes either successfully or with a failure.
As an example, you may want to send an email notification showing errors should a document fail to process.
Another use might be to update a shadow table’s records with the processing details such as the GP-generated document number. Data could be validated with a task set to run prior to the map. You can even set a task in the map to run another map!
SmartConnect’s extensive error handling capabilities are another reason that it is one of our tools of choice. Successes, errors and error source data can be logged. Setting the Debug option can give a more detailed perspective on the document and map tasks and details as well as data type validation. A Sql validation task can also be set to run before the document processes to ensure that data being integrated is the appropriate type and length. Process errors can be saved to a location specified in the SmartConnect setup as either an Xml or Csv file. If no data is returned from the data source, options can be set to return map success or map failure. There is also an option for what to do if blank lines or keys are in the data source (do nothing, exclude blank lines, exclude blank keys). Schedule and web service events can also be logged.
Let us know if you would like to discuss setting up a SmartConnect integration to smooth your processes!