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What's new in OL Connect 2020.1

By Colin Casey

The 2020.1 version is packed with improvements including a new connector for DocuWare, Microsoft 365 support, authentication for OL Connect Send – not to mention several ease of use features such as the long awaited Dynamic Table wizard for nested detail tables, great performance improvements (with the ability to skip the Content Creation step), and of course bug fixes. Continue reading to learn more!

DocuWare connector

We are continuing our focus on connectors to integrate with ECM systems, either in the cloud or on-premise. With 2020.1, we are releasing connectors for uploading documents to DocuWare, and for downloading files from DocuWare. As mentioned when we released connectors for integrating with some other ECM tools in 2019.2, these connectors simplify use cases such as

  • storing delivery notes in DocuWare when implementing our Proof of Delivery solution,
  • archiving invoices, and downloading attachments to outgoing invoices from DocuWare in our Accounts Receivable solution.

Including these new connectors, we now have an easy integration with the ECM systems DocuWare, Therefore, and M-Files. Both in the cloud and on-premise.

Microsoft 365 connectors

New Microsoft 365 OneDrive and Email input tasks and their corresponding Microsoft 365 OneDrive and Email output tasks are now available in Workflow. With OneDrive input/output, processes are able to retrieve from and post to any OneDrive account in the organization’s Microsoft 365 services. The Email input/output tasks also allow processes to access any mailbox in the organization’s Microsoft 365. Note that in order to achieve this, the organization’s IT department must allow Workflow to access either/both services by generating an Application ID in the Azure Dashboard. The Application ID must then be provided in each of the tasks that want to access the Microsoft 365 services. Without this Application ID, the services remain unavailable to Workflow and the plugins cannot be used.

This Microsoft 365 set of connectors will eventually (i.e. in future versions) include new SharePoint tasks, making Workflow even more cloud-aware.

Improved Dynamic Table wizard and nested detail data support in the Designer

The 2020.1 release of OL Connect has a revamped Dynamic Table wizard to help you build more sophisticated tables. It simplifies the process to setup dynamic tables, especially those showing  complementary information based on nested detail data. In previous releases you had to write complex scripts to achieve this.

The new wizard lets you setup these tables from within the user interface of the application. Advanced users will find new HTML attributes at their disposal to fine tune the behavior even further. These attributes let you add data to your dynamic table and modify the table structure without writing a single script.

In the Dynamic Tables reinvented how-to you’ll explore the new Dynamic Table wizard and learn about the underlying HTML attributes.

OL Connect Send

Authorization for printing

The OL Connect Send client can be configured with an API key that is provided in all communication with the server that receives the print job. This enables the server to reject any print jobs that are not submitted by an authorized client. By having different API keys per subscriber, service providers can also use these API keys as an additional confirmation to identify who is printing to them. API keys are widely used for this purpose, we have seen them at email service providers such as SendGrid and MailJet, and also at Tie Kinetix.

Driver improvements

We have reviewed the printer driver’s properties and default settings, so they better fit a virtual printer like OL Connect Send instead of an actual physical printer, and also made sure the driver is better behaved with applications that try to do special tricks such as Adobe Reader. The net result of this is a driver that requires less tweaking of settings (that can be hard to find), and print jobs with better quality font information.

MySQL update - OL Connect Server

The database that comes bundled with OL Connect has been updated to the latest version of MySQL. The previous version we were shipping with OL Connect was frequently getting flagged as a security risk by scanning software, and caused, often needless, concerns at customers or resellers. Although there are scenarios where the database version does not cause a security risk, and customers are welcome to use a separately installed instance of either MySQL or MS SQL Server for OL Connect, the best thing to do was to update the bundled database.

The new packaged database will only be installed with new installations. This is to avoid any chance of issues that could occur if the software tried to automatically migrate an existing database to the new version. Existing users who want to upgrade their packaged database will have to start with a fresh database.

DataMapper improvements

Runtime parameters

As a follow-up to Connect 2019.2’s runtime parameters for Job Creation, the DataMapper allows users to specify which named parameters it expects from calling applications. This allows those calling applications, including Workflow, to pass the proper parameters to the DataMapper configuration in a consistent manner. Workflow no longer needs to pass values in JobInfos or variables. DataMapper specialists are now encouraged to use the new explicit runtime parameters since the current JobInfos and variable structures will eventually be phased out.

The changes have been implemented in the Connect Server REST API as well as in Workflow’s Execute Data Mapping and All In One tasks.

Bypass content creation with paginated data files

In many instances, paginated data files (e.g. PDF, PS, PCL, AFP) are used as-is and do not require any content creation. However, data extracted from these files may still be required in order to later perform commingling, batching or postal sorting. The ability to bypass the time-consuming content creation step therefore saves an invaluable amount of time in operations that mostly deal with print-ready files.

The Connect Server REST API has therefore been modified so that these files can be sent to the DataMapper engine, which in turn generates a Record Set as well as a Content Set. Once the file has been processed, the Job Creation and Output Creation operations can then be executed without requiring a Content Creation step to be run. This new functionality brings significant performance improvements to the processing of print-ready files.

Managing Sample Data files

To facilitate and foster the use of multiple sample data files in the DataMapper, the management of those files has been greatly improved:

  • External Drag & Drop: while it was already possible to drag & drop external files into the list, the files were always added at the bottom of the list. You can now select the location of the dropped file(s) within the list.
  • Internal Drag & Drop: you can now drag & move one or more files in the list to a different location in the list.
  • New options are implemented in the context menu and in buttons next to the list to allow you to move files up/down or to the top/bottom of the list.

New and improved input tasks in Workflow

In addition to the Microsoft 365 connectors, two other input tasks are introduced in Connect 2020.1: the Database Query Input task is the same as the existing Database Query Action task, but as an Input it allows you to run a query in order to determine if the process should run or not. If the query returns records, then the process gets executed. This allows processes to monitor a database and trigger their execution based on the results of a query.

Similarly, a new File Count input task, which can also run as a Condition task, allows you to trigger a process only if a certain number of files are present in a folder. This is particularly useful when a process needs to run only once all the files it needs have been received.

Several existing Input tasks have also been upgraded to be trigger-based instead of polling for files: the HTTP, NodeJS, and LPD Input tasks, when their schedule’s polling interval is set to 0, no longer use up precious CPU cycles in order to poll for new files. Instead, they are automatically triggered whenever a new file arrives for them, which means the CPU can focus on other tasks rather than waste clock cycles while needlessly polling for new files. This feature will be especially welcome in environments where many HTTP processes are found, or when monitoring a large number of LPR printer queues. And the best thing is: you don’t have to do anything to benefit from the improvement! If your existing processes use a polling interval of 0, then the processes automatically become trigger-based.

Other improvements

Designer

  • Modernized table styles.
  • Theme your CSS stylesheets with CSS variables.

DataMapper

  • Boundaries set to On Change are now triggered if the monitored data selection becomes empty.
  • Scripts that run inside a loop and that move the current location are considered the same as a Goto step, which means adding a Goto step is no longer mandatory.
  • Text conditions that extend past the end of the record now take the boundary into consideration before returning its result.
  • XML fields which are located physically below the record boundary element (but that are still children of that element’s parent node) are now available in the record.
  • Is Empty conditions now support multi-line selections.

Workflow

  • The MS-Access database engine has been updated to version 2016 while the NodeJS engine has been updated to 12.13.1.
  • The HTTP Client input task can now set custom headers as part of its requests.
  • The Retrieve Items task now accepts a JSON array of IDs for input.
  • A new %a variable is available to retrieve the current job file’s date (YYYY/MM/DD).
  • When double-clicking on a Workflow configuration file while the Workflow Configuration tool is already open, the application asks for confirmation and allows the user to save any changes to the currently loaded file before loading the new file.
  • Runtime parameters are available for the Execute Data Mapping and All In One tasks (see DataMapper section of this document).

Output creation

  • Digital signatures in PDF now can have a visible part with actual content, and it is possible to configure on what page that visible signature goes.
  • We also made it easier to pick a digital signature from a keystore, reducing the chance of the user accidentally using the wrong ID to refer to their signing key.
  • PDF Output now has options to set the initial view for a reader when viewing the PDF.

OL Connect Server

  • Connect Server and its engines will now log a message if they are running with tight memory. This serves as an early warning for potential failures due to out of memory errors, and can help troubleshoot performance issues, because running with insufficient memory causes significant performance hits.

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