Connectors are the building blocks for creating a process flow of data through ArcESB. Each connector performs one of the following tasks:
- Transfers files to and from external destinations using a standard network protocol (AS2, AS4, FTP, SFTP, OFTP, etc)
- Integrates with a back-end system like a database or cloud application
- Consumes or exposes a RESTful web API
- Transforms data from one format to another
- Compresses/decompresses or encrypts/decrypts data
- Modifies the content or headers of a file
- Routes files using conditional logic to create a sophisticated data flow
Connectors are connected together to create an automatic data-processing flow. After each connector performs its specific task, any files received or processed are passed along to the next connector in the flow.
This modular approach allows Arc to handle business tasks with a wide range of complexity. The following image displays how a set of Arc connectors can generate outbound EDI documents using data retrieved as XML from a back-end data source:
Each connector has a settings page for configuring the parameters of the task it performs. Along with the task-specific configuration details, these connector settings include:
- Automation settings for how the connector should automatically process files, poll for files to download, retry failed messages, etc
- Input/Send and Output/Receive folders that govern where the connectors interface with the local file system
- Event scripts for executing custom logic at certain points during connector processing
Some connectors, like AS2 and AS4, also require configuring a local Profile to receive inbound connections.
When a connector sends, receives, or processes a file, it logs this operation as a Transaction. Transactions for a specific connector can be viewed in the connector’s Input and Output configuration tabs, and the Transactions for all connectors in the application can be viewed in the Transaction Log in the Status page.
Each Transaction entry contains information on the status of the files (Sent, Received, Failed, etc), a timestamp when the file was processed, any errors that occurred, and so on.
When connectors process files, they can optionally add metadata to the file. This metadata includes a unique MessageId to identify the file throughout the flow, the connectors that have already processed the file, any failures that have occurred during the file processing, and more. The file contents plus any added metadata are referred to as Messages, and stored with a special file extension: .eml
To retain the metadata for a file throughout its life in an Arc flow, set the Output Format for each connector to ‘Message’. The default Output Format is ‘Raw’, meaning the original format and contents of the file will be unmodified.
Core, MFT, and EDI
Connectors are grouped into the Core, MFT, and EDI packages. The Core Connectors provide the foundational functionality for building data workflows. The MFT Connectors extend the ability of Arc to send and receive files using secure file transfer protocols. The EDI Connectors support transforming and manipulating EDI documents to integrate these documents with back-end systems or other aspects of an Arc flow.