Creating and Editing Flows in IBM App Connect Designer

The IBM App Connect Designer is the Award-Winning Browser-Based Authoring Tool for Creating Integration Flows

This page is not a ‘How to use Designer’ guide – that comes later! This is to highlight some of the features and thinking around how Designer works, especially if you’ve used integration tooling before.

This information may be useful whether you’ve yet to try Designer or you’ve already built some flows!

What is a Designer Flow?

Integrations built using Designer are called Flows

You create flows in IBM App Connect to connect your applications so that something that happens in one application makes something else happen in another application.

When you create an API, it’s also built as a flow

A “Flow” is the definition of the integration. A “Flow Run” is one ‘call’ or ‘event’ through the flow at runtime.

Types of flow in IBM App Connect

You can create two types of flow in IBM App Connect: an event-driven flow and a flow for an API.

API Flow

A flow for an API contains a request, one or more target application actions, and a response. The request uses a model that you define to request the creation, replacement, or retrieval of data objects in your applications. When the request is submitted, each target application performs its action. The flow then returns a response that either confirms that the actions were successful, or returns the data that was requested.

Flow diagram for a flow of an API operation in App Connect (Click image to view full size)

Event Flow

In an event-driven flow, you identify an event that can occur in your first application (the source application), and actions that can be performed in one or more target applications. The flow links the event to the actions so that, whenever the event occurs in the source application, the action is automatically triggered in the target applications. Each successfully completed action counts towards your monthly quota. When you create a flow, you add your applications, and choose actions. Then, you map the data that you want to transfer between your applications.

App Connect showing pointed Sheduler Node and round Batch Node

Node Shapes

The Connector node shapes in Designer have Specific Meanings

A node with a sharp triangle on the right indicates an event (Including a schedule)

A node with round ends is an action.

TIP: Note how the first node in a batch is an action – the batch is making a retrieve not listening for an event

String Formatting

When mapping text fields, you can set the format to CSV or XML

If you want to put .CSV or XML into a string, pull down the ‘abc’ and set the desired format. IBM App Connect will them convert the mapped data to the desired format for you.

App Connect String Format Pull Downs

App Connect Mapped fields with formula and preview mode

Mapping – Where’s the ‘Map’ node?

Designer doesn’t have ‘Mapping Nodes’ – Map your fields where you need to.

Think about a spreadsheet: You put the data you want into the cells you want, using formulae to move and calculate data from the other cells. App Connect works the same way! Click into the field where you want the data and select the fields and functions you need.

TIP: Note the ‘preview’ when you’re entering a mapping formula: it shows you what your output will look like

Where are all the variables?

IBM App Connect keeps all your fields for you

Whenever data is received from an event, as part of an API request or when retrieved from another app or service, IBM App Connect stores it in the flow Context.

This means you don’t need to define variables to store the data – App Connect stores it for you

If you want to create your own data structures to store data as part of your flow, you can use the Set variable node – although with the way the App Connect mapper works, you’ll find you don’t need them as much as you think!

App Connect set variable with sample order and address properties

Enriching the flows

As well as adding applications to your flows, you can also add nodes from the Logic tab to configure how you process data. For example, use the “If” node to add some conditional processing – performing different actions according to the data that you receive. And use the “For each” node when you want to perform an action for each record that is returned by a retrieval action.

If you’re an IBM Integration Bus or App Connect Enterprise developer, you can also create complex integration solutions by developing message flows in the Integration Toolkit and packaging them into BAR files.

Your flows are represented by tiles on the App Connect dashboard. The tiles show summary information about the flow, API, or integration server, such as whether a flow is running or stopped, and if it produced an error. You can click the tick and exclamation point icons to see when the flow last ran successfully, or what errors were raised. Click the three dots Icon of three vertical dots opens a menu to start, stop, edit, or delete the flow to open a menu to start, stop, edit, or delete your resources. Flows have to be stopped before you can edit them.

Designers at desks with laptops and photos

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